'My own personal arcade': Meet Whitehorse's pinball repair wizard

Marshall Charlebois blames it on the Hollywood Heat — the vintage 1980s drama Miami Vice-inspired pinball machine.

It sort of fell into his lap and got him hooked on fixing up old arcade games.

"We got it from a friend who had it sit at his shop for a while ... It was deemed unrepairable," Charlebois said, standing beside the now fully-functional machine.

"That weekend, we had most of it working — and kind of got bit by the bug."

Now there's a growing collection of pinball machines and video games in Charlebois's workshop. 

He's a professional sound technician, so he know his way around electronics. But tinkering with these vintage machines is a fun challenge, and he likes seeing how the manufacturers designed them.

Kiyoshi Maguire/CBC

"They're pretty inventive in finding different ways to achieve a switch turning off and on ... It's intriguing, just the way they have them laid out throughout the generations."

One of his biggest coups was getting an old, standup, space-themed arcade game of Asteroids back in action. The machine had been sitting unused and forgotten for years before Charlebois got hold of it. 

Me and Ted danced around for about six hours, like kids. - Marshall Charlebois

"That was a project and a half, to try and save it. Sat out there for years, under a couple of roofing tiles," he recalled.

He and a co-worker managed to get it working with some know-hows and a bit of online help and advice.

"Me and Ted danced around for about six hours, like kids right? 'It's working!'" Charlebois said. 

"Played many a game and realized we suck at it, so we had to practise. There's no leniency on these old games, as they're almost designed to take your quarters."

Kiyoshi Maguire/CBC

Charlebois said he's been surprised to discover how many people in Yukon have an old machine (or more) stashed away in the basement or garage.

"Now that the word's kind of out there ... we've had a few people ask us [about repairs]," Charlebois said.

He's not yet ready to make a side business of it, though, because he said he's still learning. 

"I'm pretty happy with where it is now. I've got my own personal arcade."

Kiyoshi Maguire/CBC

In the meantime, he'd love to keep adding to his collection, but said he's running out of room. 

Of course, he dreams of finding that diamond in the rough — the rare and sought-after machine that's been sitting and collecting dust somewhere, waiting for the keen-eyed collector to come and snap it up for a song.

Some vintage machines go for tens of thousands of dollars, he said. 

But Charlebois isn't holding his breath.

"You never know, there's something to be said about finding it in the wild, and getting a deal," he said.

"But a lot of times ... they're sitting for a reason. Either the person knows what they have and don't want to sell them, or you know, through a flood they're all damaged."