Friday, April 13, 2012

Nintendo Shotracer (ショットレーサー, 1974)

Guns and cars are two of the typical (some might say, stereotypical) categories of toys enjoyed by boys.

With this in mind, it is not too hard to come up with a toy mash-up that is sure to be loved: a car gun.

And that is exactly what Nintendo's Shotracer (ショットレーサー) is, a gun that shoots cars.

However, Nintendo did not invent Shotracer themselves, but licensed it from American toy company Hasbro (like they did with Mach Rider).

In the early 1970s, Hasbro had released a series of toys called Ricochet Racers, all based on this 'gun car' concept. The Ricochet Racers series included a number of different sets; called the Marksman Set, Daredevil Set, Super Duel Set, Western Set and even a Spider-man Set.

Hasbro's Ricochet Racers (Palitoy version)

In the UK, Ricochet Racers were sold by Palitoy.

Nintendo Shotracer (1974)

Nintendo acquired the rights from Hasbro and released a single set, called Shotracer, It was largely based on Hasbro's Super Duel Set.

The Shortracer set contains a gun, two race cars, two cartridges, a ramp and a rolling target.

Shotracer was released in 1974, and cost ¥3,500.

The gun is an impressive, futuristic looking shotgun. It measures about 55 centimeters in length, and is made from plastic. It is sturdy built, which is needed to handle the force the cars are fired with.

Nintendo manufactured Shotracer themselves, following the Hasbro design.

The cars would not be out of place in a game of Wipeout or Nintendo's own F-Zero. They are very streamlined, which is not surprising, as they will double as bullets.

The chassis of the cars is made from iron, giving the cars weight. When the back-wheels are spinned, they produced an engine-like humming sound.

In order to fire the cars, they need to be slotted into a cartridge.

This will keep the car in place in the gun's bullet chamber.

The gun can be loaded with a single car at a time.

The bullet chamber is opened by pulling the 'firing bolt' (the red handle) backwards.

The cartridge with the car is then placed inside the bullet chamber.

The cartridge needs to be pushed all the way to the front.

The gun chamber is closed by sliding the 'firing bolt' back to the front.

This requires some force, as a spring inside the gun is loaded through this action.

The gun is now almost ready to be fired.

But it is not possible to fire the gun before two safety features are released.

There is a safety button (安全バタン) on the left-side of the gun, which needs to be pushed forwards (it always automatically springs back in the 'safe' position after a shot). Secondly, the gun also needs to be placed flat on the ground. When the safety stand (安全台) is not touching the ground, the gun will not fire.

Although these safety features already prevent a lot of possible mishaps, children being inventive and danger seeking as they are (bless them little creatures), some further instructions are provided telling us what not to do.

Instead of placing the stand on the ground, you could place it one a table. But, no, please don't do that.

Not a good idea

And yes, you could simply tape the stand into position (thanks for the tip!). But no, please don't do that, either.

Clever! But a no-no

Or how about placing it on a window ledge, and firing a shot out of the window?! Hadn't thought of that. But no, again, not an idea to follow.

What are you thinking!? Sniping the neighbours?

Ok. All instructions clear. All systems go.

Place the gun on the ground, facing the ramp. Release the round target from one side of the ramp, so it will start rolling from one side to the other.


And: FIRE!

Pull the trigger, and with an impressive 'ka-plonk' sound, the car speeds out of the gun's barrel.

When correctly aimed and timed, the car will blast away the target, while jumping over the ramp.

Like a real shotgun, the cartridge flings out of the bullet chamber when the firing bolt is pulled backwards after the shot.

Shotracer works really well. It is fun to load and unload the gun, and the speed the cars develop is impressive.

Is it just me, or were toys much more fun in the 70s? Granted, someone could get seriously hurt, but hey - that was part of the excitement. Kids these days have to do with nerf guns, that shoot little pieces of foam.

How about another round of Shotracer? But, remember, no shooting at the cat...

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