NOS Arcade Artwork
New old stock (NOS) artwork comes in two forms. The first type is original factory replacement artwork. This was produced by the game manufacturer (or its vendors) and sold as replacement artwork for use by operators to spruce up their popular games or perhaps to replace art that was damaged on a game during shipping. The second type is conversion kit artwork. Many classic games came in kit form which would allow the operator to convert a cabinet they already had on hand into a new game. This was less expensive than buying a whole new cab and a popular option with operators. Typically included in the kits were side art, control panel overlay, bezel, marquee, instruction card, and printed circuit board. Sometimes the kit came with a new wiring harness and control panel as well. Operators often did the least possible work to convert a game into something new, because in the field game down time = lost revenue. Much of that kit artwork never got installed and can still be found today.
Now that you know the different types of NOS artwork, you should also be aware that new old stock means exactly that. The art is considered “new” because it hasn’t been applied, but it is certainly “old” because it has been sitting around for decades. NOS does not refer to the condition of the artwork, just that it has never been applied to a game. The artwork condition can vary greatly and may require extra work to be properly applied to a game you’re restoring. Watch for dried out adhesives, dirty, stained or damaged artwork. Folds, bends, tears, holes, writing, tape, glue and a whole variety of things could be wrong with the artwork. It is still NOS though! Just make sure you do a thorough inspection before you buy anything that’s NOS.
NOS Artwork – What is good and what isn’t?
This is an important question to answer, and much of it will depend on your personal opinion on the subject. The main points I consider are the condition and rarity. What shape is the artwork in and how common is the piece? While there are exceptions, most of the new old stock artwork that’s available is going to be old, 25+ years old. The artwork has probably been sitting around in a warehouse, a storage unit, or some garage, and may not have been in a climate controlled environment. It is very likely that the artwork has been exposed to extreme conditions such as heat, cold, water, mold, crud, rodent droppings, bug residue, you name it. The artwork might be sticky, stained, faded, damaged, peeling or just plain gross. You will find some well preserved pieces, just watch out for the hidden damage, it can be tough to spot. So when you’re trying to decide if that faded, dirty looking NOS Robotron CPO is worth the $40 asking price, think twice. Can you find the artwork from a reproduction house? Have you had a chance to really look at its condition, or are you just going off a couple pictures from the seller? How much is the shipping going to cost? When you add all this up you might just realize the piece isn’t worth the asking price. Buy a minty fresh reproduction for a few bucks more. Of course if we were talking about a faded, dirty looking Aztarac CPO, well that would be a different story!
Example 1 – Cosmic Chasm Sideart
Now when you think Cosmic Chasm, you think ultra rare vector game. So imagine the reaction to this crazy find in late July of 2011. 20+ NOS sets of the two-part right side art for Cosmic Chasm, WOW! CC was a game that Cinematronics ported from the Vectrex, but it never saw massive adoption and only a handful of the cabinets were ever produced. This artwork is pretty darn rare and one of the more interesting finds to come to light in the last 8-10 years IMHO. A local IL collector is working to acquire the artwork and will eventually produce a full package of artwork you can use to restore your game.
Example 2 – NOS Artwork on eBay
Here are a few examples of NOS artwork that was seen on eBay. First up is an NOS control panel overlay for Exterminator. Exterminator is a very unusual UR game produced by Gottlieb in 1989 and is considered to be one of the last (if not the very last) dedicated machine made by the company. There are few instances of this game in collector hands, and a piece of NOS artwork for the control panel is a rare site. Of course the $299 price tag was a little rich and the CPO did not sell. NOS artwork on eBay isn’t always priced out of reach. Consider the next example, a pair of NOS control panel overlays for the Bally Sente system of games. Pretty sure these are for the Deluxe SAC I cabinet as they aren’t very wide. A pair of these CPO’s sold on eBay for a mere $17 and they are in great shape. I might even know the guy that bought them 🙂
Example 3 – My NOS Artwork
I’ve been collecting artwork for almost a decade, and while my collection is small when compared to some of the powerhouse collectors out there, I do have a pretty good stash. I primarily collect Willis and Bootleg artwork, but sometimes NOS pieces are in the mix when I do a bulk or lot buy. The first example is a Spiders CPO. It was tough to tell from the seller pics if it would be any good, but I took a chance and I’m happy I did. Once I peeled back the protective paper, it revealed this wonderfully vibrant and colorful artwork. Considering how thin the overlay is, I’m thrilled that it was preserved so well. The Tapper CT CPO’s were purchased from Phoenix Arcade a long time ago, I believe I paid around $150. Pricey I know, but how often do you see NOS Tapper CT CPO’s? At the time I was restoring Bud Tapper CT #300, and felt the price was justified. I have since sold the game, but it was fun while it was around and the overlays looked amazing installed on the game. You can see more of my NOS artwork in the Gallery below.
NOS Arcade Artwork Video – Evaluation, Tips & What its worth
This video is a conversation between me and Jeff Rothe of Rotheblog about new old stock artwork. We try to give you some basics about NOS artwork and what to look for. I have since learned that the generic Atari piece at the end is from Knuckle Bash, and the Championship Boxing overlay is very similar to the one used in the Mikie High School Graffiti kit. Hope you enjoy it and if there is something you’d like to see, or know more about, drop me a line.
Reproduction Artwork – What do I need to know?
Reproduction artwork is created when NOS artwork is hard to find, too costly to buy, and there is high demand. Reproduction artwork is made from original films or created from scratch using a scan of an NOS piece. Reproduction artwork is usually done to the high quality standards of the original factory parts, sometimes of even better quality.
Of course this is not always the case as there are many reproduction pieces that are lacking in quality. A comprehensive list of reproduction arcade artwork can be found over at Rotheblog, a great resource worth checking out.
Here is my gallery of new old stock (NOS) artwork. Many of these pieces are unusual, uncommon or just unwanted, as I prefer. I’ve mixed in a few reproduction pieces and will continue to add more as time permits. Dimensions are accurate and provided in inches. Let me know if you can fill in any of the missing information.
Additional NOS or reproduction pieces will be added as they are found or acquired. If you have any unusual NOS or reproduction artwork for sale or trade, please contact me to discuss.
NOS Artwork Blog Posts
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