The Fully Illustrated Blog

Replay Expo – Game Inspiration Galore!

October 15, 2012

This weekend saw the third annual instalment of the Replay Expo! For those that don’t know what Replay is, it’s a growing retro gaming expo hosted in the north west of England. It’s been expanding substantially year on year and this year it was colossal! The queues were in their thousands on opening day with people travelling from all over the UK to come and sample the retro gaming delights on offer.

There were so many arcades and pinball machines on show that it was visual and aural delight. You could get your hands on more classics than I can even begin to list here, so it was an incredible trip down memory lane. There are few to no places left on earth where you can go to get that 90’s arcade feeling, but it was here in abundance this weekend! Having a 4 player Vendetta mash up with complete strangers, challenging someone to a bout on Street Fighter 2 or trying to grab the highest score on Galaxian was just too much fun.

Alongside the plentiful coin-ops was (literally) every games console and computer ever made. So you could literally sit down, pull up a chair and enjoy any gaming machine you could dream of. The atmosphere was alive for the whole weekend, and due it being a building full of like-minded folks, everyone was so friendly. All you’d hear all day as you meandered around was someone saying ‘fancy a game?’ and on you’d go for a couple of games with a complete stranger. It really amplified what made retro gaming great, actual physical people, playing alongside actual physical people. No internet, no headsets and nothing ‘virtual’ in sight.

One of the highlights for me was an amazing Q&A session with Mike Montgomery, one of the founders of the Bitmap Brothers. The whole thing was so inspiring and to hear a true gaming legend stand there and reminisce was superb. He was also kind enough to sign my copy of Speedball 2, so I was somewhat happy with the whole event :)

The big difference this year was that the organisers decided to open the expo up to a wider audience and target half the show (which in total is about 300% bigger as a whole) at the modern gamer, so there were lots of contemporary gaming booths on show and some epic MW3 and Halo 4 tournaments.

Some of the highlights of the modern gaming booths were ‘advance previews’ of upcoming games and hardware, so I not only managed to get my mitts on the Wii U (very impressed, especially with Rayman!) but I also managed to get an advance play on the superb Metal Gear Rising. Bizarrely (as I’m rubbish at most games usually) I managed to complete a timed challenge, bagging myself a rather tasty 3D lenticular poster. Hurrah!

On top of all this there were some great stalls selling all manner of retro goodies and memorabilia, so it was damn near impossible to get your wallet and not give it a good beating.

All in all it was a fabulous show and I’ve come away more inspired for my game than ever before! It was also great to meet up with a few retro-heads from twitter that I chat to regularly and put some more faces to names.

If you’re in the UK, I strongly urge you make a visit next year!


Daytona USA Arcade Restoration – A Personal Project

December 5, 2011

Hey Everyone,

As you’ll have heard via twitter on and off for the past 6 months, I’ve been restoring a classic Sega Daytona USA arcade machine in my (limited) spare time.  I’ve become obsessed with arcade machines this past 4 years and my collection has grown from none to 5 in pretty short space of time…its damn addictive!  My two main machines were covered in previous blog posts, but more recently I’ve picked up 3 ‘dedicated’ cabs, Mortal Kombat 2, Killer Instinct 2 and Daytona.  The difference with my Daytona, as you’ll see, is that it was rather beaten up, and in dire need of some love and restoration.  With Daytona being one of the biggest selling arcade games in history, it stands to reason that this little workhorse has been beaten to within an inch of its life.

I’d never taken a project like this on before and it was all rather daunting to be honest, but I was determined!

My first job was to remove all the painted metal parts that were rusted, dented and corroding.  These battered parts were going off to a local steel workers to get shot blasted and powder coated back to their original shiny black…very exciting! Lots of folks bling they’re Daytona cabs turning everything to polished steel or chrome, but I wanted to go back to basics and return this beast to its original self.

The bits came back looking beeeeeeautiful and this was a very inspiring moment as I could see just how perfect I could actually make this machine!

Next was the time consuming, but very easy part. Scrubbing down, paint stripping, filling and re-painting! This took aaaaaaaaaaaages!  Look at the state of that paintwork!

After many, many hours of sanding and repainting (about 10 coats all in all) she came up looking factory fresh!

Now with this part done, it was time to get onto the damn scary part! sawing off the broken foot-well pieces and replacing them with new ones! This was a MASSIVE undertaking, as if I got this wrong, I would have basically sawn off a large chunk of the machine that could not be replaced…it had to be done with clinical precision.  Now, as I’m not a carpenter, I realised that cutting the replacement pieces was, well, beyond me. So I decided to turn to what I know…a computer! With a little (well, a lot) of measuring and template creating, I drafted up a mm perfect CAD drawing of the pieces I needed. With these done, I contacted a local woodcraft company and had them CNC cut. Oooooooooh this was getting technical.  Bizarrely, they came back PERFECT! And fitted like a glove. So with a bit more work (chiselling, sanding, screwing, hammering) I got them fitted.

I genuinely couldn’t believe that I managed to pull all this off, especially as 99% of this was being done for the first time with no prior experience! She just needed painting, polishing and then to have her lovely new rubber matting attached. Oh, and to screw back on all the stunning powder coated metal parts!  Wahooooooooooo!

With all that done, I then stuck on the brand new t-moulding (imported from the USA) around the edges, did some paintwork re-touching on the side art (that bit actually took an age!) and she was finished!!!!

And here she sits alongside my other two dedicated cabs!

This project was epically enjoyable and I already want to do another :) I just want to say a massive thanks to all the kind chaps over at for all their tips and advice, as I’d never have managed this restoration without them. Cheers guys!

In early 2012 Fully Illustrated is moving into a new little studio where these three cabs will be joined by my other two and the whole family will be complete! Joyous times :)

I know this post isn’t really related to design, or illustration, but it’s totally related to what inspires me and makes me tick, so I figured some of you may enjoy it :)



P.S. The side art in these pictures looks really faded, but its due to it being fluorescent orange and I couldn’t for the life of me photograph it without it looking odd.

DoDonPachi Black Label – YUM!!

July 22, 2011

Hey everyone!

Well, you may have spotted that my latest project featured on the homepage is Caves new website! And as some of you already know, I adore Caves games! DoDonPachi, Espgaluda, Pro Gear, you name it, I love them all!  I literlly couldnt believe my luck when they got in touch and asked if I wanted to work with them on the new site…I think I said YES more times than I can even count!  These guys are my gaming heroes! True legends!

The first thing that sprung to mind when we got talking was something that felt ever so slighty un-proffessional and overly fanboyish…I wanted an original arcade board from them…but how could I ask?  Well, the simple answer to that was, I just threw caution to the wind and plain old asked them. It was something along the lines of ‘Oh my god you guys are my heroes, I’ll work for arcade boards, I dont even want money, I love your games THAT much’…ok, maybe it wasnt that over the top, but hell, it wasnt that far off either ;)

To my slight surprise, it turned out that the guys at Cave where overjoyed to know that I was THIS big of a fan, and needless to say, a couple of months later (due to a silly hold up with UK customs…no shocks there) I was cradling the most amazing peice of my games collection to date…an original, brand new, boxed DoDonPachi Black Label arcade board…holy sh%t.

Take a peek at the unboxing below, these images make me weep with joy…

1. The beautiful and minimal cave box.  A thing of beauty!

2. Opening the box to find a whole host of extra goodies, company brochure, stickers, oh momma, thanks Cave!

3. Ooooooh the Japanese instruction card and my first glimpse of the PCB, neatly wrapped in bubble wrap!

4. Oh my good god, there she is!!!!! And what’s that I spy in the top corner????

5. Fainted…upon picking myself up, I see that none other than Mr.Ikeda the Executive Board/Director/Producer has initialled and dated it. Does it get any better than this?? If so, how? I’m in heaven. Damn I love this job!!

Oh and for those who dont know what DoDonPachi is (if you’ve read this far without knowing, then well done! I’ve kept you hooked), here are a handful of screenshots:

As you can see, its probably THE most beautiful and manic bullet hell shmup in the entire universe!

This is THE most epic post I’ve ever posted.

The end.




The Arcade Collection Grows!

June 10, 2011

Hey Everyone,

So, not ‘directly’ work related, but I just had to share my excitement.  As most of you know, arcade machines (and retro games) are a big passion of mine (see my previous post if you missed it… and and my collection is about to grow once more!

Take a look at this beauty!

My previous arcades have all been new builds, built from scratch, but this time I wanted to bring a peice of history into the collection…an original Mortal Kombat 2 cabinet! I’ve saved this little beauty from the scrap yard and its on its way into my loving arms :)  Its due to arrive next week and I’ve got my arcade technician on standby ready to come in and give it some TLC.  The cabinet is extremely good condition, but as with all clouds, they have their silver lining…it doesn’t work, but I’m hoping my techy can fix it…fingers crossed.

I cant wait to start restoring this back to its former glory.  Rock on!

More shots coming once she arrives.



The Entire Fully Illustrated Games Collection!

October 19, 2010

Hey Everyone,

As most of you know (especially folks on twitter) I’m a mad collector of retro games and arcades boards, and I mentioned on Twitter recently about some dedicated display cabinets that I was having built to house the entire collection.  Well, these cabinets were finished recently and look beeeeeeautiful.  They span the width of the room their housed in and stand from floor to ceiling…yes, floor to ceiling ;)  I’ll be cataloguing the whole collection soon, but as a rough guide there’s over 300 games and over 30 consoles :)  This is the outcome of a lifetimes collecting, so whenever I see something worth adding…I add it :)

Everything you see is boxed, with instructions and in either good, great or as new condition.  I’m rather fussy about that part ;)  There’s some real gems in here too, a boxed and as new Virtual Boy, a rare Japan only Sega MegaJet, a mint Multi Mega, plus loads of other crazy stuff.  The core of the collection is focused on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, so a very large amount of the games are for this system.  Man I love the Mega Drive!!

So to any of my wonderful games customers that happen to be reading this, if ever you needed any further proof of my obsessive love for this industry, look no further ;)

Anyway, without further ado, say hello to the collection!  Its split over two sides, one side for games, one side for hardware.

The Games:

The Hardware:

I hope you enjoyed the show!!


P.S. Yes, that’s an official replica of Conan’s Father Sword hanging on the wall…call it my security system ;)

The Completed Arcade!

October 6, 2010

Hey Everyone,

I know I’ve been talking about this almost none stop recently and haven’t posted the final photos, but that’s because I’m too fussy, and am re-art-working the machine as we speak ;)

But, just to appease a few folks, I decided to show the machine as it is now, before I apply the new artwork.  As you’ll see, the room my two machines live in, is our tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny spare box room, just wide enough for two arcade cabs, a bookshelf and little else.  Perfect for a miniature arcade :)

I’ve decided to make the new machine a mock Neo Geo MVS cab, so its going to be a beautiful mix of rich red, black and white…very old school.  Anyway, here’s a few pics of my babies running.  Awwww, dont they look cute together :)

Oh and I’ve gone even crazier since the last post as I got the chance to pick up some truly amazing original arcade boards in bulk…so I bought them…and blitzed that already depleted budget into non-existence ;)  The collection now sits a little something like this…

  • Art of Fighting
  • Fatal Fury
  • Fatal Fury 2
  • Fatal Fury Special
  • The King of the Fighters 94
  • The King of the Fighters 2001
  • Metal Slug
  • Metal Slug 2
  • Samurai Showdown
  • Samurai Showdown 2
  • World Heroes
  • R-Type 2
  • R-Type Leo
  • Caddilacs and Dinosaurs
  • Golden Axe
  • Knights of the Round
  • Street Fighter 2 – Champion Edition
  • Super Street Fighter 2 X
  • Street Fighter Alpha 2
  • Darkstalkers
  • Vampire Saviour 2
  • X-Men Children of the Atom
  • Carrier Airwing

I’ll post the final, final, final pics when the new artwork is applied and finished :)


Personal Arcade Project

September 8, 2010

Hey Everyone,

I’ve been tweeting a lot about this arcade project of mine for quite a few weeks now (or maybe months actually) and intended to put a dedicated site up about the build.  Well, me being me and never having 5 mins spare, I decided to throw a quick blog post up instead.  There will eventually be a site, but just not quite yet.  For now, here’s a few piccies of the project during the build and the final finished shots will be posted up very soon.  I’m just tidying up the edges at the moment.

Step 1 – Shopping!

Ok, so initially I started ordering in all the parts, which was just going to be…

  • Bare cabinet
  • Monitor
  • Controls
  • Jamma wiring
  • Power supply
  • 1 jamma board, most likely Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition

Well that didnt quite go to plan, as my games collecting madness took control and I decided to order a few things more…well…a lot more.  This is when a few of the large boxes started arriving…

Before I knew what had happened, I’d gone and blown my budget on the following games…

  • R-Type Leo
  • Golden Axe
  • Cadillacs and Dinosaurs
  • Street Fighter Alpha 2
  • Darkstalkers
  • Vampire Saviour 2
  • Super Street Fighter 2 X
  • Metal Slug 2
  • King of the Fighters 2001


Any arcade geeks out there will also spot that I had also gone had grown the complexity of the job 4 fold, as this was no longer just an old school Jamma cab, but also a Capcom CPS2 cab, a Neo Geo MVS cab and also a Sega System 16 cab.  Now I really had blown my budget, by a further 50%! Time for another oops.

Step 2 – Jazzing up the rusty old 4-Slot Neo Geo MVS motherboard

It looked nasty, and I wanted it looking pretty.  A clean up, black powder coat and some lovely SNK decals later, it was looking super sexy!

Step 3 – The CGA monitor and the bare cab

Finding true arcade CRT CGA monitors is damn hard these days as nobody makes them.  I wanted true classic CGA goodness, as there is nothing prettier than those damn fine scanlines! Forget HD, forget scaling up to large res LCD monitors, nothing compares to CGA!  I was lucky enough to find a seller on eBay called Digital Systems Design that had bought all of Pentranics CGA stock when they went bust, so he had 100’s of brand new, old stock monitors in stock! RESULT!

The bare cab arrived soon after (Which was made by a cool company in Wales who sell them via eBay)and was ready for building! You’ll notice my other machine in the background, that one is a MAME machine, which is great, but I wanted to a true Jamma classic machine, original boards and 100% true to its roots.  I cant express the warm glow I have knowing I own original 1980’s arcade boards!  These things have been shipped around the world for over 20 years, played by probably 100’s or even 1000’s of people and are now being loved by me :)  Oh, you also need a very understanding wife and spare room ;)

Step 4 – Testing the purchases!

I enlisted the services Barry Parsons from to do the build as I already knew Barry and knew his skills were unrivalled, the guy is a pure genius when it comes to electronics and arcade/pinball building.  So, we started by test wiring everything up and testing the monitor and each game board.  This was rather exciting :)  I was especially excited about seeing Golden Axe in all its glory, as I never actually saw this in the arcades back in the day, and had only ever played it on the Megadrive.  It looked SOOOO AWESOME!

Step 4 – Testing complete, time to build!

With all the the games tested, it was time to build everything in!

Wires, speakers, boards, its arcade heaven!

Monitor in…but oh no, it doesn’t fit! The cab turned out to be too shallow, DOH! Some modding was required to the back panel, but nothing too major.

The CPS2 motherboard was mounted on the right side and the MVS on the left, with the Jamma on the shelf above.  Barry had done a truly first class job planning this baby out!

Step 5 – The artwork.

Ok, so this step isnt photographed as yet, I need to tidy the games room up, sort everything out, finish of a few lose edges and get some photos taken :) Watch this space!

I hope you enjoyed the article!



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