Though some are still skeptical this is an April Fools' Day joke that's overstayed its welcome, AtariAge forumer Tanner claims he's unearthed a never-before-seen box in astonishingly good condition for super rare Atari 2600 game Air Raid. He also has a copy of the game, only a handful of which are known to exist.

Ostensibly a hack of Wickstead Design's Space Jockey, Air Raid is considered by many collectors as the "holy grail" of Atari 2600 games. Very little is known about the game's developer, Men-A-Vision, and it's rarity is such that the last eBay auction for just the game's light blue, T-handle cartridge ended at $2,850.

Tanner explained how he first came across the game decades ago and rediscovered its box recently:

"I clearly remember buying this game back in 1984 or 1985. My mother had taken me to a Tuesday Morning store in Arlington Texas. It was near the corner of Arkansas Lane and Medline Drive. Not too long after I purchased it, I got an Atari 800 and stopped playing the 2600.

Since then, the Air Raid cartridge has been boxed up in my garage along with my 2600 and other games for over 20 years. The game box was stored separately and I just found it. I had no idea that I still had these game boxes."

If this all sounds too good to be true, especially with the revelation's proximity to April Fools' Day, Tanner posted several close-up photos of the box to dispel accusations of him counterfeiting the box -- see some of the shots below (the Men-A-Vision logo is ACES).

AtariAge administrator and owner Albert even visited Tanner's home to inspect the Air Raid box in person:

"I had a chance to meet Tanner this morning and take a good look at the Air Raid box and cartridge. After doing so, I'm of the opinion this is a legitimate box and that someone is going to be adding a thus far one-of-a-kind box to their collection soon. As valuable as such a box is, it seems unlikely that someone would be able to produce a box of this nature so convincingly without spending a good amount of time and money in doing so.

Everything about the box seems authentic to me, from the chipboard paper stock used, the offset printing, the die-cut nature of the box, the aging of the box interior, the insert with the plastic tray perfectly sized to the cartridge, the horrible typesetting (which would be a lot of work to reproduce digitally!), ... the wear of the box, and more.

Also, the artwork on the front of the box certainly was not 'blown up' from a label scan--as I stated earlier, it would have had to been redrawn from scratch to match the label artwork if this was a fake. If I had this in my collection I would not doubt its authenticity."

Tanner has listed both the Air Raid box and game together in an eBay auction set to end in eight days. 16 bids in, the auction has already reached $6,500.

[Via GDRI]