Saturday, April 9, 2016

Nintendo Ultra Hand box from 1973

The Ultra Hand is an important part of Nintendo's history. It marks their start as a toy company and also was the start of the toy design career of Gunpei Yokoi.

Recently I was lucky to find a Nintendo Ultra Hand in the box version from the early 1970s. This had been on my wanted list for a long time. Although the one I found wasn't in perfect condition, these are so rare that I happily added it to my collection.

Nintendo Ultra Hand (1973 box version)

I had been on the lookout for more than fifteen years for this version, after first seeing a tiny picture of it online. As I could not find it in any vintage toy shop in Japan, nor on any auction site, I was beginning to wonder if it really existed.

Nintendo leaflet from November 1973 (front)

This box version was also featured in a 1973 Nintendo leaflet that shows the toy range that Nintendo sold in the early 1970s.

Nintendo leaflet from November 1973 (back)

On the back of this leaflet the Ultra Hand was shown in a new box design, next to other toys from that era like the Mach Rider and Ele-Conga.

The Ultra Hand was first introduced in 1966 and became Nintendo's first million seller. Seven years later this sales boom was long over, but Nintendo must have still believed in this product, or had surplus stock, when they introduced a new box design. As it was well past its hype days, it must have sold in small numbers at that time. Which would explain why it is so hard to track down in this version.

The side art shows the name in English, unlike earlier versions that only feature Japanese text.

The box has the uniform box style that Nintendo used for its entire toy range for a number of years in the early 1970s.

This style consisted of a big "N" logo, a standard layout with a bar on the front left and a bright colour scheme that differs for each toy toy. [More on Nintendo's history of logos in this post.]

The copyright on the side of the box states "(c) 1973 Nintendo". This must refer to the box design, as the toy itself dates from 1966. The retail price in 1973 was ¥1,200, which was double the price from 1966.

The inside of the box and the Ultra Hand itself are identical to earlier box versions. The only difference is the outside packaging.

Nintendo Ultra Hand (1973 box version)

As the Ultra Hand is such an iconic vintage Nintendo product, I am very glad that I now have all five different (known) box version in my collection.

Find out more about the Ultra Hand and it's multiple box versions here.

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