Gaming

Former Nintendo employee on the Holy Grail, meeting heroes, and saving the $ 10,000 Kirby map

Image: Rob A

Over the holidays, we are re-posting some of our best articles, interviews, opinions, and talking points from the previous 12 months. from both employees and participants – Articles that we think represent our best of 2021. In them you will find our usual mixture of thoughtfulness, frivolity and retro. expertise, nostalgia for games and, of course, enthusiasm for everything related to Nintendo. Enjoy!


We were recently contacted by a reader with details about the treasure he had discovered – the incredibly rare Kirby e-Reader card, created specifically for the face-to-face competition at E3 2002. Not only was it a limited map made for an industry event nearly two decades ago, it was also also the first prize sample (of which only 10 were produced) that narrowly escaped destruction at the hands of Nintendo’s representatives responsible for the fact that prizes could not be redeemed twice.

This card came from a never-opening deck that eventually fell into the possession of a fortunate former Nintendo of America employee. Rob A. recently put the e-Reader card up for auction with a winning bid of $ 10,600.

After the sale, we were fortunate enough to speak with Rob about this incredible find – to learn more about the history behind the map, how he secured it prior to the sale, and a look at some of the other treasures that a NOA employee used to collect over the years. …


Kirby's card (top left) and others found by Rob, as well as first and second place prizes. E3 2002 participants had a chance to win.
Kirby’s card (top left) and others found by Rob, as well as first and second place prizes. E3 2002 participants had a chance to win. (Image: Rob A)

Nintendo Life: First, can you tell us exactly how you acquired this card? Have you been to E3 2002?

Rob A: The cards came to me by pure chance. Over the years at Nintendo, we have collected / stored a lot of things. During the renovation of one of the buildings, we were asked to clean out and discard many old cabinets dating back to the 80s, including untouched replacement manuals, training materials, and old agent supplies dating back to the days of game consultants. Along with this, I had to thin out the herd of old systems and collect swag. As a fan, I was somewhat upset at the thought of destroying it all.

Anyway, I asked if I could keep something for myself … including a couple of boxes of old brochures and loose cards. The best I have is that the swag went back to the group I was in since E3 and just sat around, meant to be thrown away or discovered. I am grateful it was discovered because I hate unsolved mysteries.

Obviously, you have had this card for a while, but apparently you only opened the deck recently. Why?

After I left, most of my belongings were stored in boxes in my garage until I started cleaning and organizing about a week before I found the cards. Except for one unopened pack, everything else was free. Sitting comfortably in a stack of Mario Party and Animal Crossing e-books and various flashcards.

What did you first think about when you scanned the card and found out that it took first place? Did you immediately understand the meaning?

I knew the meaning of the pack, but didn’t make it to the weekend before the weekend. I immediately went upstairs to play a trick on my wife … as if I had a winner. I had three, so when I told her about the cards, I planned to pretend that on the second card I have a winner …

My hands are frozen. The image popped up and the jingle began. I felt like I won, like in 2002. I said “Oh my God, honey, this is the real card for the first place.” At that moment I knew that I was the only one who had heard this jingle in almost 20 years.

Once you’ve established what you have, how did you make sure the card wasn’t accidentally damaged while deciding what to do with it?

To answer a question that worries many … the data is properly archived. Because the first thing I thought was … if I sell this, it will most likely never see the light of day.

I contacted a couple of security guards to ask how to deal with this. Then i did video so I can stop brushing it off. Then I blocked it. To answer a question that worries many … the data is properly archived. Because the first thing I thought about was … if I sell this, it probably will never see the light of day, and that would be sad.

Second question “Why sell?” It’s just … I love the e-Reader, but I’m not a collector of them. I have a small sample, but I prefer games.

After all, you sold the card on eBay, not through an auction house – what was behind that decision?

I contacted Heritage and other popular auction block and gave them information. Heritage said no to me, as there was literally no history and I needed at least a 10K estimate to apply. If I had more stuff, they would consider it. Considering the cost of preparing it and their selling price, I already had auctions and decided to just leave the luck to chance.

I have been criticized a little for not getting more, but the values ​​are determined by what people are willing to pay. If someone kills it later, I literally didn’t know I had it at all … perspective is important and I know someone who appreciates it has it.

We believe that mailing such a small, expensive item should give you a headache! What delivery service did you end up using (or was it just a fee)?

I paid the winner’s postage. Delivery within 1 day, reliably insured. A signature was required, and the packaging, the tape, and the scanned copy were filmed. No chance UPS will try something funny.

Scanning a map of the Kirby E3 2002 eBook
Image: Rob A

Before the sale, you took steps to ensure that the card was preserved. Can you tell us about who you contacted and the process that entailed?

Preservation [in collaboration with community-driven non-profit Hit Save] consisted of high quality scans from both sides and measuring the color values ​​to make sure everything is in order. We also saved a few more cards and packaging while I had the scanner. I could easily handle this myself since I have experience with printed material, but real data is at stake. I’ve also consulted with a few others to make sure they enjoy it.

What will happen to the other “smaller” cards in the E3 2002 package? Are there any other valuable Nintendo items in your collection?

I will sell another pack and mark this event in my collection. [see the WaveBird, Pokémon GBA and e-Reader card layout further up the page]

I have several Holy Grails that I have collected from garage sales and domestic auctions. Things that are important to me and my wife. Sealed and clean NES Stack-Up, Superbrite mark that works, Punch-Out box with green boxing gloves signed by Reggie and Don … Gold Famicom Punch Out cart … complete Virtual Boy with American line of games.

The important parts of Nintendo systems that I assemble are the cases that are made for those systems. I also packed the entire Famicom system and peripherals in a box … and loads of games. I play my Famicom a lot and one of them has been beautifully restored and modified Modernization… The colors and lack of jailbars on CRTs are amazing.

So yeah, things like that.

The card was sold for over $ 10,000 – do you have plans for that money?

As for money … I have two teenagers and a two year old child. I’ll need 40 more cards to get through this. Of course my wife deserves something great. She, like no one else, supports my collecting of slot machines and Nintendo merchandise.

Do you regret selling the card? Do you have any Nintendo-related item you could not part with?

As I said earlier, I literally had no idea that I had this a few weeks ago. I know the people around me are losing their minds … but I was very lucky that I was able to take the map, feel the excitement, learn more about the map and the history around it … archive it … and eventually observe the thrill of the auction. If it only sold for $ 500, it should have been.

I have seen and experienced many wonderful things working in the industry that I will never forget, and that is part of it. This is a terrific industry and many take this opportunity for granted. It paved a lot of childhood and the path to adulthood, and I had to visit it.

"It was like a map ... my characters came to my Switch demo station in New York before any fans could see the Switch ... MK8D in my seats on the plane." - Rob on interacting with Eiji Aonuma and Shigeru Miyamoto
“It was like a map … my characters came to my Switch demo station in New York before any fans could see the Switch … MK8D in my chairs.” – Rob on interacting with Eiji Aonuma and Shigeru Miyamoto (Image: Rob A)

Many thanks to Rob for taking the time to speak with us and for sharing his impressive collection and memories of Nintendo.




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