Arcade Cabinet Group Buy Guide and FAQ
So you want to get in on a group buy!
Group buys are some of the best ways to get an arcade cab. There are a number of pros that go along with it: they're cheaper, the import is handled by someone else, and you have a whole crew of people getting them at the same time that can help out with anything. You can find out a whole lot just based on the other people in your group buy finding out things on their own, and you can contribute to the collective experience of group buys on neo-geo.com or elsewhere, the reason that this document exists.
However, some say that the concept is too good to be true and, unfortunately, sometimes that is the case. There is a large risk associated with group buys and many of them experience SNAFUs. There is a great deal of financial risk, with many questioning whether what they're purchasing is really worth the money they're paying. It is not uncommon for many people within the group buy to be unhappy when things don't go their way, no matter whether anyone else in the group is suffering or not. Also, some sellers only see group buys as opportunities for people to restore cabs they receive for cheap, rather than an opportunity for those people to get into functioning, good-looking equipment. In short, you must be ready for anything or you will be disappointed.
The purpose of this guide is to utilize the shared experience of forum members to help newcomers and experienced cab owners with regards to group orders online. If any information is not found directly in this thread, the guide will hopefully be able to direct anyone to the resources they need through links or references. Thanks for reading!
Chief writer/compiler - ookitarepanda
Additional ideas and proofreading - electricgrave, poodude, VanillaThunder
Tips, tools, and the motivation to make this guide - everyone in the 2009 New Astro City Group Buy thread
Special thanks - arcadeotaku.com, hard--candy.com, and the neo-geo.com forums
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Getting started
II. Getting preparedA. ShippingIII. Receiving the cab
C. Control panels, accessories, and games
D. Space and measurementA. TrackingIV. Cleaning and/or restoring the cab
B. Checking the merchandise
C. Reporting or disputingA. DismantlingV. Enjoying the cab
C. Painting and artwork
Appendix Alpha. Profiles of cabs often found in group buysA. Sega Astro City/New Astro CityAppendix Beta. Collection of links
B. Sega Blast City
C. SNK Neo Candy 29
D. Taito Egret II
I. Getting started
First, you surely have a number of questions:
Who organizes these group buys and how often?
Not many people have ever done more than one group buy on this website for one reason or another. If the person organizing has experience doing the cab group order, that is invaluable. Otherwise, make sure to check trader ratings on this site and elsewhere to make sure that it is a reliable, easily dealt with, and most importantly, very communicative seller.
Cab orders are not necessarily a regular occurrence. If there aren't any current or upcoming group orders, don't go into previous threads and bump them just to ask when the next one is. That's not to say that they are rare, but you should be on the lookout.
What kinds of cabs are good?
You shouldn't even be asking this question. There are so many different models of candy cabs with so many different features that make them unique. While a Taito Egret II has a rotating mechanism for allowing "tate" (tah-tay, Japanese for "vertical" - yoko means horizontal) games, Sega Blast City cabs have a tri-sync monitor that allows for 31hz refresh rates.
Think about your gaming style and what you would like to have, and talk to other forum members if you're wondering if the specific group order is for you. Make sure that the cab you order is the one you want - buyer's remorse is terrible on something that costs this much.
Check Appendix Alpha for more information on different popular cabinets.
In what condition should I expect my cab?
One of the shortfalls of group orders is that the arcade cabinets have usually been well used and are not in mint shape by any means. After spending probably years in an Asian arcade, the cabs are subject to a lot of smoke, spilled drinks, and other nasty situations. However, this does not mean all cab orders should be expected in poor condition.
The place of origin plays a big part in the condition of your cab, too, so pay attention to that detail. Japanese cabs are treated with a little more respect, whereas those from Hong Kong may be rougher.
If your supplier is going the extra mile and says they will clean and/or recondition each cab in the buy, you should make sure to find out the exact details of that cleaning. Will they be taking each one apart? Will they clean off the chassis? Will the wires and circuit boards inside be cleaned thoroughly? How will the cabs be packed before shipping? If they don't tell you exactly what they plan to do, then you can't hold anything against them. Keep track of everything your seller tells you, whether in the thread or by private message or by e-mail, because should something go wrong, you'll need the backup.
Also, the joysticks and buttons on your cab will likely need replacement. This is the case with most group buys, but is variable depending on your seller. Check section II-C for details.
How much should I expect to pay?
All candy cabs are different, and this treatise is not a price list. Typically, the rule is: you get what you pay for. The word, "typically" is used only because some sellers are not good at pricing their materials. Check other group buys considering your specifically desired cab, or ask around. Most people on this forum should know what a fair price is.
Shipping depends on the seller, the distance, and the cab itself. Most cabs are very heavy, and will be shipped via freight. One cab could be anywhere from $150 to $500, depending on who you use.
However, the cab plus shipping is not all you'll pay. There are usually import fees that come from getting the cabs from overseas. These vary, but should not exceed $75 for each cab. Then there are any extra charges. Should the seller provide the cleaning mentioned above, that may come at a price. If the cabs are coming with new control panels or new locks, that also will cost extra.
I still feel new to all this, shouldn't I get a super gun setup first?
Simply put, cabs are for pimps. If you have the space and the money, you will rarely regret having a cab. But don't let this guide convince you of that. Again, this all depends on your playing style. Group orders are a great way to get into cabs because you'll have the chance to see a lot about how cabs work and you'll make your baby your very own.
If you have further questions on how to operate your candy cab, check out this guide from arcadeotaku: http://wiki.arcadeotaku.com/wiki/Beg..._To_Candy_Cabs
How do I play a game on my cab, do I just put the CD in the slot? What's a 100 yen coin? You can get these cabs for like, a hundred bucks, right? Can I play NFL Blitz on my candy cab, bro?
This whole thing is obviously is not for you.
I'm not a Neo-Geo.com forums regular, does that mean I can't get a cab?
No, but as a new member, you may receive flack for that. Our market was built on the idea that the people discussing what they do on the website may also want to trade, not on the idea that the internet needs another marketplace. We take our market very seriously, and to that end, a couple of policies have been put into place:
Posting in the market does not add to your post count. This is only important because the moderators often purge all 0-post members as a precaution against spam bots. If you are a member of the website, make sure to at least post something so the other board members will recognize you.
The trader rating is taken very seriously. Some people try to direct others to their eBay feedback but are not always convincing. In a group buy, this is not as necessary because the seller is not concerned about the buyers' trader ratings, but it is something to keep in mind.
Another related note is that many people find out about these group buys on Neo-Geo from Google, and we get an influx of new members whenever it happens. However, you do not want to be the guy who comes in when a group order's cabs are about to ship just to ask if you can still get in on it. The threads should remain clean from this so people in the group can discuss the specific group order's cabinets and so on.