Great Artwork for Your MAME Cab
Review by Kevin Steele
The finishing touches on a project quite often can mean the difference between a mediocre final result and one that truly showcases the work and care that went into it. With a MAME arcade cabinet, the finishing touch is often the artwork: the bezel, CPO (control panel overlay), marquee, and sideart.
There are several different ways you can produce the artwork: with your own inkjet printer, using a larger-format inkjet at a local "quick print" shop like Kinko's, or a custom printing service devoted to arcade artwork, such as Classic Arcade Grafix.
Classic Arcade Grafix specializes in arcade artwork, both high-quality reproductions of genuine arcade marquees and sideart, as well as a growing collection of MAME-themed arcade artwork.
For this review, owner Michael Ford sent a pair of their MAME-themed marquees and a sample section of their sideart.
Top Quality Printing
The company uses a "proprietary pigmentation process" for printing, and whatever that means exactly, I've got to say the final results are jaw-droppingly good. Smooth gradients, sharp lines, and bright, saturated colors. These prints look nothing at all like most inkjet prints I've seen, trust me. There is absolutely no comparison.
Classic Arcade Grafix has a 50-year no-fade guarantee on the prints as well, which shows they have a lot of confidence in their printing process. Another impressive thing about the prints is the fact that you can clean these marquees with regular household cleaners (try that with an inkjet print!)
I received two of their MAME-themed marquees, the "Mame Marquee Collage" and the "Blast MAME Marquee." The Blast MAME Marquee was custom-sized for my cabinet, a service that is offered at no extra charge.
I have to say that I am very, very impressed with their product - the marquees are printed on a nice, heavy, glossy vinyl, and the printing is absolutely top-notch. The vinyl has a thick, smooth plastic feel, and the printing is exceptionally bright and crisp.
When I mounted the "Blast" marquee in my cabinet, was no need to "double-up" the marquee to avoid wash-out, and the marquee still let a nice amount of light through when mounted in the cabinet. There was no evidence at all of paper grain, another problem you often seen with home-made marquees.
The only minor nit I have to pick with the Blast marquee is the jagged edges of the "blast" portion of the artwork, most likely caused by scaling up a lower-res piece of artwork. The MAME logo and text is perfectly sharp and smooth, as is the star field. It's just the explosion portion that has a jagged appearance. (I actually kind of like it, as it looks like an arcade-rendered explosion).
Update: I talked to Kelsey of Oscar Controls, who, it turns out, is the creator of the "MAME Blast" marquee art — he confirmed that jagged appearance is intentional, and is not a printing artifact. It's actually pretty cool looking, so I guess have no nits at all to complain about. Darn.
The sideart is printed on the same thick glossy vinyl, but is self-adhesive for easy application to your cabinet (you can get self-adhesive marquees, as well). Once again, I have to rave about the quality of the printing - it is just fabulously bright and sharp.
The sample section of the sideart I received is from Classic Arcade Grafix's "MAME Classic Theme" sideart. I only had a section of the sideart, but the size of the original is an impressive 20x22.8" The printing is sharp and clear, and the colors very bright. The vinyl feels very durable, and I would have no reservations at all about putting this artwork on my MAME cabinet.
While Classic Arcade Grafix specializes in restoration artwork for arcade cabinets, they also have a large (and growing) collection of MAME-themed artwork. Some of it is MAME artwork that is available on the Internet, some of it is their own custom design. I'm especially impressed to see the variety of MAME-themed sideart and control panel overlays that they have available, as this is something that is particularly hard to find.
I also ordered a custom marquee design from Classic Arcade Grafix for my arcade cab, and they did a fantastic job — the marquee came out exactly how I expected it to look when I designed it in Photoshop, and the colors were wonderfully deep and bright.
I have to state again how very impressed I am with the quality of the materials, printing, and overall "fit and finish" of Classic Arcade Grafix's artwork. If you're looking for top-quality artwork to finish off your MAME cabinet, you really owe it to yourself to check them out. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.