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Monday, February 28, 2011

Nintendo Custom Gunman and Custom Lion (カスタム ガンマン, カスタム ライオン, 1976)

Arguably the most spectacular toys in the Nintendo Kousenjuu series are Customer Gunman (カスタム ガンマン) and Custom Lion (カスタム ライオン).

"Kousenjuu Custom Gunman Set"

The US Patent for Custom Gunman and Custom Lion is credited to Takehiro Izushi.

The targets were released in 1976 and sold in two versions each, retailing for ¥5,000 and ¥7,500, respectively.

All versions of Custom Gunman and Custom Lion, together with Custom Gun

One version, shown on the left in above picture, contained only a target, and was aptly called Custom Gunman Target (カスタム ガンマ ターゲット) and Custom Lion Target (カスタム ライオン ターゲット). The other version, shown on the right, contained both a target and a Custom Gun, and was called Custom Gunman Set (カスタム ガンマ セット) and Custom Lion Set (カスタム ライオン セット).

The Custom Gun (カスタム ガン) was also sold loose, for ¥2,500.

As an aside: as you can see, there was no price difference between the set and the loose target and gun. This would both cost you ¥7,500. I have found this to be typical of how prices are set in Japan, whereas in other cultures buying a set would provide you with some form of discount. I personally like the Japanese way; there is no push, no advantage in buying more at the same time. You can buy the various parts when you feel like it, without spending more.

Back to the gun. This Custom Gun is a new type, different to the Kousenjuu SP Gun from 1970. They can be easily distinguished, as the Custom Gun has a brown handle, as opposed to the white handle of the Kousenjuu SP Gun. The newer gun also has a slightly lighter feel, which is explained by the plastic trigger mechanism which has replaced the metal mechanism of he older gun.

More importantly, by using a different type of light source and a focal lens at the end of the gun, the new Custom Gun is capably of hitting a target at a far greater distance. The Customer Lever Action Riffle from 1971 uses the same technology, and can also be used to shoot these targets. The Kousenjuu SP Gun will not work on the Custom targets.

The Custom Lion target is slightly bulkier, and comes in a bigger (higher) box.

Both games feature nice drawings on the front and sides, showing the game action.

The Custom Gunman Set and Custom Lion Set include the Custom Gun

I am not sure why that lion is looking so happy, while it is being hit in the gut.

Maybe it is just doing a bad job looking surprised?

Custom Gunman is a cool dude, mustache and all. But first, let's get him out of his box.

We load the Gunman with 2 C-cells and the gun with two AA batteries.

Note how the light sensor is placed strategically in the cowboy's heart area.

After switching on the game, it starts producing a quite frightful whirring sound, as the Gunman self-erects. When it is fully standing up, the sound stops.

Now, nothing remains but silence. The Gunman is squinting, staring us in the eye. Are you looking at me?

We take aim, and fire. The Gunman, hit, falls to the ground.

After laying dead for a few precious seconds, he recomposes himself and stands up again. Ready for another showdown.

The base of the game contains a clever mechanism, which pulls the two metal cables in the legs of the Gunman to erect him. When the sensor detects a hit, these cables are suddenly released, making the guy fall. The cables also double as wiring to the light sensor in his torso.

Custom Gunman Target and Customer Lion Target, without gun

For those who already had a gun but wanted to get an additional target, they could also be bought loose.

As most people bought the set with target and gun, the versions with just the target are much rarer these days, as they were produced in much smaller quantities.

These games were the last of the Kousenjuu light gun targets produced, and I believe Nintendo saved the best for last. You could say the series ended with a bang.

Recently some information surfaced about US releases of Custom Gunman: Sharp Shooter, Glaring Gorilla and Shoot Em Ups. It is not clear of these were officially licensed, but they are most likely illegal clones.


  1. These are so innovative!

    Did these come out before or after the Duck Hunt kit?

  2. These Custom Gunman and Custom Lion targets were released in the same year (1976) as the original Duck Hunt game. I don't have exact information on which was released first, but they were released around the same time.

    I personally believe the Duck Hunt game is even more innovative than Custom Gunman and Custom Lion. But they are all great toys. More on Duck Hunt in a future post.

  3. Cool! Btw, does the orginal Duck Hunt gun work with these targets or can you shoot ducks with these guns? What would be a reasonable price to pay if I found one of the targets from ebay?

  4. Hey, i just found this page, and this is very interresting! i got i Sharp Shooter, the producer is named Electric-Eye but i can't find anything about it!! it is the exced same figure but its on a green box, with a western look. dos anybody know anything about it? is it also from Nintendo or what relasion dos it have to the Costum gunman??
    sorry my English, i'm Danish :)
    - Pernille

    1. Hi Pernille. Your English is fine. A lot better than my Danish, that's for sure :-) The Sharp Shooter was an unofficial copy (clone) from Nintendo's Custom Gunman. I would love to learn more about it. If you can send some pictures that would be great! Thanks in advance.

  5. Where can i buy it