The other day while at work at the arcade, Shea – one of my best friends and owner of the Arkadia Retrocade, popped in with a gift. Something he had recently picked up on eBay for the arcade itself, although he wanted me to try it out first. That gift turned out to be an amazing electronic game that was originally released by Milton Bradley in 1980… the Omni Entertainment System! While I have to admit that I honestly have no recollection of ever seeing the Omni before yesterday – considering I was eight years old when it was released – however I must have seen it in one of those fabled Sears Wish Books that I would pore over during the Holidays. Shea managed to secure a pretty large haul for the Omni, eight of the game cassettes – not only was the machine itself in perfect working order, it had been well taken care. Best of all though was the fact that the eBay auction also provided much of the original documentation – catalog sheets and even the instructions… as well as the original card backings for the game cartridges.
I brought all that up as you can see that at the time these Omni cartridges were originally purchased, they were going for $15.95. Although you’ll notice from that photo I took at the arcade that the original buyer nabbed Vincent Price’s Movie Trivia for $11.97 before tax at a Best Products Co., Inc – a catalog merchant that ceased operations in 1997. Perhaps when I was laying in the middle of the living room floor while perusing the 1980’s Sears Wish Book week after week – the price for the Omni kept me from seriously considering it – looking online it appears it went for $119.
I can tell you that it felt like Christmas had come early at the arcade as we set up the Omni on a nearby table. We were expecting that the electronic game would need something like 6 D batteries to power it up but it turns out it takes no batteries at all, you just plug it up to the wall. Furthermore the cartridges are nothing more than 8-track tapes – ones that came with kind of a nifty looking protection system.
In Shea’s haul for the arcade he picked up Pat Summerall’s Sports Quiz, the Re-Action Quiz, Words – Words – Words, Music Quiz, For the Fun of It!, Jeopardy, and perhaps the most important to me were Vincent Price’s Movie Trivia and Vincent Price’s TV Trivia. What with the Saturday Frights podcast and such, I can assure you that I was chomping at the bit to have the opportunity for Vincent Price to test me on my movie trivia.
The arcade was rather busy so we only had the opportunity to play a couple of rounds of Vincent Price’s Movie Trivia. After listening to the question, such as what was the name of the 1975 film that starred Al Pacino and was based on a real life event – after hearing the four options that Price offered, I pressed the number assigned to my guess on the Omni control panel and then the enter button. Afterwards Price revealed the answer to the trivia question and being correct I not only received the appropriate points but a bonus for answering so quickly. I will admit that after amassing a certain number of points I was given a message from Price… perhaps from beyond the grave… something that I might have possible been waiting my entire life to hear:
“I am so very proud of you!”
I know that Shea spent a pretty penny to obtain the Omni for the arcade and it was honestly well worth it. We will take care of it just as the previous owner did – enjoying the opportunity to share it with Players who will appreciate what Milton Bradley pulled off in 1980. Now for what it might be worth, I do plan on in the near future producing a video of the electronic game in action – I’ll be sure to share it with you all when it is finished.
I am curious though, were any of you lucky enough to have the Omni Entertainment System back in the day? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below!