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Plugged In

Dad, daughter find exceptionally rare Atari game in storage

Plugged In

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Air Raid (Credit: GameGavel)

Parents hang on to the oddest treasures, usually because they're not entirely sure what to do with old books, videos, or games.

For Harv Bennet, however, being a packrat is about to pay off big time.

Alongside his daughter Alana, Harv found a copy of the Atari 2600 rarity Air Raid among a box of old Atari games he had kept in storage for years. While most old games aren't worth a lot, Air Raid is the exception. In 2010, a copy sold on eBay for a whopping $31,600.

Bennett got the game when he was the assistant manager of a drug store in the early 80s. A representative from the game's developer, Men-A-Vision, hoped he would like the game and order more to sell in the store. Harv didn't, but the developer told him they didn't want the copy back.

Smartly, he never got rid of it. When he saw the game listed on an Atari blog, it rang a bell, prompting Harv and his daughter to pore through the collection together. Alana even recorded it:

Alana took to the Atari Age forums to get guidance on what to do next, ultimately deciding to sell the game on the GameGavel auction site, rather than eBay. After five days, bidding has already neared $18,000. The auction ends on November 4.

"I am taken back and very excited that an Atari Community with so many serious collectors and people that just have love for the games exist," wrote Harv on the Atari Age forums. "We thank you for all your excitement and support not only for us but for another piece of Atari history. … We both feel very humble to be part of this."

Air Raid is considered one of gaming's rarest treasures -- only about a dozen have popped up over the years -- but chances of the Bennet copy setting a new record are slim. Earlier this year, that honor went to an exceedingly rare prototype cartridge of Nintendo's original The Legend of Zelda, which eventually sold for a stunning $55,000.

Another wrench in the Bennet's chances of setting a sales record? A second boxed copy was unearthed by another seller over the past week and has made its way to eBay, where it currently stands at just $8,500 with bidding ending on Tuesday at midnight.

The Bennetts do have several advantages, though: their copy is in much better condition, plus it contains the game's original instruction manual, which apparently has never been found intact before.

Regardless of the final selling price of his copy of Air Raid -- which could well be north of $30,000 -- Harv is planning on passing the funds over to his daughter.

"My daughter is living the American dream," Harv told gaming website Polygon. "She just bought a house, and it's a real fixer-upper. Almost all of the money I'm giving to Alana to help her with her house."

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