During the ‘80s and early ‘90s arcade games like Pac-Man, Galaga and Frogger were all the rage.
Their popularity waned decades ago, but classic machines are now hot items in dens, finished basements and man caves everywhere.
Along with record numbers of families relocating due to changing job markets and the global Covid-19 pandemic, professional movers are handling them more than ever before.
So, will movers move arcade games?
Yes, they will, but here’s the thing…
Hiring traditional movers isn’t the best option for getting your vintage arcade game from your old home to your new one.
Instead, the following companies that specialize in moving individual items are often much better choices.
But first, check out these helpful articles.
- Best Interstate Movers – The moving industry is full of shady players. With so much at stake, it’s worth hiring a top-rated long-distance mover with verified customer reviews.
- How much will your move cost? – Our moving cost calculator is a great resource. Just enter your move dates, origin and destination cities, and the estimated size of your move, and the magic algorithms will do the rest.
- Consider moving containers – It’s simple. You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks. These are the best moving container companies.
Moving one item (like an arcade game) long-distance
- MiniMoves – The Best Company for Moving a Single Item
- ShipSmart – Another Convenient Option for Shipping One Item (call (866) 333-8018 and mention moveBuddha to get a 10% discount from ShipSmart)
- Uship – An Online Marketplace for Shippers (like you) and Carriers (like movers)
Moving one item locally
- Moving Labor Services – Apps like Hire-A-Helper and TaskRabbit
- On-Demand Movers – Last-Minute Move Specialists
- Rent a Moving Truck – A Cost-Effective DIY Option
Using full-service movers to move arcade games
Arcade games are bulky and heavy, but with the right equipment and manpower they’re not particularly difficult to move.
That said, it’s important to let prospective movers know that you have an arcade game early in the moving process.
Problems may arise when they’re in basements or upstairs rooms and need to travel up or down narrow staircases with 90-degree turns.
In short, you’ll usually need more than just two movers.
Most arcade games aren’t much bigger than a large refrigerator, but pinball games can be a different story.
Whereas the former are generally rectangular, the latter tend to be L-shaped.
To move them safely, the bottom of the “L” may need to be removed.
If you’re handy and familiar with your machine you may be able to do this yourself.
If not, it’s best to leave up to professionals, especially if your arcade game is rare and/or valuable.
And remember, with professional movers you’ll need to disassemble your pinball machine before the crew arrives, unless they’ve committed to doing it for you.
Did You Know?
Though they service standard household items like beds, tables and entertainment centers, most movers won’t disassemble or reassemble specialty items like arcade games and pinball machines.
Moving an arcade game yourself
For confident do-it-yourselfers with the right tools, adequate know-how and muscly friends, moving an arcade game may be relatively easy.
If that sounds like you, consider the following steps before getting started.
Imagine what a letdown (nightmare) it’d be moving your arcade game to your new home or apartment, only to discover that it won’t fit through the front door.
Trust us, it happens.
Thankfully, it’s an avoidable scenario, but be warned you’ll need to invest in an expensive high-tech gadget often referred to as…drumroll please…a TAPE MEASURE.
Before renting a U-Haul and calling up your old high school buddies, measure your machine, as well as all the doors, halls and stairways through which it’ll need to pass in both your old and new homes.
Sometimes the shortest route isn’t the best. If the ground isn’t soft or wet and your arcade game is in a basement, taking it out the back door and carrying or dollying it across the lawn may be easier than going up the stairs.
Get the right equipment and help
For standard size arcade games, you’ll generally need the following –
- A suitable vehicle and/or trailer (arcade games aren’t that heavy)
- Decent loading ramps (walk boards) with sufficient grip
- A heavy-duty appliance dolly (preferably with a built-in strap and ratchet)
- Tools like a wrench, pliers and screwdrivers
- Thick gloves
- At least two other physically fit helpers
Make sure everyone is wearing long shirts and pants and suitable close-toed shoes.
Did You Know?
Transporting an arcade game on its back is more likely to result in damage, so load it upright in the truck whenever possible.
Clean and disassemble
After unplugging your unit, slide it away from the wall.
If you’re worried about damaging the floor beneath it, use the tilt method to get a moving blanket underneath it, then pull the corners of the pad outward with a helper.
Cinch the cord together with tape or a zip tie, then tape it to the back of the machine or insert it into an open space.
Then wipe the unit down with a moist rag, paying special attention to the top and bottom where dust usually collects.
Next, remove, secure or protect any fragile or protruding parts that could get broken.
If disassembly seems overwhelming, stop what you’re doing and call a specialty company to handle it.
If it’s doable, either label the parts clearly or take photographs with your phone to aid in reassembly.
If you’re moving a pinball machine any distance, you’ll need to remove the pinballs themselves.
Bouncing up and down in the truck can cause them to break glass or plexiglass, and you’ll want to secure the paddle buttons with painters tape and cardboard applied over a moving blanket.
Protect your residence
Wheeling or carrying heavy and bulky items like arcade games through homes and apartments can cause damage to flooring, drywall and door jams.
If you have old mirror or mattress cartons from a previous move, now would be a great time to put them to good use.
Line hallways and doors, and floors as well if they won’t be too slippery.
Remember – pads and cardboard on hardwood and tile floors can be very slick and cause serious accidents.
When in doubt, don’t use them.
Make sure there aren’t any pebbles or other debris embedded in the soles of your shoes or the wheels of your dollie, as they can scrape and gouge all types of flooring.
Pad your arcade game
Once your arcade game or pinball machine is unplugged and clean it’s time to pad and protect it.
Before getting started, consider how you’ll be getting it from your home onto the truck.
If you’re using an appliance dolly, you’ll want to pad it thoroughly first.
Cover the machine entirely with three or four pads and secure them with rubber bands, tape or stretch wrap.
For added safety, consider adding a layer of foam and/or cardboard over the most sensitive areas like the screen and joystick panel.
Then slip the bottom lip of the dolly under the machine, make sure it’s squarely against the frame, and cinch the strap until it’s snug but not overly tight.
Remember that if you’re carrying your machine, pads and cardboard will probably make it too difficult to get a good grip.
In which case, it’s safer to pad it after it’s on the truck.
This is especially true if you’re going up or down stairs.
Needless to say, dropping or losing control of a 400-pound machine can –
- Destroy your arcade game
- Result in serious property damage
- Severely injure you and your helpers
Once in the truck or trailer, secure the arcade game to a wall or the bulkhead with at least two logistics straps.
If it’s on an appliance dolly, you can leave it where it is and tie them down together.
Applying adhesive tape to finished surfaces can cause irreversible damage, so always put tape over pads or shrink wrap.
Frequently Asked Questions about moving arcade games (FAQs)
How much do arcade games weigh?
Most full-size arcade games weigh between 200 and 400 pounds.
How much are arcade games worth?
According to the Game Room Guys, arcade game values generally range between $1,500 and nearly $30,000, depending on age, size, rarity, condition and a number of other factors.
Can I move an arcade machine?
Wait, you already read this article, right?
Can you transport an arcade machine on its back?
Moving arcade games on their backs can cause unnecessary damage, so whenever possible it’s best to keep them in the upright position.