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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wishbook/3191820126/in/set-72157612485482806).
|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!