ACT News


New computer shop selling retro toys brings in '80s babies

ARCADE and video games from the early 1980s are being restored and brought back into living rooms in a trend that is turning old toys into hot property.

ARCADE and video games from the early 1970s and 80s are being restored and brought back into living rooms in a trend that is turning old toys into hot property.

Computer gamers are reclaiming their childhood favourites like Pacman, Space Invaders and Street Fighter, which has spurred a small industry of hobbyists who convert old games into coffee tables. The game tables are selling at online auction sites for between $1200-$1300.

A Canberra store is set to open on Tuesday, July 1 which is tapping into the nostalgia of early game consoles and accessories, filling its display windows with old Sega Mega Drives, cartridges and rare items like the Nintendo Zapper gun.

Civic Computers is a virtual museum of electronic history and is receiving offers on stock which have not been priced yet.

The window display includes one of the first edition of laptops, a Commodore 16, and a 64 model with cassette games for each.

The Ataris, predictably, are also there. Store manager Nat Jones said the games appealed to a surprisingly large demographic. 


"It's very retro and we have had people saying 'I remember that from when I was a kid' and baby boomers saying 'my kids had that,'' he said.

"We offer working and non-working pieces, some people collect for the sake of collecting and some people actually want to use them - so there's a price difference there.

"We diagnose problems and repair them but some pieces are past the point of being fixed. Some people just want a Sega Mega Drive in a glass case on the shelf to say 'I have a Sega Mega Drive' and we provide for that as well as working games.''

The shop's main trade is in custom-building new computers to order, repairs and virus cleaning.

Well preserved Atari's in working condition with games, controllers and and manuals are commanding up to $200 at online auction sites, while Sega Mega Drives with all of the accessories can also go for that amount.

A large Commodore 64 with drive, disks, manuals, books and cartridges can fetch about $100, while used Nintendo Zapper guns can go for about $40, but need to be used with old CRT screens to work.  

Gold Coast based hobbyist Shane Pont has been custom-building arcade furniture for the past three years.

"I wanted a table for home to relive my youth pumping 20 cent coins into arcade machines at the local fish and chip shop,'' he said.

"I wanted something that was more like furniture that would go with our house rather than a commercial looking machine so decided to build one for myself.''

Mr Pont said he got a lot of encouragement and so started a small business called Arcade Furniture which has a presence on Facebook.

"The buyers range from middle-aged men for their man caves to a lot of wives and girlfriends [who] buy it for their partners as gifts. I have also sold six to some family holiday rentals, a coffee shop and also a nightclub green room." 

In a sign of the growing popularity of electronic nostalgia, eBay has posted a comprehensive guide on how to refurbish arcade games on its website, with advice ranging from restoring damaged cabinets to fixing controls that stick and replacing buttons.