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Tomytronic 3-D (1983)

Tomy 3-D 1983

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Tomytronic 3-D ranks very high up on my wanted-badly-but-never-got list. The games weren’t very good, in my opinion, but the gimmick was irresistible. For the very first time, kids could play a video game they didn’t own in complete privacy. It almost felt like we were doing something wrong.

At arcades there was always someone watching and/or waiting to play. Ditto for electronic handhelds on the playground. That sensation of always being watched, for me, was distracting. I wanted to explore whatever world the game was offering me alone and undisturbed. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t a gimmick. Maybe the singular spaceship-binocular design was the game.

The downside was that every “pair of binoculars” was 30 bucks. That’s more than most of the non-brand LCD games, but almost $20 less than the big name tabletop arcade games. Here’s Tomytronic somewhat buried in the 1983 Sears Wishbook. I found nothing in the available 1984 catalogs.

Tomy 3-D 1983-4

There’s a good overview of the Tomoytronic 3-D system at Modojo that covers the privacy angle, along with technical details and individual games. And here’s a demo of Thundering Turbo. My favorite was Planet Zeon, the Star Wars clone, but the Tron-like Sky Attack was a close second.

(Images via Wil Falcon, eBay, and WishbookWeb)

1979 and 1982 Tomy Catalogs: Mighty Men and Monster Maker, Rascal Robots, Tron, and More

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Select pages only. The Mighty Men and Monster Maker commercial is here. Note the creepy painted faces on the Tron figures, making them all look like Michael Myers. Going fully translucent was the lesser of two evils. I wanted that Tomytronic Tron game badly.

A Holiday Shopping Guide: `The Best Video Games of 1982′

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It’s interesting how the author defines video games as “mindless entertainment” and “cheap thrills” on the one hand, but props them up as “sophisticated” and “cerebral” at the same time.

His description of Intellivision is right on, though: “While the competition strives to bring arcade action home, Mattel continues to woo the cerebral video buff—as symbolized by their TV shill, George Plimpton.” (See Plimpton “shilling” here.) Sub Hunt and Utopia are two of the best games I’ve ever played. If I get another game system, it’ll be an Intellivision.

The Vectrex system also gets a rave review. Sort of like Tomytronic 3D, but with vector graphics, I remember playing a display unit a few times at Sears. Here it is in the 1983 Sears Wishbook. Note the price slashed in half because of the video game crash.

Vectrex Sears Wishbook 1983

I thought this part might have been urban legend: “Earlier this year, a young man in Indiana who was playing the coin-op `Berserk’ died of heart failure.” Turns out it’s true.

Atari’s E.T. is one of the best games of 1982? Somebody paid him to say that.

(Article via Intellivision Revolution)


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