Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Return to the Fukuoka Famicom Shops

I just got back from an overnight business trip to the place where this blog began: beautiful Fukuoka!

I was there for a couple of meetings on Tuesday, but Wedensday morning and early afternoon I had to myself and decided to drop by good old Mandarake to see how things have changed there since I left.

I would have loved to have been able to do a thorough revisit to all the Famicom shops I described in loving detail in numerous posts on here back when I lived in Fukuoka but it wasn`t possible to do so with the time I had.  Sadly my favorite shop that I used to visit 3-4 times a week, Omocha Souko, went permanently out of business last year so the one place that more than any I wanted to see on my return could not be paid a visit.

Another issue was simply the fact that as a visitor to Fukuoka I did not have a bicycle, which was really instrumental in allowing me to visit all those awesome retro game shops, many of which were not easily accessible by public transport.

Anyway, I made sure that I would at least visit my favorite surviving Fukuoka Famicom shop on this visit and even booked a hotel (the Green Hotel if anyone is interested) that is literally next door to Mandarake.

Despite their no-photography policy I decided to take a few pics this time since even if they kicked me out its not like I visit there that often anymore.
Wall to wall CIB Famicom goodies, no other shop in Fukuoka comes close to matching this.  The blue sign there says they will pay 50,000 yen for a CIB copy of Kung Fu.

A few copies of Thunderbirds and Tomato Princess in the Salad Kingdomthere:

Oh and what is that at the end of the aisle?

Get a little closer:

The glass case with all the good Famicom stuff in it!!

About half of this stuff I remembered from my last visit, loads of CIB games for the Famicom and Super Famicom.  They have a CIB copy of that really rare silver Hot Scramble Z which they are selling for about 900 bucks.

Basically all that stuff was out of my price range, but I did pick up a few Famicom games. Mandarake generally has pretty good prices, at least at their Fukuoka branch, so I am always glad to walk out with a few new purchases.  I picked up CIB copies of Binary Land and Highway Star, which will go nicely with my collection.

The only other Famicom-related place I got a chance to visit was a Book Off next to Hakata Station.  I had actually profiled that one on here a couple of years ago in a post that consisted mainly of complaining about their outrageously high prices.

I was hoping they might have changed that problem and got a bit excited when I saw that they had moved the `old soft` section (which is where all pre-PS2 era games at Book Offs are kept, if they have any) and tidied it up a bit:

Unfortunately despite the facelift the prices were the same as usual.  They even still had the exact same copy of Devil World priced at 1550 yen (about 2-3 times what its worth) that I had complained about in that post 2 years ago:

That will probably always be there!

Anyway, it was nice to go back to Fukuoka, I really do miss the place. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Yahoo!! A Red Lefty RX!!

After taking my broken old blue Lefty RX on an awesome tour around town last week I decided to do a little online shopping to see if there were any available as I didn`t have a complete, fully functional one.  And I found one!  A red one!  Complete in box!

I entered a bid and long story short it arrived a couple of days later.

It is sooooo smooth.
 The controller is pretty nice too.  One button is all it takes.
 This thing was really complete in box, even with the vintage 1972 batteries still in there.
 It also came with the fuel pit refuelling station:

 And the decals still haven`t been applied.
Far and away the most interesting thing though was this advertising flyer for Nintendo toys from 1972.  This is awesome.
 It is full color on both the front and back and has prety much all the toys that Nintendo was trying to sell back in the early 70s.
 They were selling my Ultra Machine for only 1480 yen back then:
 My Electro Safari SP and SP light gun were also on there:
I`m quite happy with this new acquisition, I now have a blue, gold and red Lefty RX (though only this red one is CIB). 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Some More Atari 2800 Love....and Hate

The mailman brought some more Yahoo Auction Goodies (YAG) yesterday: seven CIB Atari 2800 games!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, as of May this year I officially became an Atari 2800 owner. The 2800 is basically the Japanese version Atari 2600 (later released as the Sears TeleGames in North America) but much much rarer since almost nobody bought them in Japan.  It was released just a few weeks before the Famicom, which sealed its doom alongside the Bandai Intellivision, Epoch Cassette Vision and Sega SG-1000.

Only 30 games were released for the Atari 2800, all of them Atari 2600 games.  In fact the cartridges are completely identical - the Japanese carts still say `Atari 2600` on them.  So the only way to know if you have an Atari 2800 game is if you have the boxes, which were made specifically for the Japanese market.

The seven games I got all had their boxes, albeit in fairly beat up condition.  They were all pretty common titles on the 2600 - games like Space Invaders, Missile Command and Asteroids - but there were probably only a few thousand 2800 copies ever sold.  The boxes look pretty cool, I love the artwork:
 I think Asteroids is my favorite:

 As I also mentioned in that earlier post I have been having a hell of a time trying to play my Atari 2800 - and all my other old RF consoles - thanks to the fact that our (evil) new big screen TV doesn`t have an RF or Coax connection.

I did the natural hipster thing and bought a 1989 Sony Trinitron TV off of Yahoo Auctions to give me something to play my old beauties on.  I based that purchase solely on the fact that it was an awesome red TV and I think red TVs just look cool.  While it does look cool sadly my red TV is pretty lousy at playing games.  If you have ever used an old Japanese TV perhaps you are familiar with the many frustrations of having to manually tune the set.  It is not fun.  After close to an hour of fiddling I was finally able to play one of my new games -Super Breakout - in all its glory:
 After about 10 minutes of that though a slight gust of wind moved some dust which had accumulated on the upper right corner of the set.  The change in weight was enough to cause the tuning to go all out of whack and no matter how much I theatened it, it did not return and I was left with:
So now I am faced with the fact that if I really want to enjoy these games I will probably have to buy one of those ugly grey TVs from the early 2000s which sell for about 500 yen each.  They don`t look anywhere near as cool or retro (or red) as my nice old Sony but they probably will actually allow me to play a game without much aggravation so I think I`ll bite the bullet.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cruising Around Town in a 1972 Nintendo Lefty RX

This is the city.  I live here.

And this is my car.  1972 Nintendo Lefty RX.  Blue.  Only turns left.  Don`t ask why.

I like to cruise the streets with it.  Looking for trouble in all the wrong places.
 Anybody seen any trouble around here?

No?  OK, good.  No harm in asking.
Perhaps I should explain.  This cool blue car is a 41 year old piece of Nintendo`s past: the Lefty RX!

You can read a really good write up with all the details about its history and specs over on Erik`s awesome blog here. Basically it was a remote controlled car that, as the name perhaps suggests, could only turn left.  
 Mine is a really beat up one that is missing everything except the car.  Originally they came with a remote control and a bunch of other bits and pieces. 

 So mine is purely ornamental, but that is cool with me.  I like ornaments.
The Lefty RX is a pretty good looking car.  I`m not sure what it is modeled after, it looks like a cross between a Corvette and a Fairlady Z, but who knows?

I also like the fact that it has the old school Nintendo logo right on the hood. 
This isn`t a new purchase, I actually picked this up a couple of years ago when I was living in Fukuoka and have been meaning to do a post about it ever since.  They came in three colors - blue, gold and red.  I also have a gold one in equally beat up condition but I kind of like the blue one better. I hope to find a red one someday to complete the set.
I took these pictures on my way to and from work today.  It added a bit of fun to what are usually uneventful bike rides.
These are pretty hard to find, but they don`t seem to be too expensive, mine only cost 500 yen each (about 5$).  Ones in better condition with their boxes would go for quite a bit more than that though.

Either way, this is one of my favorite old Nintendo toys.  I keep these prominently displayed in my man cave, a must have item for the discerning Nintendo collector.