Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Atari 2600 collecting
I guess i started collecting Atari 2600 products when I first got the system as a kid. Form then on I just sort of kept it and acquired other peoples collections when they moved on to something else. After adding a few collections I had over a hundred cart a couple of systems and more controller than I knew what to do with. Currently I have a far too many systems, one even converted to composite video output, around a hundred an fifty separate cartridge titles and way to much space dedicated to my collection.
With a recent addition I acquired a couple of music mate cassette holders. This gave me inspiration to reconfigure my collection in with this system. The image shows the fruits of my labor. Its nice as it helps me understand what I have at a glance.
If you are going to start collecting I would advise you to look at Craig's list or eBay for a working system lot, making sure that it comes with some games and all the pieces you need. This would be controller. power supply and the RF adapter. There are some RF female to male Coax adapters out. I am absolutely not a fan, I like the big boxy RF to TV or coax with the TV / Game switch. They work better and work right ask for them by name. If you are serious about this you may jump directly into a modified composite system. You can sometimes find them on eBay or if you are electronically minded there are instructions to build your own.
The Atari 7800 is another thing to consider. The system plays 2600 games with out an adapter. I don't have one but I believe all of the controllers work on both, allowing for a one to one experience. Something like the 5200 had an adapter to play 2600 but the controllers use a different connection and can not be used. The colleco and Intellivision offered adapters as well so you can consider them, but you will have the same difference of controllers.
For collecting carts I really wouldn't be afraid about duplicates, it happens. If you don't have at least three copies of combat your a newb. If you are really new just work on games the you enjoyed in the past or genres that you like at first. I have focused on games from Activision myself. These were all very good games and none are particularly difficult got get. Also take interest in the rarity guide over atariage.com . You are going to quickly find getting one rarity seven game is about as hard as it is to get all the ones and twos. This is sort of the odd part of collecting, while not everyone had the same games there was a base lexicon of games that were pretty consistent. Combat, Pacman, Pitfall, Asteroids and Centipede were everywhere. It's trivial easy to get these. And you can buy them for three dollars a title on most sites.
If you poke around you can probably find someone who sells carts or systems if you are by a large enough metro area. Independent game stores and some independent record stores are a good place to check out. You can check garage sales but it seems like their day has passed, Craigs list is better. The odds of seeing an Atari by randomly checking sales has gotten pretty low. You pretty much have to just for the shopping and get lucky. Thrift stores are similarly bad. You can get lucky but you are looking for a pretty specific item or set of items. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that has a classic gaming expo that's a great place to go, but be prepared because everyone there knows exactly what they have and its value.
Going to something like a classic gaming expo is a pretty heady experience in and of itself. You are going to have your eyes opened to a larger world of gaming and there is the potential to throw down several hundred dollars. My first experience opened me to the world of the PC duo, superguns and neo geo collecting. Let alone the fact that there were nearly every system I had ever heard of there and for sale. I would recommend you don't take much money, but pick up cards and write down every ones websites. Don't impulse bankrupt yourself. An example to that point. Someone was buying about a grand worth of equipment to play Neo Geo games at home, both MVS and AES. He would have grabbed several games and would have been pretty set up. That said i bought a working MVS stand up game for around 125 and spend another hundred on a 150 in 1 multi cart. I have a lot more fun for a lot less cash.
From that I would say look around, come to understand what your getting into before you buy. That said a working system and several games is not a rip off at fifty bucks. That's not a great price but you shouldn't be ashamed.