Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Greatest Video Game Garage Sale Ever

Greatest Video Game Garage Sale
Many gamers go to garage sales hoping to find a few cheap games for their collection and maybe get lucky and get a really good deal. Rob Walters found games worth more than $50,000 dollars at a garage sale! Including games like 1990 Nintendo World Championships, 1991 Campus Challenge, 1992 Campus Challenge, and 1994 Powerfest. Below is the story of Rob's legendary garage sale find and the games and memorabilia he found.

In August 2006 Rob was driving by a garage sale in New York and decided to stop to see what they had. He spots a table with some video games on it and walks over to see what he can find. The table is full of sealed NES games, new SNES games, and a bunch of other gaming stuff. Rob quickly asks "Who's garage sale is this? And how much for all these games?" The seller says "I will sell everything for $40." Rob quickly pays the $40, grabs all the games on the table and even grabs a few games from the hands of other garage sale shoppers.

As he is leaving and chatting with the seller, the man casually says "I have tons more stuff inside that I'm not going to sell." Rob doesn't think much of it and goes back home to see what he had bought and what it is all worth. This table had five copies of Starfox Super Weekend which Rob knew were special but didn't know much about them. He looks up the prices on ebay and sees that they sell for $200-300 each. That's $1,500 for just those five games! Some of the other sealed games in the collection are easily worth $40 by themselves.

Rob decides he needs to go back to the seller's house and see what other "stuff" he has.

Rob knocks on his door and says he needs a Super Nintendo to play some of the games he bought and was wondering if he had one to sell (Rob really did need an SNES). The seller says he does and invites Rob inside. They start talking and the seller says he has boxes and boxes of Nintendo games and memorabilia in his attic and would love to show Rob some of the stuff.

First he shows a pristine condition 1990 Nintendo World Championships Gray cartridge. Rob said he "has never seen a better condition copy, it was perfect." Then the seller grabs some other games and throws them on the couch. He just threw the only known copies of 1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge and 1994 Powerfest on his couch!

Rob decides to be honest with the seller, "This stuff is really valuable. I can help you sell it and we can split the money." The seller says he doesn't want to sell it publicly because he used to work for Nintendo and isn't supposed to have these items. Rob says "I will give you $1,000 cash for everything you have and I won't ever tell anyone who I bought this stuff from." (Rob brought a bunch $1,000 with him just in case he had the chance to buy something) The seller agrees and Rob takes his new fought collection home.

The collection of items Rob purchased is worth well over $50,000 in today's market. 1991 Campus Challenge recently sold for $14,000. Powerfest 1994 sold for $10,000 about four months after the garage sale and the NWC Gray cartridge sells for $5,000. Rob basically paid $1,040 for stuff that is worth 48 times that!

Below are pictures of the games and other collector's items Rob purchased at the garage sale.

1992 Nintendo Campus Challenge System
1992 Nintendo Campus Challenge SystemOne of two 1992 Nintendo Campus Challenge cartridges ever found. The game is hooked up to a Japanese Super Famicom and as you can tell is much bigger than a regular SNES game.

1994 Nintendo Powerfest System
1994 Nintendo Powerfest CartridgeThe only copy of the 1994 Nintendo Powerfest ever found. This cartridge is attached to a Super Nintendo console and is also much bigger than traditional cartridges. The 1994 Powerfest was sometimes referred to as "Nintendo World Championships II". The person who sold this cartridge said only 12 were made and 11 were sent back to Nintendo to be destroyed.

1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge Cartridge
1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge CartridgeThe only 1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge cartridge know to exist. This was used in Nintendo's 1991 campus tournament which travelled to about 60 college's and spring break destinations. The cartridge looks like an original NES with part of the top missing and an extra long circuit board.

Five Starfox Super Weekend Cartridges
Five Starfox Super Weekend CartridgesThese are rare cartridges that Nintendo used in a video game competitions hosted by Nintendo Power. The magazine briefly sold them to the public in very limited quantities.

Earthbound NES Cartridge
Earthbound NES CartridgeThis is similar to the Earthbound game that sold on ebay about a month ago for $1,415. It might be the same cartridge but I couldn't verify this. The NES promo game was made for trade shows like E3 and was never released as a Nintendo NES game.

1992 Campus Challenge Jacket
Jacket for 1992 Nintendo Campus ChallengeThe seller of all these items said this jacket was one of twelve ever made. They were given to some Nintendo staff. The "Campus Challenge" logo was on all 12, but the seller had the "Super Power 92" added himself.

Nintendo Powerfest Promo VHS Tapes
Nintendo Powerfest VHS TapesVHS Tapes giving a run down of various Nintendo events. In Rob's own words they are "1990's lame but still interesting"

More Nintendo Powerfest Promo VHS Tapes
More Nintendo Powerfest VHS TapesMore VHS tapes of Powerfest events.

Nintendo Vase - 1992 Campus Challenge Award
Nintendo Vase 1992 AwardA vase that was made to be an award for a 1992 Nintendo event. The winner never claimed the prize. A vase seems like a strange prize for a game tournament. I don't think gamers are the type to keep fresh flowers, but maybe I'm stereotyping gamers too much.

All images came from Jollerancher's Pixelpipeline Gallery. Thank you Rob Walters for answering some of my questions. Additional information comes from a digitpress post by Rob after buying the games.


Anonymous said...

WOW lucky guy. Im gonna go cry at my bad luck now lol

Unknown said...

Why dont these things happen to me?

telepathy said...

WTF? Thats insane, it's as epic as micheal jackson's arcade collection in a way

GameSquire said...

:O I'm jealous, I wonder how on earth people get these perfectly good condition retro games any way?

MW said...

My god. I've never gotten anything worth displaying from a yard sale :( I once found an awesome Harry Potter collectible (3 headed-dog), and picked it up to have a look, and the springs in its head were tangled together and ruined.

I wish I had such good luck.

":O I'm jealous, I wonder how on earth people get these perfectly good condition retro games any way?"

Apparently, by working at Nintendo.

Unknown said...

And JJ, I'm just curious.

How do you usually conduct your interviews? Over the phone or through email etc.?

JJ Hendricks said...

Earthbound01 - I usually conduct my interviews via email because it is hard to get our schedules to line up for a phone interview. My interview with Rob about his garage sale finds was over the phone though.

morsheid said...

Great story. I don't think a lot of people actually put flowers in those glass trophy vases. Some are made in really odd sizes that don't lend themselves to a good arrangement anyhow. Yeah.. a gamer that loves flowers.

Anonymous said...

Lol great story about a guy actively buying stolen goods. Don't get me wrong, I wish it was me.

GameSquire said...

"My god. I've never gotten anything worth displaying from a yard sale :( I once found an awesome Harry Potter collectible (3 headed-dog), and picked it up to have a look, and the springs in its head were tangled together and ruined.

I wish I had such good luck.

':O I'm jealous, I wonder how on earth people get these perfectly good condition retro games any way?;

Apparently, by working at Nintendo."

Working at Nintendo... Not a Bad Idea :P

Anonymous said...

I couldnt be more jealous..

Anonymous said...

WOW....the rarest game I have is a sealed copy of Zelda Majoras Mask: Collectors edition....what a lucky guy.

Anonymous said...

lol, I bought too many used games from Funcoland that I lost track what I have.

Anonymous said...

lol award gamers with flowers vases.

Dythor said...

Hasn't Rob gotten in serious trouble with the law since he admitted he bought stolen goods that belong to Nintendo?

JJ Hendricks said...

@dythor - my guess is Nintendo never really pursued the issue at all. They probably didn't have much of a financial interest in the games anymore so they didn't do anything about it.

The Nintendo employee would probably be in bigger trouble than Rob would be in this situation though.

Anonymous said...

statute of limitations on theft is only 6 years, the fella who sold them could have had some trouble with nintendo if he was retired or had a pension though

gamertech789 said...

just awesome! i only get lucky at times when i go to yard sales, but this one is just mind blowing!

Anonymous said...

Nintendo probably bought them off Ebay to destroy the final ones.

I wonder how the Nintendo guy would of gotten them?

Anonymous said...

i met a guy in hawaii who was selling some

nintendo stuff on craigslist.

when i went to his house he showed me a whole

bunch of promo items as well but said that he

was not willing to sell any of them.

turns out he was a former employee of nintendo

as well as being on the team that created


really nice guy and i walked away with a whole

bunch of plush mario, pokemon, donkey kong ect..

as well as some promo figurines of mario and

donkey kong.

i looked up the guy on google and sure enough

he was the real deal.

JJ Hendricks said...

@anonymous - What kind of promo stuff did the Nintendo guy have? Any specific items would be great to hear about.

Anonymous said...


he showed me prototype units for the original

nes, super nintendo, and n64.

he claimed that there are only a handfull of

these in existence.

he also had a few of the starfox carts as well

as the yoshi super nintendo international cart.

a bunch of employee only toys, memorabilia,

trophies, and what not.

a lot of what he showed me was hardware and i

kind of glossed over it as i was looking for

strictly games.

like i mentioned a really cool guy and if i

remember correctly he mentioned that he

was going back to work for Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Anonymous said...


yeah I'm sure the guy had a 30+ year career at nintendo to have prototypes of nes, snes, and n64.....smells like a crock of shit to me

Anonymous said...

believe what you like.

i was there i saw it.

if you ever come to hawaii i can take you to

the guys house and we can proceed to show

you the items and then beat the shit out of


Anonymous said...

4 months ago I went to a swap meet and someguy has some games NES games complete in box and I asked him if he has anymore, he says he still has a few more he needs to take out. I waited for him to take them out and next thing I know, He busted out 5 sealed Adventure of Link gold carts for the NES and told me "Do you want this" to give him 60 bucks for them. I tried to keep a straight face as I was jizzing my pants. I payed for them and quickly returned home to change my underwear. I have pics to prove it.

JJ Hendricks said...

@anonymous - Sounds like you were saying you have pics of your underwear. No thanks on those :)

If you have pics of all the sealed cartridges that would be great.

Steve Mills said...

Wow great story. I have some good wins myself, but nothing in this league.

There is gold in them suburbs when it comes to retro games.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather knew how i felt about older Nintendo games, because we go to yardsales quite frequently looking for games. This past July I went to a car show with my mom for a weekend for my birthday, and he found an NES lot at a yardsale. He called me saturday night "I got you a birthday present at a yard sale this morning" (it ended up being 15 games, 3 controllers, a gun, and the system itself.) Among the goodies was "Little Samson" (Not PAL) all in excellent condition. costed him $20

Hurricane567 said...

The vase is to put candy in, eat 'em while you play!

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