Forgotten and broken down Soviet-era arcade games are being restored for Moscow's newest museum, just opened by volunteers nostalgic for childhood days spent playing games like "Tankodrom" and "Sniper." Secret military factories across the Soviet Union churned out the arcade games from the late 1970s, but they were discarded in favor of shinier western imports after the collapse of communism in 1991, explain the museum's founders. While youngsters in the West played Pac-man on their first home computers, their Eastern bloc counterparts from Dresden to Vladivostok were queuing up to play the latest arcade games.
About two years ago, a group of students decided they'd like to resurrect some of their childhood memories -- a project that has evolved into the Museum of Soviet Slot Machines, recently opened in a temporary home beneath a college dormitory. "We remembered our childhood and the games we used to play, so we came up with this idea. It wasn't easy tracking down the machines and most of them didn't work," explained Alexander Stakhanov, 25, now a graduate student in economics. Hidden away in Moscow's suburbs in the basement of a 1950s building, the museum has an underground feel. After descending down some stairs, you pass through heavy steel protective doors installed at a time when the Cold War could have become very hot, very fast.