Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nintendo Ultra Machine DX (ウルトラ マシン デラックス, 1977)

In 1967 Nintendo released the Ultra Machine. This baseball ball pitching toy would remain a good seller for many years.

After a period of ten years, in which the original Ultra Machine continued to sell, Nintendo decided it was time for a redesign of this Gunpei Yokoi classic.

In 1977, a new version called Ultra Machine DX was introduced, which was short for Ultra Machine Deluxe (ウルトラ マシン デラックス). "Ultra" as well as "Deluxe" - pretty strong accolades for a plastic toy.

Nintendo Ultra Machine DX (1977)

The game was sold with the slogan "Take the challenge to become a home-run king" (ホームラン王にチャレンジしょう), and the box featured pictures famous sluggers from Tokyo (Yomiuri) Giants and Osaka (Hanshin) Tigers.

This will help you to become a Homerun King (ホームラン王)

The retail price was set at ¥2,800.

Nintendo Ultra Machine DX (1977)

Opening the box, one may wonder why this version of the Ultra Machine is called "Deluxe", as the packaging is a lot simplified compared to the original version, ditching the plastic inner support structure.

Instruction can be found on the inside of the box

The package contains the Ultra Machine DX itself, the familiar retractable plastic bat and ten plastic balls. Instructions can be found on the inside of the box lid. The bat is the same (color and size) as the 1974 version of the original Ultra Machine.

Nintendo Ultra Machine DX (1977)

The new version had a more contemporary rounded look, taking the somewhat clunky 60s version well and good into the 70s and early 80s.

Ultra Machine (1967) and Ultra Machine DX (1977)

Placing the original Ultra Machine and new Ultra Machine DX side-by-side shows the difference in size. The new version is significantly bigger and the balls have grown in size with it (from 3.8 cm to 4.5 cm in diameter). The pitching arm of the DX is also proportionally longer, allowing the bigger balls to be delivered with just as much oomph.

The design is accomplished and the curves portray a feeling of speed.

Operation of the toy is identical to the original Ultra Machine: insert a single D cell, set the spring to the desired angle, switch on the machine and start batting as the balls are lugged at you automatically one by one.

Although the Ultra Machine DX was only sold in Japan, an U.S. patent number (3511225) is shown next to the Nintendo copyright sign at the base of the toy. Japanese patent numbers (954238 and 954259) and design number (303513) are printed on the box.

The base of the game shows a copyright notice and U.S. patent number

Over the years, a number of different boxes have been released for the Ultra Machine DX.

Two of the multiple box variants of Ultra Machine DX

The Ultra Machine homage featured in the "Wario Ware, Inc" Gameboy Advance game is based on the Ultra Machine DX, though the sharp observer will notice the bat used is the blue-yellow one from the original Ultra Machine.

(Video uploaded by YouTube user BloodBird01)

The story of the original Ultra Machine can be found here.

In more recent times, the Ultra Machine DX was re-released by companies Nichiten and Tenyo.

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