Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nintendo Electro Safari and Electro Bird targets (エレクトロ サファリ, エレクトロ バード 1970)

The Kôsenjû SP series of light-beam toys was introduced in a previous post. Today we will take a closer look at two of the targets in this series: Electro Safari (エレクトロ サファリ) and Electro Bird (エレクトロ バード). Depending on your taste, they are either the most flamboyant of the series or the most kitschy. In any case, they are a lot of fun. These targets are also another nice engineering feat by the Nintendo team, as you will find out below.

Electro Safari and Electro Bird - two targets from the Kôsenjû SP series

The targets cost ¥5,900 each, a require an Kôsenjû SP Gun or Riffle to be played (sold separately). The targets are quite big (55cm by 45 cm) and so, naturally, are the boxes. The box-art is well designed: it explains the purpose of the game very well, in an inviting way.

Let's take a look at the Electro Safari first.

Kôsenjû SP Electro Safari

Of the two, I like this design the most. That boy with his safari helmet on immediately gets you in the mood to shoot some prey.

The target is a framed wildlife scene, showing a wild animal popping through the lush vegetation. The white (plastic) frame may not be to everyone's taste, but the game definitely gives you the feeling you are on a safari.

Instruction taken from the manual: aim at target and shoot

You would hang the target on a wall, and take aim with either your Kôsenjû SP Gun or Riffle.

You can see the light sensitive sensor sitting just below the black panther. Hit it and the poor animal will plummet behind the scenery: dead, or at least badly wounded.

But hitting one animal is just the start. As soon as the panther disappeared, another animal appears. A lion!

Shoot the lion, and a cheetah is up next. You can already see it lurking behind the rock on the right. When you have successfully struck the cheetah, the black panther appears again (it apparently made a quick recovery), and the fun starts all over.

Kôsenjû SP Electro Bird

The second target, Kôsenjû SP Electro Bird, works similar, but this time it features three birds instead of cats.

The frame is identical to the Safari game, but here we have a rough mountain scene.

Surely you have become curious by now, about how this targets actually works. So let us take a peak inside. Hope this doesn't spoil the mystery for you. If it does, quickly look away.

It is a good thing toys from this age are simply screwed together, and can be easily taken apart. We have loosened the back from the frame, and removed the front to expose the innards. On the left, you see the backside of the scenery. The wiring to the sensor has been cleverly guided behind the painted tree branch to make it invisible from the front.

In left-bottom corner of the back plate we see the battery holder (the black box, which takes 2 C-cells and a 9 volt block) and right to this a motor which move the birds. Above the battery box sit the electronics which control the motor when a hit is detected by the sensor.

The birds are attached to a transparent disc, which moves 120 degrees counter-clockwise each time the target is successfully hit. This moves the next animal into view, keeping the rest of the mechanism hidden by the scenery. The birds aren't fixedly attached to the disc, but are mounted on axles that allow them to spin. When the disc turns, the birds stay level by a little lead weight at the bottom of the bird.

Underneath the bird on the left sits a clever mechanism which makes the bird spin when the disc is moved. This caused the dramatic tumbling-to-its-death effect.

To conclude this post, here you can see it in action.


  1. Great post! I completely agree about the kid's helmet on the Safari game, it really makes me want to play!

    Thanks for taking the game apart to show us the insides too. It is always interesting to see things like that. One of the things I like about the Famicom and pre-Famicom stuff is the ease with which you can open them up with just a screwdriver!

  2. Nice to meet you.
    Because I was born in 1965, I feel these toys to be miss you very.
    I collect these toys, too.
    I had you show all images as a very precious document.
    Thank you.