Friday, May 7, 2010

History of the Tiki Bar Arcade


Hello and welcome to Lifestyles of the Un-Rich and Un-Famous!  Today we find our selves in sunny Southern California at the ghetto-fabulous residence of Miss Amber Von Felts, infamous collector and "Heart"-er of Everything!  From the outside it looks like any other regular ol' renter's paradise but Amber affectionately refers to this humble abode as her Mid Century Crap-Shack.  This palatial Estate was Continuously Built from the mid 50's all the way to the 80's.  Many amenities are of unknown origin or architectural style.  Constructed  mainly from popsicle sticks and  duct tape, this crap-shack is the Belle of the Alley!

That's right folks, that there is my house.  My crazy cobbled together, probably should be condemned, high in the sky executive suite.  That is if the executive is a former Enron share holder turned street urchin.  Don't get me wrong, I freakin' love this place.  We are off the street so I can collect my many, many, many crazy items and park my old car and old trailer and old fireplace all in the driveway and not get hassled from the city.  It is in a nut shell, perfect-o!   I wanted to show the house because there was some confusion as to where in god's green earth, a full arcade could possibly be located in a trailer-- LOL!  I don't live in the lil' camper, actually no one does.  Its full of, believe it or not, junk--I mean camping gear...yeah that's it!

  I live upstairs, the arcade lives downstairs, in here:

Yup, a regular old garage..or is it? 

Open the door and Voila!  A frikkin arcade!

How does one come to own a frikkin arcade you may ask?  Well, its easy, if you are me and free arcade games jump out of the Universe at you.  Let me explain....  It all started with this game here:

This is Joust, my all time favorite arcade game.  I remember being a lil' kid and my brother putting Joust on what was I think, his Comadore 64.  He and I would play it for hours, flapping the birds around, Jousting and killing the bad guys, who were buzzards.  It was epic to an 8 year old and was some really good sibling bonding.  Flash forward about 15 years and you'd see me and and my brother Paulie, picking up this arcade game from a junk shop in Camarillo.  I had discovered it on one of my out-of-town junk excursions and it was affordable.  $120 bucks later, we have it parked in the living room at my dad's old beach house and are tearing it apart, trying to fix it.

The artwork on the Marquee and control panels is just too AWESOME!

The boys in my family are really smart with electronics.  Between Paulie & my dad they got it fixed in no time.  I was the official solderer, and restoration expert, doing the cosmetics to bring it back to its former glory.  We got it operational and played it for the first time on an Easter Sunday.  The irony of a video game being "resurrected" on Easter was not lost on us!

Joust got the fever started...not long after that we picked up this lil' lady at a Video Game Auction in Annaheim. We did a complete rebuild on this one, starting from the ground up.  When we bought it it was just a shell with a Ms. Pac Man marquee on it.  More brother-sister bonding ensued.  I'll feature her all by herself in another post, somewhere I have pics of the resto.  I'll post those too.

We had a great time putting the games back together and fantasizing about what our own arcade would look like.  Then I met a boy and moved out of my dad's place.  The games stayed there, and so did Paulie until Paulie met a girl and moved too.

At that point I took over the two arcade machines and a small pinball we had also found.  I was living with the same guy but in a bigger house so we moved the games there and set them up in the living room.  Not long after that, the BF & I found two more games for free on the side of the road! We dragged those home and my Dad & I got them running too.  Now we were cookin'!

Several years, games and a couple of  boyfriends later, I'm still collecting arcade games.  I moved into the house above 5 years ago and set up the dedicated arcade in the garage.  It has gone through several different set ups, all changing with the eb- and flow of new junk & new games.  At one point we actually had a bar down there but I don't really drink so we sold it.  I was collecting a lot of Bar Signs too and most of those went to live at my current BF's house (Hi John I heart you!) .  He also has some of the "Overflow" in his garage, like the broken Spy Hunter Game.  He has the commercial popcorn machine too.  That was a birthday present from me to him a while back.  It makes the BEST movie popcorn ever! 

When you have a play-room like this, all bets are off when it comes to accessorizing!  I have picked up some real jems that would otherwise, have no place to be.  Here are just a few:

The ORIGINAL Bar Open sign.  My dad gave me this for Christmas one year (cool dad huh?) It lights up, although it isn't in this picture, and there is a motorized wheel in the back that makes "bubbles" in the glass of beer.  Super Amazing! The next one is a coveted PBR sign that also lights up.  When I die, this one goes to Edgar who knows PBR is the breakfast of champions. (whassup Edgar!) Below that are two of my favorite pics.  The BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS, DRUNKS & LOOSE WOMEN SIGN and the Lovable Branny Boy!

Here is Branny Boy.  He is like a mascot to the Tiki Bar Arcade.  I found him at a yard sale and just fell in love with his jovial smile and big ol' belly.  He is pictured in front of a snowy mountain range but is shirtless, cradling his beer gut.  Branny Boy, you rock!  As if it couldn't get any better, there is a dedication on the back.

Here is the dedication on the back:

It reads " Happy Xmas 81. To My hikin' buddy and all time good friend, Branny Boy"
Branny Boy, I heart you!

Now, for something completely different, MONSTOR! Rawr!

I found this at the local Swap Meet and knew I could not live with out it.  It has thus far, not found a purpose outside of being a wall hanging.  It reminds me of something from an amusement park that would be used to dress up a trash can.  All I know is that is is AWESOME, and needs to be here, in the Tiki Bar Arcade!

That's all for now, but I will be back soon to feature more games and show off more of my oddities!  Thanks for visiting!  MONSTOR SAYS- HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!


  1. Hahahaha I LOVE the pics and description of your "crap-shack"!

    Wow and your arcade games....

    Oh and love the Branny photo... I might have hiked with that dude lol...

  2. Great post all the way around. Branny photo - classic drunken buddy memorabilia. And Monstor, oh man, I would have had to buy that too. You could: mount a TV behind it, put Monstor on the front of a refrigerator, mount a box behind Monstor and put goodies in the box. Endless possibilities. First take a plaster casting of it and reproduce it in fiberglass so I can buy a copy from you!

  3. Sasha GreenpantsMay 7, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    Yaay! I have shared the honor of enjoying the Tiki Arcade! Thanks Amber! A gracious hostess!

  4. Your quirky little Museum !

  5. WOW! I can't believe you found some of these fabulous games sitting on the side of the road...FOR FREE! You are one impressive chick!

  6. Love this, Ambah! Please rename it Tiki Barcade, tho? Kthx.


  7. Is that a Nikon F in your camera collection? If it is, that's an excellent find and I know you didn't pay anywhere near the market value for it. This camera is the first modern, professional 35mm single lens reflex. In other words, it's the camera that made the Speed Graphic(big, folding press camera with a big bulb-type flash common in the '40s and '50s) obsolete and brought us into the modern age of the press/sports photographer and paparazzi. This is what replaced the pop and crackle of the flash bulb with the whir of the motor drive. It's the first of a 6 generation model lineup that was just recently replaced by a digital version.

  8. WOWIE! so jealous! all i have is a measly "six million dollar man" pinball here at hotel hot trash!

  9. Gosh, that was fun just to look at, I can't imagine how much fun it must to be LIVING it!!!

    I think I'd actually let my kids play video games if we had our own tiki arcade; I'm sure of it :)


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