• Jason

ARCADE AUCTION: Amusement Game Sales Amusement and Vending Auction - Kalahari Convention Poconos, PA

The last time I went to an arcade and pinball auction it was at a place hilariously named “Tasty Cheese”, a Chuck E Cheese knockoff before the pandemic. A combination of a lack of auctions in the Northeastern U.S. and the pandemic have kept me from going to any in several years. Flash forward to yesterday and a roving company called Auction Game Sales held an arcade, vending and pinball auction at the Convention Center at Kalahari Resort in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania. Rob Miller and I got up at the crack of dawn yesterday and made the hour plus drive to Kalahari in his Game Hauler 5000 pickup. There we met up with the OG of arcade auctions, Mark Davidson. A man who has been to over a hundred auctions in his life…and keeps track of the prices of everything sold at his cool website www.basementarcade.com . Also joining us were Jim Melcher and Marc Frega, owner of the Marcade in Dover, NJ. On the heels of the outrageous prices that were paid for games at the Museum of Pinball auction by the Captain’s Warehouse in California, I was curious what prices would be like here. A combination of factors seemed to keep prices MUCH more reasonable at the Kalahari auction. These factors included the fact that the auction was in-person only. The online bidders seemed to drive up the prices at the Banning auction significantly. Additionally, I suspect that COVID fears probably made attendance at the auction a little lower than it ordinarily would have been. Furthermore, the auction did not have any reserve prices. That’s right, no floor. Bidders were allowed to bid on their own games and buy them back for a $25 fee but that was the only thing that kept some items from selling super cheap. Lastly, something seemed off about the Banning auction. I can’t quite put my finger on it, whether it was the huge publicity, shill bidders or money laundering or something else the prices there were not at all indicative of even today’s inflated arcade prices at all. For those of you who aren’t familiar with how auctions work, the auctioneer calls out the prices for games and people in the audience bid on them. Once the bidding is done though, the final price is not the price that buyers pay. The auction house takes a 10% fee (that is waived for people who bring something to sell…remind me to do that next time) PLUS a 3% charge if they pay using a credit card PLUS sales tax…which in Pennsylvania is 6%. When I was bidding on games I basically assumed that the out-the-door price would be approximately 20% higher than the final price bid. The auction started off slowly with batches of parts, like buttons, dollar bill acceptors, game marquees, etc. If you were looking for that sort of thing there definitely was good deals to be had, $10 here $40 there. There was a lot of junk, but one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. After the parts section came the touchscreen bar games. This is when I started really paying attention. My family loves playing this sort of game. I currently own a Midway Touchmaster Infinity and a JVL Retro. I used to own a MagaTouch upright but it broke and wasn’t really worth repairing, so I was looking for a replacement for it. Before the auction I had scouted out the two nicest MegaTouches and made note of the lot numbers. There was two beautiful MegaTouch Aurora bartop units that had cool color-changing lights that I had my eye on. The first one went up for bidding and I came out of the gate firing hard making the first bid before the auctioneer had even lowered the price. I ended up going back and forth against someone else and eventually let it go for $550. Then the second nice one went on the block. I laid back this time and was eventually able to get it for $450. Was it free? No. But I’m fine with that price. These things don’t ship well so if I wanted one, I had to get it in person. Basically, I wanted it and I wasn’t leaving without it lol. With one purchase in-hand I was free to lay back and enjoy the rest of the auction. I had my eye on a few of the pinball machines but other than that I was good unless some crazy deal popped up. The tricky auctioneers of course decided to leave the pinball machines until the very end of the day. After the bartop machines, the jukeboxes were up for auction. Jukes are cool, but in the day of Spotify and awesome wireless speakers I personally don’t have any need for them. With the intro items out of the way, the auction moved on to the main rows of games. First up there was a TON of redemption stuff. Claw machines all over the place, Slam a Winners, ticket eaters, basically every game that you’ve ever seen at a Dave and Busters. People weren’t exactly going gaga for these items. Some of them went for decent money, but I saw working claw machines go for 20 bucks and a huge Temple Run game go for super cheap. There was a weird game there that I had never seen before, a Skeeball Super 21. It was essentially a strange combination of roulette and blackjack. It was fully working and looked really cool. My friends and I are into blackjack and poker so it was right up my alley. This thing is listed for sale online for $7,999. It sold at the auction for $175. I almost bought it to have a casino party in my garage and then give away lol. Next to the Blackjack game was a gigantic Oct-O-Score redemption game. This thing must have gone for thousands of dollars new. The price at this auction…$10. One seller literally gave away another huge fully-working redemption game for free. Rob almost took it but we ran out of room. if you had the means to move big stuff there was definitely money to be made on certain items at this auction. The cream of the crop classics went for good money, but lots of other things were cheep cheep. After redemption row was the video games, both more modern arcade bar games from Big Buck Hunter and Golden Tee to big Drivers and Shooters. A decent number of classics were mixed in there as well. Some of the classics were new builds of Pac-Men, etc and some were legit. I saw a nice Battle Zone go for I believe $1,300. A really nice looking Robotron sold for $1,300 as well. A very clean NARC sold for $1,000. Nice Missile Commands went for $600 to $800. The classics went for good money, but they didn’t offend me like the Banning prices did. Having said that, if you were willing to put a little work into a game there was deals to be had on several that needed a little TLC but had good bones. Between the video games and the pinball machines there was a large section of vending items, such as neat sticker machines (Rob picked up one super cheap), gumball machines (I almost grabbed one of those small gum ball pinball machines that ended up going for $50), to kiddie rides and ATMs. Next to the vending items was a big section with massive pool tables, foosball, air hockey and bubble hockey machines and Arachnid electronic dart boards. The Arachnids machines are always really cool. I already own an Arachnid Galaxy 2.5 that I bought several years ago so I didn’t need one, but if I did I totally would have picked up one of those cool looking Bull Shooters. There was even a New In Box Arachnid Fire dart game. The prices of the darts ranged from $700 or so for the Galaxy 2s to around $2G for some of the nicest machines. No one wanted the billiards tables or foosball machines. If you had the ability to move them, they were essentially free. The nice Super Chexx went for over 2 Grand. This brings us to the piece de resistance, the pinball machines. I had been waiting all auction since my early purchase for these…and apparently so was everyone else lol. For some reason the pinball section had several New In Box Stern pinball machines in it. Those NIB pins all went for full MSRP plus, plus the premium and tax. I guess the fact that you could walk away with a game that you want immediately counts for something in an era where games are often hard to get. There definitely didn’t seem to be any room to flip the newest pins. All of the out of box new pins went for around full MSRP as well. The more desirable classics garnered high prices, but not Banning high. A Theatre of Magic (which I heard had mold underneath but did not see myself) went for $8G+. Jersey Jack Wizard of Oz Prototype #14 went for over $10G. Some of the older pins were fairly reasonable. A Fireball sitting folded up went for a few hundred dollars. A Paragon that didn’t even turn on went for $875. The pinball machine that I really had my eye on was the Stern Monopoly. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a thing for this game. I’ve been searching for a decently priced, good condition Monopoly for years. I was really tempted by this one. Alas, it was OK but it wasn’t in the best shape. As the bidding on the Monopoly started I kept reminding myself, remember the 20% premium, remember the premium. Bidding on the Monopoly slowly rose to $2,900. Which is good, but for me to buy it it would have been at least $3G (if the bidder didn’t come back at me) plus 20% so a minimum of $3,600 for one in meh condition. That’s still not bad, especially in today’s world. I really didn’t feel like taking on a project though. I decided that I’d rather pay another G for a nice one, but I was reeeeally close to taking this one home with me. After we settled up all of our purchases, Rob, Mark and I grabbed a couple of beers and burgers at a Kalahari pub and headed home. This is my initial write-up on the Kalahari auction. It ended up being a really fun day. Hopefully Mark will input all of the prices that he dutifully tracked and I will be able to share a link to them here soon. I’ll update this post as soon as he does. Here’s a ton of pictures and video from the event for your viewing pleasure...







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