I saw a MAME cabinet on eBay a few months and I very nearly bought it. I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort there, instead of attempting to build one myself. But it was still quite expensive and I wouldn’t have had the same satisfaction that I know I’m going to get after building my own cabinet. Plus I’m quite picky over how the cabinet will look, and I don’t really like all the MAME cabinets that you see out there. Some people often try to cram too many controls or gadgets into their machines or make them too boxy etc. I’m not saying mine is going to be an amazing thing of beauty but I wanted to put some thought into exactly what style and design I wanted.

I’d been wondering what old cabinet style I would like to replicate. I came across these fantastic silhouettes of arcade cabinets which really show the amount of variety between different games and different manufacturers.

Atari cabinets
Atari Cabinets

Bally Midway cabinets
Bally Midway Cabinets

Williams cabinets
Williams Cabinets

There’s also the Nintendo cabinets with their own unique style. I do think the Nintendo arcade cabinets have a certain charm but that wasn’t the style I wanted to replicate personally, and the Midway ones didn’t really tickle my fancy. The Williams ones are awesome though and really evoke that classic 80s arcade style to me. The ones that jumped out to me are Joust and Moon Patrol. Robotron is nice too. Joust and Moon Patrol are supposedly almost identical with only about an inch or two difference in the width I believe. I preferred these two and because Joust is the more famous of the games I’ve decided that I’m going to base my design on the Joust cab. I was hoping to go up to the amazing Arcade Club UK a couple of months ago to see one in the flesh and measure but we had to cancel. What I’m now planning on doing is using the silhouette and some simple maths to work out all the dimensions and angles myself. I just need one measurement to get me started, such as the overall height, from which I can then work out the rest, but I’m hoping I can get that from some kind person on an arcade forum.

Joust and Moon Patrol

So that’s what I want the shape to be, but the next step is to think about how I want to decorate the machine. This is the bit I love, but also the bit I could seriously spend months on trying to perfect. A lot of my Retromash branding involves the off-white/cream which was used a lot in the 80s in things like the NES, SNES, GameBoy, Raleigh Vektar and the Tomytronic 3D Thundering Turbos to name but a few. It’s just a colour that I associate with 80s gadgets. So I’m thinking I will have that as my base colour and make it a light coloured arcade machine, which is a bit different. I’ll obviously have the Retromash logo or a variation of it in the marquee up top but I’m not sure yet what to have in the bezel around the monitor. Probably just some cool line patterns or maybe a list of names of some of the popular games I’ll have on the cabinet. Not sure. I might just keep the bezel minimalist and black.

Retromash arcade mockup 1And for the all-important side art I’m thinking I might try to put together a collage of video game characters and graphics that appear in some of my favourite arcade games. Some might be in-game sprites and some might be other art such as box art graphics that I can recreate in vector format. I’ll probably keep it to in-game sprite art actually. Might be easier. Some games or graphics I would have would include Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Street Fighter II, Bubble Bobble, Operation Wolf, Out Run, Star Wars, Gauntlet, Tekken, Rampage, Golden Axe, Track n Field, Galaga, Double Dragon and WWF Superstars. I’m aware it could look quite tacky if done wrong so I’m going to try to do it right and have them all as high res/vector graphics and using a similar colour palette etc. We’ll see how I get on with it. I may change my plan halfway through.

I also mulled over the buttons colours for ages when ordering my joysticks and buttons this week. I’ve settled on a combination of red and white for the main 6 buttons each and also white for the player and insert coin buttons on the front. I thought I’d keep things simple. The main ‘home’ button on the front will be either yellow or red. I’ll discuss my button choice in a separate post.

You can see a very, very rough mockup of what my final machine might kind of look like on the right here. The side art is obviously just a very early rough mockup and will have many more graphics than that. Looking forward to creating that art. The marquee will probably be lighter than this mockup too and also I will want to have some graphics on the control panel layout too. Not sure what yet. Might not have those stripes on the side either. Ooh, I really could spend ages designing the artwork for this. Bring it on.

Download all the files containing my cabinet design and measurements etc here (mix of PDFs, Illustrator files and Sketchup files). UPDATE: I now have some of the dimensions files saved as PDFs now too.

Immediate next steps in this area…
– Research vinyl costs and requirements
– Begin work on side art and other graphics
– Create layout plans of arcade cabinet parts
– Purchase joysticks and buttons (done)

Here’s a list of all the posts about my arcade build.

Part 1
Part 2 – Decisions
Part 3 – Cabinet Design
Part 4 – Control Panel Plans
Part 5 – Initial Questions and Concerns
Part 6 – Online Resources
Part 7 – Cabinet Plans
Part 8 – Buying and Cutting the Wood
Part 9 – Tools and Materials
Part 10 – Building the Cabinet
Part 11 – Building the Control Panel
Part 12 – Sanding and Painting
Part 13 – The Coin Door
Part 14 – Artwork
Part 15 – Printing and Applying the Vinyl
Part 16 – Adding all the T-moulding
Part 17 – The TV Monitor
Part 18 – Making the Bezel
Part 19 – The Marquee
Part 20 – Installing the Electronics
Part 21 – Setting up MAME
Part 22 – Issues to Watch Out For
Part 23 – The Finished Cabinet