Author Topic: Spica's origins  (Read 3118 times)

mmsc123

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Spica's origins
« on: February 17, 2018, 09:29:37 AM »
A couple months ago while researching the NES in Asia, I actually came across the origins of SPICA.

As it turns out, despite the whole court thing in Australia with the importer saying they were Taiwanese (http://bootleggames.wikia.com/wiki/Spica), they were in fact from Singapore! Although SPICA was trademarked in Taiwan: http://tmsearch.tipo.gov.tw/TIPO_DRE/servlet/InitLogoPictureWordDetail?sKeyNO=073056175 this was done in 1984, before the NES was released. Likewise, I've found the origin of the company.

When the NES was released in the Asian region, there was no central office yet in Singapore (there was one in Indonesia but it didn't handle warranties for Singapore), so the bottom of the NES' listed the retailers' name for warranty reasons, for example here: https://i.imgur.com/UHoLeh3.jpg In fact, the booklet that the console was sold with had to be written in/stamped to list where it was sold to get any sort of warranty.

Gan & Beng was one of the 3 original retailers that sold the NES very very early on (in 1986) in Singapore, and they even existed up until a few years ago. Luckily for us, they had a website.

Visiting the website from 2014, it shows that they were selling SPICA products: https://web.archive.org/web/20140528203842/http://gannbeng.com.sg/category/products/spica/

Doing a bit more research, Gan & Beng actually owned the SPICA brand: "SPICA is a registered trademark of Gan & Beng Electronics Pte Ltd"
Moreover, the brand was trademarked in 1988: https://goo.gl/o9QtCg

From all of my research into the Asian region, it looks like Spica's piracy activities were started in response to the many other stores selling the NES. In August of 1986, just 3 shops in the whole of Singapore stocked the console and games, and by October, it was everywhere; Toys r Us, Daimaru, and tons of other stores; advertisements no longer listed "available at store 1 2 3" but instead said something along the lines of available at every major store in the country.

Not only that, but Supervision games were being sold basically alongside official NES consoles. In advertisements you had a mix of pirates and official games, such as the Supervision game next to the official SMB 2 Asian version at the bottom right of this advertisement from 1989: https://i.imgur.com/Dvm3a0B.png so it was much more profitable for them to go into pirates.

We've discussed before how Spica seemed to use some legit boards/pcbs in their pirate carts (http://s4.zetaboards.com/PGC_Forums?topic=30120407/1/), and I think this explains why: they had at least in the past contracts with Nintendo, and had access to legit games. This also explains why SPICA didn't do Famicom stuff (mostly), since Singapore only used the 72-pin NES.

The company sort of still exists: http://www.sanace.com/About_Us/about_us.html but they never responded to me when I emailed about SPICA.

Ultimately, this means Spica now has 3 names: Keyman Electronics Co., Ltd (which seems to be linked to Taiwan), Gan & Ben Trading Co., and SPICA. The wiki needs updating with all this info, and I think it'd be worth checking a few other companies that aren't attributed to a country specifically to see if they were from Singapore too: SPICA was very unlikely the only one working from Singapore at the time

MLX

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Spica's origins
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2018, 10:14:17 AM »
Nice detective work!

Quick google search using the Taiwanese registration of Spica.
The registrant is 達辰電子企業股份有限公司 which reads "Dachen Electronic Enterprise Co., Ltd.". It was ran by Cai Fuqing and it was dissolved in 1994. Unless they had a specific english name which differed from the Chinese one, Keyman Electronics is likely a different company. One could have been an international sale agent while the other was doing the manufacturing.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2018, 10:24:58 AM by MLX »

fcgamer

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Spica's origins
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2018, 03:38:54 PM »
Regarding bootleg shells and licensed PCBs, there are so many of those, it isn't even funny.  I was talking with a good friend today about that very topic, in fact.  At first I thought it was Konami specific, but it goes much, much deeper...

As I said before MLX, if would be great to collaborate, I might message mmsc123 as well, he and I have chatted on NA before and he's a great guy.  But it needs to be a different platform, as I had chatted with you about previously.