Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ads for Nintendo playing cards from 1957

Vintage magazines often provide interesting glimpses into the past.


In this case they also include a little bit of Nintendo history, as we will see.


The magazines shown here are three editions of Sunday Mainichi (サンデー毎日). Sunday Mainichi is a weekly Japanese publication that first appeared in 1922 and still exists to this day.


These particular copies all date from 1957, a mere twelve years after the end of the second world war.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Nintendo Ultra Hand box from 1973

The Ultra Hand is an important part of Nintendo's history. It marks their start as a toy company and also was the start of the toy design career of Gunpei Yokoi.

Recently I was lucky to find a Nintendo Ultra Hand in the box version from the early 1970s. This had been on my wanted list for a long time. Although the one I found wasn't in perfect condition, these are so rare that I happily added it to my collection.

Nintendo Ultra Hand (1973 box version)

I had been on the lookout for more than fifteen years for this version, after first seeing a tiny picture of it online. As I could not find it in any vintage toy shop in Japan, nor on any auction site, I was beginning to wonder if it really existed.

Nintendo leaflet from November 1973 (front)

This box version was also featured in a 1973 Nintendo leaflet that shows the toy range that Nintendo sold in the early 1970s.

Nintendo leaflet from November 1973 (back)

On the back of this leaflet the Ultra Hand was shown in a new box design, next to other toys from that era like the Mach Rider and Ele-Conga.


The Ultra Hand was first introduced in 1966 and became Nintendo's first million seller. Seven years later this sales boom was long over, but Nintendo must have still believed in this product, or had surplus stock, when they introduced a new box design. As it was well past its hype days, it must have sold in small numbers at that time. Which would explain why it is so hard to track down in this version.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Nintendo playing cards catalogue from 1983

Some time ago I received a vintage Nintendo catalogue as a gift from a fellow collector. This catalogue shows the range of playing cards that Nintendo had for sale in Japan in the early 1980s. It was produced for sales staff and toy store buyers.

It was printed on heavy paper not unlike that of playing cards and was clearly intended to highlight Nintendo's ability to produce print work of the highest quality.


The six-page catalogue dates from July 22 1983 (printed on the catalogue using the Japanese calendar: 昭和58年7月22日). To put this date into perspective in Nintendo's history: this was one week after the release of the Family Computer. Although Nintendo was very busy conquering the world of electronic entertainment, at the same time it also still carried a substantial range of playing cards (in fact, it still does so today).


The first four pages are used to showcase Western style 'trump' (トランプ) playing cards in many different geometrical designs. The designs are presented in pairs with slight colour variations, intended for games that require two card stocks to play.

Various levels of quality are offered which differ in card material, size and thickness. Prices range from ¥1,200 for the most expensive to ¥500 for the simplest set.


Most of these cards are made from plastic. This is also reflected by their product codes: all cards with codes that include 'NAP' are plastic. 'NAP' is short for 'Nintendo All Plastic'.

In 1953 Nintendo started producing playing cards that were made entirely out of plastic. It was the first company in Japan to do so. Although printing on plastic complicated the manufacturing process - as the ink smears more easily and takes longer to dry - it produced much more durable cards that retain their shape and colour better.

Not all offered cards in this catalogue are plastic though; some of the cheaper sets are made from paper, as indicated with the kanji for paper (紙).


Sunday, November 29, 2015

beforemario at Gamescom 2015 - part 2

In the first part of my Gamescom 2015 report I covered the preparations leading up to the event.

In today's post I will take you on a tour of the beforemario exhibition that was part of this huge five-day video gaming show that took place in August of this year.


I was assigned a nice area with ten glass cabinets, in the middle of the retro game section just behind the stage.


The area was open on both sides, allowing visitors to flow through.


Even though this was considerable space, it would be impossible to display my entire collection here, so I had to make a selection.