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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Arcade Posters

If collecting rare Japanese arcade posters wasn't expensive enough, trying to frame them for hanging will surely put you in the poor house. The problem is two fold, Japanese B1 poster size is larger than American B1 poster size, and no store in America carries pre-made frames larger than B1. This leaves you with two options, trim the poster to fit American B1 size (unthinkable by most!) or have a custom frame built.

Custom framing is great business in the US with huge markups because you have no where else to go. I've priced a custom frame with the cheapest frame border, and cheapest/thinnest plexiglass at Michael's Art Supply which came out to $275! That price does NOT include mounting or anything, just the metal frame, backing, and plexi front. Unbelievable! Of course the sales person said "for this week only" there was a $99 off custom frames over $ the price would have dropped to $176. No thanks.

Since I was very reluctant to trim these rare posters, I decided to try and make my own frames. Since I'm no carpenter, have no woodworking tools, I didn't feel like making 50 pound wood/glass frames from homedepot (so not sure what that would cost total). What I did was visit a local plastics store called Tap Plastics. There, I ordered a 1/8 thick plexiglass square cut to 40"1/2 x 28"3/4 size (thats Japanese B1) for $30, then a 1/8 think foam-core backing of the same size for $15. My ghetto solution for holding the pieces together were small office binder clips (19mm in size) found in Walmart for $0.79 a box of 12. After clipping the backing to the plexi (with poster sandwiched in the middle) I removed the front side metal wing-tabs on the clips. To hang the poster, Tap Plastics had this very cool Uniframe 40" kit for $10. So total cost of my custom frame came out to about $55.

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Notice the two foam-core blocks I taped to the back, these were instructions that the Uniframe kit gave to give the frame better support. Two simple picture frame nails is all that is needed to hang via the plastic parts just below the supports. Since the entire thing is pretty light weight (about 5 lbs), nothing would be damaged if it happened to come off the wall (never happened yet).

The true test of this design was fitting a similar frame for my Espgaluda II poster, which is a double B1 size of 79" x 28"3/4! Price for the plexi and foam-core obviously came out to twice as much ($90) but there was no framing system suitable for this extremely long length. So again, I went ghetto, headed back to Walmart, and bought several more boxes of those small size binder clips. This time, I didn't use any framing system and just used the single side of the binder clip tab-wing to attach to the wall via small poster nails. The result was perfectly secure to the wall!

Since hanging all my extra large posters this way, I've since seen some new internet framing shops in the UK that offer > 40" custom frames around this same price, but I'm not sure what the shipping costs would be on such large pieces of plexiglass overseas. I don't have the link handy, but its been mentioned in several of the poster threads on the shmups message board.
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