Saturday, July 11, 2020

Nintendo Chiritori leaflet from 1979

The 1979 Chiritori remote controlled miniature vacuum cleaner is another idea that sprouted from Gunpei Yokoi's brain, like so many quirky Nintendo products from the pre-Famicom era.

The box art is a well designed two-tone affair. However, in my opinion it does not really exuberate fun. While this little vacuum is anything but serious. It is just a toy, a novelty item.


The accompanying trade leaflet does a much better job in showing what the Chiritori is to be used for: to play. This leaflet, dated April 16 1979, was used to advertise the product to shops and wholesale buyers.

Chiritori leaflet front and back

The scene on the front shows the Chiritori in action, with a colourful drawing.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Nintendo's washable playing cards from 1953

In the first decades of Nintendo's history, the company grew by automating the manufacturing of hanafuda and Western style playing cards, and by expanding its sales and distribution network throughout Japan.

Although the production process changed during this time, the product itself remained more or less the same: printed paper cards.

It was over sixty years after the company's start in 1889, that the first major product innovation happened, in the early 1950s. According to the timeline on Nintendo's corporate website, in 1953 they "Became the first company to succeed in mass-producing plastic playing cards in Japan."

The first major events in the Nintendo's history, as listed on nintendo.co.jp

This milestone was reached four years after a 21 year old Hiroshi Yamauchi, the great-grandson of founder Fusajiro Yamauchi, took the helm as Nintendo's president.

Before the proud introduction in 1953, it had taken Nintendo quite some effort and time to get to grips with the process necessary to produce these plastic cards, as the printing on plastic was very different from printing on paper, and it was difficult to print colours consistently.

The leaflet shown here is one of the earliest commercial publications that marketed this new product.

NAP card leaflet (front)

Monday, May 4, 2020

Fifty year old Nintendo Playing Card sample book

In the 1960s, Nintendo produced and sold hundreds of different playing card designs. When pitching these to prospective wholesale buyers and toy shop owners, the Nintendo sales departement used sample books that showcased the range of cards available.

While in later years Nintendo used printed brochures and leaflets to advertise their cards product - like this one from 1983 - the sample books used in the 1960s were more like albums, containing actual cards.

Not only did these show the cards in exactly the color, size and shape as they would be delivered, but it also provided a flexible sales catalogue, that could easily be changed to stay up to date as the product range evolved. This was vital in these playing cards heydays, when new designs were constantly added.


For Nintendo collectors and playing card enthusiasts, finding such a sample book is much like a holy grail. Not many were made, let alone survive fifty years on. They were intended for internal use by Nintendo only, and they are as rare as hen's teeth.

Some time ago, I was lucky to acquire two copies, with different content. In this post we will take a look at one of the two, and in a future post I will cover the other one.


This sample book dates from a time when Nintendo was still branding itself as Nintendo Playing Card Co., Ltd. Although no exact date of origin is known for this item, based on the contents these copies must be from the late 1960s.

It is possible that this particular sample book design was introduced some years earlier, and used for multiple years, changing the content over time.

Nintendo playing card sample book - front cover

The book measures 34.8 by 23.6 centimetres. It contains eight thick pieces of paper that hold cards on both sides, making a total of 16 pages.


The book contains real specimens of playing cards, which are glued to the pages. Most of the pages include eight cards, while some contain between five and seven cards. The total number of cards included in this sample book is 121. All cards are different.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Added Nintendo mini game # 50 to my collection

This being the first post of 2020, let me start by wishing you the best for this year. Granted, a quarter of it is already over. And with the global virus pandemic in full effect, it probably will not go down as one of the best years ever. But still, I hope you can make the most of it.

The last months I have been able to add some missing items to my collection, and I plan to show these in a few blog posts over the coming weeks, and included some things I have not covered before as well.

Today we start with a game from Nintendo's Mini Game series. The game is called Picture Puzzle (ピクチュアパズル). Like all of theseMini Games, it dates from the first half of the 1970s.

As reported a few month ago, I was chasing the last one of the 50 known Mini Games that I needed to complete the collection of these fun little toys. To my surprise I discovered another one, that I was not yet aware of.

Mini Game Picture Puzzle, the 50th mini game in my collection

This particular Mini Game is very simliar in style to two other Mini Games already in my collection, shown here in the middle and right in the picture below.


These two other games, although appearing to be different, both contain an identical set of three cardboard puzzles. It is just a different one of the three that is shown on top in the blister pack.