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The Atari 2600 Video Computer System – “Woody”

Above is the Atari 2600 or Atari VCS console system. It is the “Woody” and “Six-Switcher” type. This is a late 1970s design and it was revolutionary in home entertainment.

The games shown are Centipede and Circus. Centipede is a port of the arcade game. It uses the Atari joystick. Circus uses the paddle controller.

This design is iconic. The case is far too big for the board but this shows how important the look of the console was!

There are some great games on the VCS. If you are looking for Atari stuff, get in touch at the contact details here!

Scalextric and Slot Car Thrills and Spills!

Above is a Scalextric BMW slot car that was in near mint condition. I have sold a lot of slot cars at PopeyMon and still do. Some people collect models of Ford Escorts…

Other fans like the Formula 1 models…

Or the sports cars… and some like them to be boxed…

Get in touch and let me know what you are looking for.

I will put custom bundles of cars and track together for customers. All you need to do is let me know what you are looking for.

How Dirty Is Your Spectrum?

Above is the inside of a Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 that I bought online. This is one of the models that Amstrad produced when Alan Sugar bought the Sinclair computer brand from Clive Sinclair. It is a later issue 4, also known as the +2B.

The ad for the computer did not have photos of the inside! I would describe it as an insect zoo. The other machine from the same supplier was not as bad, but it was still pretty bad.

It is the worst example of a machine that was not looked after by its previous owners. Many others that I get hold of, are in much better condition, and some are in near mint condition. The condition of a Spectrum is a major factor on the price, as well as whether it is fully working or not.

It is testament to the quality of manufacture by Amstrad that this filthy machine, when cleaned up, worked! It did take a lot of work though!

I now use this machine as a test machine, and have fully cleaned it up and fully tested it, with repaired tape drive and fully repaired and cleaned keyboard.

  • How dirty is your Spectrum?
  • What is the worst condition that you have seen one in?
  • Was it worse than the Spectrum above?
  • Did it still work?

Tell me in the comments below or get in touch at the contact details here!

I always try and test the computers that I buy, fix them and in some cases, fully refurbish them. That depends on what my customers want.

I sell them with accurate descriptions, as much as is possible.

If there are still any outstanding issues, I list them, so that my customers know in advance of buying. Many online sellers are not so honest.

If there are then any problems, all I ask is that they contact me to rectify them problems first.

Get in touch at the Contact details here. I will happily sell you parts or whole machines, or anything else Spectrum that you are looking for – games, joysticks, replacement cases, replacement keys, and so on. Just ask and I will check my stock.

Refurbishment and Upgrade of A 16k Rubber Key Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Above is a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It is a 16k version, with the rubber keys. This Spectrum has an Issue 2 board that was manufactured in 1983 here in the UK. The board came to me in a bad way, and I have spent considerable time repairing, refurbishing and now upgrading it to the full 48k of memory. In the early days of the Spectrum, there were both 16k and 48k versions produced. You could then get them upgraded.

So for decades, this machine had remained a 16k. So I had a good play with the 16k games like Jetpac and Artic Galaxians after refurbishing it, but I could not play the 48k games until I had done the upgrade.

I took the 16k Sinclair ZX Spectrum to my workbench. The refurbishment has:

  • replaced the old case with one in good condition
  • replaced the keyboard membrane with a brand new one. The original membranes dry out over time with age and heat. It has been nearly forty years since this Spectrum was made, so the original was not working.
  • composite video modification for composite video output instead of old analogue UHF radio wave output on Channel 36
  • “tuning” in of the video output using the trimmers on the board, to give a vibrant picture with bright colours on the composite output
  • new shiny modulator case for cosmetic use mainly now after the composite video mod
  • heatsink and voltage regulator removed and replaced with modern “cool running” regulator
  • all electrolytic capacitors replaced with high-quality Vishay and in similar blue to originals. Over time, with heat and with age, these decay and can damage other components if they go bad,
  • foam to protect the new keyboard membrane,
  • replaced the ULA with the best ULA for an Issue 2 fitted,
  • mandatory modifications made to DC-DC converter circuit. This improves reliability of the notoriously unreliable circuit that produces the voltages for the different components on the board.

Above is the 16k Spectrum after it has been upgraded to 48k. This involves adding the extra RAM chips and some logic chips and adding a link to make sure that the upper RAM is used. I also had to replace one of the IC sockets. I checked the levels on the board with a meter before powering it up. Then I fully tested the machine using a Diagnostic ROM. All tests passed! So I decided to load Mikie, a 48k game, for a quick go!

SUCCESS! And I got further in the game than I had ever done before – level four I think it was! It is a great game, written by the legendary programmer Jonathan (Joffa) Smith. Sadly Joffa is no longer with us, but he produced some superb games, mainly for Ocean and Imagine – Hyper Sports and Green Beret being two of my favourites. How Joffa managed the technical feats of making the humble Spectrum do what he did, was amazing.

So I now have another fully working, refurbished, 48k rubber key Spectrum!

I am regularly selling Spectrums and when this website is fully up and running, you will be able to buy them here!

Get in touch and let me know what you are looking for – I am always happy to put a custom bundle together for you. I have many happy customers who are happy to endorse my work, as shown on this website.

Manic Miner For Collectors (Part 2) – First Edition, Second Release

Manic Miner – Second Release (“Lantern”)

Manic Miner for the 48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum
“Lantern” Release

One of the classics, if not THE classic game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, written by legendary games programmer Matthew Smith.

There are several variants of the game, which was sold in cassette format. Cassettes were the usual format for games in the 1980s, until disks became the preferred format towards the latter stages of the decade.

An Introduction to these articles and links to the other articles, are here. It also includes information about the debates about these variants, releases and editions. There has been much debate over the years, in the absence of definitive statements by Bug Byte or elsewhere.

Part 1 of these articles talked about variants of the First Edition, First Release (“Whistler”), released on Bug Byte.

This Part 2 talks about the Second Release (“Lantern” or “Lamp”), also released on Bug Byte. It is the Second Release of Manic Miner of the First Edition.

Like other parts in this series, this article does not discuss the program/game itself. For that, please see here.

Manic Miner Expert Adrian Grubb, writes about more variants for collectors…

(images used with permission of Adrian Grubb – taken from 26th July 2018 post)

The complete package – box with sticker, inlay and tape

Some time ago I discussed in-depth my findings on the first-release of Manic Miner, more commonly known, for some reason, as the ‘Whistler’ edition… he’s NOT whistling, it’s his philtrum, or cleft chin! That article concerned the differences in loading TO THE EYE, hacking isn’t my scene at all.

This article concentrates on inlay and cassette variants, the results of the study of fourteen copies.

It is perhaps foolhardy of me to state facts as regards the various releases of Manic Miner, as most have their own memories and convictions where the timeline is concerned. All I can do is try my best.

Cover Variants

The Lantern dark choc and milk choc cassette covers plus a labelled and boxed cassette

The cover of this second-release is simply known as Lantern, or Lamp. There are actually two versions of Lantern, known as dark choc and milk choc.

  1. Lantern Cover Variant 1 – Milk Choc. The milk choc is so called due to its glossy brown background, and has sharp images and colours throughout.
  2. Lantern Cover Variant 2 – Dark Choc. The dark choc has a dull brown background, and the images and colours are less distinct or faded. This has led a few to consider the dark choc inlays to be fakes.

Sticker Variant

For a limited period, the cases of the very earliest releases had a round, black sticker attached, usually to the spine, sporting the code BBS 00105 in white.

It would seem the reason these were added was due to the inlay change. The code was printed on the spine of the SO-CALLED Whistler (First Release). On the Lantern spine it was omitted, most probably by error. So the sticker was added.

Inlay Variants

  • Lantern Inlay Variant 1 – No Flap. The original Lantern came with a standard J-card inlay with the backstory and instructions on the panel.
  • Lantern Inlay Variant 2 – Extra Flap. A later version, with an extra flap, was produced in much larger numbers.

One side of the Extra Flap showed the cover art of four other Bug Byte games, the reverse carried the backstory and instructions.

On the inlay panel were various details. They included Bug-Byte game stockists and the address to send a program to them for a free, no obligation appraisal of its worth.

The first of the inlays with extra flaps had the code, BBS 105, printed at the bottom of the details panel. On later versions, the code was dropped.

  • Lantern Inlay Variant 3 – Extra Flap, With Code
  • Lantern Inlay Variant 4 – Extra Flap, No Code

Spelling Error

Without the Spelling Error on one line
WITH the error on the next line

The original backstory and instructions contained an obvious spelling error, “Undergraound”.

The error went unnoticed, still present when the inlay with extra flap was introduced. The entire sentence containing the error was removed from the backstory with the Software Projects Manic Miner (Second Edition) release, that with the mutant telephone cover.

Cassette Variants

The earliest Lantern release came on a grey cassette, “Made in England” in black print on both sides.

Grey, or light grey (some call white) cassettes with single, blue-printed white labels followed.

A small number of black cassettes received white labels with black print to both sides, these most probably the last labelled to be released.

Grey cassettes with black printed details on both sides, including the code BBS 00105, were the swan song for the Lantern. These were made in Holland, not England, and had a yellow leader as opposed to the usual red or pale blue.

Game Loader and Loading Screen Variants

In Part 1 of this series of articles, which was on the “Whistler” release, variants of the Game Loader were described. In the “Lantern” release, there is an intriguing variation in the loading screens that are displayed while the main game is loading.

  • Loading Screen Variant 1. This is the “normal” flashing attribute “MANIC MINER” loading screen, loaded to a black background.
  • Loading Screen Variant 2. Instead of the loading screen loading to the flashing attribute “MANIC MINER”, a white background is loaded which exposes the loading information. Is this genuine, or a sign of piracy? After a great deal of research and asking around, this has been confirmed as a genuine variant by Adrian Grubb. Below is my copy of Lantern Inlay Variant 2 with Loading Screen Variant 2. Please get in touch if you have more information.

This ends Part 2 of the series of PopeyMon articles on Manic Miner For Collectors.

More articles on Manic Miner will be published here on PopeyMon Games and Fun soon… Part 3 is now here.

Manic Miner For Collectors (Part 1) – First Edition, First Release

Manic Miner – First Release (Whistler) – 1983

An awesome collection of Manic Miner and its sequel Jet Set Willy
(image courtesy of Adrian Grubb)

There are collectors of classic games. They love the games, and the variants of those games. The variants are many, especially of games that sold a lot, and which were released several times including by different software houses.

Manic Miner is one of the classic, if not THE classic game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, written by legendary games programmer Matthew Smith.

Manic Miner Expert Adrian Grubb, passionate collector and one of the Admins of the Facebook Group Central Cavern, has written and researched a great deal on the topic.

This is Part 1 of a series of articles on PopeyMon Games and Fun, about Manic Miner. The series looks only at the Spectrum editions, versions and variants. It is aimed at collectors. Collectors love variants and as is shown in the articles, and the photo above, there are lots of variants of Manic Miner. For a summary of the differences between the program/game itself, see here.

An Introduction to the articles and links to Part 2 and Part 3, are here.

The Introduction (Part 0) here includes an important Footnote about how these articles hope to lead to a definitive statement of all the variants of the Spectrum releases of Manic Miner, and the spirit in which Adrian Grubb originally wrote the Facebook versions of the articles, and the spirit of the Spectrum community which will be maintained here.

The articles are edited versions of the results of Adrian’s research on the variants of Manic Miner for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

The Introduction (Part 0) here includes an important Footnote about how these articles hope to lead to a definitive statement of all the variants of the Spectrum releases of Manic Miner, and the spirit in which Adrian Grubb originally wrote the Facebook versions of the articles, and the spirit of the Spectrum community which will be maintained here.

Adrian writes…

In response to much debate concerning first and second-release Manic Miners, here are my First Release findings, obtained using nine copies of Manic Miner.

Three different types of tape for the WHISTLER release…
Showing 3 Cassette Variants of the tape. Collectors LOVE variants.
(image used with permission of Adrian Grubb)

The inlay above shows the Whistler release by Bug Byte. This is the First Release of Manic Miner and the First Edition.

TO THE EYE there are three different headers used to load the game. The header is the first part of the loading of the game, before the game itself is loaded. But there are variations in them in the Whistler version of Manic Miner.

  1. Game Loader Variant 1. Screen turns black with thick white bar at foot of screen. Bar covered over with black when alternating (flashing using the Spectrum’s flash attribute) Manic Miner appears.
  2. Game Loader Variant 2. Screen turns black. When alternating Manic Miner appears, a thick white bar appears at foot of screen also and stays during load. (This would suggest alternative code in the loading program).
  3. Game Loader Variant 3. Whole screen turns black and stays that way until alternating MM appears. (Again, suggesting different code).

In other versions of Manic Miner, there are other versions of the Game Loader. These will be documented in future articles.

Four copies of the nine copies in this test were identical in every way – see the photo above for the versions of the tape described below:

  1. Cassette Variant 1 (top of photo). A black cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Game Loader Variant 1 used on both sides. Two more copies of the black cassette had identical contents to Cassette Variant 1 but:
    – Variant 1a? One with a label applied to the opposite side. Should this be classed as another variant (1a)?
    – Variant 1b? Black cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Loader Variant 3 used on Side A, Loader Variant 1 on Side B. Should this be classed as another variant (1b)?
  2. Cassette Variant 2 (middle of photo). A grey cassette with red lead-in, label to one side only. Game Loader Variant 1 used on Side A, Loader Variant 3 on Side B.
  3. Cassette Variant 3 (bottom of photo). No labels, printed onto a lighter grey. The cassette has small tulip in centre of pattern on top edge of cassette on both sides, yellow lead-in. Cover logo printed on both sides of cassette.All three printed light grey cassettes had an identical loader, Game Loader Variant 2.

ALL cassettes of all three variants are marked Made in England either on label or printed.

In conclusion, there’s three types of the first-release of Manic Miner (Whistler).

Printed cassettes come in light grey, labelled cassettes come in a darker shade of grey or, more commonly, black.

There are even more variants of Manic Miner, including releases on the Software Projects label.

More articles on Manic Miner will be published here on PopeyMon Games and Fun soon… Part 2 is now here.

Frankenstein’s (Ms.) Pac-Man… Experimenting With New and Old Gaming Technology

Above is a Sinclair SJS1, a joystick that was specifically designed for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 when Amstrad’s Alan Sugar took over the Sinclair computer brand from Clive Sinclair.

Unlike most other joysticks of the era, it does not use the same “pinouts” as the Atari standard. It does use the same “D-sub” 9-pin connector. But they do not match the standard developed by Atari for the 2600/VCS console and copied by many others.

The SJS1 only has one fire button on the stick, which you have to use your thumbs for. This is OK for using with games that don’t use fire much. But terrible for shoot-em-ups!

I have tried to stick up for this joystick amongst fellow Spectrum fans, and also tried to do a wind-up of them, to show the SJS1 playing the arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man.

I tried to get people to guess how it was possible. Then in the big reveal, I showed them this:

The SJS1 joystick is connected to the board from a 4-in-1 Namco Plug and Play joystick game board thingy, which was broken. The joystick was removed from the board and the case, and the board was then repaired by me. I then had to find a suitable home for it.

It is housed in a case from a Quickshot joystick for the MSX – again, another broken joystick that was recycled. The board from that joystick was beyond repair.

I attached the joystick wires so that it was according to the Atari standard. So I had to create a wire to re-wire the Atari standard to Alan Sugar’s “Amstrad-Sinclair” proprietary standard.

And hey presto! The arcade Ms. Pac-Man, emulated on a board, in an MSX joystick case, controlled by an Amstrad-era Sinclair joystick! All powered by a battery!

It’s OK playing Ms. Pac-Man. But it’s terrible for playing Galaga, an old favourite of mine, which is on the same board! The SJS1 joystick is hated, and rightly so. But it remains the only joystick that is custom-designed for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Grey +2.

GREAT EXPERIMENT and IT WORKS! I just have to be very careful when I move it 🙂

Teardown and Re-assembly of Corgi Fire Truck

Above is the Corgi Major Chubb Pathfinder Airport Crash Truck (phew, what a mouthful!). It’s a big die-cast vehicle and was mine since a boy. I looked after it, but it has since been played with by others, when it has not been stored away but sadly it was lumped in a box with other stuff (this is what happens when you go and live on the other side of the World!). So once I had unearthed it from my boxes when I moved house, I decided to see whether it still worked. I will describe what happened…

Above are the two halves of the truck, with “innards” removed. Below are all components when removed. The cockpit “windows” are at the top of the photo and the lumpy yellow pieces are really only to protect the electronics from any liquid when the pump is used. There is a tailgate for the pump with shutter.

Below are images of the electronics for the siren. The yellow part is the cover for the battery compartment. The transparent plastic is to protect the speaker.

I could get the siren to work with a bit of work but it did not sound quite right. Perhaps one or more components needed to be repaired, for example, the electrolytic capacitor which may have aged badly (they dry out), but there was not time for that. The wires needed to be repaired. This is a common problem on toys – the battery wires are often not reinforced or protected and with use, they just break off from the solder.

The tube in the upper body of the truck is for the foam spray. There is an external pump that you can put liquid in, e.g. washing up liquid, to spray out of the top! I had lots of fun with this when I was a boy. I was tempted to get it going again, and spray my dog with it. Like many dogs, she hates getting wet! But I don’t have the pump! If I get the chance, I will post a video of how she reacts to my radio-controlled tank! It’s hilarious, but would be more funny if I could get the pellets to shoot from the gun. The dog would go ballistic!

All of the wheels were turning, and it was running along nicely. It is just a pity that the paintwork was so scratched. Most of my other toys were not like this!

It was fun to take this vehicle apart and put it back together. It is a proper metal construction and is so rugged and so solid. It’s great to be able to take it apart – other die-cast have rivets which make it more difficult unless you have the right tools.

I buy and sell die-cast vehicles. This fire truck has already been sold.

When this website is running fully, I will sell more on here.

Get in touch to tell me what you are looking for – I will always keep an eye out for my customers, to try to get what they request.

Welcome to PopeyMon Games and Fun!

PopeyMon Games and Fun blogs about games, toys, entertainment and fun. We also hope to sell you some stuff too, so that you can experience the games, toys, entertainment and fun for yourself, your friends and family!

Here is an example of what we write about, and what we sell.

Manic Miner is seen as one of the classic games for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k. Indeed, it’s one of the classic games of all time. Almost forty years after it was released, there are huge fans and enthusiasts of Manic Miner and its sequel, Jet Set Willy.

The game is still played by people on their original hardware, and on emulators. You can even play the game directly on the web.

One of the game’s greatest enthusiasts, and a regular poster on the Facebook group – Adrian Grubb has done a huge amount of research on the game.

On this website, Adrian explores the game in great detail.

There are a whole host of other games and fun explored here too. Please have a look around and feel free to get in touch!

Andrew Pope

PopeyMon Games and Fun