Friday, May 20, 2011

Nintendo Ultra Coaster Game and Captain Ultra Coaster (ウルトラ コースター ゲーム, キャプテン ウルトラ コースター, 1967)

In previous blog posts we have seen that super heroes were very popular toy themes in the late 60s and early 70s in Japan. Nintendo obtained rights to use characters from the hot television shows of this era, like Kamen Rider and Ultra Man, and used these for, amongst others, the E-clock electric clocks and N&B Block building sets.

In other posts we discussed some of the first toys Nintendo created: the Rabbit Coaster Game and New Coaster Game tumbling bean games.

Today we will take a look at two games which combine these two topics: super heroes and tumbling beans.

Nintendo Ultra Coaster Game and Captain Ultra Coaster (around 1968)

The games I am talking about are Ultra Coaster Game and Captain Ultra Coaster.

Nintendo Ultra Coaster Game

The first of the two is Ultra Coaster Game (ウルトラ コースター ゲーム), which is based on monsters from the Ultra Q television show (ウルトラQ, 1966).

(Video uploaded by Youtube user bagel68)

Ultra Q was a sci-fi / monster show, somewhat similar to The Twilight Zone, but with more monsters. It is the first in a string of Ultra television shows and would be followed by Ultra Man, Ultra Seven and lots of others.

The game cost ¥1,000 when it was released, which must have been around 1967. Although it was only sold in Japan, the name is featured in English on the side of the box.

The Ultra Coaster Game includes three plastic figures: two are tasked to keep the tracks in the air, while the job of the third one is to scare the passing tumbling beans.

The hairy guy on the right most probably is Goro (ゴロ), the giant monkey (a distant cousin of King Kong).

The fellow in the middle looks very much like the Red King (レッドキング), who is actually from the Ultra Man show. Can someone confirm this?

The third one is Ragon (ラゴン), a pretty scary sea monster from the Ultra Q episode "Undersea Humanoid Ragon" (海底原人ラゴン).

Nintendo Ultra Coaster Game

Upon opening the box the first thing you notice is that the monsters are not nearly as colorful as they are pictured on the front, all going for a more-or-less single-color look, with very sparse painted accents.

Assembly instructions are provided on the inside of the box top.

As a game, it is very similar to the Rabbit Coaster Game, although it has one less track level (three instead of four).

Nintendo Ultra Coaster Game

The game is prepared by placing the beans in the starting piece; one bean per lane. Pressing one of the two white buttons releases the beans, after which they start their race down.

A shifting metal ball bearing in each of the beans makes it tumble, as it rolls down the track. When the beans drop from the top level to the middle part of the track, they pass Ragon's mouth.

Halfway the middle track, the beans speed past the Red King's piercing eyes. They appear unfazed by this.

Just before the beans make it to the finish line, they slip underneath Ragon's behind.

Note the "Nintendo" logo on the bottom left of the finish piece

The second game is Captain Ultra Coaster (キャプテン ウルトラ コースター).

Nintendo Captain Ultra Coaster

It is based on the television show "Space Special Effects Series: Captain Ultra" (宇宙特撮シリーズ キャプテンウルトラ).

(Video uploaded by Youtube user Caballer01970)

Captain Ultra was a space adventure show that first aired in Japan in 1967, one year after Star Trek started in the US.

The box features the familiar "Nintendo Game" logo. All other lettering is in Japanese katakana.

Just like the Ultra Coaster Game, the Captain Ultra Coaster sold for ¥1.000 and came with three figures. But this time it wasn't only monsters: the hero of the series was one of the figures included.

As an aside, the space craft pictured on the left of the box front is Captain Ultra's mode of transportation. It was called "Spiegel", allegedly after the German weekly (although the rational behind this escapes me), and could break into three separate space vehicles.

That's Captain Ultra on the left. The monster with the funny hands is the alien Bandel (バンデル星人).

Not sure who the dinosaur monster on the right is, but he doesn't seem to be too pleased about his current predicament, with track pieces attached to his nose and inserted into his belly.

When we open the box we see the track pieces, a small box with tumbling beans and the three plastic figures.

Assembly is not too difficult. The instructions provided on the inside of the box aren't really needed.

The Captain Ultra figure is nicely painted with good detail. The two monster are a bit more basic.

This Captain Ultra looks quite young. Not sure if he should operate that space craft.

When the Captain Ultra Coaster set is fully assembled, besides a fully functioning bean tumbling track, we also created a nice space scene, with Captain Ultra facing two adversaries.

The beans follow the action as they move from monster to hero and back.

Captain Ultra has pulled his laser gun and is ready to zap. But he looks uncertain, not sure of the consequences of firing a shot. And so they stand, locked onto each other. While the beans tumble on, towards the finish line.

These early Nintendo games are somewhat strange (who ever came up with the idea to replace the track stands of the original Rabbit Coaster with these figures?) but definitely spectacular. The box designs are gorgeous and the assembled toys are fun to look at and to play with.

Nintendo Ultra Coaster Game and Captain Ultra Coaster

For more Nintendo bean tumbling fun, check out the posts on the Rabbit Coaster Game, New Coaster Game and N&B Block Coaster.


  1. If it isn't Red King, it might just be a slight variation. "Ultra Q" was made by the famous special effects studio, Tsuburaya Productions, and was a prequel to "Ultraman". Plus the studio had a habit of using similar kaiju suits for more than more movie/show (or slightly alter it).

  2. Too bad they didn't put Captain Ultra's robot sidekick Huck in it.

  3. One doll in the Ultra Coaster Game is supposed to be "Gethra" instead of "Ragon".
    Captain Ultra Coaster's dinosaur monster is a robot monster "Banderer" controlled by the Bandel aliens.

  4. Although there still is a german periodical "Spiegel", it certainly was not the namegiver to Captain Ultra's spacecraft. "Spiegel" ist the german word for "mirror", and the magazine once was asked to be licensed by the ocupation forces in Germany after the second world war as a "mirror" to the world and the current times.

    Why this name was chosen for a television spaceship still is a bit mysterious. But japanese media from time to time love to use "exotic" sounding names. Maybe the spaceship is seen as representing mirror images with its several docking-undocking modules !?

    Several german words influenced japanese language, when the country once opened to the rest of the world. I believe, there also is a "Spiel" (Game) in the well known manga and TV series "One piece".

    Captain Ultra is a great TV series, and your pages about Nintendo products are great too. How about pages about other japanese toy manufacturers some day ?