Sunday, 6 July 2014

Road trip and my first Kiwi Thomson

So, let me start retracing 2014...

After flying from Melbourne to Auckland back in March, my girlfriend and I took a road trip down the East coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

We stayed in a quiet (but pretty) little town called Thames on our first night. When we went to the local shopping center the next day to find Band Aids I was pretty impressed to see a proper, old school '90s arcade in the mall:

Two out of three "out of order"
More "out of order" shame
Some "theme park" rides
Obviously I was disheartened to see so many of the games marked "out of order". Plus, I've never been much of a fan of sit down, mechanical games (although a sit down version of Chase HQ would still excite me). Also, the fluorescent lights aren't so great for atmosphere...

In general, New Zealand still has far more arcades and takeaway shops with coin ops than Australia. That said, you rarely see a really special game and most cabs are some kind of generic Low Boy style that a Kiwi company must have churned out back in the day.

Mind you, I certainly enjoyed pumping Metal Slug 3 full of change at the Picton Top Ten Holiday Park:

Metal Slug 3
So hard to get in focus without a Pause button
Woah! Check out that convergence!
Metal Slug 3 is a great game and it really shows off what is possible with a low resolution display when some some great animators are on the job.

Also, this machine reminded me of why I persist with consumer SCART televisions... that horrendous convergence in the last picture is unlike anything I have seen on a high end SCART TV. In general, most arcade monitors I come across look pretty ratty compared with a nice, well kept consumer TV.

Oh, the Picton camp ground also had a pretty sweet Cruis'n USA machine too:

Cruis'n USA
When we stopped for lunch in Mount Maunganui (awesome part of the world), we checked out the local op shop and I hit the jackpot: a sweet little 37 cm Thomson SCART television!

I felt pretty good about handing over my $20 NZD since The Salvos had obviously fired up the baby CRT to check that it worked:

Money to charity...
Test tag
We carted this TV around in the back of a camper van for a whole week. I'd be lying if said it wasn't a pain in the ass to have it in tow (it had to live on the driver seat at night when we wanted to sleep in the back), but it paid off in the end! I couldn't wait until we got home to Dunedin so I fired it up at the camp ground in Mapau:

Who said camping and retrogaming don't mix?!
Another "artists's impression"...
The other campers were pretty curious as to why I had a laptop setup on the microwave and and old school TV sitting on top of the fridge. I was happy though. That little Thomson had great focus and stability. A very nice picture indeed! In the coming months I spent plenty of hours playing Ghouls'N Ghosts and probably even more hours playing Luftrausers during my stay in Dunedin:

My ramshackle Dunedin setup!
For future reference, this Thomson chassis is highly worthy. It will sync to all manner of video modes and has a nice "blue screen" feature for signals out of range:

Type: 436/TX807C EU
Did you notice that Thomson was "Made in Thailand"? Yeah, they don't really use SCART televisions there, but they were still selling CRTs at the general store on the island of Koh Tao:

Anyone like a TCL with your six pack of Singha?
Lastly, while on the subject of Thailand, I also saw this super-cute green machine at a Bangkok market. It wasn't for sale... but if it had a SCART port I would have bartered hard for that one:

Just off the very hectic Koh San Road...
So cool...
I love how much of the tube is exposed! I'm not a fan of plastic bezels that surround the tube on arcade cabinets. I much prefer to see the black border of the actual tube. Not many TVs are designed this way but I reckon it's a great look.

Anyway, that takes care of some of the back log... more will follow soon.

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