A few weeks ago, when scanning Yahoo Auctions Japan for vintage Nintendo toys, my eyes spotted a Lefty RX G.T. Sport set. The set was in decent condition, but nothing I did not already have in this collection. Or so I thought, on first glance.
I have always had a soft spot for these 1972 toy racing cars. Nintendo turned their obvious disadvantage (it cannot steer to the right), into a unique selling point. So I pay extra attention when an auction of one of these scrolls by, and gave it a second look.
Something looked off and unfamiliar.
I quickly realised that included in the box, besides the standard black and white manual, was a leaflet I had not seen before. Enough reason to bid. Luckily I won the item for a reasonable amount.
When the package arrived at my place a few weeks later, and I opened the box, I was glad I had acquired it.
The document turned out to be a full-colour promotional leaflet, in English. A document I had never seen before.
Around this time (late 1960s to early 1970s), Nintendo was trying to expand their market abroad, mostly through foreign distributors. English language versions have been found for many of their products from this era, including the Ultra Hand, Love Tester, Challenge Dice, Ultra Machine and Ultra Scope. However, this was the first time I saw that a similar attempt was made for Lefty RX as well.
|Lefty RX leaflet (front)|
The leaflet is around 30 by 21 centimeters. It is a single, folded sheet, and the front and inside are printed. The back is left empty.
Interestingly, the leaflet opens on the left. This would be standard for a Japanese language document (like all Japanese books and magazines at the time), but a strange choice, possibly a mistake, when targeting a non-Japanese audience.
|Lefty RX leaflet (inside)|
I am not fully sure what the "Multi-System" is that the headline "It operates On A Radio-Controlled Quick Multi-System" on the front refers to, but it sure does sound advanced. It is probably referring to the fact that you control the car through a single button.
The introduction text on the inside provides the whole experience in a nutshell: "Lefty RC dashes straight ahead with a push of [the] button and rounds the corner in a thrill-packed fashion with a release of the button".
Note that it says "the corner". Meaning the left corner. The only corner available.
An overview is provided of all items included in a regular Lefty RX GT Sport set: the car ("machine"), fuel pit, control box and sheet of stickers for customization of the car.
Also shown is the new "PROTOTYPE" model.
The leaflet continues by explaining the fundamentals of the systems.
It claims the radio control works up to 100 feet.
Three cars can race at the same time. Each colour car, and matching colour control box, uses a different communication frequency, either 58 MHz, 65 MHz or 75 MHz.
When the car's on-board battery is empty, it can be recharged in the fuel pit within two minutes.
The text in the top right of the inside of the leaflet uses yet more words to describe again: the cars can go straight, or around.
In order to firmly impress the reader of this leaflet, the transmission of power and steering of Lefty RX is labeled as the first "FF system" ("Front engine and Front drive system" - a term common for real cars) applied in radio controlled model cars.
The detailed specifications remark that the cars race run around 4 minutes on a fully charged battery.
The cars speed goes up to 5 miles per hour (around 8 kilometers per hour), which translates to 125 miles per hour (183 kilometers per hour) in "scale speed", given the cars 1/24 scale.
All of this brought to you by the Nintendo company, with head office in Kyoto, and branch offices in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo.
The big question remains: was Lefty RX actually sold outside of Japan? Or maybe the English leaflet was part of a sample created for sales purposes, that never delivered the intended result? For now that will remain speculation, until more information becomes available.