STEP SEVEN: PAC 'em in, MAN... i mean, "Miss."

Oh Yeah! Just when I thought I was stuck on a step - the phone rings... "How soon can I come over?" Bought for $120, sold for $480!

$841.14 became $1,171.14

January 2012

When I get caught up in the excitement that an item I have may likely sell at or above my asking price, I start thinking about the next item I'll buy, or even the next three items.  So far, I haven't bought anything hugely out of step with the plan but I have a feeling that situation might arise. It's hard to find something valuable at 1/4 it's retail price at exactly the same time I have the cash to buy it.

Before the fire call box sold at that record sale price (by record, I mean of all the antique fire call boxes from NYC that I've sold), I had decided my next item would be a table version Pacman Arcade Game.

Now, immediately (and if you're male), you may be thinking, "Awesome!"

Others, like my wife, might say, "Okay... tell me more."

Step Seven: Bought for $120, sold for $480
Project Profit: $1,171.14

When the call box sold for nearly $800, I had a decision to make. Do I stick in the $200 range and still try to double my money there up to $400 even though I'm now sitting on $800?  Or do I skip that step and get something right away for $800?  Common logic says to skip steps whenever possible. After all, do you want to be a millionaire in one year or in twenty? The problem was that I had already found a decent buy in the $200 range. I didn't have anything on the horizon for $800 that I was comfortable buying and selling as is.  There are a couple items that I can invest $1k in and come out ahead, but I don't want to chip in "own money".

So I decided to go for the item I already had my eye on: a Pacman video game table. Officially, it's called a cocktail table. It's a sit down model, for two player and original cabinet and hardware from 1980. Broken, they sell for $200 on ebay (even with another $300 for shipping)!

Working they seem to go for between $600-$800 without all new components. If you really upgrade the thing, they can go for $1200.

So I bought it (more about that experience later) and I got it home. The seller told me it didn't work but that some time ago it had and it probably just needed fuses. I tinkered and stressed about whether I'd just bought a 175 pound paperweight but this morning, after buying $30 worth of fuses, I got the darn thing to come alive and oh what a joy it was to sit down at my "new" cocktail Pacman arcade game and chase those ghosts!  It was even more fun considering that I started this project with a staple remover and now was playing my own arcade game. But as I played my second or third game, I noticed something strange on the side of Mr. Classic Pacman: a red bow.  Alex Trebek can be heard asking: In what year did Pacman go drag? Looking more closely in the console, I found that the original chip for the game had been changed and now was installed with Ms. Pacman. Arg.  Still fun to play.  I now have a Pacman cabinet with Pacman decals with Ms. Pacman game inside.

So here's the question:  Do I sell it as is, with some cracking decal under the glass and the one game inside and double or triple my money now, or do I do some seemingly straightforward and affordable upgrades and make this baby worth upwards of $1,200?

Oh, the decisions. In the meantime, you can find me in the garage "beta testing" the existing unit as I mull over my choices.

UPDATE 1/22/12: The game works great for one player, but I can't get the 2 player button to work.  In test mode, the second player joystick makes sounds when I move it and the button is good, but something must have been changed in the wiring.  Looking inside, I found a small sticker that says, "1995 conversion ok. Press Player 2 button for Reg. Speed."

I looked around online and found various hacks for this game where you can do things like press player 2 button while holding up the joystick to make the game move faster. I don't know if that's what was done here but I can't seem to revert it back to its original configuration. Trying to figure out wiring schematics while staring into a dusty wooden box filled with dozens of multicolored wires just isn't my forte. I think I'm going to try and sell it as is, in good working order for one player.

UPDATE: 2/3/2012: A good technician friend of mine came over and we tinkered with the unit. We determined that the switch worked but we hooked up a new one anyway. We tried a small hack that was suggested to me from a techie on a discussion forum. That didn't work.  I decided it was time to move on and I was motivated. After asking $650 and being told repeatedly that I wouldn't get that, I began dropping the price.  I dropped it by $50 every two days and recently it was at $475.  The phone calls really picked up then.  I had three offers for $300 for it but I was hoping to get more.  A repair guy said he would come give me a "free appraisal" of it when he got back from an arcade swap meet in CA and another guy offered to come last night and pay $350 but I was holding out for a tad more.  Then the phone rang today. A guy said he was very interested and would be here in an hour.  All went well until I demonstrated the cool feature I discovered called the built-in Degaussing Coil.  That resets the colors on the monitor.  When I showed him how it worked, the whole thing died.  He had cash in hand and had already played it.  He didn't see that the machine just quit.  I didn't want to sell him a lemon and told him what I just saw.  We checked the fuses and thankfully, one had just blown and I had extras. We were back up and running and swapping cash for living history a few minutes later.  WOOHOO!

Step Seven: Bought for $120, sold for $480
Project Profit: $1,171.14


  1. Wow! I thought you'd lost that sale. The suspense was killing me.

  2. i can't follow in your footsteps if you don't succeed, and i really want a million dollars so get to it, buddy! :^)