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Atari vs. Telegames Back in the Day: Which was Cooler?

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Best I can remember, back in the heyday, an Atari brand 2600 was considered slightly cooler than the Sears version. 

Sears was where your mom shopped for back-to-school clothes and washer/dryer combos. 

Were the prices competitive? 

I remember my dad driving across town to some electronics shop because the Atari was 10 bucks cheaper than Service Merchandise. 

Could you get a Sears cheaper in the late 70s / early 80s? Were the prices competitive?

How did the pack-in cart factor into the equation?

Looking back, Target Fun would have been a better first game than Combat. At least to me. 

Thing about the local electronic store, they gave Dad 10% off Space Invaders with the 2600 purchase. 

 

Anybody else remember such debates? 

 

 

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Atari was the cooler system to have.  Seems the telegames versions were easier to find than many of their counterparts (at least here in NC) and they were a little cheaper usually and being a kid, every penny counted.

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Yeah, I'm thinking late 70s into 1981, maybe. 

They switched the pack-in cart at some point to Pac Man, right? 82?

Our parents were buying the consoles so if the Sears would've been even ten bucks cheaper, that's what most of us would have gotten. 

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I love all things Sears, but even I’ll admit that Atari was the brand to have.  Back in the day, the Sears seemed like the generic version you’d buy in black and white wrappers at the supermarket. 

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Definitely. Sears was second rate, like wearing Toughskins instead of 501s.

But do you remember anyone saying "Nah, you gotta get Sears. Combat sucks! Target Fun rules."

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Sears used to put their name on lots of products, and somehow that diminished the value to me. Not sure if I would react the same way today, though.

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Atari all the way.  My friend had the telegames branded console and some Telegames versions of games, they looked cheaper, but we knew there was no effective difference between the two.

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My parents refused to buy my Atari for me, but instead provided the opportunity to earn a whopping $1/hr working in the family business through the summer of 1981.  Mom said I would appreciate it more, which turned out to be true. So I was quite careful about the actual purchase when it rolled around.  And I was definitely considering both the coolness of the branding and the pack-in game.  At the time, the Sears version was $157, but I paid the extra $2 to have the Atari branding from the now-defunct  Lazarus department store. I definitely liked both games, as I used the extra money I’d saved to buy copies of Air-Sea Battle and Space Invaders. 

Edited by edladdin
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My friend had a Sears Video Arcade and a bunch of Sears (and Zellers!) carts.

I always thought it felt... off.

As someone else said, they just had a 'cheap' look to them.

And stupid names!

Target Fun or Air-Sea Battle... on name alone, you know what you wanted to play as a kid in the 80s.

Breakaway IV??? what/where are the first 3??? (I know now... pong consoles)

 

I gotta say though, the alternate wood grain pattern HAS been growing on me over the years as I see photos of them.

Edited by Torr
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I had an Atari but looking back I'm surprised my parents didn't buy the telegames version. We went to Sears for nearly everything from school clothes (yes I wore toughskins) to a riding lawn mower. I bought several games at Sears but I don't remember any of them being the Telegames versions. Maybe my memory is fuzzy or I just didn't choose games that had the Sears brand.

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Coming from someone younger who didn’t grow up in the height of the 2600 - if you were to ask me right now, I would tell you the Sear’s version looks cooler with the wood grain and the silver section where the switches are.

 

Not that either machine looks uncool.

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Aren't tellegames products actually produced by atari? I'm thinking Sears just ordered custom to have their name on it.

 

I thought the name differences in carts was stupid, though I imagine intentional as people probably bought the same game twice because of this.

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People who knew (and read the sticker on the bottom of the console) knew that the Sears Tele-Games consoles were manufactured by Atari. But unquestionably without a doubt (in my humble opinion) that Tele-Games Heavy Sixer trumped the Atari version. The wood finish was just so much better! 

 

Here's mine:

118947968_10217807005788112_7554382335484595475_o.jpg?_nc_cat=108&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=zccKiFqHtxQAX-VDrhw&_nc_ht=scontent-lga3-2.xx&oh=88946a3e609254755398be49ba9df0b6&oe=5F8D5D3A

 

Freakin' LOVE this thing. It is the star of my entire collection.

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19 minutes ago, eightbit said:

People who knew (and read the sticker on the bottom of the console) knew that the Sears Tele-Games consoles were manufactured by Atari. But unquestionably without a doubt (in my humble opinion) that Tele-Games Heavy Sixer trumped the Atari version. The wood finish was just so much better! 

 

Here's mine:

118947968_10217807005788112_7554382335484595475_o.jpg?_nc_cat=108&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=zccKiFqHtxQAX-VDrhw&_nc_ht=scontent-lga3-2.xx&oh=88946a3e609254755398be49ba9df0b6&oe=5F8D5D3A

 

Freakin' LOVE this thing. It is the star of my entire collection.

I have a chance locally to buy one in box. I think it’s new (sealed but with a tear in the seal, don’t know if it’s a reseal) but I’m not sure. I’m very tempted!

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Just now, The Strangest said:

I have a chance locally to buy one in box. I think it’s new (sealed but with a tear in the seal, don’t know if it’s a reseal) but I’m not sure. I’m very tempted!

If you can get it, do it. This console is not as common as you think.

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People who knew (and read the sticker on the bottom of the console) knew that the Sears Tele-Games consoles were manufactured by Atari. But unquestionably without a doubt (in my humble opinion) that Tele-Games Heavy Sixer trumped the Atari version. The wood finish was just so much better!    Here's mine: 118947968_10217807005788112_7554382335484595475_o.jpg?_nc_cat=108&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=zccKiFqHtxQAX-VDrhw&_nc_ht=scontent-lga3-2.xx&oh=88946a3e609254755398be49ba9df0b6&oe=5F8D5D3A

 

Freakin' LOVE this thing. It is the star of my entire collection.

 

 

 

Same! I love my Sears Tele-Games Heavy Sixer. It is the best looking console that has ever been created in my opinion. I’ve owned a few Atari branded Heavy Sixers over the years and they always look cheap and un-sophisticated in comparison. It feels like I’m driving the Toyota version of the more premium Lexus that just has the better styling.  I was born in 1981 and only remember seeing the Sears Catalog around Christmas time. I was to young to see an Atari console in a catalog or at the store. The first time I purchased my own VCS was in 2013. I went through a serious study of all the available options. The look of the Sears models just said that’s the premium version to me when I first laid eyes on them.

I have experienced love at first site only 2 times in my life. The first time was my wife, and I remember telling her I wanted to Marry her on the first date. Just like Richard Nixon did with his wife. The second time was with the Vectrex..I mean the Sears Tele-games heavy sixer.

 

Side note- the Vectrex is my second favorite looking and playing console of all time.

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Never had the choice here and didn't own either until much later, but I think the Sears has the nicer woodgrain while I prefer the Atari style for the switches and switch labeling. I suppose I would not have cared for the woodgrain as a late 70's teenager but rather have preferred "the real thing". 

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The Toughskins vs Levi's is the right comparison here.  The Telegames carts didnt have cool pictures and most everything looked bland on them.  I almost wondered if the Sears version were somehow inferior.  I didnt know anyone who owned the Telegames console and very few had carts despite having a Sears 4 miles down the road.

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I was too young to actually own or want my own Atari, tbh, but everyone in my Family had them, Uncles, Aunts, etc.

We were, from what I remember, pretty serious "Sears People", lol, I remember picking out Christmas in the catalogue, and the Family doing big ticket tool purchases there.

I had no idea the Telegames existed until a few years ago, as an Adult(I have a 4 switch).

SO I would have been too young to have been aware of any kind of bias, but I guess my Family considered the Real Deal the Real Deal.

 

Dunno, honestly. I remember poring over the Sears Catalogue, am kinda worried about my brain that I have no memories of Atari equipment being featured, just that damned wooden Labyrinth game noone would ever buy for me...

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27 minutes ago, Rogerpoco said:

I was too young to actually own or want my own Atari, tbh, but everyone in my Family had them, Uncles, Aunts, etc.

We were, from what I remember, pretty serious "Sears People", lol, I remember picking out Christmas in the catalogue, and the Family doing big ticket tool purchases there.

I had no idea the Telegames existed until a few years ago, as an Adult(I have a 4 switch).

SO I would have been too young to have been aware of any kind of bias, but I guess my Family considered the Real Deal the Real Deal.

 

Dunno, honestly. I remember poring over the Sears Catalogue, am kinda worried about my brain that I have no memories of Atari equipment being featured, just that damned wooden Labyrinth game noone would ever buy for me...

Looks like the 1983 Christmas season was the first that Sears had real Atari products in their catalog:

https://christmas.musetechnical.com/ShowCatalogPage/1983-Sears-Christmas-Book/0598

 

And the previous seasons featured Telegames consoles, like this one from 81:

https://christmas.musetechnical.com/ShowCatalogPage/1981-Sears-Christmas-Book/0668

 

My friend had a Telegames heavy-sixer,  and to be honest, most of the time we forgot it was a Sears system,  we called it "the Atari"

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That silver Sears console does look very cool. 

If I had played both games, I would've sacrificed the cool genuine Atari logo to get the Sears pack-in Target Fun. 

Even if Air-Sea Battle is a far superior name.....

 

 

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

 

My friend had a Telegames heavy-sixer,  and to be honest, most of the time we forgot it was a Sears system,  we called it "the Atari"

This exactly! My cousins had a Sears heavy too. My Aunt & Uncle always shopped at Sears. Anyway, the whole family and friends referred to it as “the Atari”. 

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Atari.

 

We got made-fun-of for wearing Sears Toughskins, and my dad thought their appliances were crap, which colored my view of them forever.

 

 

 

Edited by fultonbot

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