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Keatah

How important is originality for collecting?

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How important is originality for collecting?

 

Some consoles, computers, and arcade cabinets are now over 40 years old. That's more than 350,000 hours! And as these things age, they'll obviously need replacement parts. That goes without saying.

 

Things like TTL chips, and monitors are becoming more difficult to find. Or will be soon enough. Not to mention certain custom chips that like to go bad - POKEY! Warehouses full of arcade cabinets are becoming almost non-existent. Gone is the $50 cab full of parts, or just needing re-capping.. Monitor tubes have burn in or have become gassy.. And more.

 

So how do replica replacement parts affect value of an arcade cab or console or computer? Some of these parts might be full-blown FPGA recreations of an entire boardset or a custom chip. Then we have front panel decals, marquees, bezels. There might be replacement RAM that doesn't require more than 1 voltage level.. And there are entire replacement power supplies.

 

We're not discussing MAME or any kind of Software Emulation here because that is a whole different animal far and away from original hardware. And we're also not talking about a cheapo 400-in-one multi-cade board. Anyone can do those.

Edited by Keatah

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Scarcity sucks, collecting is stupid, and you can't take it with you when you die and the worms feast on your eyes. The worms go in, the worms go out, and they don't give two poops about your near-mint Chase the Chuckwagon.

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A good point of comparison would be classic cars. Anything that is drive-able will necessarily have at least some modern replacement parts, either for safety or because the originals are long unobtainable. As to how this affects the value of the vehicle, I do not know.

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Some classic car fans are 3D printing replacement parts, just like many retro consoles are being recreated in software emulation or FPGAs. The degree of purity will differ by individual -- I suspect many folks on here think that LCDs in old arcade cabinets are an abomination.

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While i am in the process as selling of my computer game collection it seems most collectors care a lot about originality. Now that's not surprising, however most collectors don't seem to care about the disks and cassettes still working, it's purely the visual condition they care about and the physical parts being original. I wouldn't be surprised if some hardware is worth more to some collectors if in not working condition, but all parts original.

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A good point of comparison would be classic cars. Anything that is drive-able will necessarily have at least some modern replacement parts, either for safety or because the originals are long unobtainable. As to how this affects the value of the vehicle, I do not know.

 

I think this is a good point of comparison, and if the comparison holds...then yeah, I'd say the original parts really (in a positive fashion) matter to the value, to some folks. Top notch car restorations often use original parts from other matching vehicles, motorcyle guys would much rather have original parts, etc etc etc.

 

I think this pertains mostly to "trailer queens" and originalists (guys who says "patina" a lot), though. Lots of guys DO want a car with the carbs replaced with fuel injection, better brakes, etc. So there will still be two kingdoms....drivers (players) and trailer queens (look at how original my Centipede is...ORIGINAL TRACKBALL!!!!!)

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It really depends if the buyer/collector wants something usable or just a display piece. If it is just intended for a static display, then it should be as authentic as possible.

 

I was recently in a museum that featured a really early 1900s-era "car". It was literally a wooden wagon with a small engine connected to the rear drive wheels. It was a unique item constructed by a local entrepreneur.

 

Obviously, nobody is going to attempt to drive this thing (or even start the engine). That said, it had been "restored" with very inauthentic modern parts. To me, this significantly reducted its historical value. I want to see what it would have looked like when it was first made. I know what a modern engine looks like; I want to see what a ca. 1905 engine looked like.

 

Now, if the museum were to build a modern replica (or it had a second example) that was drivable, then by all means use modern engine parts, etc. Nobody expects a working example to be 100% authentic.

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It really depends if the buyer/collector wants something usable or just a display piece. If it is just intended for a static display, then it should be as authentic as possible.

 

I was recently in a museum that featured a really early 1900s-era "car". It was literally a wooden wagon with a small engine connected to the rear drive wheels. It was a unique item constructed by a local entrepreneur.

 

Obviously, nobody is going to attempt to drive this thing (or even start the engine). That said, it had been "restored" with very inauthentic modern parts. To me, this significantly reducted its historical value. I want to see what it would have looked like when it was first made. I know what a modern engine looks like; I want to see what a ca. 1905 engine looked like.

 

Now, if the museum were to build a modern replica (or it had a second example) that was drivable, then by all means use modern engine parts, etc. Nobody expects a working example to be 100% authentic.

 

I have to say that I have little interest in authenticity as a motivating factor! Personally, I think that my "stuff" (and I am not using the word "collection", as that doesn't suggest usage), which is a mixed-bag of initial offerings, hybrids, and frankenputers is a lot more interesting than some pristine boxed unit from 1983 that was used once and then put away for decades.

 

I personally value time over any other quality. This is why I like to support homebrew projects, and will pay a premium for well-executed projects, as they're extremely difficult to pull off and consume vast amounts of resources for little return.

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I think there are different types of collectors. The car analogy is apt. In cars, you have people who won't touch a classic car unless it's 100% original, and then on the other end of the spectrum you have people who buy old beaters and then immediately turn them into custom hot rods. I don't think either approach is right or wrong; it's just whatever you like. (And whether a car is better in its original configuration, or with updates.)

 

In terms of dollar value, I think it depends on what it is whether originality really affects value. There can even be certain things you *don't* want original; for example, people nowadays want to buy bolt modded Model M keyboards over the original unmodified version with plastic rivets. Bolt modded Model M's sell for way higher than unmodified keyboards, because they're more reliable and should theoretically last a lifetime - they're actually easier to work on and built better than IBM originally did it, assuming the mod was done right.

 

Similarly, a Dreamcast with a battery mod is probably going to be worth more than one with its original (almost certainly dead) battery, which aren't easy to change unless you mod the system.

 

I think that most things that are common and have useful potential mods are going to be worth more modded than not. *Rare* items more likely to head for a display shelf will usually be worth more in their original configuration.

 

(Edit: I will add a caveat that in most cases, I think an item that's been repaired with an unoriginal part is going to be worth more than the same item that's 100% original but broken, whether it's rare or not.)

Edited by spacecadet
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It's a lot less important to me than it was 15-20 years ago. These days, I just need something that A) works and B) looks good. If replacement parts/labels/etc. are necessary, so be it.

 

It's nice when inauthenticity is authentic, though. :P For example, I enjoy collecting cassette software for various vintage computers. In many cases it's completely cost prohibitive (*cough*Apple II*cough*), but I still like having the physical media, so I make "backups" (*ahem*) from .wav files I find online. Yeah, they don't look like original copies, with the homemade/handwritten labels and such, but copying and sharing cassettes was a big part of the user experience for those systems back in the day, which is a big part of what I'm going for. Likewise for disk software. :)

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Some classic car fans are 3D printing replacement parts, just like many retro consoles are being recreated in software emulation or FPGAs. The degree of purity will differ by individual -- I suspect many folks on here think that LCDs in old arcade cabinets are an abomination.

That's because LCD screens in old arcade cabs are an abomination!

 

More seriously though, as time goes on that could change, though it would not surprise me if LCDs don't actually end up outlasting quality CRTs in lifespan. CRT sets can and do last for decades, while LCDs haven't yet been around long enough to really know for sure.

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I'm fine with nearly anything as long as the actual gameplay, sounds, graphics, etc. are unchanged.

 

In particular, anything that adds lag is a problem to me -- at least in action-oriented games, where it's shocking how much of a difference it makes.

 

People think they're getting old, or that the games of their youth were unfair or not that great. Meanwhile, they're playing on a display, adapter/converter, and emulation setup that add 50-100ms or more of lag! It's like trying to play guitar if your amp were in the end zone but you're on the 50-yard line, and wondering why you feel slow and out-of-sync.

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Some hardware has to be modded for a longer life span so it can be further enjoyed. The CD-i is a good example of this. (Even though some dont care if the CD-i would die anyways lol) :-P

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Some months ago I was part of a discussion about vintage computer collectors who refuse to touch their systems as it would affect the value as well as authenticity. They would rather have batteries leak all over the motherboard, capacitors going bang if they ever power on the system, chips that break and can not be replaced, than restoring the system to working condition using modern replacement parts. I think that is a bit extreme, but as noted there are many kinds of people and these probably represent a minority.

 

What I find interesting is that some people worship both original parts and FPGA reproductions at the same time. For instance in the Commodore community there currently is a rush about the new Ultimate 64, which is a replica of a C64 motherboard implemented in FPGA with socket for optional original SID chip. Doing a C64 in FPGA is itself nothing new, both C64DTV and partly Turbo Chameleon have done that, but this is a slot-in replacement of the original motherboard. It even springs the old discussion whether FPGA is emulation or not, and that exact reproductions of transistor layers have been created. Yet the first round of tests show a number of compatibility issues with some of the advanced VIC tricks and even lack of "illegal" opcodes.

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Some classic car fans are 3D printing replacement parts, just like many retro consoles are being recreated in software emulation or FPGAs. The degree of purity will differ by individual -- I suspect many folks on here think that LCDs in old arcade cabinets are an abomination.

Yeah they would. I've had that debate before. But now that CRTs are no longer made, and some of the parts are not even made either to replace damaged components, it's just a ticking time bomb to the end now. I for one WANT a LCD inside my cabinet, but as it is now, both money and lack of know how (more the second) stops me. I detest that 25" CRT inside there. It's huge and the weight on it is asinine making the cabinet worse to move than a full size pinball machine. It's already beyond trying to tweak wheels/pots as the top centimeter of the screen has a little ripple I can't iron out either. Maybe it's dying, maybe it needs a recap or flyback which I can't do and won't as well voltage, death, not risking it. I'd rather get help putting a LCD harness in there, but that's another issue, they don't make a 4:3 25" LCD. I wouldn't mind going an inch or two smaller, but a wide screen in there would get weird and I think 4:3 stopped at 20 or 21". If I could find a 21" I'd probably go with it but that probably would suck to source too and how would one go mounting it? I've seen boards out there that convert as a middleman with no imposed frame lag added where an LCD can go into it, and out of that to the other end on the original board.

 

Also I don't much care for the by the game change on the Neo Geo where the outer edge of the CRT cuts off stuff, on LCD it doesn't do it. I know it's kind of nitpicking or splitting hairs but it sucks seeing letters/numbers cut off.

 

 

Outside of that I'm up to soon to be 3 FPGA replacements for NES, SNES and soon N64 with 2 kits, and 1 SuperNT total system. Also sporting the GC2HDMI Zeldaxpro external adapter on my cube too. I'm fine being original, yet not, at those levels, but at some point I'm out, because once you just get into using some retroarch level pi garbage, I lose all interest.

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Like others have said, the classic car analogy is a good one. When I'm not playing video games, I'm likely either working on or writing about old cars, so I can elaborate a little further.

"It's only original once" is a phrase often said about old cars. If you have a nice classic, and it's fully functioning and has a little bit of patina, I'm in the "leave it alone" camp. Same goes for old games/consoles/arcade cabs. Sitting in that old car and driving it around as it was back in the day is like having a time machine. Same goes for playing an original old game. We are all nostalgic for that stuff!

 

Now, there's a big gray area when it comes to certain rides, and the same can be applied to games.

 

Let's take my 1979 Pontiac Trans Am for instance. When it was new, it looked cool, but wasn't the greatest performance machine on the road. Mine came saddled with an engine that wasn't the top performing engine available, and by the time I got my hands on it, it was worn out and sucked even more. Even if I rebuilt that engine (which I did), it still had fundamental flaws that would only be remedied with a full replacement. What didn't help matters is that it had an owner that severely abused the thing, and even switched out a bunch of things that made the car worse. I sourced one of those top-of-the-line engines, rebuilt it with the best parts, and plopped it in there. Another thing: the car is nearly 40 years old now. Automotive technology has advanced drastically since then. I not only replaced that engine, but have been tastefully upgrading parts here and there to enhance reliability and performance. When the car is done, it will be better than gong back in time and buying one new, and all of the problems should be fixed.

Now, I have another project sitting at my house that I've been meaning to getting around to fixing up: a Galaxian cocktail cab arcade game. When it was new, it must have been a sight to see. It was also built around the same time as my Trans Am, and like the car, it had seen some less than tasteful modifications over the years. Want to talk about an "engine transplant"? Someone along the way converted the machine to a Galaga machine! They kept the same Galaxian controls, and swapped the boards out. They even re-painted the glass art to look like a Galaga machine instead of a Galaxian one. By the time I got it, the thing wouldn't even turn on and it was beat to hell. The speaker grille was bent and rusty, the woodgrain was worn, and the monitor had a bit of burn-in.

I haven't started working on that Galaxian/Galaga machine yet, but I'm faced with a dilemma: restore it to stock Galaxian specs, or change it completely over to a Galaga machine? Like cars, they make restoration parts for it. The wear and tear on the machine is beyond patina; it flat out looks like crap and doesn't work. It will be getting some modern replacement parts, like modern new power supply and other electrical components, because just like the car, things have advanced since it was originally made. If it were original and worked as it should, I'd likely leave it alone. In this case, it's a POS that doesn't work, so I'm making some reliability upgrades.

 

We call this a "Restomod" in the car world. It maintains the spirit of the original, with some performance and reliability upgrades that make it more enjoyable. If it's not original anyway, I mean, why not do this?

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FPGA is not transistor-level recreation. They are logic blocks and tables. Anyone who knows anything about them will tell you that. And they are only as good as their programmer.

 

As far as original parts go. It's fine to keep a machine 100% original with no replacement parts. It becomes a static display. A museum piece to be looked at. Live with it.

 

In this day and age, with some hardware approaching 40 and 50 years old, parts will have to be replaced in order to keep the machines running. That is fact. Live with it.

 

For me a lot of arcade preservation means keeping the game program and circuit boards intact. That is the essence of the game. All the other stuff like CRTs, marquees, lights, control panels, speakers, cabinets, power supplies, and miscellaneous hardware is just ancillary. Most all of that "dress-up material" can be easily reproduced and still project the aura of "arcade" even if there are slight differences.

 

Like just stated, maintaining the spirit of the original is the goal.

Edited by Keatah

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I think there are different types of collectors. The car analogy is apt. In cars, you have people who won't touch a classic car unless it's 100% original, and then on the other end of the spectrum you have people who buy old beaters and then immediately turn them into custom hot rods. I don't think either approach is right or wrong; it's just whatever you like. (And whether a car is better in its original configuration, or with updates.)

 

 

 

Hm. I think the difference here is that user expectations (and the power of software) changed radically during the commercial lives of most '80s home computer systems to the point that stock units had little value. Look at the A8 -- it had a commercial lifespan of 13 years! A 400 with 8k (or 16k) was pretty much unusable for anything but a few cart games by 1982, let alone 1992. A car, though, is always a car, and upgrades aren't going to change its basic function. I've inherited a 1935 jag from my Dad (who had it restored fully). We argued playfully for years over whether it was worth it to get a radio kit installed, as there was a third-party Philco radio made available for the car; I was sort in favour of it, because radios are, you know, useful, but my Dad wanted to keep the lines of the dashboard clean. He won -- that radio really is kind of ugly. I'm not sure it would have diminished the value of the vehicle had I had it installed, though. :)

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I feel like games, unlike some classic cars, aren't nessecarily 'fun' to look at if they aren't working. It's not like a Master System game or Turbografx sitting alone on a mantel is gonna be a great visual piece. Games are fun becuase of the games, not the plastic housing things.

 

Right now there's enough authentic functional gear out there that replacement parts can definitely be a turn-off... but as this stuff continues to age & break, I think it will become less and less important. While there's definitely shelf collectors out there, most game collectors do play their games- as long as it doesn't look wrong, a good functionality mod can actually increase value. Think a Mcwill screen in a Game Gear.

 

 

 

We call this a "Restomod" in the car world. It maintains the spirit of the original, with some performance and reliability upgrades that make it more enjoyable. If it's not original anyway, I mean, why not do this?

 

Oh, I like this word! Why don't gamers use this word?

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I agree with so many of the points stated above. While the classic car comparisons are a good comparison, as other has stated there are differences.

 

When comparing something like an arcade machine to a classic car, we can look at a few commonalities. If both items are usable and appear like the original, then I don't think that most collectors would care. For example, if the arcade machine was recapped, had a power supply rebuilt and had new side art it would seem just like the original. The same goes for a classic car that has had engine components replaced, new brakes installed and the original battery replaced.

 

Where you start to cross the line is when a CRT is replaced with an LED, the original logic board is replaced with a Raspberry Pi or the controls changed to a new configuration.

 

Again, it really depends on the collector's desire to be "original" and the use of the item. As some have said, if it's just a shelf piece then who cares if the insides are rotten and non-functional. If it's a machine to be used then it has to work.

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I want everything to be all original.

 

I also want Kate Winslet naked on a couch full of chicken wings handing me a mint copy of Action Comics #1. There's a certain point where wanting something is not matched by the likelihood of it happening. I'm at a similar place with original components. They're expensive, they're rare, they don't work without effort.

 

So I do the best I can with the tools I have.

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Personally, I don't mind buying repro bits and bobs for games, be it cases, manuals, overlays... even parts. If / when I get into collecting arcade stuff, I realize that I may need to make some compromises, and that not everything will necessarily be original. It's not a big bother to me, but I guess I can see where it would be for some.

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I feel like games, unlike some classic cars, aren't nessecarily 'fun' to look at if they aren't working. It's not like a Master System game or Turbografx sitting alone on a mantel is gonna be a great visual piece. Games are fun becuase of the games, not the plastic housing things.

I agree that games are meant to be played, but I do also think that games *are* fun to look at even if they aren't working. Just the other day, for example, I found myself just completely randomly pulling about half of my Dreamcast games off the shelf and just looking at the packaging, the artwork, and some of the manuals. It can be fun to do that. And that's the idea behind display pieces. (All of my Dreamcast games work, btw, and I play them... but on that day, I just wanted to look at them.)

 

But I see this as less about individual games and more about systems and maybe some accessories anyway. Usually if games themselves are in their original packaging and complete, they work. Systems are less reliable. But I'd probably still be tempted by a non-working yet all-original, complete system over a working but beat up and loose system. I can always fix the non-working one, but it's a lot harder to make a non-complete system complete, and it'll never be *as* original even after the first system is repaired.

 

As for "restomod", I like the word too but I think gamers probably don't use it just because we don't mod our systems so extensively, and if we do, it's usually pretty obvious (so not really a "restoration" at all, but just a mod). I think there are just fewer game consoles or computers that you could even consider "restomodded". Most "restorations" I've seen are actually just deep cleaning, and mods are just mods.

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I also want Kate Winslet naked on a couch full of chicken wings handing me a mint copy of Action Comics #1.

There's an image that won't go away anytime soon.

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