BassGuitari Posted March 9, 2020 Share Posted March 9, 2020 (edited) So, I know most people aren't too interested in Pong consoles, but maybe Atari/Sears enthusiasts will find this as exciting as I do! Over the weekend, I acquired a Sears Tele-Games Super Pong that slipped under the radar on eBay. Not the woodgrain-adorned pedestal model that everyone's probably familiar with, though--that being model# 99736, the equivalent of Atari Super Pong C-140 but with handheld controls and a speed switch. Rather, this is a model I don't think I've even heard of in over 20 years of collecting. It's not even documented on Pong-story.com (although that site doesn't appear to have been updated in some time--Atari Hockey Pong C-121 is also undocumented there), and apart from a brief description in the 1977 Sears Wishbook and a footnote in Michael D. Current's Atari History Timeline--which indicates this thing never even shipped--I can't find any evidence of its existence. This model is the Sears version of the similarly elusive Atari Super Pong Pro-Am C-200 (which, after two fruitless decades of searching and researching, I had become convinced was never actually released--incidentally, Mike Current's work supports this--until I spoke to another collector last night who has one ) : the Sears Tele-Games Super Pong model# 99788. As no Atari C-200 or Sears 99788 had ever turned up publicly to my knowledge in the last two decades (though it's possible they did and I just missed them), I had some questions I was excited to finally have answered, namely: does it use the same board and case as the Super Pong Pro-Am Ten or Sears Super Pong IV 99789? As I giddily unpacked the game, tested it out, and opened it up to see what's under the hood, some things struck me: 1. This thing is made of the most insanely brittle, fragile plastic of any console I've ever seen. This is not hyperbole; there were over a dozen tiny broken-off pieces and chips of plastic in the shipping box and inside the console, and a few bigger, more noticeable ones that I glued back. Ordinarily I might have attributed that to shipping damage or maybe carelessness on the part of the seller...except the battery cover (which appears to have already been repaired at some point in the past) snapped in two places when I tried to open it up. And then snapped in a couple of other places when I tried to put it back. I've superglued it back together, but that cover's staying off from now on and we're going Battery Eliminator only. (I feel like I should be more pissed about this, but this system was listed as "parts/as-is" and honestly, it looked like there was a good chance it wouldn't even power up, so my expectations were a bit tempered anyway!) The only console in my collection that comes close to this Super Pong's fragility is my DINA system...and even that feels relatively robust by comparison. I am absolutely confident that if this system was accidentally dropped, it would shatter into a hundred pieces. Also, the plastic is a brown color instead of being closer to black like the Atari Pro-Am Ten or my Sears Super Pong IV, and the paint on the embossed "Game Select" and "Pro-Power/Reset-Am" labeling is a matte brownish gold instead of metallic gold. At first I thought maybe it was faded or washed out or had suffered some kind of sun/heat damage, but the inside of the case is the same color (the switches are uniformly colored on both sides, as well). Overall this Super Pong console looks nice enough on its own, but kind of dull and flat next to the Super Pong IV or Pro-Am Ten. 2. The manufacturer's label on the bottom of the case is covering a different label; a serial number is visible through it. It would be very interesting to see if there's an Atari Pro-Am C-200 label under there, but I'm not about to try to remove the top label! 3. The controllers appeared hardwired. This surprised me because, since the only difference between this Super Pong 99788 and the Super Pong IV 99789 (or Atari Pro-Am and Pro-Am Ten) is the number of players/controllers, I expected to simply see two controller jacks at the back of the system instead of their four. Hardwired controllers--coming out of different areas of the case than where the controllers would plug into the 4-player game, to boot--seemed to nix the notion that they used the same motherboard. Accordingly, the cases are also actually slightly different (another surprise since I was expecting Atari would have simply capped over the holes for the unused paddle jacks), with different cutouts and openings than the Pro-Am Tens and Super Pong IVs have. Additionally, the controllers had strain reliefs glued around their cords, but have since desiccated and broken off (the right controller cord still has a piece attached). 4. They used the same motherboard after all! There are unpopulated but marked areas on the board for four controller jacks and a couple of ICs that would have been used on the Super Pong IV 99789 and Pro-Am Ten. Interestingly, this system's paddle controllers aren't actually hard soldered like I initially thought, but connect internally via a 2-pin Molex-type connection...and in different areas on the board than where the controller jacks would go. Also, as dirty as the system looked in the eBay photo, the board is stunningly clean. 5. The manual is not printed on the glossy or semi-glossy paper Atari and Sears typically used for their manuals, but rather a paper stock similar to something like a heavy construction paper. The system works great--my wife and I put it through its paces over the weekend, and I rediscovered the simple addiction of trying to get the ball through a hole at the top of a wall in the "Basketball" game! I'm a little disappointed in the fragility of the plastic, although also curious if that--and its different coloring, and the sticker covering over another sticker on the bottom, and the the cheaper paint used on the labeling, and this unit's rarity in general--could point to it being part of a test batch or something. Regardless of whatever the story with thing is and whatever its release status actually was, this is an insanely cool find that I'm thrilled to have in my collection! ? Edited March 9, 2020 by BassGuitari 6 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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