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Nelsonic Game Watch

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Title: Nelsonic Game Watch  
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Subject: LCD games from The Legend of Zelda series
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Nelsonic Game Watch

Nelsonic Industries is the name of an electronics manufacturing and development company that operated from Long Island City, Queens (New York City)[2] in the early 1980s and throughout the 1990s when it was acquired by the watch-manufacturer, M.Z. Berger. Nelsonic produced numerous toy-themed wrist-watches during their existence, often targeting younger audiences with likenesses of characters from popular franchises such as Barbie, the Ghostbusters, Mario, and Dizzy Devil. Nelsonic became notable during the early mid-1980s for being the first electronics company in the United States to produce game-watches (multi-purpose electronic devices capable of functioning as both a time-piece and as a typically electronic game).[2] For a period subsequent to its purchase by M.Z. Berger, Nelsonic operated as a subsidiary division of its parent company and game-watches were produced that bore the Nelsonic mark. This practice ended as M.Z. Berger shifted focus to more traditional and higher-end timepieces. Today the original Nelsonic Game Watch line has entered the secondary market and individual Game Watches have become highly sought-after collectibles that often fetch high prices on eBay and other online auction websites.[3][4]


Throughout its existence, Nelsonic produced pop-culture-themed wrist-watches for children and young adults. The chronograph digital watches, typically made of molded plastic, invariably featured an alarm and utilized LCD display-screens to display the time for their wearers.[5] In time the company began manufacturing multi-purpose units that used the LCD screen to combine time display functions with simple video game functions.[6] These simple video games were variations on the theme of the Calculator watch, and the patent covering the Game Watch line is in fact classified as an "electronic calculator watch structure."[7] Becoming the first electronics manufacturer in the United States to produce game-watches, Nelsonic earned a large share in this specialized market and was able to earn the attention of large video game companies at events such as the Consumer Electronics Show.[2] Having caught the popular attention and with goodwill at a high-point, Nelsonic was able to obtain licensing from several big-name video game companies such as Sega,[8] Nintendo,[9][10] Midway Games,[11] and Mylstar Electronics.[12] With roots in the toy market, Nelsonic was also able to obtain similar licenses to produce LCD versions of popular electronic toys like Milton Bradley's Simon[13] as well as to produce original LCD games for non-game toy franchises like Barbie,[14] G.I. Joe,[15] and Power Rangers[16] and even for film and TV franchises such as Ghostbusters.[17] So well-known became the Nelsonic brand that it was even able to license its own original games (such as the Nelsonic version of the public-domain blackjack which was licensed to Caesars Palace).[18]

As time progressed, Nelsonic experimented with higher-end products such as metal watches and increasingly complex game-watch designs. In 1990 the watch-making giant, M.Z. Berger, made a large bid and was able to successfully purchase the company.[19] For a period of nearly a decade after this acquisition, M.Z. Berger continued to use Nelsonic as a subsidiary branch and to employ the Nelsonic mark in the release of game-watches and the production of new re-releases of popular models from the 1980s and early 1990s.[20] By the end of the 1990s, however, public interest had waned (quite possibly due to the rise in popularity of more advanced handheld video game consoles and, eventually, of other portable computing devices, such as PDAs and smartphones) and this practice came to an end as M.Z. Berger shifted markets to target higher end consumers more exclusively.

Today the Nelsonic mark is still in use for traditional watches and is not used in connection with game-watches. It is still a subsidiary of M.Z. Berger and as recently as 2007 it was listed by the AAFES as garnering over $1.9 million in sales.[21]

Game Watches

Below is a list of units sold by Nelsonic as part of their Game Watch line. Also included are game-watches sold under the term "Wrist Game" (e.g. Ghost Busters), "Action Watch Game" (e.g. Barbie), and "Gamewatch Boy" (e.g. Super Mario Race).

Nelsonic Game Watches
Title Date Licensed by Based on Notes References
Barbie Mattel Barbie [14]
Baseball Baseball [22][23]
Black Jack Blackjack Later re-released under license to Caesars Palace where it was sold in their gift shop as Caesars Palace Black Jack (also described as Caesars Black Jack on the box)[18] [24]
Bo Bear [25]
Dinky Dino's Watch 1997 A digital pet game similar to the Tamagotchi, this Game Watch was also released under the name Dinopet. [26]
Donkey Kong 1994 Nintendo Donkey Kong [27][28][29]
Football Association football This unit was simultaneously released in the United States as Soccer,[30][31] and was later re-released in at least one other different style of physical layout. [32]
Frogger 1983 Sega Frogger [8][33][34][35]
Ghostbusters 1990 Columbia Pictures Ghostbusters Also described on the box as The Real Ghostbusters.[17] [36]
G. I. Joe: A Real American Hero 1990 Hasbro G.I. Joe [15]
Grand Prix Auto racing [37]
The Maze Watch Labyrinth One of the earliest Nelsonic Game Watches, the game portion of this unit is a physical (non-electronic) Labyrinth. [38]
Melody Car Racing Auto racing Came with a separately detachable Nelsonic brand 5×15mm monocular to aid in viewing the small screen. [39]
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 1994 Saban Entertainment Power Rangers [16][40]
Ms. Pac Man Ms. Pac-Man [41]
Pac Man 1982 Midway Games Pac-Man This game retailed for between $25 and $35 and quickly became one of the most popular Nelsonic Game Watches, selling over 500,000 units.[2] This unit was released with several different faceplate graphics and at least 2 different styles of physical layout - one with 4 directional buttons and the other with a small joystick that could be assembled. [1][11][42]
Poochie Watch 1997 [43]
Q*Bert 1983 Mylstar Electronics Q*Bert [12][44][45][35]
Race Car Auto racing [46][47]
Sea Ranger [48]
Simon Milton Bradley Company Simon [49][50]
Space Attacker 1981 The game was also released under the name Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan[51] by Collins Industrial Co.,[52] under the name Cosmic Wars by Majestron,[53] and the layout was used in the pornographic Sexum Watch (another third party release).[54] The game was re-released by Nelsonic in 1983 as Space Wars,[55] and versions of the game exist in black plastic and metal variants. [56]
Star Fox 1993 Nintendo Star Fox The game was released by Nelsonic simultaneously in Europe as Starwing[57] and was re-released with at least 2 different styles of physical layout. Some versions came with a headphone jack and headphones. [58][59]
Super Mario Bros. 1989 Nintendo Super Mario Bros. Released in white and black colors. Also released under the title Mario Bros.[60] This game came with a headphone jack and headphones. [9][61][62][63][64]
Super Mario Brothers 2 Nintendo Super Mario Bros. 2 Also described as Princess Toadstool's Castle Run on the box.[65] [65][66]
Super Mario 3 1990 Nintendo Super Mario Bros. 3 Also described on the watchband as Super Mario Bros. 3. Released in black, white, red and pink color versions. Released in Europe in December 1992 by Zeon. [67][68][69]
Super Mario Bros. 4 1991 Nintendo Super Mario World Also described on the watchband as Super Mario World. This game came with a headphone jack and headphones. [70][71]
Super Mario Race 1992 Nintendo Super Mario Kart Front side of package uses the Japanese front cover art of the Game Boy version of F-1 Race. [72]
Tank Battle Also released under the titles Plane & Tank Battle and Tank & Plane Battle. [73][74]
Tetris 1990 Nintendo Tetris Very well received by critics. Released in black, white, red and pink versions. Released in Europe in December 1992 by Zeon. [69][75][76][77][78]
The Legend of Zelda 1989 Nintendo The Legend of Zelda Released in black, red, white, and pink versions. Released in Europe in December 1992 by Zeon. [69][79][80][81]

See also

  • Game & Watch - A line of LCD games produced by Nintendo from 1980 to 1991. This series is often confused with the Nelsonic Game Watch series due to the similar names (Nelsonic's "Game Watch" compared to Nintendo's "Game & Watch") and the overlapping subject matter (due to Nintendo's having licensed several of its popular franchises to Nelsonic).
  • Elgin National Watch Company - Another former watch-company that is now owned by M.Z. Berger and is thus a sibling subsidiary to Nelsonic.
  • Waltham Watch Company - Another sibling subsidiary to Nelsonic.
  • Gruen Watch Co. - Another sibling subsidiary to Nelsonic.
  • Unisonic Products Corporation - Another manufacturer of game watches.


External links

  • M.Z. Berger & Co. - Parent company currently controlling the rights to the Nelsonic mark and all former Nelsonic properties.
  • Nelsonic Gallery at the Handheld Museum
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