Ever seen a set of Ms. Pac-man Stencils?

I was lucky enough a number of weeks back to acquire a set of Ms. Pac-man stencils from a private collector for a good price. Surprise surprise, they were waiting for me when I returned from Toronto this past weekend. These vinyl stencils are based off of Joymonkey’s (Paul Murphy) Ms. Pac-man .pdf file that was released to Local Arcade a number of months back.

I don’t remember the exact price Paul was offering to make these stencils for people, but it was at his cost hoping to attract a little less attention from the copyright police. But even at cost, a set of stencils to redo the artwork on a Ms. Pac-man cabinet is very expensive, and now you’ll see why.

Lots of vinyl needed for Ms. Pac-man stencils

There are four colors total on a classic Ms. Pac-man arcade machine, blue, yellow, pink and black. The blue is a base color that you start out painting your cabinet like we have seen in the ‘Stenciling your Ms. Pac-man cabinet‘ tutorial series. That leaves us with three colors that need to be stenciled. Here are photos of each of the pieces of vinyl for each of those colors;

Ms. Pac-man Kickplate Black StencilMs. Pac-man Kickplate Pink StencilMs. Pac-man Kickplate Yellow StencilMs. Pac-man Left Side Artwork Black StencilMs. Pac-man Left Side Artwork Pink StencilMs. Pac-man Left Side Artwork Yellow StencilMs. Pac-man Right Side Artwork Black StencilMs. Pac-man Right Side Artwork Pink StencilMs. Pac-man Right Side Artwork Yellow Stencil

If memory serves me, when Paul did his cabinet, he actually cut out into separate pieces the artwork that wasn’t attached, like the Ms. Pac-man on the lettering was a separate piece of vinyl from the ghost chasing Ms. Pac-man and down. This would save some cost in adhesive vinyl, but it introduced a new level of difficulty to the stencils because you would have to double check your work to make sure placement of the two pieces was correct.

By having the stencils in one piece there is no question where each element of the sideart should be placed, just use the registration shapes (the squashed hourglass in this case) and away we go. But, this method does mean that the vinyl will have to stretch the whole height of the cabinet, and at three colors per side that means 9 separate stencil pieces need to be made.

Vinyl Stencil Costing for Arcade Artwork

I don’t know current pricing on vinyl, both Gamestencils.com and Thisoldgame.com have cut adhesive stencils out of vinyl and my guess is that cost on these comes in somewhere around $150. Add in a large enough box to ship all of these pieces and you might be looking at $165-$175 in cost. (My stencils came in a 6″ x 6″ x 34″ rectangular box)

Oh, and don’t forget the work to make them. Paul Murphy probably put in somewhere around 40-60 hours of work on this set of stencil files alone. If you have any doubts on the accuracy of the Ms. Pac-man stencil files even after I told you how much time was spent making them, do check out the my writeup when Paul released the Ms. Pac-man file to LocalArcade.com. I trust Paul because I monitored his progress through the project and I obviously bought the product, these stencils are very precise.

All any of us has to do is take them to the local sign shop, have them blown up by a factor of 10, and we should be good to go. Our work is minimal and we can have a great product. There is some work for the printer, after the vinyl is cut on the plotter they will have to ‘weed’ or individually pick out those Ms. Pac-man artwork shapes from the vinyl with an exact knife. Very labor intensive, but again easy for the general collector willing to pay for a set.

The first three parts of the Ms. Pac-man stenciling series are finalized and waiting on part four from Donnie. If you want to follow my progress as I start to re-paint my own Ms. Pac, check out my first post about my Ms. Pac-man Stenciling Progress.

Ms. Pac-man stencil videos

If you’ve forgotten, here are Paul Murphy’s three videos showing him prepping the black, pink, and yellow Ms. Pac-man vinyl stencils. Fortunately he used a little time lapse, otherwise these videos might be hours long.

Yellow Stencil:

Pink Stencil:

Black Stencil:

The point about stencils

Stencils can make your arcade game restoration project more authentic, but they are very costly when a lot of material is used. Ms. Pac-man is one of the worst for the amount of vinyl needed to make the stencils. I am extremely grateful to Paul Murphy who did all of this work and then made his work publicly available for all of to enjoy. All we have to do is pay for a set and start our project. Stick, paint and go.

Keep this in context when you hear about someone wanting to take on a new stencil project, they’ll need a lot of real support financially and otherwise from the community to make it through a similar chore.

Here are some similar arcade posts

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I’m just curious, what is that music that is used for the second video (Pink Stencil)?

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I have no idea actually, sounds like something out of Oceans movie.

I’ll ask the guy who made the stencils and hence, made these videos to see what he says.

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It makes me wonder how they did it at the factory? Surly, they didn’t go through all of that vinyl for each cab. It would be seriously cool to have a few made out of something like sheet metal — ones that could be reused over and over and over again… That would be possible, wouldn’t it?

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@duder: Collectors have accepted an idea similar to yours, that originally Midway used a sheet of brass or some other metal to easily reproduce the artwork across such a large set of cabinets. I haven’t ever seen anything conclusively online from the mouth of a former employee, but they did not use vinyl stencils that is for sure.

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