Author Topic: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...  (Read 18495 times)

Level42

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Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« on: October 24, 2016, 11:33:58 PM »
We all know that Chris is one of the nicest guys on this forum.

He's so nice.....he actually gave me a very very nice present during the last Eurocade in Oldenburg.

It was a very familiar console which most of you will recognize but....in a slightly different version which makes it pretty special for Europe.

It is a Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade. This was a rebranded Atari VCS of course.

The relationship between Atari and Sears began when Atari was trying to sell their home Pong console to various companies, but no one seemed interested. Even at Sears, the electronics departement nor the toy department were interested.....however.......the SPORTS department (!!!!) WERE very enthusiastic about it and placed a really, really large order.
So that was how that started...Sears was probably the big launch that Atari needed for it's home products.

Anyway, naturally, here in Europe we had never heard about Sears, nor this version of the Atari VCS (Note that I am NOT using the 2600 name, the machine was _note_ called the 2600 yet then....).

So I only learned about it's existence much much later, only when the internet bloomed and there were lots of sites with Atari info I learned about them.

Sears sold the console from the very first day. So there were "heavy six switch" Sears machines, there were "light six switch" machines and there was the 4 switch machine. After that, a very special machine came out from Sears: the Video Arcade II. This was actually the Atari 2800, which was the 2600 version Atari tried to sell in Japan (without a lot of success). Sears really liked the design of the 2800 and so they got that one going. That was also the last one.

Now....the one Chris gave me is a light 6 switcher. This is actually more common than the 4 switcher Sears. With Atari machines, that is the other way around.

However this is the first 6 switch "Atari" I had ever seen up-close, let alone own :)

6 Switch Atari's bring me back to the days that I was walking the same route to my school every day....and there was this home where a 6 switch Atari was standing there on a small table in front of a television. The whole set-up was lined up exactly at a straight angle with the large window of the living room, so you could see it very well, but yet, it was quite a bit down the room....so that it also felt out of reach.....which was what it really was for me at the time. Very much out of reach with a retail price of DFL 599,- it was WAY to expensive.....

The way that that console stood there....unattended by the owners which were probably already out to work seemed like they did it on purpose. To show off. To make young boys like me drool in front of that window.....wasting time staring at it, imagining how it would be to own one of those space-age, hyper hi-tech machines (which they were in those days !!!).....

Only when the 4 switcher had arrived and the price was cut to DFL 450,- my brother (who already worked a bit) wanted to invest the biggest amount in it. I put some money in and my parents too, and man-o-man do I remember that day when we went out to buy it !!!

OK....so back to 2016.

The machine was a bit dirty and Chris said "you receive this unit fully untested of course" which I had to smile about (because Atari products of that era are usually fantastic quality and so usually WORK).

I had to wait a couple of months for a lazy sunday at home so I figured I'd do this gift some justice and hooked it up to my main TV. This is not capable of displaying NTSC signals (of course this is a NTSC machine) but I could see the picture in Black and White (and without sound) when I hooked up the 4-swtich NTSC Atari I had bought a few years ago.

So I dug up my replacement power supply, I opened the machine to replace the antenna cable (the US unit has an RCA plug at the end, we need our usual European style RF connecter), inserted a cartridge, hooked it up and let the TV scan for analogue signals.

Sure enough after a bit of time I was greeted with the attract mode of Demon Attack (my favorite VCS game) !!!!!

Now, I did notice that the power jack was pretty loose, and sure enough the machine powered down- and up when I jiggled the connector. The solderings had become loose so that was an easy fix by renewing the solderings.

Next I totally disassembled the machine to give the shell a good bathing. Also cleaned all switches with some alcohol and the cartridge slot too.

It's easy to see why Atari changed the system to the 4-switch system. The 6-switch system has a pretty complicated set-up and a VERY thick metal shielding. It really reminds me of the Atari 800 machine I have. The 4-switch system went to only one PCB which is of course much cheaper and easier to produce and it went to a much lighter shielding.

Re-assembled the whole thing and now it looks very very nice indeed. The only thing I'd like to resort is that cool silver lining on the edge of the switch bezel (the Atari has a cheap yellow or orange there, HAH ;) ).

Look at that lovely wood-grain front.....doesn't that look MUCH more classy than Atari's ?

Anyway, the next step for this unit will be a video mod done by Mr.Atari, he already modded my NTSC 4-switcher and this has a great picture now.

Now......I really would need to get me a Harmony cartridge to play all those ancient VCS games. I know there's a lot of rubbish on the system.....but there are also plenty of really great ones and.......it will forever be the first REAL video game system we owned....and loved BITD.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2016, 11:38:23 PM by Level42 »

ckong

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2016, 01:06:13 AM »
Nice. Give it the love that it deserves.   :)

BTW, you could also consider to do an even better video upgrade than composite video, like RGB. I don't know if Mr. atari does that, but there are RGB kits available, and it is supposed to be a pretty easy (surely for you) DIY job.

http://etim.net.au/2600rgb/




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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2016, 06:13:20 AM »
Yeah I saw those Erik and well.....not very sure about it. They're relatively expensive compared to a composite mod. (Not saying it's expensive for what you get, it's a lot of hardware judging by the pictures of the PCB).

I also noticed there is a S-Video mod which may be a nice "middle of the road".

But in the end, I wonder if a system like this needs RGB....or that I think it is worth it for me :)

By the way, I forgot to post pics how the unit turned out, will do ASAP.

Luigi

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2016, 07:31:34 AM »
I've read in a book that sears sold those VCS but never seen one in real....awesome :)

I am totally not into those video mods. The picture is supposed to be blurry ;)  I see no sense in making the picture sharper. I'm too much retro I guess  ::)

ckong

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2016, 08:19:00 AM »
Yeah I saw those Erik and well.....not very sure about it. They're relatively expensive compared to a composite mod. (Not saying it's expensive for what you get, it's a lot of hardware judging by the pictures of the PCB)

..........

But in the end, I wonder if a system like this needs RGB....or that I think it is worth it for me :)

......

Yeah, I have more or less the same opinion, RGB may technically give a nicer output, but it's not supposed to be raisor sharp.  :)  And composite already gives a very good picture is my experience, and is relatively cheap.

Etienne MacGyver

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2016, 09:34:18 AM »
Nice gift, nice story, great turnout.

Belike

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2016, 09:43:33 AM »
That is a real beauty indeed, congrats. ;)

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2016, 02:05:26 PM »
Yeah, RGB is maybe a step too far. But loosing the RF signal is _really_ worthwhile...esp. for the low costs and mostly, easy of connecting it. I simply hate having to go through set-up menu's to find the right TV frequency.....even that aspect alone is enough for a composite mod ;)

Thank guys but you haven't seen it in full glory yet ...so here it is :)

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2016, 02:06:23 PM »
Some more pics...


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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2016, 02:10:08 PM »
And one more.....this pic shows I need to work a bit on those switches though....I tried to clean them with a magic eraser but I've learned you need to use Brasso and a LOT of work to get them back to shiny again....

Also got some tips how to restore the silver edge. I was a bit in doubt wether it was OK to show it's age, but the rest of the machine is simply in perfect condition so why not make that last small step.

It was nice to work on something small (and easy !) for a change ;)

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2016, 04:40:10 PM »
great write-up, andré, a joy to read. and it reminded me to get one of those harmony cartridges myself!!!
all i need is ... PONG - and a select few others: TOUCH ME, DRAGON'S LAIR, JOUST, ROBOTRON, MR DO, SAN FRANCISCO RUSH THE ROCK!!!

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2016, 11:37:55 PM »
For those interested in 2600, Rob Fulop (who designed Demon Attack) answered a few of my questions about the game on AtariAge and I've always been interested about Imagic....so I just searched a bit on youtube and hot damn....there is this AWESOME documentary about them !!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmrZUNIDM2k

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2016, 11:24:06 AM »
For those interested in 2600, Rob Fulop (who designed Demon Attack) answered a few of my questions about the game on AtariAge and I've always been interested about Imagic....so I just searched a bit on youtube and hot damn....there is this AWESOME documentary about them !!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmrZUNIDM2k

Nice one, thanks for posting :)

I was hoping for more technical background on making the game.


Part 1, ~14:08: "The entire process costs under 5 Dollars a game. Atlantis will then be sold at wholesalers for 16 Dollars. By the time it hits retail shelves it will sell for 26 to 32 Dollars."

I remember those games were faar more expensive in Germany (~80DM), though still less expensive than Atari games.....no wonder they made millions of Dollars :evil:
« Last Edit: November 14, 2016, 11:27:54 AM by Luigi »

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2016, 09:55:21 PM »
Thanks Thorsten !

I remember when we went out to buy Demon Attack clearly. It was a present for my birthday and although I had hope getting Demon Attack I thought the price would be way too high....

I was lucky that my mom wasn't with us though and just my dad. He simply asked which game I wanted so I said "that one"....trying to look as innocent as possible as if I didn't know the price....it was a whopping DFL 149,-.  That was the absolute premium price for newly released games BITD. (To compare the builder was about 10% less value than the Deustsch Mark then). To compare further: normally I would get one big present like a board game like Monopoly or Stratego which cost around 40 guilders !!
The 2600 cost 499 when we bought it so compared to all this the game was insanely expensive...and yet my dad paid without a blink of his eye :)

The fact that I remember that so well says I wasn't spoilt though ;) ;)

Anyway, don't remember that in those days a dollar would be something like DFL 3,50. Add to that the cost of shipping but mostly import duties and tax and you get a lot closer to the American prices....

Luigi

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Re: Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade...
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2016, 04:21:11 PM »
[sigh] I remember walking by the (locked) glass doors at the shelves with the games behind  ::)   

I would not swear, but I think I once paid more than 100DM for either Centipede or Missile Command, not sure. I paid 500DM for the (used) VCS including a few games. After that I started to destroy money on buying better sticks......ah, those good old days  ;D