Creation of 1:6 Scale Arcade Dioramas Now Easier and Less Expensive—Holy, Atari!
During a quick trip to Walmart today, I discovered an outstanding set of 4 miniature stand-up arcade games (toys), and thanks to the miraculously technological times we’re living in, these new mini games aren’t just inert, display-only models; no, they actually function. That’s right, you can PLAY these miniaturized versions of classic arcade games, while your GIjOEs stand up in front of them (just like YOU used to) and play right alongside you—How cool is THAT?!
The four games I picked up (shown above) are all vintage arcade classics, including: Centipede, Frogger, Q-Bert and Asteroids. If you were a teenager back in the late 1970s or early ’80s, these games will surely be familiar to you and bring back LOTS of memories. They’re top-notch, quality-made products by Basic Fun, and are numbered 3, 4, 5 and 6. Of course, those numbers made me think that there might also be a #1 or 2 (maybe even a 7!), so I quickly jumped on the internet when I got home and found out that—sure enough—mini-versions of Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man and Space Invaders are also available.<sigh> (I guess I need to get out the credit card—again.)
It’s Like They Just Cut ‘Em in Half!
Right out of the box, you’ll notice that these games looks SHORTER than 1:6 scale—but are they really? They’re actually pretty darn close in terms of monitor screen size and case width. Our best guess is that in order to save $ on manufacturing, Basic Fun decided to shave down the HEIGHT of each game by about 50%. That means dedicated 1:6 scalers (like YOU) are going to have to come up with some sort of “make do” solution in order to raise the games back UP to their “proper” height. (Insider tip—I just sold a REAL, vintage 1970s Robotron arcade game and it stood about 6′ tall. That’s the same respective height of a 1:6 GIjOE. So…if you shoot for a 12″ overall game height, you’ll be pretty darn close at 1:6 scale).
Height and Scale Improvements are EASY to Make
For 1:6 scalers, ALL of these games come up short— in terms of height. Fortunately, replacing any of that “missing” height is easily rectified. All you have to do is construct some sort of a nondescript box or base (in shiny or flat black) to make up for the missing dimensions. For Basic Fun games, your base will need to be about 6″ tall, 3 1/2″ wide and 2 1/2″ deep. For the Multicade game, your base will only need to be about 4″ high. Suggestions for “construction” materials include: a sheet of styrene plastic, wood (at Hobby Lobby or Michaels), or possibly some “letramax” mat board (stiff, all-black cardboard that has a flat, non-reflective finish, also sold at most art and/or hobby stores).
Once you’ve selected a material for your base, all you have to do is fold, shape, glue, and possibly paint it until your “base box” is finished. Then, set your game up on top of it. The final 12-inch height of your game will make it look FANTASTIC alongside 1:6 scale action figures and in their respective dioramas. Your mind will soon be racing with ideas for dios, including such videogame-appropriate locales as pool halls, bars, pizza joints, mall arcades, basement game rooms, “man caves,” and much more.
Bottom Line: As well as looking great with GIjOE, these mini arcade games are really FUN toys, too. Their gameplay is truly retro and just as challenging as you remember. The stickers and graphics on each game cabinet look SUPERB, so there’s no worries or problems there. Plus, all of the gaming sounds, play action, joysticks and button movements are natural and fully functional. Play them all at once and it sounds JUST LIKE the arcades of your youth (see video above for audio-visual demonstration). Buy just one and set it up in the corner of a room diorama, or buy them ALL and recreate your favorite teenage hangout (Gold Mine Arcade, Northcross Mall, Austin, TX, 1978, here I come—again!). Whatever you do, my 1:6 collecting friend—Just “Git ‘er Done!”
UPDATE as of 12-12-17: As shown above, game #7 in the Basic Fun line-up is Pac Man—again. Why repeat Pac Man? Well, it turns out Pac Man #1, which was released along with #2, Space Invaders, were both inferior products, featuring sterile b&w LCD screens and unrealistic, what we would call “FLAT” cabinetry. It’s as if Basic Fun wanted you to lay those first two games down flat on a table while playing them. Of course, GIjOE fans want these miniature replicas to stand UP and look like they did originally back in the arcades of our youth.
So… just so you know, we recommend that you forget about tracking down games #1 and #2, they don’t really fit into this newer, vastly improved line. Spend your time picking up #3, 4, 5, 6 and #7. Remember, the new Pac Man (#7) comes with correctly shaped cabinetry and FULL COLOR game graphics—just like the original. YES!
UPDATE as of 12-14-17: We just learned that TWO MORE great games in the Basic Fun lineup have been released. They’re #8 Joust and #10 Rampage. Say, where’s #9? Our 1:6 arcade is really shaping up! See video review by madlittlepixel below: