A Slightly Different Kind Of Arcade


Title: Novelty Automation

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Rehoboth Beach, in Delaware. We played at what you would typically think of as an arcade. There were racing games, fishing games, whack-a-mole, and of course, skee-ball.

Well, this was nothing like that.

There is a man named Tim Hunkin. He is an engineer with, shall we say, a unique vocation. He designs arcade games. These are not mass produced devices and they are not played in a typical manner.

Each game is unique and clearly handcrafted. Each is very heavily mechanical. Each has its own vision, in some cases this vision almost resembles a plot line. This all started with an arcade called something Under the Pier. He’s now built so many machines that he could start a second arcade, the Novelty Automation.

There is a cashier that converts your money into tokens (roughly one pound equals one token). The most expensive machine takes three. All of the rest take either one or two.

Here are some of the machines that I played:

Chiropodist: You put your foot (first removing your shoe) into a slot. An arcade dummy (the chiropodist) nods to you and then slowly descends down. You then get a fairly awkward massage of your foot. The chiropodist then resumes her original spot.

Divorce: This is a two player game! The game is a house. When a bell sounds, the two of you frantically spin a wheel and you can see the house slowly split. Another bell rings and you both yank down on the power lever. The house then splits and you can see what you ended up with. One child ends up in each part of the house. The dog is literally split in half.

Autofrisk: You put your hands and feet into a set position. Two gloves then inflate and then run up and down your body. Once that’s over, you relax. However it’s not over! A flap opens and a fist punches you in the knee. It’s still not over! Another flap opens and a fist punches you in the groin!  Probably my least favorite machine. 🙂

Test Your Nerve: You put your hand into a space and hold a red button as long as you can. The trick is that there is a mechanical dog glowering at you. Over time, it begins to growl and to drip hot saliva on your hands. At the end, it reaches down to bite you.

I could go on, but you get the idea. There were additional machines that I played that involved such things as an alien autopsy that goes wrong and loading a nuclear reactor that also goes wrong.

All of the machines were easy to use, didn’t take much time, and were interesting in concept and execution.

There are videos on the web site that describe how he makes them. I can only imagine that this is probably a dream come true for a tinkering engineer.



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