Part of the fun of collecting retro consoles comes from learning the history behind them. Taiwan in particular has an interesting history when it comes to gaming.
In the early years of gaming the Taiwanese market was mostly clone consoles and grey imports. If you wanted to play Nintendo Famicom you’re only option was to go the Japan and to get one, or buy from an importer. One such importer, 博優股份有限公司, actually ended up becoming the official licensee for Nintendo and held this position for 30 years. Though there were presumably many companies importing Nintendo products during this time.
That’s why this recent Famicom pick-up caught my attention. It’s in great shape for a Famicom, with minimal discoloration, and if you look on the side there some stickers from the distributor – but it’s a different company than the official licensee mentioned above.
The sticker says 總經銷 錦鍍貿易股份有限公司
總經銷 means exclusive distributor, and the rest is the name of the company, which actually still exists. According to the business listing it was founded in 1986, three years after the release of the Famicom. That’s not to say that they weren’t operational before that – the official licensee is listed as being established in 1992, and they were obviously in business long before that.
It’s no surprise that there were other importers, but what is interesting is saying “exclusive distributor”. This implies that the console was not a grey import, but was imported under some agreement with Nintendo. I posted this on a Taiwanese Facebook gaming group and there were differing opinions. The general thought was that at the time there were many people selling imports, and it was a time when copyright wasn’t held much in high regard, so companies might stamp anything on a label to help promote themselves.
In addition to the distributors sticker the Japanese instructional stickers next to the power and reset switches were also stuck over with Chinese language versions. I’m not sure if these have faded over time but you can see right through to the Japanese below.
Whatever the case, I’ve seen many Famicom consoles during my time in Taiwan, but this is the first I’ve seen with this kind of label. The addition of the localized instruction labels indicates that this company was trying to somewhat adapt the product for the market. Whether or not they had any official rights to distribute the Famicom in Taiwan we may never know.
I’ll be AV modding this console soon, but taking care to keep the labels intact when I open the case. I’ll post back some pictures of the insides after afterwards.