Sunday, October 2, 2022

Nintendo Copilas localized for Australia

The Copilas (コピラス) was an affordable photo copier, introduced by Nintendo in 1971. In the early 1970s, Nintendo released multiple products outside their core toys and games market, and the Copilas was one of these. Others included the Nintendo Candy Machine, Uni Rack, Twins and Mamaberica.

Japanse version of the Nintendo Copilas

It was believend that these products were all limited to Nintendo's Japanese home market. The only known version of Copilas was the one sold in Japan. This version is described in detail in this post.

Nintendo Copilas localized for the Australian market

I say "was believed", as recently the version shown here popped up, seemingly out of nowhere. It is a version that has been fully localized for the Australian market.

On this version, all Japanse text has been replaced by English translations. The company name used is also the international version: "Nintendo Co., Ltd.".

The box shows that the machine is made to work with 240 volt current and 50 cycles, the Australian standard, as opposed to the 100 volt which is used in Japan. The voltage / cycle indication is stamped on the box, rather than printed, allowing other configurations to use the same box.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Nintendo's oldest playing cards? Marufuku No. 1

Nintendo was founded in Kyoto back in 1889. This means that the oldest items the company produced are now well over a century old.

One of the oldest items in my collection, possibly the oldest, are these pieces of paper.

They are the remains of a box of one of the earliest sets Western style playing cards manufactured by Nintendo, from the early 1900s.

Five of the original six sides of the box remain. The top side, that functions as a closing lid, unfortunately is missing.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Nintendo Lefty RX English promotional leaflet

A few weeks ago, when scanning Yahoo Auctions Japan for vintage Nintendo toys, my eyes spotted a Lefty RX G.T. Sport set. The set was in decent condition, but nothing I did not already have in this collection. Or so I thought, on first glance.

I have always had a soft spot for these 1972 toy racing cars. Nintendo turned their obvious disadvantage (it cannot steer to the right), into a unique selling point. So I pay extra attention when an auction of one of these scrolls by, and gave it a second look.

Something looked off and unfamiliar.

I quickly realised that included in the box, besides the standard black and white manual, was a leaflet I had not seen before. Enough reason to bid. Luckily I won the item for a reasonable amount.

When the package arrived at my place a few weeks later, and I opened the box, I was glad I had acquired it.

The document turned out to be a full-colour promotional leaflet, in English. A document I had never seen before.

Around this time (late 1960s to early 1970s), Nintendo was trying to expand their market abroad, mostly through foreign distributors. English language versions have been found for many of their products from this era, including the Ultra Hand, Love Tester, Challenge Dice, Ultra Machine and Ultra Scope. However, this was the first time I saw that a similar attempt was made for Lefty RX as well.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Nintendo Kyoto Souvenir Playing Cards (1950s)

This is a story about a beautiful set of vintage Nintendo playing cards, and dealing with a certain amount of disappointment.

In a previous post, I shared a document from the 1950s, called the Nintendo Playing Cards Report.

This document is both a company introduction and a product catalogue. It provides a comprehensive overview of all products offered by the company at the time; (mostly) playing cards, as the title suggests.

Of all the card sets shown in this document, one set in particular caught my attention: the Kyoto Souvenir Playing Cards (スーベニヤトランプ), that include a photo of some aspect of Kyoto on each card, so over fifty different photos in total.

This set of cards intrigued me for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the cards look beautiful. Within Nintendo's product portfolio, these are some of the earliest examples of themed cards, that offer more than the standard card suits with a colourful back design. [Another early example are these Nintendo Takarazuka cards.]

Also, there is a strong link between Nintendo and the subject of Kyoto, as it is the company's hometown.

Furthermore, these cards provide a view of how Kyoto, and by extension Japan, presented itself to tourists at that time. They offer a window to that past, when tourism was still largely a domestic affair. Foreign visitors came to Japan only in small numbers, and most non-Japanese tourists in Japan consisted of US troops stationed in Japan following the occupation after Japan's defeat at the end of World War 2.

From the 1950s, the Japanese government did promote tourism to foreign nationals, as it brought in much needed foreign currency, and these cards fit that promotional effort.

Very recently, I managed to find two copies of this set. The first I ever saw, after more than twenty years of searching for vintage Nintendo items. Also the first to appear in collector circles. As you can image, this discovery made me very happy.

Even more fantastic (or so I thought initially), was the fact that they are unused, old stock. [Later it became clear that I celebrated too early, more on that at the end of this post.]

The boxes are in relatively good condition, although they are somewhat dusty. Not surprising really, given their age of around seventy years!

The front and back of the box contain nice drawings of scenes from Kyoto, as well a diamonds and clubs symbols.