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My Sega Pengo I bought in Nashville, TN

I take pride in every one of the stories in how I got each of my arcade game machines, but the one concerning my Pengo is probably my favorite.

When I first started researching classic arcade games in March of 2006 I posted on the video game collecting group on Google(RGVAC) to see if anyone had a Pac-Man, Pengo, or Ms. Pac-Man around Indianapolis. This was one of my first experiences with posting on the group, or any forum for that matter, and expected a great response. I was severely underwhelmed when I only got one email back, and that was from a guy all the way down in Nashville TN.

He let me know that he had a Pengo, and a couple of Pac-man cabinets. My post did say I was looking for a “Ms. Pac, Mr. Do!, Pengo, or a Pac-man”, but Pac-man was my last choice. However, he was the only guy that responded, and he had two of the arcade games on the list of the ones I was looking for. Still, Nashville was 4-5 hours away and transportation would be costly. That was March, and I had not yet been to an Indianapolis USAmusements auction at the fairgrounds, so at the very least I wanted to attend an auction and see what sort of luck I could have finding one of these arcade games locally.

I attended the USAmusements auction in April but didn’t really understand how everything worked. It didn’t matter, most of the arcade games at the auction were mid 90’s games with no Pac-man’s to be found. Time went by. May came around, and with some freelance money I bought a Pac-man cabinet locally (complete minus the game board) that I had kept my eye on for awhile from a Wagner Gameworks in Greenfield.

Still searching for a Pengo

But I didn’t come across another Pengo. I watched the forums, I watched ebay, and a couple of other sources, but it felt like this was a hard to come by game. I kept emailing the guy in Nashville back and forth, checking with him on different games that I was interested in from time to time. For awhile I thought he had an empty warehouse full of games, and he was letting them go cheap. He said in his original email that he would sell the Pengo to me for $50. I had all these grandiose plans, to team up with another collector locally, rent a truck, buy the games and split the costs and profits. But nothing came of it, and the underlying problem never changed, how do I make it cost effective to get that game when it was over 5 hours away, especially without a mode of transportation to bring it back in.

Come July when I emailed the guy about the games and how things were going, he indicated to me that he was going to do something with the games, sell them, junk them, whatever. He was renting space to store them and he wanted to stop doing that and save some money. Looking back after meeting him, I knew he knew I wanted that Pengo and he was calling my bluff a little. He put a little pressure on me to make some sort of decision, and that is what I did. I started planning.

Itemizing costs for my big arcade game buy

I started calling local hauling guys out of the classifieds, but no one would go across state lines. I figured that renting a large truck would be too cost prohibitive, but then I thought, if I buy all 15 of his cabinets, I should be able to cover my costs, resell them all and keep the Pengo or a couple others that I might want.

All of the trucks were very expensive, except Penske. They had a great price, and just trounced everyone else. So, I started to talk with Sarah about it, and I needed to itemize what was there and in what condition. Looking back at the itemizing, I am sure I drove this guy nuts, he must have thought I over thought this way too much. But he also got to know my inexperience and that I wasn’t trying to screw him. His price he gave me was for the Pengo, the $50, but that wasn’t the same for all the games he told me. As I was having him take photos, and tell me what pieces each game had (bezel, marquee, etc. etc.) he tells me this, and I start to think at certain averages higher than $50 a cab, I can’t make my money back. So I tell him that, that I don’t think it will work for me.

He sees the urgency, and the fact that the deal is about to fall through and being the really awesome guy I find out that he is, he says “Whatever, these have lost their usefulness, I just need them gone, so $50 a piece is fine.” With that we are back in business. I finalize my list, and get my final quote from Penske.

Then, Sarah comes home one day after school and says that she was talking to a friend who has an SUV and a trailer, and they just told us to skip renting a truck and to borrow both their vehicle and trailer for the weekend. The trailer isn’t getting much use anyway, and I think the husband was a little intrigued in what I was doing so that made them even more willing. Plus, they are just really awesome, nice and giving people.

So once again the arcade game deal was in jeopardy. I got some measurements for the trailer and the SUV, checked them out, and based on my calculations figured I could only bring back 8 cabinets total. The guy in Nashville wasn’t overly thrilled I was changing my plan again and not buying every single one of his games, but being the great guy he is he gave his ok to just buy 8 games at the same price, and things kept moving forward.

Making the trip to Nashville

The weekend came. We got the Honda and the trailer and made the trip down to Nashville. I planned to stay overnight on Friday night to minimize hotel costs in the total bill, and then get the games in the morning and use Saturday for travel back to Indianapolis. Sarah and I arrived at the hotel fairly late, maybe 10-11 pm, I can’t remember exactly. We pretty much hit the hay. In the morning we took a leisurely breakfast. I was kind of nervous on how this whole arcade bulk buy was going to shake down and how smooth / not smooth the transportation would be. We took a swim in the pool, relaxed some and then checked out and headed over to the storage unit.

Chris was there waiting with the unit open. Remember, this is the first time I have ever met another collector and seen the methods for storing large quantities of arcade games, so I was a little bit in awe. For him, this was just another day, trading, selling, and buying arcade games.

He was really nice and made the whole experience so memorable. I picked the 8 games that I wanted and the list looked like this;

  • Ms. Pac-man – Sticker artwork
  • 2 Pac-man Cabaret Cabinets
  • Nintendo Vs. Golf in painted over Pac-man cabinet
  • 2 Midway Galagas – One cabinet was free, dropped off by another collector to Chris earlier in the week
  • Sega Pengo
  • Bally Pac-man

There were a number of other arcade games and other things in the storage unit including a bunch of gumball machines, one or two skeeballs, a Popeye, etc. Interested in seeing a photo gallery of all of the items I ended up bringing back from my bulk buy? Check out the Nashville arcade game photo album.

I had checked out weather reports and anticipated some rain on the way back to Indianapolis with this vehicle full of classic arcade games. Chris helped us secure the tarp with the bungie cords / rope I bought for the trip and gave us some other tips. After tying everything down, we figured that maybe a little more support was in order so Chris invited us both over to his house and said we could have a couple of tie downs that he wasn’t going to use. How nice!

To be continued….

Here are some similar arcade posts

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