You can say a lot of nice things about Nintendo games. Nintendo hardware, too. Wildly successful, iconic and timeless are just three of them. But how often can you say something Nintendo made was genuinely cool?
Not very often. Unless you go back to the 1960's, to a time before Nintendo was making video games.
It's well known that Nintendo hasn't always made video games. I mean, it's logic: the company is over 100 years old, and in that time has had its hand in everything from playing cards to love hotels.
But of all the various ventures and products that have carried the Nintendo name over the years, none were as badass as these limited edition sets of N&B Blocks from the 1970's.
It's easy to forget now, but in the decades after World War II, Japan was as notorious for "copying" stuff as China is today. And N&B Blocks were no exception, being shameless clones of Denmark's famous LEGO system of interlocking plastic bricks.
The regular N&B Blocks are fine and all, but we're especially interested in a series released in the early 1970's based on the popular Tokusatsu of the time. Tokusatsu in Japanese means basically anything shot featuring people in suits, monsters in suits and loads of hammy special effects. So think everything from Godzilla to Super Sentai (Power Rangers).
Nintendo's line of N&B sets based on these properties included packs based on Kamen Rider, Silver Kamen and Mirror Man. Each set included the correct pieces, as well as instructions, to allow kids to build replica
LEGO N&B models of their favourite TV heroes, which while lacking a little in the resemblance department still had a certain retro charm.
According to the excellent Beforemario blog, which is where all these amazing images hail from, the actual figures stood around 30cm tall (give or take a couple cm), and at the time cost ¥800.
Where the figures fell short, though, the box art came through. Half-grasshopper-half-man dudes in superhero suits riding 70's motorcycles on the cover of a set of Nintendo LEGO is about as good as life gets.
If you'd like one of these sets to call your own...good luck with that. It's a lot easier to get your hands on a regular set of N&B blocks than it is any of these masterpieces.
FUN FACT: Nintendo ended up in a legal battle with LEGO over the sets, one of which featured the modelling skills of former president Hiroshi Yamauchi's young son.
Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.