N&B Blocks
Image: @BeforeMario

Erik Voskuil, one of the world's most prolific collectors of pre-Mario Nintendo artifacts, has again taken to Twitter to share some insight into pieces from his impressive collection.

Rather than just show a static picture of a box, however, the author of the blog Before Mario went one step further, unboxing a 50-year-old set of Nintendo N&B Blocks in order to show a step-by-step guide of how to build one of Nintendo's plastic inventions: The Garden House set.

In case you're unaware of Nintendo's history pre-video games, N&B Blocks were a product released in the 1960s and 70s that were a lot like LEGO bricks, but featured a different locking mechanism from the popular Danish toy. LEGO itself considered the similarities between the two products so great, in fact, that at one point it even attempted to sue Nintendo, though the Japanese company ultimately won the case.

Players at the time could buy different N&B sets that Nintendo had designed to build everything from Aircraft Carriers to Jet Planes to in this case a Garden House. Each kit came with a set of instructions as well as an index to show what pieces were included. According to Voskuil, the Garden House set was released around 1968 and features a model number on the box that indicates the price would have been around 980 yen at the time, or 3,500 yen in today's money.

No one really understands why Nintendo stopped producing N&B Blocks, with the prevailing theories suggesting that Nintendo was either reluctant to get wrapped in further legal action or that LEGO simply became too big of a competitor.

Either way, the company stopped producing these kits in the early 1970s but has occasionally referenced them in video games since. This includes Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, which features a stage built out of N&B blocks.

Do you have any pre-Mario Nintendo items in your collections? Let us know in the comments!

[source blog.beforemario.com, via twitter.com]