Vectrex: another lost redesign

Whilst doing research into one of the Vectrex titles covered in the Games That Weren’t book, there was a surprise in store when Gary Bergmann (Senior Electronic Project Engineer at Milton Bradley) put us in touch with Tom McDonald. Tom used to work in the model shop at Milton Bradley at the time of the Vectrex, working on models for the likes of Dark Tower and more.

The Vectrex had other redesign attempts to try and continue the platform’s life-span, but sadly didn’t make it. These included a Colour Vectrex, but also a Mini Vectrex – which the National Video Game museum famously acquired a prototype of back in 2018. There was even talk of a handheld colour Vectrex in the late 80’s that would sadly never materialise.

However, Gary mentioned that Tom had worked on yet another Vectrex redesign which would never see the light of day. A new casing intended to replace the classic dark grey shell that we all know and love.

Tom informed GTW that his prototype was simply meant as just a visual improvement to make the standard-sized Vectrex look more appealing to the consumer. Therefore only a full-sized shell prototype was produced to show marketing the potential new look and get initial feedback.

Unfortunately, the redesign occurred just before Vectrex was dropped from the line, so further work and refinements were cancelled. It never got a stage of ever housing any electrical components inside. The team were even asked to throw the early model away, but thankfully Tom grabbed it and has been the guardian of it ever since.

Here are a full gallery of photos showing the prototype casing, which Tom kindly provided:

As you can see, there are some small similarities with the Mini Vectrex, primarily the vibrant “VECTREX VideoSystem” logo and use of luminous orange/red colours that really pop out at you.

We believe that this might be the first time the case design has been seen before outside of Milton Bradley because of how early it was in development at the time. Mat Allen though has seen the controller in the past separately, with the stick on the right-hand side. If you are aware of any press showing the design and any further details, please do get in touch – as we would love to pass anything onto Tom and add to this page as well.

Photos (c) Tom McDonald.

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