Come Get Your Super Mario T-Shirts, Cookies, And Phones In This 1990 Nintendo Retailer Catalog
June 28, 2016
1990 was a hot time for Nintendo and its retail partners. This was the era when the Nintendo Entertainment System was king, when a third-party licensee could slap Mario on just about any consumer product to earn a healthy profit, and when games like Boomer's Adventure In Asmik World and Wall Street Kid were positioned as the next big thing. I remember those crazy days, but if you're too young to have been around for them, then you can vicariously experience the thrill of laminated wood displays and cartridge storage kits with the Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide provided by Video Game Ephemera.
The Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide was a custom-publishing project aimed at Nintendo’s retail partners, which included more than 6,000 locations with special “World of Nintendo” areas reserved for Nintendo-related products. The article on page 6 describes this type of installation as a “store within a store,” a neighborhood mecca for Mario maniacs.
In the pages between the product listings, you’ll find short articles about certain Nintendo licensees as well as paid ads from some of them. The articles are actually labeled as “advertisements,” so they were obviously paid for as well. Many of the ads speak to consumers, but several of them are written for the people who sold the games. It’s fascinating to see the soft-sell tactics employed by game publishers as they tried to convince retailers to carry their products in the early ’90s. Most of them promise “aggressive” advertising campaigns and dealer support while extending friendly invitations to visit their booths at the Consumer Electronics Show.
This guide and others like it are a peek behind the curtain at the layer of middlemen between Nintendo's licensees and your local retailer down the street. I remember seeing plenty of these store displays in the Kmarts of my youth when I longed to scarf down the licensed cookies and collect the cards and wear the t-shirts bearing Mario's smiling face. Nintendo was hot, Nintendo was king, nothing could ever possibly knock Nintendo off its pedestal. Nope, not at all. The days of officially licensed cartridge storage cases made of oak will last forever! Actually, those oak cases do look pretty sweet. I bet they'd look right at home next to my classic oak VCR cassette storage case. Not all family heirlooms are impressive or valuable.