Since the beginning of time there has been dust and since almost the beginning of gaming there have been ways of keeping dust off of your stuff. With the 2600’s unique ridged design it has a very striking look to it but it’s also a bastard to clean as all of us who’ve had basement/garage/thrift store finds know. The 2600 is a goddam dust magnet, and since its conception there have been ways of preventing such uncleanliness from occurring. Atari was clever, they build dust covers into their cartridges, which means that unless it’s been through hell a cartridge will usually never require a cleaning, most third party companies and later on Atari themselves omitted built-in dust covers though. It’s too bad that Atari didn’t have a built-in dust cover for their console though, so I guess you can settle for the next best thing a third party dust cover. There were dozens of these things offered by dozens of companies, in some cases the same product was being sold by a different company.
The Game Center
The most common dust cover you’ll find is actually from Atari themselves, we’ve all seen a Game Center, and some of us are even unfortunate enough to own one. In essence it’s just a large hunk of plastic and woodgrain, it’s advertised as being able to hold 27 cartridges, controllers, manuals and ‘accessories’. The thing itself it’s all too unpleasant to look at, especially the Sears Tele-Games version, but it’s large, it’s bulky, and most importantly it’s very fragile. The dust cover is just a large piece of shaped smoked plastic that really hasn’t aged well, it’s not uncommon for the cover to be cracked or chipped but usually it’s just missing altogether rendering the dust cover function redundant. If you have a small collection and don’t intend to get much more than would fit in the Game Center then you’d be pretty safe in owning one otherwise you’d best stay away.
This thing is weird; it is a dust cover that fits over top the system and rest in the crack between the top portion and the base of the machine. Again it’s just a large lump of plastic but I think it’s one of the more cleverly design dust covers out there. Due to how tall the cover is you can fit two controllers beneath it resting on the console, on the top of the cover is an indent the will fit up to 10 cartridges, and around back there is a little cubby to hold as many manuals as you can stuff in it. The thing is made from shiny black plastic, which on the box is made to look transparent but is actually opaque, but I think it looks very nice when paired with a Vader 2600. This thing was sold by a company called Video Specialties as the Vid-Tari and the name was changed later on to the Vid-Lid. Honestly this thing is worth tracking down just for how strange it looks.
The VideoStak Video Game Center
If you thought the Game Center was excessive then this thing will blow your mind. This thing is huge coming in at a whopping 18.25x16.5 inches it takes up as much floorspace as a modestly sized end table and is almost as big as my computer. There is a good reason this thing is so big though, it has to hold a lot of stuff, but it doesn’t do it vertically. A quick note, VideoStak also originally sold the Game Center, I’m pretty sure Atari just bought stock from them and slapped their name on it, because of this the Game Center clear plastic dust cover is interchangeable between the two. The Video Game Center has the cartridge storage at the back, it can hold 18 2600/Colecovision cartridges or 24 Intellivision cartridges. I only mention the Colecovision and Intellivision because this thing is designed to fit not only the 2600 but the Intellivision, Colecovision, Intellivision II with Voice Module, and the Coleco Gemini. The one thing that really confuses me is how you’re expected to fit the console accessories like controllers, cords, and manuals in the thing, it’s a mess of plastic protrusions and nothing seems to fit anywhere. Honestly you’d be better off with the Game Center.
This is just your basic dust cover, a piece of fabric fitted for the console, no fancy storage solutions, no plastic just fabric. These are the best way to go since no matter what console you have somebody makes a fabric dust cover for it, and in some cases you can even get customized one off of sited like Etsy. Atari did release their own branded fabric dist cover, it’s denim with Atari emblazoned across the top in white ink, whatever you do don’t wash these things the ink will wash right off. Also the Atari branded one doesn’t fit heavy sixers all too well, it’s a bit snug in places. Just get one of these.
Imagic released their own dust cover/storage solution it is called the ‘Imagic Video Storage Center’ just rolls off the tongue, it looks fairly standard and doesn’t seem to do anything particularly special.
There are a crap ton of dust covers/storage solutions for almost every classic console and I would consider it to be a futile effort to try and collect them all, some of them are rare, others are expensive, and most importantly they're all pretty terrible. I would recommend against owning any of these unless your collection can actually fit into one of them, otherwise they're just hunks of plastic that you'll never use, like Pong consoles except even more useless. Just to demonstrate how much people don't want these things I got both my Game Center and Video Game Center for free, the guy just wanted them out of his basement. They're all ugly mostly useless lumps of plastic and you'd be better off getting a fabric dust cover instead.