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The great Nintendo Handheld Games from the 80's ...!

Interview with Linda C. Watson, authoress of „Watson's 2007 - 2008 Price Guide for Vintage Electronic Games collectors”

Interview by “Gawaleus” (Patrick), “Collectorscorner” (Olivier) and “Fuzzi23” (Stephan), February 2007

The terms “Vintage Electronic Game(s)” and “Game&Watch” will be abbreviate for this interview in VEG and G&W.

Linda C. Watson's book 2007-2008 Price Guide for Vintage Electronic Games collectors is available at
(ISBN: 978-0-9790929-0-9, language: englisch).

Hi Linda. First of all we’d like to thank you for letting us interview you.

Since we know very little about you, we would appreciate it if you could introduce yourself.

Hello fellow collectors. My name is Linda Watson. I’m a collector from the USA. I loved electronic handheld games and video games when I was young and decided I wanted to be an Electrical Engineer. After finishing my BSE and MSE in Electrical Engineering, I began work at a major semiconductor company. I started collecting games again because I still love taking them apart and fixing them. Somehow it’s kind of relaxing and brings a smile to my face every time I look at that old technology.

Let us start with the questions. Please feel free not to answer if you don’t want to.

When did you start collecting VEG and what was the reason/initial occasion that made you become such a passionate collector?

I started collecting in 2003 after my brother came to visit me on vacation. We were up late one night talking trash about who had been the best player for various games we had as kids. (It was usually me.) Then he asked, “whatever happened to your tabletop Pacman?”

The next thing you know I was on eBay looking for the Coleco Tabletop Pacman. I wanted to see if I still could turn that baby over twice on one man… As I searched I saw dozens of games I always wanted as a child, but never had. I thought I’d be satisfied buying 2 or 3. Then it seemed silly not to have the whole series. Once I had the series I needed a better place to display them, the bookshelf I had seemed inadequate for such wonderful pieces of history. I bought a curio. Once I put them in the curio it seemed half empty so I HAD to buy more to use up the extra curio space, then the one curio seemed unbalanced in the room so I bought a second curio to set next to it and filled that one up. After that I decided to stop making excuses to buy games and to just give in to the madness. :-)

We admire the photos of your huge collection in your book. We imagine that your guests are stunned when they first see your living room and we wonder what usually their first comment is?

The children’s reactions are the best. They usually walk in and freeze, their eyes get really big, mouth falls open, and they forget how to talk. One little boy started shaking…that made me a bit nervous, but he was fine, just very excited. Some kids only stare at the games directly in front of them and others start slowing scanning the room. They may not be familiar with the games, but they definitely know a room full of toys when they see them. Surprisingly, they never run to touch the games.

Now, the adults are totally different. They usually stop in the doorway of the game room and let out some type of comment implying surprise. Then rush over to touch the games. There tends to be a discussion on the games they had and the games they wanted. Sometimes they bring up cool and interesting points I never thought about. For example, one guy started naming all the sports figures on some on the boxes. He brought up the fact that OJ Simpson is the player on the Bambino Football Classic game. I never noticed the player was #32 from the Buffalo Bills until he mentioned it. He later got into a 30 minute argument with two other guys about who player was on the Bambino basketball. I love that my collection can bring back old memories and generate so much discussion.

What opinion do your family and friends have concerning your passion of collecting VEG?

My family usually says I knew this would happen. I have been playing with handheld electronic games since I was about 8 years old, maybe even before then. I loved taking them apart, putting them back together, modifying them, and just learning how they worked. That’s why I became an electrical engineer. My nieces and nephews think it’s the greatest hobby in the world since I tend to give them new gaming systems and pass on duplicates of my vintage games.

Most of my friends are very supportive, even to the point of asking what eBay item I want for Christmas. I give them the auction numbers, but I always act surprised when I see my gift. :-)

We’d be interested if you could provide us briefly with some more details about your own collection than illustrated in your book (number of VEG, containing brands etc.).

I try to focus on handheld sports game or tabletop games with joysticks. Those are the types I had most as a child. However, I probably have at least one of every style of game made. Currently, I think I have about 800 games. My favorites are probably some of the rare tabletop Tiger/Orlitronic games. I need more of those. I also like the joystick versions of the Actronics/Hanzawa/Ludotronic games.

Are there any VEG that you don't collect or which aren't interesting for you? Do you set special criteria like the "year of manufacture" or "brands" for your collection?

I only actively collect games manufactured from 1976 -1986 since it is the time when I was most often playing them, but sometimes if I buy a game lot I get games manufactured after 1986. Sometimes I keep them other times I give them to my friends’ children.

Can you estimate how many different kind of vintage electronic games have been produced worldwide? Which kind of VEG are still missing in your collection?

It would be a total guess because it seems like each year a new VEG is rediscovered. I would guess there are probably 1200 – 1600 for the time periods I collect. If you add in the late 80’s and early 90’s I think it would definitely be over 2200 games.

What am I missing? We could be here all day if I told you my complete want list. Here are the ones I really really want. Maybe you can help me. I just made an excellent buy from a dealer in Germany. There seems to be some very rare games there.

Rosy Space King
Eurosonic/Romtec Pucki & Monsters tabletop Boxed
Tiger space invaders tabletop
Tiger Star Castle tabletop
Tiger Jawbreaker tabletop boxed
Tiger King Kong pop-up
Conic Ice Hockey Boxed
Conic Soccer Boxed
Cardinal Basketball Boxed
Toytronic Soopa Doopa
Toytronic kick n'pass
Gakken Space Galaxy boxed
Konami Tutankham boxed
Entex Black Knight Pinball boxed
Caprice- Pro Action Hockey
Caprice- Pro Action Soccer boxed
Caprice- Star Command Space Probe
Sportron Nose to Nose American Football
Any Hanzawa/Actronics game (small version) with a joystick
Any Tiger/Orlitronic/Virca game I don’t already have.

Do you think that living in the States is an advantage for collectors because there “may be” or “is” a much bigger market for VEG than in Europe?

At first I did think living in the States was an advantage, but now I think it depends on which stage of collecting you are in and what type of games your are collecting. Once you get the popular manufacturers like Coleco, Mattel, and Tandy I think it could be more advantageous to be in Europe, Australia, or Japan. I can’t count the number times I’ve wanted to bid on items and the seller refused because they did not want to ship to the USA and the prices are definitely lower in Europe for several types of the games.

In your book you mentioned that your mother bought your first handheld which was “Conic basketball”. Do you still own this game and if so, do you also possess the corresponding box and instruction booklet?

My childhood home burned down in 1996. I lost my whole game collection, but my family all made it out safely, so I can’t complain. I have found the same red basketball game under an unknown manufacturer with the box and manual, but not the conic brand.

Did you preserved all your VEG from your childhood or did some of them disappear for some inexplicable reason ;-) ? Ever regret that you lost or threw away a handheld in your past?

My collection was lost to fire or was given to family. The ones I regret most are those small Tandy/Tiger LCDs like King Kong. I found a ton of those in a Radio Shack outlet back in the early 90’s. I bought some for my nephews and nieces and didn’t even consider getting any from me. They are long gone now. I checked.

Do you play with your games as well? If so, which games do you like most regarding the technology (3D games, games with mirrors, magnifying glass etc.)?

When I first receive them I play all my games unless they are new in the box. If I really like it I get two or three so I can play the extras. I like all of the types for different reasons. I love the ones with mirrors because it seems so innovative. I love the ones with joysticks because of their ease of use. I love the CLCD’s because of their bright colors.

What is your personal opinion about unboxed VEG and did you set some personal priorities regarding the completeness of those games in your collection?

I started collecting only unboxed games. They were cool and displayed well. Then I noticed some of the beautiful boxes these games came in and they started generating almost as many good memories as the games themselves so I started buying mostly boxed games. If a game is extremely rare I will buy it in any condition broken or unboxed. However, if the game is not rare or not high on my want list I typically wait for it to show up boxed. I would like all my games to be 100% complete.