TopMax Sega Dreamcast Arcade Fighting Game Controller

Dollar Flipper Ebay Flip 4 Comments

Video games are the bread and butter of a lot of eBay resellers.  These items fit perfectly in padded mailers, can be shipped first class, are found in large lots at garage sales or rummage sales, and are very collectible.

What a lot of people don’t realize though is that sometimes, the accessories can be just as valuable (or more) than the video games!

This week’s flip is a specialty controller designed for the Sega Dreamcast System.  Let’s just say that this whole eBay transaction could have went a little smoother…

Although the Dreamcast system came out in 1999, there’s still a lot of interest in the games on the system.  When you think of the Dreamcast, you might think of some of the main titles: Shenmue, Crazy Taxi, Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Jet Grind Radio, Sonic Adventure.  These are some really fun 1 player games.

If you’re not into fighting games though, you might not realize that this system brought some of the best arcade games right into your home (some of which are still being continued on current systems today).  Here are just a few: Soul Caliber, Virtua Fighter 3TB, Dead or Alive 2 (DOA 2).  Then there are the games brought to us by the powerhouse of developing/publishing fighting video games – Capcom.  Capcom developed classics like Power Stone 1 and 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Marvel vs. Capcom 1 and 2, and Capcom vs SNK.

Ok, enough with the lists already!  Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of popular, classic, arcade-style fighting games that were published on the Dreamcast.

The controller that I flipped is a specialized controller that’s designed to mimic a stand-up, coin operated, arcade unit’s controls.  Here’s a comparison:

TopMax Controller for Dreamcast

Notice it has the joystick and the 6 buttons just like the TopMax above.
The stock Dreamcast controller has 4 buttons on the front with two triggers on the left and right shoulder.

The TopMax controller allows you to pummel all of your friends with the best combos using a controller that is designed just like the ones in the arcade!  Otherwise, you’d have to figure out which button on the regular Dreamcast controller is the same as the ones in the arcade and try to re-create the combos.  Not an easy task when a delay of milliseconds means that your enemy (friend?) can kick your butt.

On top of all this, it’s about 4 times as big as a regular Dreamcast controller and has the same port for a Visual Memory Unit (VMU), the Dreamcast version of the memory card which displays pictures depending on the game you’re playing.

Looks like it’s working to me!

When I got this controller, it was in a big box with a few complete Dreamcast systems, a bunch of controllers, and a ton of games.  To test it, I plugged it in, made sure all of the buttons worked, and looked at the VMU to make sure it was showing images like its supposed to. Perfect, right?

Here’s the $ of the flip though, and then I’ll explain the problems that popped up:

  • Purchase price (Based on cash spent on the box o’ stuff divided by the # of items) – $1.00
  • End Selling Price – $49.99
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $15.87
  • Extra Shipping/Handling – $1.69

Total Profit:  $31.43
Available Cash to go out and buy more: $32.43

What are you complaining about Dollar Flipper?  That’s a great flip! Sure, the shipping was high, but that item was heavy!

Quick flips are what everyone wants, and if I’d done a little more pre-work on this one, I could have avoided the back and forth that went down.

After receiving the item, the buyer sends a message with the following:

“I tested this controller yesterday and unfortunately it has a couple of serious problems. First the VMU card can not be taken out of its slot. I tried several times along with a buddy of mine with no luck. There is no way that card can be pulled out. As a result I was only able to start up two games. Other games that I tried would display an error message : The data could not be read. Please verify that the card is properly connected and try again. Well obviously I can not pull the card out and re insert it . I did try to wiggle the card to see if that would help but it did not.

The other problem is with the start button. With the two games I was able to access the start button would not always respond resulting in my having to restart the game.

Please tell me what to do.”


I was seeing dollar bills floating right out of my pocket as I read this. I don’t accept returns because I feel like I test my items pretty well, but here’s an example of a time that I could have done a lot better.
Issue # 1 – Start button – OK, I know this worked.  I tested every single button when I had the controller at my house. Maybe it was damaged during shipping (unlikely because I wrapped everything in bubble wrap before boxing), or maybe it’s just stuck a little (very common on the old systems).  I let him know that it worked when I sent it.

Issue # 2 – VMU stuck/not saving – This is where I didn’t do my due diligence.  I saw the VMU already in the controller, saw that it had the display image, and was happy.  I didn’t try to take it out, and I didn’t try to save on it. Kind of dumb on my part when you think about the point of a VMU (saving your game).  It did start up with the game I tried it with though.

Luckily, I’ve played a good amount of video games and understand how the Dreamcast system works, so I was able to salvage this transaction.  The Dreamcast VMU is inserted into a controller, and you can insert them into any of the controllers that are plugged into the Dreamcast.  I happened to have an extra VMU in the box that I purchased which I tested by saving a game (wasn’t making that mistake twice)!  I let him know that he can put the new VMU into a 2nd controller and save on that one.

So in the end, I shipped it for $1.69 (lowest price for first class mail).  The buyer and I weren’t happy about the situation but were able to make the best out of it.  I avoided a negative feedback (he didn’t give any feedback), and I still got my money minus the $1.69 for shipping the 2nd VMU.

I did have some lost opportunity cost (would have been about $8.50 for the working VMU), but this sale alone covered the cost of the whole box I purchased!  

So, despite the downside of this transaction, things still worked out pretty well.  If I didn’t have a spare VMU, I’d have to pony up for one and have it shipped to the guy. I was able to make it work by buying in bulk at a church rummage sale.  As I’ve said before, church rummage sales are the best!

-Dollar Flipper

Comments 4

  1. Love the details, I too sell a lot of video games but have not tried to sell components. Looks like separating systems can be very lucrative! Excellent!

    1. Accessories are a great way to make extra $$. I sold two original NES controllers for ~$20. You can pick those up all day for a buck a piece!

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