The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is not the most valuable of old video games consoles, and you can pick them up for less than $50 across America. Which is probably why the lady who goes by the name of lace_thongs35 was rather surprised to see hers sell for $13,105 on eBay. And no, that wasn't a mistake or a prank bid, but rather a case of genuine collectors making genuine bids and getting genuinely carried away.
Now I am a collector of vintage video games consoles, and video games, myself and know only too well how easy it is to become obsessed in a Pokemon 'gotta catch them all' kind of a way. My collection includes no less than three fully working, boxed and complete, Magnavox Odyssey consoles for example. First demonstrated back at the start of 1972 these were the world's first home video games consoles, and so have something of a special place in the hearts of collectors. Why have I got three? Good question, and answered by the simple phrase 'I am a collector' I guess. One is a very rare British import, complete with original sales and import documents showing it was for the UK market. Another had a the most perfect condition box I had ever seen, so I had to buy it. The third, and the reason I mention it here, came complete with a 'rifle' and shooting game plus a couple of other rather rare games for good measure. The seller had no idea of the rarity but knew it had a value as an Odyssey, we agreed a price that everyone was more than happy with.
Lace_thongs35 found herself in a similar situation, selling that 1980's NES which was in a bunch of junk in her basement, a leftover from when her kids flew the nest. Along with the NES she included some games in the lot on eBay, common stuff such as Super Mario Bros 3, Mario and Duck Hunt, TMNT II and MLB. Oh, and one not at all common game called Stadium Events.
Without getting too sad and geeky about this, Stadium Events is something of a Holy Grail game for collectors. On a recently published list of the world's 20 rarest games in video gaming history, Stadium Events was at number six. It is reported that only 10 complete, boxed, copies of the game exist today following a small original distribution of just 2000 copies back in 1987 which was quickly recalled leaving no more than 200 in the hands of consumers. Of course, it is the box that is the most valuable, being valued at around $10,000. Think about it, the games carts are far more likely to survive and survive in good condition than a cardboard box. That's why us collectors pay a premium for stuff that comes in the original packaging, and why Lace_thongs35 hit paydirt with her lot on eBay.
Over the course of a week of increasingly frantic bidding, hardcore collectors who had spotted the Stadium Events title in the lot revealed their hand and the bidding finally ended at $13,105. No joke, you can see the lot and the bidding war right here on eBay.
And before you ask, no I don't have a copy in my collection, more's the pity and no, I didn't join the bidding war as neither my obsession nor the patience of my wife stretches to paying that much for one video game cart!
I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .