Mr. Do! Roadtrip to Chicago

It’s been about six weeks since I finally acquired my Mr. Do! arcade game in Chicago. Having looked for just over two years for this game only now can I laugh when I remember what Joe Magiera said when I first met him in the fall of 2006.

I told Joe I was looking for a dedicate Universal Mr. Do! As if a gut reaction he quickly said, “Oooh, those aren’t that easy to find. Don’t come across those too often”. Should have been a sign, but I shrugged it off, what did I know. I was starting out, it’s not like this guy had the best collection in the Midwest or anything. *Insert uncomfortable laugh*

I passed on a Mr. Do! locally in Indiana

The audience for this Mr. Do! post probably spans about three people, so I wanted to publish it the same week as another arcade post of significant value, hence the 15 most valuable and rare arcade games list. But if you’re still reading, here’s the story.

Like many arcade experiences, when I was first starting out I stumbled across an individual who had a father that was an operator. The father had passed away, but the mother still had a couple of arcade games in her garage from his operating days. It ended up being two games, and those arcades were a Tempest cabaret (clueless at the time what Tempest was) and a Mr. Do!

Well, being the clueless newbie collector, I can remember standing in line as this story was relayed to me and now I wish I had an outer body experience. One where Rothe ghost could grip a large 2×4 for some whackin. “I love Mr. Do!, but I don’t think that I am looking to own one” I had done all this really valuable research and thought over it and my decision was that I was only looking to have a Mame computer inside a classic arcade cabinet and that was it. I wasn’t going to have a huge collection.

Well, this Mr. Do! cabinet is in awesome condition, here’s a photo.

The Gorgeous Mr. Do! I passed on

Eventually I came around to the idea. ‘Hello my name is Jeff, it’s been one month since my last arcade game’. I’d be ostracized by my friends, they’d ask ‘So, let us get this straight, you don’t have a guestroom. But you fill your basement with huge pieces of rotting wood.

I know where the Mr. Do! is, I probably shouldn’t even talk about it, but to really drive home the main point – I passed on a barely operated Mr. Do! that probably was sitting in this garage for the past 10 years. One of the worst uninformed decisions I’ve ever made. At the time, there was still the possibility that the Mr. Do! was for sale.Now, I think my repeated calls probably has cemented the owners resolve to keep the Mr. Do! even more.

No Mr. Do! love on Craigslist or eBay

So, through the next two years I saw just a handful, maybe less than 5, complete Universal Mr. Do!’s come up for sale around the US on eBay, Craigslist or what have you. (That is until this awesome looking Mr. Do! in Portland area sold for $40 on Craigslist!!) That’s right, all within the reasonable driving distance of LA, or Boston. Gin soaked Shenanigans. I think I set the record for consecutive ‘the looks’ from my wife when I told her that I was looking to spend two house payments on a ‘thing’ that at best, would introduce the sweet aroma of mice dung and mildew into the baby’s room.

I tried every strategy I could think of to get a Mr. Do! The most successful strategy was that I let every collector I met know that I was only looking for one thing, a Universal Mr. Do! The keys? Networking and being concise. Every collector I’ve met is always looking for 10 games at any given time. They have these grandiose ideas of having a huge gameroom with all of the games they played back in the day. However, think about the math. Meet 10 different arcade game collectors, and each person wants 6-10 games, that is 100 games to try to remember and they all start to bleed into one.

However, if you can be patient in getting every single game and think of your name as a brand, then you can do a little brand association. For me, everyone thought – Jeff Rothe = Mr. Do! Simple, easy, I focused on one game and it worked for me.

Then in May of 2008 I got an email from James in California entitled ‘I hear you’re looking for a Universal Mr. Do =D’. Here’s a snippet of what it said;

A few months ago, I bought a Universal Mr. Do. A friend of mine in Chicago is holding it for me.

He said he doesn’t mind holding it indefinitely if I wanted, but I’m being realistic for the short-term (I hate when I do that), and I know that even if I get it here, I don’t currently have the type of home where I could properly take care of it.

I figure if anyone in is going to take care of a Mr. Do properly, it would be you (especially after all the time and research you’ve put in). That’ll make me feel a bit better at least, knowing that it has a good home. Hopefully in a few years time, I’ll be able to find one again.

Networking paid off, even with someone I may never meet in person. First my rare dainty authentic china tea set….crap, no inner monologue, now my Universal Mr. Do! But how much are we talking here, because if the machine costs $500 and I still have $125 in gas even a Mr. Do! that close is out of my price range.

But wait, I kept reading;

I paid $250; it’s yours for $250 if you want it.

I can’t believe it. A working Mr. Do!, within my price range and within driving distance, patience truly is a virtue. James could have made some money back for his trouble and increased the price of the machine, but he didn’t, and that really speaks to his character.

Being the fiscally responsible I decided it was time to raise a little money for the trip. I eBayed the non working Popeye arcade game I had sitting in the garage to help pay for the overall cost.

James is heavily involved with the Mame project, and always needs scans of different pieces of gaming artwork like bezels and marquees. Check out his arcade bezel want list (posted in May of 2008) and if you think you can help him out, you’d being doing something altruistic for the whole community. James and his team will end up vectorizing any and all bezel scans they get and then include those pieces of artwork as a package to download for collectors when they create their Mame machines, allowing them to have hi-def art for larger monitors.

Planning the trip to Chicago for Mr. Do!

What would make a perfect arcade game purchase even better? A whole ton of stops to complicate and suck my time to coordinate. Thank you sir, I’ll have another. I knew I wanted to network while I was there with a new collector or two, and I knew I had a masters program interview project due as well that I could conduct on the trip that made coordination difficult. Throw in a dash of a great pinball machine deal that popped up the day I planned on leaving which took an hour off my available time which meant I needed to schedule somewhere to stay overnight…on and on.

Sunday came, I picked up the truck, made a trip to pick up the pinball machine, came back home, and finally headed towards Chicago around 2:00 pm.

My first stop was at Joe’s place in Evanston, Chicago.

Joe's place in Chicago

It was the first time I had been back since 2006 and now I was familiar with the rarity of each of the games that he owns. It is truly something of wonder to hang out in his arcade. If nothing else, remember Chris Moore’s photos from Joe’s arcade game party in 2006. When a guy has a Missile Command cockpit and a Boxing Bugs in his garage as games that were ‘up for trade’ or didn’t make the cut into the main gameroom lineup, you know it’s stunning.

Joe's Garage - Missile Command CockpitJoe's Garage - Boxing Bugs

Next stop, Tony Tuminaro’s in Roselle, IL to pick up the Mr. Do! machine. Thank the almighty for GPS, I would have gone out of my mind with the stick shift truck that I borrowed from a local collector. The Mr. Do! looked pretty good but definitely showed some wear.

Mr. Do! at Tony Tuminaros

There was a chance of rain so I was really glad that I had my leather game cover. This is one of my favorite pickups from that local operator. For just a couple dollars, I don’t think I paid more than $15 I picked up one of these arcade transport covers that looks like this one on the Happ website (Too bad they don’t have a photo of the cover on a game);

Happ Arcade Game Cover Transport

I stayed overnight at Chris’s place in Palos Park. I had a really great time, they were extremely hospitable.

Chris Moore's place in Chicago

Chris and I came up with the idea for the photo list of Willis arcade reproduction artwork, and I got to play a number of games in his arcade including his Lord of the Rings pinball which I enjoyed and his Mad Planets.

Chris Moore's Arcade Photo 1Chris Moore's Arcade Photo 2Chris Moore's Arcade Photo 3Chris Moore's Arcade Photo 4Chris Moore's Arcade Photo 5

Never having played Mad Planets before my only pre-conceived notion was that I love the title. Something about it always stuck out in my mind, giving planets an emotion. However, I didn’t have the immediate notion of the Raisin Bran sun, swatting at a plane with it’s plastic scoops spewing obscenities. It was just the right amount of hyper active spastic button mashing that I find enjoyable. I admit, that no game on my favorite list use a spinner or flight handle to control, so I really embraced that different type of control interaction. I had to play until I beat Chris’ high score, which wasn’t much since he got the game a week prior.

Then, Monday was the trip home. Pretty standard stuff.

Mr. Do! Machine ready to leave

Upon arrival in Indy, I plugged in my Mr. Do! and it worked which was encouraging to see. For whatever reason the game looked a little more beat up when I got it in the amazing lighting of my own basement, but I was just happy to have it.

Mr. Do! in my basement

I can always be anal and search for a closer to mint version from here on out with a working version to suck my time.

However…The second time I powered up my Mr. Do! I got a rug pattern. Not good news.

Mr. Do! garbage screen

It seems to be intermittent, but it is something that I will need some time to troubleshoot.

Total Costs

Let’s see, helpful information. I gave the cost already for the Mr. Do!, which was $250. I spent about $125 on gas to go and get it, but I did sell that Popeye machine for $100 so I figured my total costs came out to around $285. I didn’t have vehicle depreciation, housing or food cost which was unusual but also the power of the network. I think that $300-$350 is the market value for a nice Mr. Do! This was a great deal, the condition my Mr. Do! is in might not get a return of $350 without some fixer-ups. But, since I haven’t seen a Universal Mr. Do! in the Indianapolis area maybe $350 is too conservative.

I want to hear from other collectors what are some ways they ‘pay’ for a new game. I assume that selling off old arcades and parts and picking up others games on the way are two common things. But what are some other things you do to get the money to justify the purchase? I know sometimes I will wait for a new purchase until I bring in an extra money freelance design job or something.
Leave a comment if you’ve got an insight.

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Nice pickup. It’s always nice to score a grail. I can’t believe the story behind yours…networking really paid off. Wish I would have known you were in the Chicago area this weekend. I was there myself with my son for soccer and had a lot of downtime.

As luck would have it, someone posted a 25″ monitor on KLOV about an hour after I got home, about 20 minutes from where I was. I need one for a project and would have grabbed it in a heartbeat but can’t justify another trip there for a monitor and don’t want to pay the shipping costs. 🙂 Again, nice score. Congratulations.

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6 weeks….so much for my reading skills. 🙂

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@Jeff’s Arcade:

No problem, I do a lot of scanning when I read. It has been a slow realization that I have developed this habit since I graduated. I have to take in so much tech information and news to stay current the only way to keep up is to scan. That really stinks when you think about having to read textbooks for a Master’s program in Business like I am in currently.

Have you thought about going up to Chicago the first week of October for the Pinball Expo 2008? I am still debating.

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Nice pickup. I love the universal CPO’s, Marquees, Back Bezel’s and the Bezels… They just look great IMO.

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Two Mr. Do! fans in Indy. What are the odds?

The closest I’ve come to owning one is Neo Mr. Do! in an elusive and minty fresh full kit with all the goodies. However, it is kind of a fun story as I bought it off a message board, from a Danish seller who just popped up to sell a few Neo Geo carts and then dissapear. By all rights, I should have been taken for my money, but I got everything as advertised.

For the record, I paid $125 for Neo Mr. Do! which I still feel was a steal. Would love to have a real Universal Do! though.

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@Captain Wrong:

What are the odds…I kind of had hoped long ago that there was someone else in Indy who was passionate about Mr. Do! and would even have a dedicated Universal. However, I hadn’t found that to be the case.

That is an interesting story about the Neo Geo, a kit meaning like it came with artwork to make the Neo Geo look like a Mr. Do! machine? Like artwork?

Well, at some point I may upgrade my Mr. Do! for a better condition machine, so if you are interested as a buyer then I might just sell it to you.

Thanks for stopping by Rob.

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A Neo full kit isn’t anything that fancy. I should have specified. It came with an instruction card and mini-marquee and for Neo stuff finding all that stuff (and a box with matching serial numbers) isn’t always easy to find. Don’t know if you’ve ever played Neo Mr. Do!, it’s kind of like the Namco Arrangement versions of their classics. Some Do! fans hate it, but I think it’s pretty fun.

PS – got hip to this place b/c you met my wife at a blogger thing at IUPUI. Her name is Kristen, maybe you remember.

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@Captain Wrong:

Ah yes, ok, it’s all coming together now. You have a couple of games, one pinball right? Yeah, it was cool to tell someone about an arcade blog and have them get kind of excited. Glad you said something.

I know nothing about Neo Geo value / rarity, so this information is interesting to me to learn about.

If you ever want to write about your projects on my blog, I love guest articles / posts. She said you might be in the market for a new project, an empty cabinet.

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The Universal artwork is this trippy rainbow pattern on the bezel glass and the back portion inside the cabinet. I love it, but I automatically associate it with Mr. Do! when in fact those cabinets were used on a bunch of conversions. I get almost angry when I see it on anything else thinking, “Hey, stop stealing from Mr. Do!” LOL.

The art has nothing to do with the game, but seeing as Mr. Do! is the only Universal game I have seen in person I think that is why my association is so strong. I haven’t ever seen a Ladybug, and don’t expect to see anything else.

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@Jeff Yeah, I got a cabaret Missile Command with a Super Missile Attack board and Lethal Weapon 3 pin. I’m hoping to get a Candy Cab as all my other stuff is JAMMA and I have just enough vertical stuff to need the monitor to be flippable. Before all that, I built a Supergun and controller so if you anyone to write about that, I can easily update an article I did ages ago for Digital Press.

Neo stuff is crazy. I love the system, but collecting for it is alternately fun and frustrating. These days, I’m kind of out of the scene, but when I was last in, bootlegs were starting to really run rampant. Unlike almost everything else I’ve ever experienced in the arcade world, you really need someone who knows what to look for to tell you who is legit and who is not. It’s also a scene with tons of drama and a handful of crazies (along with tons of cool folks.) The good thing is, there’s tons of info out there on nearly everything because so many people collect the stuff.

It amazes me how many of those red Neo Geo cabs you still see in the wild. Saw one at Disneyland just last week. I guess that’s a tribute to the quality of games and the durability of the hardware. One of these days I want to actually get a cab, but until then that’s why I made the Supergun.

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@Captain Wrong:

Are there Candy cabs / cabinets in the United States? I haven’t researched this much either, but my general impression was that they are only overseas, in Japan. If that is the case, you have to have them shipped I assume, or maybe you just find an owner locally that has already done all that.

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Yeah, I’ve seen some around. Mostly in Chinatowns though. IIRC, Dave & Busters used to have them too or so I’ve heard. Best bet would be finding someone who has done the shipping already as the cabs cost less than the shipping.

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I live in San Francisco and I’ve always wanted an arcade collection.
So far my first piece is Mr Do!
I snatched it up from some local guy here for only $200!!!
That’s right!! A fully operational, beautifully working Do!
It’s the original Universal Cocktail Table (with original art and 2 joysticks on each side) The screen flips so the 2nd player can play..
This is truly amazing!!
I love playing it but I am afraid in wearing it out because it is my baby!!!!!!
I’ll add pics later…
heh heh heh, I scored. ~Said Beavis

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TeeDohJackson » Happy for you, the cocktail is great for parties. Thanks for sharing the story.

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Hi Jeff,

I have been working on a Mr. Do! project for a few years now. I have been slowing saving a converted cab, what a process of finding parts! I did a google search on Universal Mr. Do! and your website came up, really enjoyed reading your Mr. Do! adventure. I also sell parts from time to time to help fun my projects.


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Appreciate it, and good luck. Finding parts for a Mr. Do! will be just as challenging as finding parts for some more popular classic games…

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