Introduction

When I showed RetroBlast! and other arcade sites to an old friend of mine, I thought he would be astounded by the community that has sprung up populated by people from many different backgrounds all with a passion for arcade game playing, building, and collecting. I know him to be competitive and that he, like many of us, grew up playing the classics from the early days of Pong.

Now, I also know that he enjoys a nice cold brew as much as the next guy, so maybe it should have come as no surprise when some if the first words he spoke about this hobby were to ask, “Those things come with cup holders?”

Clearly his question illustrates the fact that whether you’re evading and killing renegade robots, dodging and blasting wayward asteroids, or saving humanoids from a never ending horde of mutants, it helps to have something to quench your thirst.

It can be tricky to have a beverage on hand while defending the galaxy as you certainly don’t want a glass or can of liquid perched atop your control panel and often a table or shelf just won’t do sitting next to your cabinet, but there is an alternative.

Sean over at Arcade Designs is currently carrying some interesting cup holders that can mounted on your custom cabinet or control panel. I set out to check them out and see if they’ll do the trick.

First Impressions

The holders are made of a very sturdy and thick black plastic. The first thing you’ll notice when you pull these things out of the shipping box is that they are retractable. When in the closed position they are approximately 4″ x 4″ x 1″ thick. The front, when folded is a slightly beveled and textured cover that hides the rest of the device. THe rear has six holes used to mount the cup holders to the desired surface.

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In order to open the holder, you pull the front cover down which reveals a pair of black plastic tongs, or claw if you prefer. While the front cover has a slight bevel on the outer face when folded, the inside of that cover is flat providing a level surface for your drink. The claw is then pulled up in order to fully open and extend the cup holder.

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When open the units protrude about 4″ front to back and just under 4″ top to bottom. Also when open the rear mounting plate and six screw holes are clearly visible.

The pair of tongs open and close individually, swinging on a hinge that appears to have teeth that serve to provide resistance. I have a feeling that over time and with use these teeth may wear which would reduce the amount of resistance provided and possibly make a drink in the holder less stable as the tongs would not be “gripping” the beverage as much. I think I would have liked to see some sort of apparatus that closed all around a drink rather than the two independently adjustable tongs.

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When closed the tongs have a diameter of about 2 and 5/8″ while fully opened the diameter is about 4 and 1/4″. Do note though that the inside dimension of the lower plate is about 3 and 3/4″ so I would say that is the largest diameter cup, can, or bottle you would want to put into the holder.

Mounting the Cup Holders

The units are very easy to mount, though screws are not included. There are six holes in the mounting plate though I would venture to say that anything you put in the holder that needs 6 screws to hold it will probably break the holder itself! Two or three screws should be fine for most all applications.

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This brings me to the main achilles heel for this product. That is that it does need to be mounted to a vertical surface, presumably on your cabinet or control panel. The idea of drilling three to six holes in one’s cabinet will no doubt keep some folks away. Certainly collectors of classic video games and pinball machines will shy away from mounting anything on the side of their games. I think this product is best suited for custom cabinets and I would be very interested to see how folks work them into their builds.

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As you can see from these images, I mounted one cup holder to each side of my DynaMAME cabinet (still in progress). You may notice that they are not even, one being lower (or the other higher as the case may be) than the other. This is because there were a couple of existing holes for me to use to secure the holders and I took advantage of them for the review. I also only secured them each with one screw in the top center position. This was plenty secure for my test.

Splash Test

First I tried them out with the type of glass you would most likely see me using while battling virtual foes, a pint glass. For the kiddies out there I filled one with water, the other with tea.

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So how did they fare in game play? The glasses stayed in place with no problem or threat of coming out of the tongs. What I did find was that though my cabinet is pretty stable, I would not want to have them mounted as high as they were for fear of some liquid splashing out onto the control panel. I think mounting them a little lower, still within arm’s reach would have been the way to go.

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I also tried both a bottle of brew and a can of soda pop. These fared better as the liquid was in little danger of splashing out of the more secure containers. I think if you purchase these, you may consider instituting a rule around the home arcade, no glasses in the cup holders!

Conclusion

All in all these things are pretty cool. I wasn’t super pleased with the tong mechanism with fears that they may wear out, but the holders performed very well overall. I think the way in which they fold out could be worked into a custom cabinet design with great effect and they certainly do what they say they do, that is they hold a cup (or bottle, or can).

Pros

  • Very Sturdy
  • Aesthetically pleasing design
  • Cool folding action
  • Easy to install
  • Worked great for cans and bottles

Cons

  • Tong resistance may degrade over time
  • Requires drilling in cabinet or control panel