Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nintendo Picture Cutter and New Picture Cutter (ピクチャー カッター, ニュー ピクチャー カッター, 1966)

These days Nintendo is regarded a creative powerhouse. The gems on their video game platforms are the first party games developed either in-house or externally under very close management of the Nintendo team.

However, Nintendo also has a long established role as distributor or licensee of third party games. In particular during the "toys and games" period in the 60s and 70s, Nintendo introduced games in Japan licensed from various parties around the world, including well-known Western brands such as Parker Brothers (Hip Flip), Hasbro (Shotracer, Mach Rider) and MB (Home Bowling, Twister and Marble).

This allowed Nintendo is expand their catalog rapidly - based on toys that were a proven success abroad - while still growing and developing their own game design skills.

Nintendo handled the production of these licensed games themselves, including the localization and redesign of the packaging. In some cases the name was altered to suit local tastes (Marble was originally called "Skill-it" and Mach Rider was called "Yellow Tail Funny Car").

Around 1966 they released two hobby sets called Picture Cutter and New Picture Cutter. They are both polystyrene foam moddeling kits.

Nintendo Picture Cutter and New Picture Cutter (1966)

The packaging of these games follows the familiar design used by Nintendo in the second half of the 60s, with the grey bar on the left, the "Nintendo Game" logo on the top left, and the "Nintendo Company Japan" note on the bottom left. This design was clearly inspired by the packaging used, to this day, by MB (see also this post).


The copyright of these sets is attributed to the Japanese company JAJACO, a fellow toy and playing cards manufacturer.

Nintendo Picture Cutter (1966)

The Picture Cutter (ピクチャー カッター) set was the smallest of the two. It was sold for ¥500.


The set contains the actual Picture Cutter itself (the red tool on the left in above picture), three AA batteries, a bag with metal cutting wires and three pieces of polystyrene foam.


Two of the pieces of polystyrene foam were pre-printed with animal and transportation images.

Operation instructions on the inside of the Picture Cutter box

In order to operate the Picture Cutter, a metal wire is placed between the two metal ends of the cutter. When the battery powered device is switched on, this wire is heated. This allows the cutting of the polystyrene, as the wire "melts" through the foam.

Nintendo New Picture Cutter (1966)

A larger set was also available, called New Picture Cutter (ニュー ピクチャー カッター). Although they both bear the same copyright year, given the "New" in its name, it can be assumed this was released some time after the Picture Cutter.


The New Picture Cutter had a retail price of ¥1,000. The image on the box looks very promising, but one definitely had to be very skilled and imaginative to produce a model with the presented level of detail.


The set was advertised as "家庭電気で工作できる" which translates to "build it using home electricity". This refers to the fact that the New Picture Cutters runs on 100V, rather than on batteries.


The New Picture Cutter set contains the cutter itself (which had a nice pistol like shape), two color markers, a bag with metal cutting wires (identical to those provided with the Picture Cutter) and four pieces of polystyrene foam.

Two of the polystyrene pieces are pre-printed with animal and military images. According to a note in the sets, additional pre-printed pieces of foam could be bought separately, with themes like "Disney", "Popeye", "zoo", "vehicles", "fish" and "buildings".

Nintendo Picture Cutter and New Picture Cutter (1966)

These sets remained the only hobby kits released by Nintendo, which makes them quite unique.

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