Archive for February, 2012

Arcade Cabinets: Tempest (1981)

tempest marquee

Tempest Marquee-2

tempest control panel

tempest control panel-2

tempest side art

Tempest Side Art CU

tempest cabinet-2

tempest cabinet

tempest flyer

(Images via Game on Grafix,, T3 Design, Gunaxin, The-Tim,, VGChartz, and The Arcade Flyer Archive)

Arcade Zen

Rad Arcade/Flickr

Were jean shorts really this cool? No, they were not. What the hell were we thinking?

Rad Arcade/Flickr

If you think the symmetry of these lined up Tempests is beautiful…

Rad Arcade/Flickr

… then check out this action.

Rad Arcade/Flickr

I really like this long shot. The best arcades had a labyrinthine quality. They gave us spaces to ourselves.

Rad Arcade/Flickr

I don’t know where this came from, but I like it, and I can’t wait to find out what the other “rules” are.

Daves Portfolio/Flickr

This is one of the most iconic shots in the lot, taken in East Sussex, England, in 1983. I don’t recognize any of the machines behind Defender.

Rad Arcade/Flickr

Damn it! Rule number 1 is cut off!

Rad Arcade/Flickr


Neato Coolville/Flickr

From the first issue of the Disney Channel Magazine in 1983. It’s the Disneyland Starcade! No Discs of Tron sightings—yet.


“Now pimpin’ ain’t easy but it’s necessary, so I’m chasin’ bitches like Tom chased Jerry…”

Phillie Casablanca/Flickr

Battlezone sighting. Admit it, that viewer was really unsanitary.


The half shirt! With the short shorts. And Star Castle, remember that game? It was one of my favorites, and I’d totally forgotten about it until now.

Mall Shots

Image via

Image via Historic Palm Beach


Arcade Zen

All of the photos in this installment are via Rad Arcade’s Vintage Arcade Pictures and Magazine Scans set on Flickr. The set makes up more than half of the Growing Up In Arcades group and is a hugely important cultural document.

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

(1) Damn, it’s hard out there for a pimp. (2) How awesome is that raised platform in the background? Talk about product placement. That’s Tempest on the left, so this must be at least ’81. I think that’s Turbo on the right, which also came out in ’81. (Click on the pics for a bigger image.)

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are floating in space.

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

Check out what’s playing on the big screen in the background.

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

“Here comes John Travolta. Let me just flash my bell-bottoms…”

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

“Over here, John!”

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

The wall art. Gnarly.

Rights reserved by Rad Arcade

What a great shot. I knew kids that never skipped school to go to the arcade. I just wasn’t one of them.

Arcade Cabinets: Gyruss (1983)

Gyruss Marquee

gyruss cp

gyruss cp instructions

Gyruss Control Panel

gyruss sa set

Gyruss Cabinet

gyruss flyer-1

gyruss flyer-2

(Images via eBay,, Dragon’s Lair Fans, Game on GrafixArtwork Doctor, Joystix, and The Arcade Flyer Archive)

Arcade Zen

These pics are all via from a righteous Flickr pool called Growing Up In Arcades: 1979-1989. I’m going through the entire series and posting my faves, adding commentary where I see fit. Here’s the first installment.


May 24, 1983. Love the moonscape and the Berzerk marquee, but especially the moonscape. What’s an arcade but a series of trips to other worlds?


Homeboy on the left reminds me of the funny fat kid on The Cosby Show (what was his name?). Le Tigre dude is grabbing his balls or something; dude next to him is taking a shit in his pants; and dude next to him (the birthday boy in the previous pic) is sporting a killer E.T. shirt that I would wear today, if I could find one that fit.

David Atkins/Flickr

Another one from 1983. The socks. My God, the socks. And another Le Tigre polo (those were the shit back then). And the cut-off jean shorts. And a green t-shirt tucked into green, elastic banded P.E. shorts. Why not? It’s 1983, and we were there, and it was awesome.

Rad Arcade/Flickr

In the arcade cocoon we were kept warm by the fantasies our quarters bought us.

Rad Arcade/Flickr

Dad watches on, bemused by these newfangled games, but secure in the comfort of his pocket protector.

Rad Arcade/Flickr

Put those dice away, players! No gambling zone.

Rad Arcade/Flickr

Oh my sweet heaven. A Space Port.

Mall Shots

Rights reserved by Patricksmercy

Image via mall hall of fame

Rights reserved by Andrew T...


Starcade Prizes: Spectravideo and the Aquarius Home Computer System

“Spectravideo: The personal computer you grow into and not out of.” Built in joystick? Bad Idea Jeans.

The Aquarius system, released in 1983, was Mattel’s attempt to get into the home computer game.  It didn’t do so well, which is why they had to give the damn things away every week on Starcade.

Frank Frazetta: American Romantic

Lancer/Ace Edition (1967), cover art by Frank Frazetta

American artist Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) has almost single-handedly defined the fantasy genre from the late ’60s on. Even if you haven’t heard his name before, you’ve seen many of his paintings (check them out here). I say almost single-handedly out of respect for J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Ray Harryhausen. John Milius’s Conan the Barbarian (1982), which capitalized on the Tolkien surge and the popularity of D&D, directly emulated the Frazetta style, as did almost all ’80s D&D art (Elmore, Parkinson, Easley) and a staggering amount of comic book art. Look at anything fantasy-related today and you’ll see Frazetta’s influence.

He’s probably best known for his spectacular Conan and Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan of the Apes, John Carter of Mars, At the Earth’s Core) paintings, which were commissioned by various publishers. The New York Times reported in 1977 that “Paperback publishers have been known to buy one of his paintings for use as a cover, then commission a writer to turn out a novel to go with it.” (The only illustrator I can think of who might have done as much for book sales was the 19th century artist/engraver Gustav Doré.) His work is intricately articulate, deeply colorful, weird, erotic, violent, almost Romantic. His heroes are grim and bloody, his heroines scantily clad but often anything but helpless.

Here’s the Conan vs. giant snake scene by a different artist around the same time:

Lancer Edition (1968), cover art by John Duillo

And here’s one of the original Conan covers:

Gnome Press Edition (1955), cover art by Ed Emshwiller

There’s just no comparison.

I was a little surprised to find out that Frazetta was in no way the artsy type. He grew up a Brooklyn tough, nearly became a pro baseball player, barely eked out a living as an artist, and in later life suffered multiple strokes before one finally killed him. (For more, see the 2003 documentary, Frazetta: Painting with Fire.)

The art establishment never paid him any respect and never will. But he transcended his genres. When I look at Frazetta’s work, I see shades of J.M.W. Turner, Henry Fuseli, Caspar David Friedrich, John Martin. When I look at contemporary art I see lines and shapes that have no heart and signify nothing.

Vintage D&D Ads

d&d ad

d&d ad-2

d&d ad-3

(Via Cyclopeatron)




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