Friday, May 22, 2020

Extremely Valuable Used Ice Cream Wrappers and a 1986 Famicom Contest I Never Knew About

There was a very interesting thing that sold the other day on Yahoo Auctions: Super Mario Brothers Ice Cream Bar Wrappers.  Without the ice cream.

According to the listing these were originally sold in 1986 and were produced by Yuki Jirushi, a famous Japanese maker of dairy products.  There are two of them, which originally had peach flavored ice cream bars in them. Actually I'm not sure if they were ice cream or maybe more like a popsicle, the product is called "Famicom Ice" which could go either way.

They cost 50 Yen back in the day, but now two empty wrappers sell for:

Wow, that is about 90$ US!  Kudos to whoever had the foresight in 1986 to eat two ice cream bars, look at the empty wrappers and think "Hey, these might be worth something 34 years from now, instead of throwing them in the trash, I'll hold on to them!"

I've never seen these before and its kind of interesting to know that this product existed.  I am curious if they only came in Super Mario Bros wrappers, or with other game art.

One really interesting thing is that the blue starburst in the side panel says that there is a game contest associated with these in which you could win either a Nintendo game cartridge or a Joyball controller. The text along the top says that the contest would last for 6 months, with 1,000 prize winners per month (for a maximum of 6,000 total).

The back panel above gives you a list of the games that you could win.  These included Super Mario Bros., Mach Rider, F1 Race, Ice Climber, Baseball, Soccer, Tennis, Golf and Spartan X.

 There is a little mushroom logo you can see, you had to cut that off and send it in to the company to enter the contest.

Anyway, that is kind of interesting stuff, isn't it?  When I first saw the auction with a 100 Yen start bid I threw a bid in just on a lark to see if I could win it for 100 Yen.  I was blown away when I saw how high it actually went for (needless to say I didn't win).  These might be the only copies of these still in existence though so I can see how to a hard core Famicom collector they would be seen as a must have item.

Edited to add:

Adori 12 on Famicom World showed me a commercial of these very things.  Very cool and worth a watch!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Super Mario Kart Race: Suburban Japan Edition

My kids are really getting into Mario stuff since I introduced them to the Famicom a couple weeks ago.  The characters have gone from zero to the top of their "childhood fascination" list at break neck speed, displacing Pokemons who were briefly at the top of that list until the beginning of this month.

So I've started to do something I haven't done in years: look for Mario related toys.  Only not for me, but as gifts for them.

 I stumbled across a cheap (800 Yen)  bag full of used pull back cars featuring Super Mario Kart characters at a Hard Off the other day which I thought would be the perfect thing, since they both like toy cars too. (Side Note: our state of emergency was lifted, so shops are open again. Japan has gotten off very lightly with Covid 19 so far)

These were originally released back in 2008 in connection with Mario Kart Wii.  On a side note, its kind of weird but that means they are about as old as this blog is, so stuff that would have been "new" when I started this thing have now moved into "retro" territory.  I've come full circle!
 There are actually Karts from two sets in here, both from 2008 and both produced by a company called "Nihon Auto Omocha" (Japan Auto Toys).  The ones that have a kind of hot rod or racing car shape (like Wario, Donkey Kong, Mario and the Princess) are from one called "Wild Star" which you can see pictures of here, while the ones shaped like Karts are from this set here.  According to the articles I've read these were not sold in stores but rather given out as prizes (I didn't play Wii back then so I wasn't paying attention to this sort of stuff).  I don't quite have either set complete, though I have at least one of each character.  Oddly, neither set included a Luigi for some reason.
 Anyway, I like these a lot and hope my kids will too. Before giving them to them I thought I'd take them for a little race through suburban Japan and take some picture of them to share with the kids too.  Hence this post.
 They are kind of photogenic.
 I had a tendency to put Yoshi in the lead in most of these since he is my son's favorite.  The kids have never played any version of Mario Kart (they only have the Famicom and SMB and SMB USA so far) but he has seen the character around and, since he is a dinosaur and my son loves dinosaurs, he is the best.
 I quite like the hot rod style ones, Wario and Donkey Kong are my personal favorites.
 This truck (which was parked when I took these pictures!) kind of reminded me of one of the ones from the highway level of Mario Kart 64.
I think the kids will have fun with these. I won't give them to them all at once, but rather one at a time as presents for various good behavior.  If they like them I'll have to chase down the ones I am missing from each set!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Lego Mario and Ice Climber

I was playing Lego with my kids on a rainy day over the weekend when I decided to try out an idea I had been toying with for a while: making Super Mario Brothers characters out of Lego blocks.

I wasn't sure how it would go, but its surprisingly easy to do if you have a massive pile of Lego bricks lying around.  I just did a Google search for some 8 Bit Mario pixel art grids and then went to town recreating them in Lego.

I went with 2x2 Lego Bricks = 1 Pixel as a scale for Mario, the first one I did.  The bricks aren't quite square so it gives him a slightly chubbier appearance than normal, but its close enough.  The Cheep Cheep and Goomba I did the same for.

Ice Climber was the last of the three and you'll notice he looks a bit taller and skinnier than the Mario ones. That is because I went with 1x2 bricks = 1 pixel for him, mainly because I was running out of bricks by that point.

My son went crazy for these things, which made me really happy.  Super Mario Bros and Ice Climber are his two favorite Famicom games.  He's been carrying them around everywhere with him, which gives me that "I did a good dad thing" feeling, which I really like.  I also made a Yoshi for him, which was his favorite, but by the time I took these pictures it had been broken and put back together so many times it no longer really looks like Yoshi so I decided not to put him in the picture.  Of these Mario is the least sturdy, his arms, nose and legs get knocked off real easily but unlike Yoshi its pretty easy to put him back together so he has survived nonetheless.  Cheep Cheep originally had a more elaborate tail, which is long gone but the remaining bits are sturdy!

The one thing that sucks about Lego though is that pink bricks are hard to come by.  I wanted to make a princess one for my daughter (who is absolutely mad for all things pink these days) but didn't have any pink bricks to make that happen. D-oh!

Anyway, if you've got a combination of Kids at home + they like Mario or other video game characters + a ton of lego bricks handy, this is a pretty good project to keep them happy.