This was a big seller in New Zealand in the early 1980s.
Which is quite something, because other than the odd Nintendo Game & Watch, and the rare occasion where someone’s dad or family friend had travelled to Hong Kong or the US and brought back a game watch for some lucky kid, we didn’t see a whole of wrist-mounted entertainment devices.
But we did, for some reason, have the Conso Space Shuttle.
Sold locally by LV Martin – one of the very few mail order warehouses in NZ at the time who sent out catalogues you could order from by phone or post (or possibly fax if you could find one) – the Conso watch had a retail of NZD69.95 which was a lot at the time, especially for a toy. Nonetheless, there were a fair number gracing the wrists (and necks) of schoolkids.
I say necks because the Conso had an unique point of difference in that the rubber strap was removable and could be replaced by a string and pendant fitting to be worn around the neck. The strap also had high score targets embossed in it so you could tell just how good you were:
- 50 Novice
- 100 Junior
- 200 Senior
- 400 Expert
- 800 Champ
- 999 Talent
The last score is an indication of how high the counter goes before rolling over (I never made it that far).
The box also contained a full colour poster of the actual space shuttle (I don’t remember which one, possibly just a generic shuttle) which was kind of cool.
The game itself mirrored what was available in several (T)ronica handheld games. Your mission was to get the shuttle from one side of the screen to the other, landing it on the base, while avoiding space junk falling from the sky. It was made harder by the base appearing and disappearing randomly, and that you were kicked out of your safe haven on the left if you waited around too long before venturing out.
It had a Game B which was the same, only faster and harder.
Even those who had played a similar handheld liked it though because, after all, it was a watch and fitted reasonably comfortably on a small wrist, despite the size of the LCD (it was pretty big).
I’ve owned several of these over the years and whenever I have sold one I’ve regretted it soon after — particularly given how prices have risen in recent times.
This particular watch I received non-working but in nice condition. Opening the back revealed two very corroded batteries and acid everywhere. Stripped it and cleaned away all the gunk but it didn’t function very well afterwards with some buttons not working, others always on, and others doing an alternative function than they were designed for.
I suspect it was just in need of an internal reboot though, because coming back to it after a couple of hours, it had sorted out all its issues and was running great.