Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nintendo Chiritori (無線クリーナー チリトリー, 1979)

In the early 70s, a series of remote controlled cars had been released by Nintendo (called Lefty RX). These used a rudimentary single-button radio control mechanism, allowing the cars to start and stop. Steering was not an option: the “left” in the name refers to the fact that the front wheels of the cars were fixed going to the left side.

A similar radio control mechanism would be used for another unlikely Nintendo toy designed by Gunpei Yokoi: Chiritori (Japanese for “dustpan”).

Radio controlled cleaner Chiritori (無線クリーナー チリトリー)

The toy was also referred to as "無線クリーナー", which means "radio (controlled) cleaner".

Cover page of the manual

Chiritori was released in 1979, and retailed for ¥5,800. It did not become a big seller and was produced in relatively small numbers, making it one of the rarer Nintendo toys and very difficult to find these days.

Chiritori is a remote controlled, battery operated mini vacuum cleaner. It measures a mere 16 centimeters across, with a small fan providing dust-sucking action. Although it can actually vacuum, this is not intended for serious cleaning. It would take you all day to do a single room.

Chiritori comes with a radio controller with a single button.

Both Chiritori and controller have small antennae for radio communication (using the 40.680 MHz band).

Also included is a sheet of stickers, which can be used to customize the body of Chiritori.

Sticker sheet provided with Chiritori

When switched on by turning the big white button on the top, Chiritori starts spinning in place (always clockwise). Press the button on the remote controller and it stops spinning and moves in a straight line in the direction it was facing when the button was pressed. Release the button on the remote again, and it stops moving forward and reverts back to spinning around. This control system allows Chiritori to be negotiated in any direction, but it is a bit tricky and requires practice.

The front of Chiritori clearly shows the white sucking mouth facing the ground, and the air outlet in the front.

The manual shows how to insert batteries and operate the Chiritori

The Chiritori and radio controller are battery operated. The Chiritori requires 4 C cells and a 9 volt block, the controller uses another 9 volt block.

Now if we flip the Chiritori over, we see the two main wheels used to move and a smaller non-motorized wheel providing additional support.

When the tray that collects the gathered dust is removed, the fan is exposed. This fan sucks up the dirt and drops it in the tray.

I am sure that by now you are dying to see it in action. Sit back and witness the video I made of the awesome cleaning power of the Chiritori!

Chiritori's quirkiness ensured an appearance in the of WarioWare games (WarioWare Inc, GBA, 2003). Check out the video below (by YouTube user oODiAbLoSOo).

As an aside: while writing this post I was plagued by yet another romanization question: I would expect "チリトリー" to be written as "Chiritori" or "Chiritorii", but Nintendo themselves write it as "Chiritorie" in WarioWare. Strange.

Anyway, if you like this post, then also check out this one about the accompanying leaflet.


  1. Z0mg I got that GBA game on my 3DS. I need to unlock that mini game lol...

    I wish I had this device, I would love to take all day to clean my room with this thing. Does this device come in red and blue In real life or is it just for that Microgame?

  2. Hi Nicky. Yes, this is a cool little machine, isn't it? The real one only comes in red. To allow a head-to-head match in the GBA mini game, a blue one was added.

  3. Where can someone find one for sale ? Last time and the only time i ever saw one for is sell was on ebay, 2012

    1. I am afraid they are indeed that rare. Your best bet is to watch eBay or Yahoo Auctions Japan. And be very patient.

    2. Thank for the yahoo auction japan tip. Yea this thing are extremely rare i been trying to get one for about 3 year now

  4. What is the name of the tune you used in your Chiritorie demonstration? It's oddly familiar. Thank you for this great site too!

    1. Thanks! The tune is "firecracker" by the Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra. It was released in 1978. You may recognize it from the song "I'm Real" by Jennifer Lopez, that includes samples from "Firecracker".

  5. Presumably all the remote control actually does is switch the direction of the left-hand wheel from backwards to forwards when you press the button?

    1. Indeed. Both wheels move at the same speed either in the opposite direction when the remote is in neutral position (making the chiritori spin in place) or in the same direction when the remote is pushed in (making it move forward).

  6. and people freak over the Roomba nowadays....

  7. It looks kinda like the bottommost part of the Poltergust 3000 from "Luigi's Mansion. That, and the really bright cherry red.

  8. It looks like a roomba
    Nintendo is truly ahead of the technology