Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nintendo E-clock - Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Mirror Man, Silver Kamen and Disney (任天堂 電気時計, 1971)

Around the turn of the 1970s, there was a boom in super hero merchandise in Japan. Television had become a mainstream entertainment medium and there were many popular television shows around characters like Ultraman and Kamen Rider.

Toy manufacturers capitalized on this phenomenon and produced boatloads of games and other items with super hero imagery. Nintendo also acquired licenses to use the protagonists of a number of these television series and used these for things like board games, playing cards and N&B Block construction sets.

In 1971 Nintendo extended their product line with a series of super hero themed electric clocks, called E-clock. The Japanese name was simply Nintendo Electric Clock (任天堂 電気時計).

Nintendo electric clocks from 1971

1971 is an interesting year in the history of Nintendo. In this year Nintendo also released the Light Telephone and the Copylas printing machine. But back to the clocks.

The clocks were sold in attractive, colorful boxes with a Styrofoam base and a cardboard top.

There are 4 different super hero clocks in this series: Mirror Man, Silver Kamen, Ultraman and Kamen Rider.

From top to bottom: Mirror Man, Silver Kamen, Ultraman and Kamen Rider

The first clock we will zoom into is that of the Silver Kamen (シルバー仮面).

Nintendo Silver Kamen electric clock (1971)

The box contains a "Nintendo" logo on the side and a "Nintendo Game" logo on the top.

Nintendo Game "NG" logo on the front of the box

The clocks were atractively priced, at ¥1,800 each.

Original price tag still on the box

The bottom of the Styrofoam box also contains a large embossed "Nintendo Game" logo.

"Nintendo Game" logo in the bottom of the box

A power cord is attached to the clock. It runs on 100 volts.

Nintendo Silver Kamen electric clock

The faceplate of the clock contains a scene from the Silver Kamen television series.

Instructions for changing the face plate

Each clock came with two additional scenes, which could be replaced easily by opening the front of the clock and temporarily removing the hands


The clock does not have a standard seconds hand. Instead, the Silver Kamen figure in the middle spins around, its leg indicating the seconds.

Silver Kamen figure takes a minute to spin a full round

Except for a copyright notice in the back, the clock does not contain a Nintendo logo, using the "E-clock" name instead.

The front shows the "E-clock" name

The back of the clock reveals the housing of the clock mechanism.

Back of the clock

The Nintendo copyright notice can be found on the back of the clock housing.

Nintendo copyright notice on back of the clock

Observing readers may have noticed some clocks contain a "50Hz" label, while others are labelled "60Hz". This relates to the power frequency the clock is designed to work with.

Around the world, different types of power frequency are used. These days, 50 Hz is the most common. Japan, somewhat surprisingly, uses two different types of power frequency. The western part of the country (Kyoto and west) uses 60 Hz and the eastern part (Tokyo and east) uses 50 Hz. This originates in the first purchases of generators from German AEG in 1895, installed for Tokyo, and American General Electric in 1896, installed in Osaka. [Source: Wikipedia]

You had to buy the right clock type according to your geographical region. If you did not get the right power frequency type, it would run too fast or too slow - which is is not very convenient, for a clock.

The manual shows the 50 Hz and 60 Hz regions in Japan

Next up is the Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー) clock.

Nintendo Kamen Rider electric clock (1971)

The image on the faceplate shows the Kamen Rider on his bike.

Additional face plates allow the clock to be equipped with your favorite Kamen Rider figures.

One of the Kamen Rider clock face plates

How about this blue lady insect villain?

Like the Silver Kamen clock, the seconds hand is replaced by a spinning Kamen Rider figure.

The Kamen Rider's leg indicates the seconds

Clock number three features arguably the most popular of all these super heroes: the mighty Ultraman (ウルトラマン).

Nintendo Ultraman electric clock (1971)

Unlike the other super heroes clocks, this one isn't blue but cream colored.

The last of the four clocks features Mirror Man (ミラーマン).

Nintendo Mirror Man electric clock (1971)

This clock has some great face plates, showing a huge Mirror Man battling it out in a city under siege.

All in all a great series of super hero merchandise.

The four super hero clocks

But wait. There is more.

Besides the four super hero clocks, there is a fifth one, with a more peaceful theme: Disney.

Nintendo Disney electric clock (1971)

The clock is called "Disney Manga" (ディズニーマンガ), which of course means "Disney Cartoon".

The face plates feature scenes from Bambi, Snow White and Lady and the Tramp.

Over the years, Nintendo has produced quite some toys based on Disney characters. This started with playing cards in the early 60s and was followed by a lot of boardgames in the 60s and early 70s. In the 80s a number of great Game & Watch games featured Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Nintendo copyright and Disney license on the back of the clock

A spinning Tinkerbell indicates the seconds.

In 1972 Nintendo released a sixth clock, called Panda electric clock (パンダ電気時計). This one has two cute panda's on the faceplate.

Find out more about this final clock in the E-clock series in this post.

[Update 2024] And there's even more! A few years ago a seventh Nintendo clock from the early 1970s surfaced, called Love Peace electric clock, featuring the well-known Smiley design.

This bring the total number of known clock design to seven.

Check out all about this Smiley clock here.

Nintendo Color TV-Game AC-Adapter CTGA-901R (ACアダプター, 1977)

The four consoles in the Nintendo Color TV-Game series all used the same power source: the CTGA-901R AC-Adapter.

This accessory was introduced in 1977, together with the Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15.

The CTGA-901R powered the Color TV-Game series

Both Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15 could also be powered by batteries. Color TV-Game Racing 112 and Color TV-Game Block Kuzushi, on the other hand, only worked with the CTGA-901R AC-Adapter.

Notice in Block Kuzushi box regarding compatibility of the CTGA-901R adapter

The adapter was not included with any of consoles in the Color TV-Game series, and had to be bought separately for ¥1,500. This helped keep the price of the console (seemingly) down, but also prevented unnecessary duplication of adapters for people who bought multiple games from the Color TV-Game series. The fact that the adapter was compatible with the other games was clearly communicated in manuals and on the boxes.

The adapter provides 9 volt DC.

Two versions of the CTGA-901R adapter exist

Two versions of the CTGA-901R exist, identical in price and specifications, but different in size.

The two versions of the CTGA-901R adapter side by side

The smaller version is the older of the two. The larger version is more common to find these days.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nintendo N&B Block - Silver Kamen, Kamen Rider and Mirror Man (任天堂 ブロック シルバー仮面, 仮面ライダー,ミラーマン, 1971)

Today we will take a look at some of the coolest sets in the Nintendo Block N&B series: the Tokusatsu (特撮) range. Tokusatsu is the genre of superhero and monster movies and television series, which were (and still are) extremely popular in Japan.

Nintendo Block sets Silver Kamen, Mirror Man and Kamen Rider

Nintendo acquired licenses to some of the most popular characters from these television shows, and used these in various toys, including these three N&B sets, featuring the Silver Kamen, the Kamen Rider and Mirror Man. (Other nice examples are these clocks).

Nintendo Block sets Silver Kamen and Mirror Man

Although these sets do not have a clear year of release, they all feature characters from television series introduced in 1971, so it is safe to assume they were sold after this time.

Nintendo Block sets Silver Kamen and Mirror Man

All three sets contain clear building instructions to create one of the three heroes.

Building instructions are provided with the Nintendo Block sets

The first set we will take a closer look at is Nintendo Block Mirror Man (任天堂 ブロック ミラーマン).

Nintendo Block set "Mirror Man"

The model number of this set is "NB 800-MM". It cost ¥800.

Nintendo Block set "Mirror Man"

The box contains the building constructions and a picture of the finished set.

Nintendo Block set "Mirror Man"

The set contains exactly all blocks required, so better not lose one!

Nintendo Block set "Mirror Man"

This set contains two special gold colored blocks, for Mirror Man's belt and cap. In a stroke of artistic license, his two-toned gray suit is translated into white and green here.

Look at that Mirror Man go

Once assembled, you have an impressive looking 35 centimeter high superhero.

Nintendo Block set "Mirror Man" - fully assembled

Having your own Mirror Man allowed for fun replay of the episode you just watched on television (minus the explosions).

The second set presented here is the one of the immensely popular Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー).

Nintendo Block set "Kamen Rider"

Super heroes, monsters, explosions, chases on fast bikes; the Kamen Rider television show had it all.

Nintendo Block set "Kamen Rider"

The model number of Nintendo Block Kamen Rider (任天堂 ブロック 仮面ライダー) is "NB 800-K". It also cost ¥800.

Nintendo Block set "Kamen Rider" - fully assembled

As the Kamen Rider would be lost without his bike, it is included in the set. Because part of the supplied blocks had to be used for the bike, this meant less blocks could go into the Kamen Rider itself. As a result, it stands somewhat less tall (27 centimeters) than its fellow super heroes from the two other sets.

The set even includes a miniature version of the Kamen Rider signature scarf!

The third and final set is Nintendo Block Silver Kamen (任天堂 ブロック シルバー仮面).

Nintendo Block set "Silver Kamen"

This set had model number "NB 800-SK", and cost ¥800.

Nintendo Block set "Silver Kamen"

Like the others, Silver Kamen is no hero to mess with. Deadly laser eyes!

Does this Silver Kamen walk like an Egyptian?

By the way, "Kamen" (仮面) means "masked". Which is what the Silver Kamen and Kamen Rider were.

Nintendo Block set "Silver Kamen" - fully assembled

Silver Kamen is similar in size to Mirror Man: 35 centimeter tall.

To wrap up this post, here's the law-and-order-enforcing bunch together.

Nintendo Block Mirror Man, Kamen Rider and Silver Kamen

"Are you looking at me?"

A full introduction to the Nintendo N&B Block series can be found here.