Retronauts Pocket Episode 18: Nintendo Merchandise

Coming off the heels of last week’s talk about game media, which was a particularly rich trip down memory lane, we have this week’s episode of Retronauts Pocket, which explores another part of retro gaming minus the actual gaming: the merch! If you’re of our generation, where your childhood was defined by 20-to-30- year-old games, then there’s a good chance you came across a sticker sheet, a pack of trading cards, a bedding set, or whatever else branded with your favorite game characters.

With that in mind, we take a different trip down memory lane and touch on some highlights of Nintendo’s early journeys into Mario, Zelda, etc. merchandise. The cereal, the shampoo, the cake pans, and some special attention paid to Nintendo Power’s Super Power Club catalog. Join us, won’t you? And feel free to talk about any of the trinkets we didn’t!

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Filed under Retronauts, Retronauts Pocket

10 Responses to Retronauts Pocket Episode 18: Nintendo Merchandise

  1. mbalders

    I hope the Nintendo Ice Cream Sandwich gets mentioned!

  2. Fun episode. Never thought I’d hear anyone describe the shapes of Nintendo Cereal in such a detailed manner before.

    Even though kids have it better today with their Nintendo merch, I don’t really feel robbed. The better stuff today doesn’t make my memories any less great than they were. Also, I’m already working on my wife as far as getting that Mario Kart ride on toy for my daughters. I will likely not succeed on that one.

    About the Nintendo cards, until I was maybe 20 years old, I had a dresser that was decked from top to bottom in stickers from those Nintendo cards and Ninja Turtle cards (and pies). It was an abomination. When I finally brought my wife (then girlfriend) around, it hit me that I had perhaps the most ugly dresser in the universe. Not much longer I dragged that thing outside and doused it in paint thinner and then redid the strain on it. It looks nice now, but I’d be kidding if I didn’t kind of miss that ugly thing.

    Still have my McDonalds Koopa Troopa though!

  3. Great bit on the McDonald’s toys. Thank you for the trip down memory lane!

  4. You guys should have had pictures. I’d like to see some of these off-model Mario designs. I love bad, off-model licensed stuff.

  5. I’d have to agree–it sucks that we missed out on all these new Nintendo toys.

    Hell, I wouldn’t have even minded one of those New Super Mario Bros. plush toys back then. Oh well. In the words of Mama Fratelli:

    “Kids suck.”

  6. Chip

    Great episode, guys. So many memories came flooding back while listening. When the McDonald’s toys were making the rounds, my parents were super strict about fast food. We only had the chance to eat that greasy joy when we went on road trips as a special treat. So once the Mario toys were advertised, my brother and I convinced my parents we needed to visit our grandparents ASAP, just for the chance to get those Happy Meals.

    As for some other trinkets, what about the Mario educational cards from Atlas Editions? These were sort of quiz cards featuring the Mario crew that focused on history and science. One side would have some of that Mario clipart you mentioned with a multiple choice question, while the flipside had what was basically an encyclopedia entry answer. I received packets of these cards in the mail, but I think they could be bought as a set as well.

    I also collected tons of the game brochures that Nintendo (and other companies) would set up at the department store demo kiosks. Before websites could provide pictures and previews for free, there would be promotional pamphlets that kids could pick up at stores. These things were covered in whatever ad campaign Nintendo was running at the time (Play It Loud, mostly), along with tons of game previews and often a fold-out poster. I have been scanning in my collection of gaming brochures and tidbits to a tumblr blog, which I have linked to below if you’re interested:

    Super Power Supplies Catalog scans:
    Mario Educational Cards:

  7. When I was a kid, we took a cross-country road trip during the SMB3 Happy Meal promotion and ended up eating at McDonalds way too many times. We had a pile of those Goomba toys by the end of it.

  8. Aelfric

    I am a grown man. I am a practicing attorney. My wallet on one side says “Nintendo” and on the other side features a depiction of the 8-bit NES controller. Also, Dragon Quest III (Dragon Warrior III) is the greatest piece of media after Casablanca. Just sayin’.

  9. Tselevel

    This was a fun topic for an episode. Here are some random things I thought about that I think were not mentioned.

    Mario Boardgame- I think a pacman boardgame was mentioned but not this one. I think you had to dodge bulletbills while making progress through a 4 stage boards.

    Mario Pinball- This was one of those cheap plastic toy pinball machines that required batteries for it to make sounds. I received this as a birthday gift but it was broken inside the box and my dad returned it for TRU store credit

    Nintendo Trophies- Those weird plastic statues that depicted a Mario or Zelda(maybe Punchout!) scene that were meant for you to write your high scores on them. I just left them in the box.

    Mario Puzzles- I remember having a Milton Bradley 80 piece cardboard puzzle that was actually of the Famicom SMB cover art.

    Mario Fabric- At one point in the early 90’s my mom made me Gameboy costume for halloween. She just happened to find Mario fabric by the yard at the local fabric store.

    Mario Shoes Glow in the Dark- I believe these were purchased at Payless probably around 1988 or so. They were velcro shoes, had a mario graphic on them, and in good 80s nostalgia they glowed in the dark

    Fruit Snacks- I wanted to remember these actually being good, but cant remember now. I was happy to find this link with the box are shown
    Our family ended up winning the t-shirt prize, most likely since my mom would go through all the packs before hand to make sure no one ate the princess piece. Wish I still knew where that shirt was to this day.

    Dixie Cups- I remember for a little while there Mario and Zelda were on dixie cups. There was even a dixie cup holder with Mario on that could be purchased, but I think that is also something my family won as a prize

    Birthday Themed Stuff. I know Mario licensed Birthday stuff exists today, but it was also around back in the early 90s. I remember having a Mario themed birthday table cloth or something.

    Nintendo themed Teddy Grahams Crackers- I think for a short stint in the 90’s Mario era there were Nintendo themed Graham crackers like Teddy Grahams. There were shapes like Mario, Yoshi, and even a Gameboy I think.

    Thanks again retronauts for another fun trip down memory lane

  10. _U_n_d_e_r_s_c_o_r_n_

    Speaking of merch, a belated thanks for the merch that arrived a few weeks ago. Retronauts: made in America, baby.

    Also wanted to mention how impressed I am by the podcast’s audio quality. It sounds like JP’s in the room when he’s remote. Nice work.