Friday, September 9, 2011

Nintendo Custom Gunman - alternative versions - Sharp Shooter & Safari Hunt

In today's post, I am calling out for help.

I am looking for information on Western releases of Custom Gunman, which is one my favorite toys created by Nintendo in the 70s.

On a Christmas morning in Niagara Falls, NY in the late 70s

Now, a couple of weeks ago, I received a message from an American reader of this blog, named Joe:

"Do you know if there was a U.S. Version of Custom Gunman made? I was born in 1973 and got this for Christmas one year. But mine had a dark brown box and the gunman was dressed in black. I even have a pic of me playing with it Christmas morning. I think that they bought it from a store called Brand Names which went out of business in the late 80's. I am from Niagara Falls, NY."

Joe included the picture above, which shows him being very pleased with a bunch of new toys, including something quite similar to a Custom Gunman. Similar, but not the same. As Joe described in his message, it had different colors and most likely also a different name (which he could not remember anymore).

Nintendo Custom Lion and Custom Gunman (1976) - the original

It was the first time I saw this particular version of Custom Gunman. Earlier this year, when searching the Net, I had come across some images of alternative versions of Custom Gunman, but had not been able to find any more information about them; where and when they were released, and if they were officially licensed or clones. I also lost the source location of these images.

Custom Gunman version "Electric-Eye Sharp Shooter" (19??)

The image above and below are from a version called Electric-Eye Sharp Shooter. Except for the name and some details, this version is very close to the original.

Next, another image surfaced with yet another version of this Electric-Eye Sharp Shooter, with a different color scheme.

Yet another version of Electric-Eye Sharp Shooter

Joe also sent a link to a 1978 catalog from mail-order company Montgomery Ward (apparently the first ever mail-order company). This featured an even more intriguing version, where the cowboy is replaced by a gorilla: it is called Glaring Gorilla, and the words "Safari Hunt" appear on its base.

(Source of image below:

Taken from 1978 Montgomery Ward catalog

So, here comes the question: who has any information about these alternative versions of Custom Gunman? Who has owned them as a kid? Who knows where to find one? I would love to hear from you. Please post a comment below or contact me.

Oct 1 update: the toy Joe was looking for turns out to be called Shoot Em Ups!


  1. Well i got one - soon to! the Sharp Shooter from Electric-Eye, but i hoped you maybe could tell me about it?! :)
    i know: the first one was my uncels, he got it in the middle of the 70's from Iceland where my gandfather worked.
    - know that at the time, many things was importet to Iceland from America!

    . The nr. 2, i have know ideer... but the gun was gone mine, so i had to bye a other one to get it working. i was lucky to finde one more!!!

    1. Hi Pernille! Thank you for commenting on this post. I know little about the Sharp Shooter, so all information is very welcome. The Sharp Shooter is not an official Nintendo product, but a clone or copy from Custom Gunman. It was most likely produced in Hong Kong (like the Shoot Em Ups). It would be great if you can send some pictures of the ones you have. Did it come with a manual?

  2. sure, you can have all the pic's you want :)
    I can see you are a collector as I (just a bigger one (WOW!!)) will you be interested in buying one of mine? (the one with out a gun), it still woks, and you can use any type of light to get it working :)

    1. Great! Can you please send some pictures of the Sharp Shooter? You can find contact details at the top of this blog. I would also love to hear more about your collection.

  3. I also found the Gorilla version in the 1978 Sears Canada Wishbook. What makes me think that it may very well have been a licensed or official release is that the same catalogue also has the Ultra Machine under its western name of Sluggermate. Unfortunately, no pictures of the boxes themselves and, of course, no mention of Nintendo.

  4. I had that same dark brown version. Most likely purchased at Montgomery Wards or Sears.

  5. That brown one was called "Shoot Em Ups" by Vanity Fair