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.
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.
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.
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.
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);
I stayed overnight at Chris’s place in Palos Park. I had a really great time, they were extremely hospitable.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It seems to be intermittent, but it is something that I will need some time to troubleshoot.
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.
Here are some similar arcade posts
- New Resource – List of Willis Control Panel Overlay Artwork with Photos
- Bringing back the “Arcade away from home” Part 1
- Universal Mr. Do! is finally mine!
- The ever common, mouse infested pinball machine!
- Rare HUO Bally Journey on ebay!