Monday, November 1, 2021

This 1971 price list shows the full product range of Nintendo fifty years ago

After their early days producing mainly Hanafuda and other playing cards, and temporarily side-stepping into various other markets in the 1960s, at the end of that decade Nintendo had transformed into a toy manufacturer with a broad range of products, sold throughout Japan.

The document shown here gives a detailed insight into just how many different items the company offered at that time, from traditional games to new and innovative toys.

The document is called 'price table' ('価格表') and dates from September 1st 1971 (listed as Shōwa 46).

1971 Nintendo price table - front

It was published by the Nintendo Nagoya Sales office (任天堂名古屋営業所), one of Nintendo's four sales offices at the time (the other ones were in Sapporo, Osaka and Okayama). Together with the headquarters in Kyoto, a branch office in Tokyo and two distribution centres, these constituted Nintendo's operation. [For a company tour of Nintendo in 1970, check out this post.]

The document consists of seven thin paper pages, that are printed on one side with tables in black. In the back, a single fold-out page with colour pictures is included, that is printed on both sides.

Dimensions are 18 by 25.5 centimetres. The fold-out page is double that size, 36 by 25.5 centimetres.

The first page aptly begins with Hanafuda (花札), or 'Flower Cards', which was the company's first product, offered here in five quality versions. The top-of-the-line is Daitōryō (大統領), featuring the familiar picture of Napoleon on the wrapper, followed by, in descending price, Otafuku (お多福), Three Cranes (三羽鶴), Tengu (天狗) and City Flowers (都の花).

1971 Nintendo price table - page 1 of 7

These 'standard' Hanafuda are followed on this page by:

  • Kabufuda (株札), similar to Hanafuda, but with a different card design (recognisable by thick bars);
  • Daini, Komaru, Mefuda (大二・小丸・目札), similar to Hanafuda, but with a different card design (recognisable by large black dots or 'eyes');
  • Kinseizan, Fukutoku, Komatsu (金青山・福徳・小松), yet another design version, a bit of a mix between Kabufuda and Mefuda;
  • Echigobana (越後花) Echigo Province flower cards, which are Hanafuda using flora from that region;
  • Mushifuda (虫札) or 'bug cards';
  • Hyakunin Isshu (百人一首) or '100 poets / poems cards', Nintendo's second major traditional cards line, next to Hanafuda, offered in five quality / price variations;
  • Mahjong tiles (麻雀牌), in many different designs, qualities and prices; and
  • Mahjong accessories (麻雀附属品), including playing mats.

1971 Nintendo price table - page 2 of 7

The second page lists Western style playing cards, so called 'trump' cards (トランプ):

  • 'All plastic' playing cards (オールプラスチツク トランプ), the core of Nintendo's Western style playing cards, based on their 1953 innovative printing method, with a range of geometric and other other abstract designs;
  • Ado playing cards (亜土トランプ), featuring illustrations by manga artist Ado Mizumori, who was very popular in Japan, and in the period from the 1960s to the 1980s, Nintendo offered cards with many different designs by her;
  • Disney playing cards (デイズニー トランプ), Nintendo's big card seller, with many different Disney character designs offered from 1959 onwards; and
  • General playing cards (一般トランプ), with more standard card backs.

1971 Nintendo price table - page 3 of 7

Page three continues with the playing cards:

  • 'Intermediate' playing cards (トランプ 間型), Nintendo's cheaper card offering;
  • Hanafuda style playing cards (花札兼用 トランプ), using Hanafuda designs in Western style playing cards decks; and
  • Special playing cards (特殊トランプ) that include Miracle Cards and Pin-up Cards.

This is followed by a selection of dice (さいころ).

The right column on page three lists over thirty games (ゲ ー ム), consisting mostly of toys and board games. This is were Nintendo's newfound focus as general toy maker really shines through. Besides some licensed toys, this includes the very successful, original toys designed by Nintendo's in-house team. Increasingly, this is the part of their product offering that is generating most of the revenue.

The list consists of:

  • Ultra Scope (ウルトラスコープ);
  • Space Ball (スペースボール);
  • Hopping Game (ホッピングゲーム);
  • Monster Copy (怪獣コビー);
  • Dynamic Soccer (ダイナミツクサツカー);
  • Challenge Ball (チヤレンジボール);
  • Handy Pack (ハンデイパツク) portable board games, in five variants: Animal Game (どうぶつゲーム), Driver Game (ドライブゲーム), Shopping Game (ショッピングゲーム), 101 Dalmatians Game (101匹わんちゃんゲーム) and Iroba Game (いろはゲーム) spelling game, also known as 'あいうえおゲーム';
  • Ultra Machine (ウルトラマシン);
  • Twister (ツイスタ一);
  • Ultra Hand (ウルトラハンド);
  • Destiny Game (運命ゲーム);
  • Las Vegas Game (ラスベガスゲーム);
  • Jungle game (ジャングルゲーム);
  • Disneyland Game (ディズニーランドゲーム);
  • Diamond Game (ダイヤゲーム);
  • Table Soccer (テーブルサッカー);
  • Challenge Dice (チヤレンジダイス);
  • Hip Flip (ヒップフリップ);
  • Kateinban (家庭盤), a set with various board games;
  • So-called 'round games', which are board games in a round plastic case, in five variants: Cash Transportation Game (現金輸送ゲーム), Rocket Game (ロケツトゲーム), My House Game (マイハウスゲーム), Time Race Game (タイムレースゲーム) and Thriller Game (スリラーゲーム);
  • Home Bowling (ホームボーリング); and
  • Roulette games (ルーレット), in four sizes, including a pocket one.

The top four of the games are marked as 'new products' (新製品), introduced in 1971.

1971 Nintendo price table - page 4 of 7

Page four starts with Nintendo's most expensive and advanced products at the time, the Kôsenjû SP (光線銃 SP) range of light guns and targets that was introduced in 1970, followed by the Kôsenjû Custom (光線銃 カスタム) rifle, scope and target added in 1971.

Next are the Candy Machine (キャンデー マシン ) from 1970 and Love Tester (ラブテスター) from 1969.

The page continues with:

  • Multiple chess games (チェス);
  • Poker Chips (ポーカーチップ);
  • Leather Cups (皮 カップ), for playing dice games;
  • Picture Puzzle (ピクチヤパズル), in two versions with a map of Japan (日本地図) or a map of the World (世界地図);
  • Plastic Puzzles (プラパズル);
  • Two magic sets called 8 magic tricks (8つの手品) and You are a magician (あなたは手品師); and
  • A sliding puzzle called 15 puzzle (15パズル).

The final two listings on this page are for a Picture Puzzle Set (ピクチュアパズル セツト) and Jumbo Colouring Set (ジヤンボ ぬりえセツト). These are wholesale offers that include 64 and 80 items, respectively, allowing a shop to buy a whole store section at once. For the first it is mentioned that it has a retail price (小売価格) of ¥14,400 and a wholesale price (卸価格) of ¥10,000. For the second, with a total sales price of ¥16,000, it is mentioned that it comes with display box (デイスプレイボックス入).

1971 Nintendo price table - page 5 of 7

Page five starts with the N&B Block (N&B ブロツク) range, that consists of 22 different sets plus parts sets. Most of these were already introduced a few years earlier, with the exception of the first three listed here, that are new: Electric Clock Building (電気時計ビル), Electric Clock House (電気時計ハウス) and Electric Clock Rocket (電気時計ロケツト). For more details on all these N&B Block sets, see this overview.

After all these modern toys, the price list returns to more traditional products: Go and Shogi sets (碁将棋セツト), Go stones (碁石) in many qualities and types of materials, as well as containers for Go stones (碁器), from plastic, metal and chestnut wood.

The last item on this page is a Glass case for display (陳列用 ガラスケース), for ¥4,000. This would allow shop owners to display the Nintendo products in an attractive way in their shop.

1971 Nintendo price table - page 6 of 7

Page six continues with attributes for playing the still popular, traditional games Go and Shogi:

  • Go boards (碁盤);
  • Shogi boards (将棋盤); and
  • Shogi pieces (将棋駒).

The largest, heaviest, wooden Go boards, the ones with feet (足付), are actually the most expensive items in Nintendo's 1971 product range (going up to ¥20,000).

1971 Nintendo price table - page 7 of 7

The last page of this Nintendo price list was a bit of a surprise.

Tenyo Joke Toys

The page is labeled Jokes and Magic Tricks (ジョークトイ及手品), and contains a range of products that were produced by the Japanese company Tenyo (テンヨー).

Tenyo Pepe Shock (ペペショック)

Tenyo is a well-known name in circles of magicians and magic trick fans.

Tenyo Punch Gum (パンチガム)

Established in 1960, Tenyo has since invented and produced many attributes for magicians, amateurs as well as professionals, that are sold and used around the world. Besides these magic tricks they also make joke items like Pepe Shock (ペペショック) and Punch Gum (パンチガム) shown above.

Tenyo magic tricks That's Too Bad (残念でした) and Silk Serenade (シルクセレナーデ)

Although the Tenyo name is not mentioned at all in this Nintendo document, there can be little doubt about the origin of the products listed here, as their names match one-to-one with Tenyo's product line of tricks, toys and party items.

Tenyo brand name (テンヨー) and bunny logo

It was already known that Nintendo and Tenyo had a longstanding relationship. For decades, many of Tenyo's card tricks have included playing cards manufactured by Nintendo, and Tenyo more recently produced a reproduction of Nintendo's Love Tester and a re-issue of Ultra Machine.

Tenyo Magic Trick logo

Additionally, looking at this 1971 Nintendo price list, it appears that Nintendo acted as a distributor or wholesaler for Tenyo around this time.

The products most likely still featured Tenyo's own packaging and branding, like the ones shown here. At least, no Nintendo branded versions of these items are known.

An extensive set of items is offered, in the following sub-catgories:

  • Joke Toys (ジョークトイ);
  • Vinyl imitation (ビニールイミテーション), which are plastic replica's of mostly animals;
  • Magic Tricks (手品);
  • Electric Shock toys (電気ショツク); and
  • Jack-in-the-box toys (びつくり箱).

1971 Nintendo price table - fold-out front

The colour fold-out page in the back of the price list shows the company's meat and potatoes; a selection of Nintendo's most recent innovative products as well as some slightly older big sellers.

The frontside is reserved for the so-called Kôsenjû series (光線銃シリーズ) of light rifles, light guns and related targets, that are claimed to be 'exceptionally popular' ('バツグンの人気です!'). More on those here.

Most eye-catching is the very authentic looking and quite expensive 'elite!!' ('精鋭!!') Custom Lever Action Rifle and Scope (光線銃 カスタム レバーアクション ライフル, スコープ) that had just been released, with a promise of a range of 'at least 100 meters' ('100m 以上でも狙えます').

1971 Nintendo price table - fold-out back

The backside of the fold-out pictures a mix of toys, including the sales hits N&B Blocks sets, Ultra Hand, Ultra Machine and Ultra Scope. Also shown are Space Ball, Twister (licensed from MB), Candy Machine, Dynamic Soccer, Hopping Game and Monster Copy.

Compared to what the company offered just five years earlier, the number and variation of products is quite amazing. It is with right that the leaflet states, just above the Nintendo kanji: 'I have an idea' ('アイデアがいっばい'). No shortage of ideas, indeed!

For completeness, we include a scan of the back of the document, although not much is going on there.

1971 Nintendo price table - back

If you are interested in more Nintendo documents from this period, check out this brochure and this playing cards catalogue. For more information about specific products, check out this list.

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