|Phantom of the Opera
Phantom of the Opera was manufactured by Data East in 1990. 2,750 machines were produced.
How I obtained my game:
Phantom was another EBay purchase. I had been "looking" at Phantom's for a few months, but I didn't want to spend too much. One went up in New York City with a decent starting price and I bid about $50 above it. Much to my surprise, I was the only bidder and got it for the starting price. I did start to worry a bit, why was I the only bidder? They guy did have about 150 positives, so I stopped worrying (I should have worried a bit....)
The guy I bought the game from (EBay ID HAGAMES) is one of these new breed of coin-op dealers. He works out of a rented garage in a questionable neighborhood near JFK Airport. I had to wait about an hour for somebody to show up, and I made sure I kept the doors locked and the engine running! He had about 30 games in states ranging from good to pretty beat. I did get as much time as I wanted to try the game out, and everything seemed in order at that time. The condition was ok, not the "outstanding" quoted in the auction. Still, I was getting it for a good deal under the current book price, so I loaded it into the van.
The Phantom Arrives!
Here is a shot of the machine after I muscled it down into the basement. There's not enough clearance to get the machine down in one piece, so I need to take off the backbox for the trip down.
If you take a close look at the top where the backbox sits, you'll notice some bare wood. The machine didn't make the trip down the Jersey Turnpike very well. It seems that my "excellent" condition machine was actually held together by drywall screws! The backbox is supposed to hinge, but one too many moves without proper strapping snapped the base right off. A few drywall screws were used to rig the base together. I can't imagine what state the machine would have been in if it had been shipped commercially!
Here is a close-up shot of the damage to the top of the machine. The front of the backbox's base was completely ripped off of the machine.
This is the backbox itself, with the front of the base still attached. You can see the drywall screws sticking out.
Phantom story does have a good ending however. I was able to
repair the backbox base by tracing the remains of the broken pieces and
cutting a new piece out of 1x clear pine. A little black paint and
you can't tell there was every a problem.
The backglass wasn't in great shape, so I bought a NOS one from Mayfair Amusements. What a difference it makes! The Phantom backglass is actually printed on both sides of the glass. This way when the flash lamps behind the mask fire, you can see the disfigured jaw and teeth. Makes for a great effect.
The game has had some mechanical problems over the past two years that I've owned it. The power supply had to be completely rebuilt and it has fried a good number of coils. The organ continues to baffle me, it works fine in test, but doesn't want to completely open and close about 25% of the time. Its not enough of a problem to warrant the amount of time it will require to debug, but just enough of a nuisance to be bothersome.
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