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Is the Bally Astrocade worth getting, or is it just a novelty?


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I believe he did paint over the gold trim.  I bought some "limestone" paint once to try to make a "faux" whitey.  The paint had a rough texture, which was actually kind of cool, but after applying about 18 coats, I finally gave up.  I was never happy with it, but I didn't do much prep work on it before I started.  The wood grain was messed up, and the gold trim was 1/2 gone, so I was out (I think) 2 cans of fairly expensive spray paint!  :) 

Still that black one looks pretty bad-@$$ to me.

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5 hours ago, Allen Schweitzer said:

I know a lot of people think that Bally's are very expensive, and the truth is - THEY ARE.  I'm not a fan of that.  This post got me ruminating some old thoughts I've had for a while, now, and I decided to just put them here so maybe they'll be off my mind.  (FAT CHANCE)

It agitates me that people are listing consoles at the same price I try to sell mine for.  It shouldn't, but it does....  Most of these consoles are untested, and yes, I'm sure some of them don't work.  These people pick them up somewhere for probably very cheap, and try to make a quick few hundred bucks with a quick flip on e-bay.  Many of them sit there for a very long time "untested".  That doesn't really affect my feelings of disdain.  What irks me, is that so many sellers price their items at or above what I try to sell mine for.  Lately, I've just decided to raise my prices to meet theirs.  And why not?  Why would I spend $400 on an untested Bally (or even a working one, for that matter) to put my time into it and break even or lose money?

I'm willing to bet that most of the Bally's that sell on e-bay have not been full taken apart and cleaned.  I clean the keyboard, EJECT and RESET buttons, console top and bottom in warm water with Dawn dish soap and a hard bristled toothbrush, or a nylon brush.  I don't wash the outside of the bottom of the console case, as water and serial number stickers don't get along with each other, but I do use water and a brush inside to get out the dust.  Do these other people take over their wives' kitchen sink to do this?  Do they let all of the components air dry for 24 hours under a ceiling fan on their family's dining room table sitting on fresh paper towels?  Do they clean the keypad with a q-tip and Everclear to get 40 years of dead skin cells and dirt scrubbed off?  Do they blow air on the motherboard to remove dust particles?  Do the replace all the old capacitors in the board to help keep it running another 40 years?  Do they glue a monster heat sink onto almost every data chip to help prevent it from failing?  Do they wipe the RF cable and power supply cord with warm water and a paper towel?

Or do they just throw everything in a box, and pass it on to the next guy?  Too many times, I've seen a power supply with the plugs bent after it gouged the console top and/or scratched or broke the plastic top that sits over the cart storage area during it's joyful, bouncy trip to my doorstep.

Do they use an 18K Gold Krylon leafing pen to touch up the gold trim on the console?  RESET button?  EJECT button?  Keyboard?  Controller badges?

Do they make sure every game has a decent label on it, or even attempt to test the games?

And how about the controllers?  Do they take the controllers apart, and use a nylon brush on them to get the gunk out of the texture on the handles?  Do they test the functions of the controllers?  Do they repair issues with broken wires?  Probably not.  That's a 30-40 minute job, if you do it right.  Do they use electronic contact cleaner on the shaft to free up the pots?  Do they take every pot apart CORRECTLY, and clean the resistor plates with Everclear and Goo Gone, and put just the right amount of a 50-50 mix of white lithium and di-electric grease on the pots to keep them working correctly for years to come?

I put a TON of time into every unit I refurbish and sell.  I probably average 5 hours per console (and all the components)...maybe more.  The sad part is, I probably put more time into the cosmetically deficient ones than I have to the nice ones, and they don't bring as much.  I try to get them as close to what they were new, and as clean inside and out as I can.  I kind of feel sorry for the buyer when I see some Bally's sell for a lot of money.  It's fine if someone doesn't buy one from me, but I try to give every one of my buyers as close to a "new Bally out of the box on Christmas morning" experience as I can.  I want them to know what the Bally was to me when I was a kid.  I've bought "working" Bally's that arrived at my house with broken pieces, or not working.  Try finding a listing on a Bally that offers returns.  Even I don't do that.  BUT if you have any problems with a Bally or controller, game, UM, LWR... whatever you buy from me, you will have my attention until I can get the situation resolved to your satisfaction.  No, I do not accept returns, but I have occasionally had items shipped back to me if something was damaged during shipping, or some other issue arose.  And so far, I've never charged to look at or fix anything for anybody I've sold to.  Good luck getting that level of service out of the "Estate Find" sellers.  I did replace a bad chip on a unit I sold once...2 years after the guy bought it from me, and it failed.

I'm not sure I'll feel any better about submitting this after I do, but I do wish the best of luck to every Bally buyer out there, whether they buy from me or not.  Earlier this year, I started a collection of items removed from consoles.  I wish I would have started doing this long ago.  There are no guarantees in life, but I would like to think I can guarantee I won't be shipping someone a Bally with 1/2 of a bean, a random loose screw, a fake fingernail, a Monopoly house or any other piece of junk inside of it.

p.s.  If the Monopoly house is your, p.m. me.  :D


Well you could advertise it on ebay as "restored, better than unopened,  guaranteed to work OYMB" and say that new unopened Astrocades are not guaranteed to work due to their age.  Put that info on the auction, put no buy it now, and watch the meter run.


Enough people are aware that restored 5200 controllers are more expensive than unopened New in Box that enay prices reflect that.


Maybe it will be actually worth cleaning Ballys if advertising your Astrocade helps increase the price you get for Ballys on ebay.


I was lucky in the 90s, finding an Astrocade, 4 controllers, and 9 games for $5 , with 5 of those games being Basic, Incredible Wizard, Muncher, and Blast Droids, and a possible early prototype of Artillery Duel signed by one of the managers at Bally.


... And all working.


BTW the Bally Astrocade was the inflation ajdusted champion of ecpensive machines, but their difference from the pre-Intellivision 2600 was not that dramatic.  $300 for an Atari vs $500 for a Bally


However Neo Geo and 3DO were perceived as a rich man's gaming system moreso that the Bally because they were 4x-6x the price of a Genesis compared to 1.6x the cost of a 2600.  

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/28/2021 at 1:19 PM, wongojack said:

Keep kicking A$$ Allen, we are lucky to have you in this hobby.

I'm just getting to know Allen since he messaged me after reading my Bally restoration blog. He is a great guy, letting me borrow an original PSU for testing, so I can make sure it works BEFORE I try testing it with DIY PSU (I would test voltages on it to make sure they are within tolerances) that is untested itself. And because I'm going to be attempting controller casing rebuild on broken areas, something he is interested in learning from me, he is also sending some broken controller casings for me to practice on. And, he is sending me a RESET key that still has it's gold paint, unlike mine (well, we are exchanging those). So if you want to get a Bally Arcade/Astrocade  I say look to him first, and support him, as I say he deserves it and is a blessing to the Bally community and for the posterity of these classic machines saving and restoring many that otherwise might end up broken and lost forever, the more that happens, the more prices will go up too because rarity goes up with every lost machine.

Edited by Gunstar
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Lovely console, it's been ages since I've seen/played one, but I never took the plunge.  I was most interested probably a decade ago, and they were expensive then.  The biggest detraction for me were that working consoles could die somewhat randomly, even if you treated it with kid gloves.  They were also deemed non-repairable, which I assume remains the case if a chip goes.  I remember custom fans people installed to cool the system! 

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3 hours ago, Greg2600 said:

Lovely console, it's been ages since I've seen/played one, but I never took the plunge.  I was most interested probably a decade ago, and they were expensive then.  The biggest detraction for me were that working consoles could die somewhat randomly, even if you treated it with kid gloves.  They were also deemed non-repairable, which I assume remains the case if a chip goes.  I remember custom fans people installed to cool the system! 

Don't believe the hype ?


Honestly, I've had Astrocades for 20+ years now and they're still going strong.


Recently, Allen Schweitzer who's become the de-facto go to guy for repairs has said the majority of the systems he's repaired  / brought back to life these past few years were not custom chip failures.


So the majority of consoles that have issues or don't work are most likely repairable.

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Not hype to me, my hesitancy was garnered from opinions off forum/in person chats passed along by a number of valid collectors.  Second issue was the systems were barely around at game stores or shows.  Working ones weren't cheap but again it seemed like every person I met was afraid to own one.  Also no one saw much worth in broken ones, and the controllers seemed more mangled than the consoles.  Had untested units been available for 40/50 bucks like most of the rarer stuff back then I probably would have gotten one just to keep (in case it could be fixed).  But they really weren't, and spending 3-figures 10 years ago on a leap of faith was not advisable. 


However, it's good to know someone out there can fix them!  Mr. Schweitzer aside, it's not the best time for game repairs of any classic systems as most who offer still are inundated.  That will cost more $, and then I would need to find an old multi-cart, God knows what that costs these days!  Plus need spotless controllers, I won't buy mangled joysticks for any system.  So it adds up and up, for a system I probably will hardly use. 

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Well, I won't count as far back as my first Computer System model but suffice it to say I've been collecting it currently for 20+ years.


I can understand the hesitantly but frankly I never had a problem finding a working system.


eBay was always an option and consoles could be had for <$100, I think the cheapest I picked up was $47 (and it came with the uber rare steering wheel accessory).


I have no ideas about game store stock as I've never shopped in any.  If their stock was lacking or consisted of mangled inventory, I would have passed too.


The problem now is people see what working consoles sell for and assume their's is worth just as much.  The untested aka not working console has always been an issue with online sales.


Allen has always been approachable, inexpensive and from what I understand has a pretty fast turnaround.  He also sells the latest multicart.


The library is limited which is unfortunate.  While there are many games on tape, compared to the cartridges I always found them a novelty.

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16 hours ago, 128Kgames said:

I have no ideas about game store stock as I've never shopped in any.  If their stock was lacking or consisted of mangled inventory, I would have passed too.


My son came to visit for the Christmas holiday from Las Vegas, NV a couple of days ago.  He was at a videogame store in Las Vegas about two weeks ago and he spied an Astrocade in the store's videogame console "museum."  None of the items in this glass case were for sale.  He considers this event an episode of "seeing an Astrocade in the wild;" I agree.



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