Artcade – Amazing Collection Of Arcade Marquees! (With Video)

The Arcade is where memories were made with many of our childhood friends, and continue to be made to this very day with family and those same friends. Artcade is the embodiment of the Arcade. It was a  place where there was no boundary between players, no form of console superiority in any form. It was just a basis of what game you liked, and if you could find other people who liked that game. I can’t even begin to recall a moment where I debated a company or personality involved in an Arcade game, whereas my playground hours were spent defending the Mega Drive and it’s ‘Blast Processing.’

While the Arcade numbers have dropped, the magic will never be forgotten when it comes to putting your hard earned money in and losing yourself in a brand new title or revisiting an old classic. It’s becoming easier to look back on these memories as well, from being able to see archive videos of old adverts, documentaries on the industry and the veterans who helped make it what it is, and of course the re-creation cabinets and machines that can play the Arcade games of yesteryear. It’s now as easy as a quick Google search to reignite that passion for the coin eating craze. 

One area that is still quite hard to revisit is Artwork. There isn’t a lot of stuff out there when it comes to the people who worked on some of the best Artwork during the Arcade era, as well as a lack of assets to view these wonderful pieces of history. Artcade is here to change that. What is Artcade? Artcade is a unique collection of classic arcade game cabinet artwork, it looks to bring some of those classic memories back to the foray of our thoughts with it’s massive collection of some of the best cabinet and marquee artwork of popular Arcade games restored to their former glory.

artcade-creation

The Artcade book was brought to us here in the UK and elsewhere thanks to the efforts of Bitmap Books. A fantastic UK company who, as the name implies, deal with book distribution, creation… heck, they just bring some of the best content for gaming books ever! They teamed with a man named Tim Nicholls. Tim is a fellow arcade lover who appreciates those classic memories that we all cherish so much.

The story goes that Tim was made aware that a massive Hollywood movie prop company were planning to destroy a load of marquees from Arcade cabinets they’d looked after for the last 40 years. We’re talking 40 years of Arcade artwork history here, these pieces travelled over the United States for years being featured in movies and projects, heck they probably ended up all over the world! Yet they were going to be lost to the world forever. Some of these pieces you could not find anywhere else! So Tim knew what he had to do, he had to save these pieces of Arcade history.

He put together what money he could, selling a load of his prize possessions to raise the funds needed to first make sure that the collection would not be lost to some landfill somewhere. However the next task came. What would he do with it all? Would he just let them collect dust as well? Sell them on? No, he would show the world these memories that were about to be lost to the portal of time. See, these were the original pieces of artwork from some of the best Arcade games ever made. Anyone could just redraw them and release a compilation of these pieces. But nobody had a collection of the art restored in the original form.

Tim changed all of that and put thousands of hours into each piece to restore them, not recreate them. He used the original artwork and took the damaged pieces he had bought and brought them back to life in a way that nobody had seem them before. Heck, some people had never even seen some of the games in such high quality since the 80s and 90s! He managed to make something really special for sure, so with everything in hand, all the hardwork he’d managed to pull together, Artcade was born!

tim-nicholls

What do you personally think of Arcade Artwork and what inspired the creation of Artcade?
I think for me, arcade art has been under appreciated. Always see a lot of of interest in comic book art and other forms of pop art and it’s almost been elevated to the point where it’s now considered to be legitimate art in its own right. It’s in galleries and it’s in exhibitions and it’s it’s pretty much mainstream. And, I think gaming, particularly arcade gaming, has been as much of a kind of pop culture influence as anything else. Yet it seems to be massively under appreciated, and I wanted to make sure that this archive of arcade artwork that I’ve managed to collect together was seen by as many people as possible. And, really, it was the book that if I could have bought it I would have gone out and bought the thing. And I remember sitting there, I’d looked through, through Amazon, I’d looked through on a bunch of other kind of um book websites, and found; pretty much nothing there were n-reasonable amount about the games themselves. A lot about the development work, but very little about the artwork.

Have you always loved Arcade artwork?
And as a kid, I had not a huge amount of money, spent a lot of time in arcades with no money in my pockets so, I ended up wandering around looking at the machines more than I did playing the games. So the artwork I think, became really important to me. And, I knew more- if you give me a- the name of a machine, I don’t think of the game immediately, I think of the artwork cause that’s that’s what I saw as a kid.

What do you love about Arcade artwork exactly?
What I love about arcade art… one of them being it just takes me back to being a kid to those holidays with parents and a slightly annoying younger brother; where we’d wander round the arcades, and it was probably the one time of year where we did have money in our pockets and we could spend it doing crazy things like pumping it into a machine that we weren’t very good at. And it it just really brings that back. So it’s par- it’s partly the pure nostalgia of it from a personal perspective. The other side of it, is that it it’s again it’s that the fact that it’s under appreciated. And I look at some pieces; and there are some games I’m not gonna mention any names, but some are they’re clearly being drawn by a guy with a pencil and a ruler and a radius gauge, and they’re-they are what they are they’re of the era. But they’re not necessarily what I’d consider art. There are other pieces that are just mind blowing in their own right!

How did you get started with restoration and get the collection that you did?
All this started for me really was with collecting and restoring some machines. I kind of I ended up with a group of guys and we got into collecting old, new old stock toys. And that gave us access after some detective work to some toy warehouses that really had, had closed their doors in the late 80’s and had never opened them again. And we’d managed to get access to them and we, we had a truck-full of old 80’s toys. And that kind of uh really ignited that nostalgia to me, to a point where I decided that what I really wanted to do, was to take it one step further, and rather than just have the table top version of some of these games was to have the arcade machine version of some of these games. And, at that point, which was probably 2001-2002, there wasn’t a huge arcade collecting community, in the UK particularly. And games were, relatively inexpensive.

So I bought a whole bunch of games and realised, very quickly that they’d had a hard life, they’d spent 30, 40 years, being abused in arcades and in warehouses and they needed a bit of restoration. So, I got in touch with a company in the US, that did restoration work, mostly for movies. And, they were very very helpful, so I restored some machines, and that, and that was great. The next time I called them, they told me that they were getting out of the arcade machine restoration business and focusing purely on pinball. And so I asked the fateful question of what are you gonna do with the artwork that you’ve got for arcade machines? And, they offered to sell it to me. They gave me a price, and that, the cost, of paying that price was for me to sell every arcade machine that I owned, was to dump all my savings, despite my partner’s protesting, into this thing and to, to buy that arcade archive. And, it really, it was something that I felt that needed to be saved, because if it hadn’t been me I couldn’t imagine that anyone else was about to pay the kinda money that it took. At the time it felt like a pretty stupid move but I couldn’t say no; and that’s how I ended up with a massive archive of arcade artwork.

Lastly, what started the creation of the book for you?
I think the catalyst for all of this, was Moon Patrol, it’s, the Moon Patrol marquee to me is the best of them all; it stands alone as a piece of artwork, it works as a real, strong attention grabber for the machine. And, the, Larry Days, style of, of art just, it suits the format perfectly, that, that’s definitely my number one favourite. Another one that I really love is Death Race, just because it caused such controversy, 1976, it pre-dates the Death Race movie, and, it was a videogame, targeted at kids where the, the premise of the game is to run over as many pedestrians as possible. It fits perfectly with, with that game. And it’s also the first game I ever played in an arcade. So that was, 6 year old me, and 4 year old brother, playing Death Race in an arcade in Swanage in the UK. It uh, yeah that brings back a huge amount of memories, for me. There are a couple of others that, that I really love and occasionally, it’s because of the game, so Sinistar, the marquee’s great, the game is, absolutely astonishing, so that’s, that’s kind of an association of the quality of the game with the quality of the marquee. There are marquees in the book that are only there, because the game is popular and was, was really great; artwork itself not so good. But,  yeah, they are few and far between, the vast majority of what’s in there are things that I really love.

Tim changed all of that and put thousands of hours into each piece to restore them, not recreate them. He used the original artwork and took the damaged pieces he had bought and brought them back to life in a way that nobody had seem them before. Heck, some people had never even seen some of the games in such high quality since the 80s and 90s! He managed to make something really special for sure, so with everything in hand, all the hardwork he’d managed to pull together, Artcade was born!

But it’s well and good talking about Artcade! Let’s look at some the games featured in the book shall we?

content

The first impressive piece of content from Artcade comes just after the foreword by Tim and his story. It’s the follow up feature of the works of Larry Day. If you don’t know Larry Day by name, you more than likely know his work on arcade games and pinball machines during the 80’s onward. Larry now puts his talents towards books, but his work has been seen by children the world over and it’s a beautiful thing to think about. Larry played a monumental part in the creation of the Artcade book, as it was quite a daunting task for Tim to actually track down the artists responsible for the art featured for these games.

So when he managed to track down Larry through a simple email, that started a chain of emails where Tim and Larry spoke quite a bit and Larry helped Tim with the names of artists that he could recall so he could credit them for the work being featured. In a day when images are plastered and shared all over the internet with little care to where it all started, this attention to detail is freshening and shows the dedication that Tim had towards his passion.

porkchops

One of the first pieces is Pooyan, which translates as Little Pigs in Japanese. Which was a game licensed up by Stern for international release and to be rebranded for the US Market. So Larry was given the task of making the artwork for the game, which was actually going to be called ‘Porkchops’ at the time. But was changed back to Pooyan due to concerns that the pork references might offend some people. However, thanks to the relationship that Tim ended up building with Larry Day, he didn’t just get the support and a few names of fellow artists from the man. He also shared concept artwork for some games that never made it to market, or in this case, a mock up of a game that had a little change before being released to the market! If Tim never took it upon himself to make this book, we may not know this fact or have even seen this piece in the first place!

After you change over from Pooyan, you are taken through a great chronicle of Larry and his work. From games that don’t actually exist apart from a ROM, to alternate marquees for some of the best arcade games out there. All of these pieces are thanks to the passion that Tim put forth to make this tribute to Arcade artwork possible. Selling a massive collection of his own Arcade Cabinets to savings that he could of kept and not taken any risk on. But it’s clear there is nobody out there who loves Arcade artwork as much as Tim Nicholls. One of the best examples of what Artcade has brought to the table is a simple heart-warming story that Tim has shared with us through Larry.

moon-patrol

When asked if he considered Arcade pieces to be ‘Artwork’ in a traditional sense, Tim brought up Larry as an example. You see, Tim’s favourite piece is Moon Patrol.Tim treasures this game a great deal. But the luckiest person when it comes to this piece is the person who owns the original artwork for Moon Patrol. That would be Larry’s son Peter. In Peters home he has the three feet wide Moon Patrol marquee framed and hanging up for everyone to see the work his father has done. Tim referenced this as perfect validation that it’s ‘Artwork’ in every sense, especially the traditional, as it’s being hung up on display as any piece of artwork would be. That is truly a beautiful view on the subject.

Another great attention to the people who have brought life to the subject of Arcade Marquees is Tim and his coverage with Python Anghelo. Python was a talented artist who was born in Romania, who moved to the United Stated to study Animation. Even becoming an animator at Disney, before joining up with Williams Electronics where he went on to make the artwork for a very popular Arcade classic – Joust. Not a lot of people are aware of his work within the Arcade space either, instead more aware of his work around the Pinball scene having contributed a great deal to that area of gaming.

joust

Tim sat down and had a full interview with Python about his work. Which we won’t spoil. Instead we implore you to pick this book up and have a read about the time they shared, as the information shared between the two is truly interesting in every sense of the word. To hear how Python speaks about his own style of work, and praises the work of Larry Day. It’s also refreshing as you get the sense that Python was overjoyed to speak with Tim on his Arcade work, as Python mentions that most people contact him about his pinball work, and most of them were collectors or dealers who simply wanted to see what sort of bang they could get for their buck. Unfortunately, Python was battling cancer at the time that Tim reached out to him about his work and passed away before the book was released. So some could see the book as a tribute to his memory. You wouldn’t be able to find a better tribute to Arcade artwork anywhere else either.

Moving on after that, you’ll find a full chronicle of classic Arcade marquees to enjoy. There is no additional bits here, it is simply high quality marquees spread across A4 Paper that is a feast for the eyes in the way that you won’t find elsewhere. Online, in person, it’s the perfect book to enjoy these classic pieces of artwork. We’ve chronicled a few of our favourites that you can find through the book in this gallery, but trust us when we say there are MANY more than just these pieces.


As you can tell, you have a great number of classic arcade games featured in the book. From Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Beserk, and many more! It’s just impressive in regards to the quality behind the artwork presented here. Some are obviously drastically different because some are from Japanese companies to American giants of the industry. Some artists prefer the more graphic design style of slick and straight lines for everything. However you find some of the artists hired were very much graphic artists, some of the pieces looking more like paintings than something for a video game. But that’s the beauty of Artcade. You can sit back as an adult and appreciate the different nuances of the artwork featured.

122333

But that’s not the end of the trivia either, in the back of the book you can find small paragraphs about each game featured. Tim wrote all of these himself and used what information he could, which proved to be difficult for some, since some games had little information on hand that was readily available. But he worked with what he had and you have a decent description of each game featured in Artcade that it’s refreshing to see what Tim has found behind each title. Something tells me that he could of wrote quite a lot on some of the games featured! Looking at you Moon Patrol! So once you finish the catalogue and features at the start, make sure to check the back to have a look at the breakdown about each game!

closing

Artcade has been a blast to read through and learn about the journey that Tim Nicholls has had to make it happen. It’s comes off quite clear just how much he loves Arcade artwork and it’s nice to see in this day such a nice success story when it comes to Retro Gaming. I can only imagine just how depth he went to actually get the book made, the countless hours spent researching to the time he dedicated to hunting down artists, emailing companies for references and names. It is honestly a warming thing to think that book sat in front of me is the journey of one man and his years of hard work. Every book has been created by someone in the world, and to have a better understanding of the book brings more life to the book itself.

The team at Bitmap Books really outdid themselves here, as did Tim of course. We highly suggest checking Tim out on Twitter and giving him a follow. Click here to do so. Also if you enjoyed the breakdown of the book, and you don’t own it, make sure to grab it by clicking here! We honestly hope you enjoy the book as much as we did as it really deserves far more attention this has. It’s one of the best reads I’ve had in quite some time, and it is the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who loves Retro and grew up in the Arcade! So make sure to consider picking up this fantastic book and supporting Tim!

Thanks for the great read Tim.

2222

Fan of Retro Gaming? Visit FunstockRetro.co.uk – The #1 for Retro in the UK and Europe!