Friday, January 29, 2021

Green Stamp's gift catalogue from 1966 reveals Nintendo toy range from before Ultra Hand

In today's post we will cover a gift catalogue from 1966. It contains interesting information about Nintendo at the time of publication.

In overviews of the history of Nintendo, the Ultra Hand released in the same year, is sometimes presented as the first Nintendo toy, that shifted the company from mere manufacturer of playing cards to a broader toy company.

And although the Ultra Hand was the first toy that was wildly successful for the company, and helped solidify their position in the market, this catalogue shows the much broader range of products they produced in the mid 1960s.

Green Stamp's catalogue and stamp booklet

The 24-page full colour catalogue is for a loyalty program called Green Stamp's (or グリーンスタンプ in Japanese).
Green Stamps was one of the first retail loyalty program in the United States, founded as Sperry & Hutchinson (S&H) Green Stamps in the first part of the 20th century, and brought over to Japan in the early 1960s.

As an aside, as part of the Japanse localisation, an oddly placed apostrophe was introduced in "stamp's", possibly because the last 's' was dropped in the Japanese katakana spelling 'スタンプ' which reads as 'sutampu'.

Retailers participating in the program bought stamps from the Green Stamps organisation, and handed these to customers as a bonus for shopping at their stores, thus strengthening loyalty. The number of stamps received depended on the sales amount.

Customers would stick the stamps in booklets - which involved a lot of licking of backs of stamps to moisturise the glue - while dreaming of the wonderful gifts to collect one day.

This catalogue, called "exchange list" (引換品リスト), shows all the items available to get for free, in exchange for certain amounts of completed booklets full of stamps.

These gifts could be viewed and picked up at Green Stamp's showrooms, located throughout the country, as well as at smaller collection points.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Nintendo cards sets from the 1970s

The previous post featured a sales promotion leaflet for the Nintendo Paper Model series from the mid 1970s. Today we will take a look at an other leaflet from that same period, which I also acquired recently.

This one advertises various educational card series that Nintendo offered at the time. These cards focus on Japanese language, vocabulary and poetry, and they were used to play various games.

1970s Nintendo cards leaflet (front)

One side of the leaflet shows the range of so-called Iroha Karuta (いろはかるた), that are aimed at children and feature colourful drawings related to the topic (animals, vehicles, school etc).

A more extensive description of these cards and how they are used was given in this older post.

Two of the Iroha Karuta sets feature historic scenes from the former capital Kyoto (京 いろはかるた) as well as from ancient Tokyo, called Edo at the time (江戸 いろはかるた).

Edo and Kyoto Iroha Karuta sets

Moving to the back of the leaflet (or is this the front?), where a whole range of Hyakunin Isshu (百人一首) card sets is shown.

1970s Nintendo cards leaflet (back)

We haven't covered these cards on this blog yet, which is actually surprising, as they are an important early product of Nintendo, next to Hanafuda. Nintendo has been producing these (almost) from the start of the company, and still sells these to this day in Japan.

Hyakunin Isshu means '100 people, 1 poem [each]'. The game that is played with these cards, called Uta-garuta, is a one of the most well known traditional family games in Japan, that is also played at a more serious competitive level.

Similarly to the Iroha Karuta sets, the set contains matching pairs of cards. In this case, each pair contains a card with a strophe of a well known poem and a card with the first syllables of that strophe. 

During the game, the players have to recognise and grab the card with the full poem when the those first syllables are read out. It's a game that requires memorising skills, as well as fast reflexes.

A total of 100 card pairs is included in a Hyakunin Isshu set, by 100 different poets. Hence the name. An age-old standard set of 100 poems is used, called the Ogura set, named after the district in Kyoto where the scholar who compiled this set lived in the 12th century. The full name of these set is Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首).

The table at the bottom of the leaflet shows the wide variety of sets offered. In the basis these are all the same, featuring the same set of poems. The difference lies in the quality of the material of the cards and the storage boxes. The prices go from ¥1.000 for the simplest sets up to ¥5.000 for sets that are more beautifully decorated and have cloth covered or hard plastic boxes.

For more on the Iroha Karuta cards, check out this earlier post.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Nintendo paper model leaflet from mid 1970s

Welcome to 2021 and best wishes to you all. We will start the new year with a couple of short posts featuring some recent finds.

Shown in the picture below are two one-page leaflets for Nintendo products from the mid 1970s that I acquired recently; one of the Paper Model (ペーパーモデル) series and the other for cards games.

These leaflets were part of Nintendo's sales material and used to promote new products to potential (wholesale) buyers from toy and hobby shops. They are about A4 size and printed double-sided in color.

In this post we will take a look at the Paper Model one, and the other one is shown in more detail in a next post.

The front side shows a description of the Paper Model series and an overview of fourteen models in the Vehicle Series (のりものシリーズ). These were fun card board hobby sets, retailing for a modest ¥100.

Paper Model leaflet - front (1974)

At a later date this series was extended with two extra ones, bringing the total different vehicle models to sixteen. [As an aside, although most of the Paper Model series still is not that difficult to find in Japan these days through Yahoo Auctions, these last two models are much rarer.]

Paper Model leaflet - back (1974)

The back of the leaflet shows two other series available at the time: the Building Series (たてものシリーズ)...

... and the Zoo Series (どうぶつシリーズ).

Not shown on the leaflet is the fourth series with more elaborate Paper Model sets, the so called Panorama Series (パノラマシリーズ), which was released later in 1974.

The leaflet also shows two display options available to shops: a counter stand (86 centimeters high) and a floor stand (148 centimeters).

To find out more about the Nintendo Paper Model series, check out this previous post.