UKVAC Meeting 1.0

Milton Keynes – February 7th, 1997

Words by Phillip Eaton

Pictures by Matthew Rose and Andy Welburn

 

 

Yes indeed, in the dim and distant past, there was a meeting Number 1! At the time there were 53 members of UKVAC, and so the 11 attendees made up 20% of the group.

The old single pager UKVAC website, originally setup by Ian Boffin, and handed on over the years, slowly passed away to become to become just a memory.

But wait! The content lives on – and here it is again – Ian Boffin’s original, unmodified words, from all those months ago. (Someone must have the pictures on their hard disk. Own up! Send them to webster@ukvac.org.uk and let everyone in.)

Meet 1’s words are Ian Boffin’s, not mine. All I’ve done is fix some spelling mistakes – P.J.Eaton

 
 
The Meet 1.0 attendees were:
1. Andy Jones

2. XY-Man

3. Frank Suffling

4. Martin Thompson

5. Karl Doe

6. Marshal Aver

7. Ian Boffin

8. Des Gibbons

9. John Cassells

10 John Keay

The first UKVAC meet took place (as many of you know) on Tuesday 4th February at Andy Jones’ place in Milton Keynes. Andy provided a great selection of games, beers to drink and pizzas to eat for us all... so first off - a big thank-you to Andy! The second round of thanks must go to XY-Man for organising everything - there wouldn't have been a meet (or a UKVAC!) without him. Cheers!

Well, for those of you who couldn't make it along... here's a brief report on what happened, and what to look forward to next time...

The games on show included:

Asteroids

Asteroids Deluxe

Lunar Lander

Gravitar

Star Wars

Joust

Defender

Robotron

Missile Command

Mr Do!

A Vectrex with 13 carts

+ A whole load of PCBs I never got round to seeing

 

 
All the games were in great condition... the Lunar Lander could have rolled off the production line just yesterday! and the Asteroids cocktails looked immaculate. Sadly, the Deluxe cocktail monitor went on the blink before I had a chance to play that one :-( ...the perils of XY monitors!

As well as Andy's games, a number of rare and collectable items were brought along to the meet. XY-Man lived up to his name with some immaculate 'NOS' side-art stickers for Black Widow, Major Havoc and Star Trek. These are almost undoubtedly the only such items in the country, and even pretty rare in the US. He also brought along a couple of extremely rare PCBs for Holeland and Super Locomotive.

Holeland is a strange cross between Space Invaders and Gremlins by Tecfri, with some really cool and bizarre graphics. I seemed to be the only person that remembered this game from the early '80s. I was still hopeless at playing it though!

 
Super Locomotive is something of a lost classic by Sega. No collectors in the US appear to have this game, which is known to have a production run of only 25 boards! Some of you may, however, remember a couple of games on the C64 called Loco (surprise!) and Suicide Express which were obviously inspired by the Sega original. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it is a really fun game - great music too!

The beer and pizzas were accompanied by a viewing of some super-rare Atari
promotional videos. These included clips for Tempest, Gravitar, Space Duel, Centipede,
Millipede (super-cheesy forest setting!), Pole Position, Liberator (another "lost" Atari game - a sequel of sorts to Missile Command - Cool!), Xevious and Dig-Dug. The Dig-Dug video was especially amusing, featuring an all-American family getting excited by the game - especially the cocktail
version! I guess you had to see it! The videos showed all the operator modes and explained the game mechanics in great detail. It somehow made Gravitar sound like the most complicated game ever!!! Also, we all now know how to flick our dip switches the Atari way(!) and clean our contacts
by rubbing a piece of white cardboard under them.;-)

 
XY-Man also brought along his extensive collection of Williams and Atari flyers dating from Pong all the way to the present day, and a number of promotional enamel badges from the early 80s.
Figure 1: Badges
 
 
The rarest item on show was an Atari CATBOX. This is used for faultfinding any Atari board you can name, and it is an incredibly rare and valuable item. XY-Man has already been offered a Quantum PCB and marquee for it - and we all know how rare they are! Don't worry... I have it on good authority that the CATBOX will be staying in the UK for the foreseeable future (and rumour has it that the Quantum is still scheduled to be here for meet#2!!!).

Figure 2:  Atari CAT Box

Figure 3: Atari CAT Box Control Panel

 
The rarest item on show was an Atari CATBOX. This is used for faultfinding any Atari board you can name, and it is an incredibly rare and valuable item. XY-Man has already been offered a Quantum PCB and marquee for it - and we all know how rare they are! Don't worry... I have it on good authority that the CATBOX will be staying in the UK for the foreseeable future (and rumour has it that the Quantum is still scheduled to be here for meet#2!!!).

In all, it was a great night out (left about 2am!) and I hope everyone else who attended it enjoyed it as much as I did. If nothing else it was great to put some faces to those names that crop up so often on UKVAC and RGVAC. A special mention should really go to dedicated Des Gibbons who flew in
from Belfast to be there. It was also a great place to sort out deals and trades and find those leads on your 'must-have' games. ...at last I have that elusive Space Duel control panel!

Maybe next time the Tempest will have a monitor in it! It's probably a good thing it didn't, as it might have been tough to drag me away from the game in that case! It was also great to get a good challenging 2-player game of Joust, and I must apologise to Andy (and John - Oops!) for racking up all
the highest scores on Robotron, Defender and Gravitar! ;-)

Meet #2 will hopefully be courtesy of XY-Man and his 'Puny!' (thanks Karl!) collection of vector and laserdisc classics in Manchester. The numerous rare items he brought along to meet #1 will be there too, and more (such as Marchen Maze by Namco and hopefully that Quantum:)).

No doubt more details will be available nearer the time.

Here's to the next one...

Ian Boffin

Thought Lost to the annals of time, U.K.VAC is proud to present the "lost" pictures from the meet. Here they are: