Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ads for Nintendo playing cards from 1957

Vintage magazines often provide interesting glimpses into the past.

In this case they also include a little bit of Nintendo history, as we will see.

The magazines shown here are three editions of Sunday Mainichi (サンデー毎日). Sunday Mainichi is a weekly Japanese publication that first appeared in 1922 and still exists to this day.

These particular copies all date from 1957, a mere twelve years after the end of the second world war.

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.