Digitally Curious - A Vintage LCD Watch Blog

Digitally Curious - A Vintage LCD Watch Blog

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  • Friday, April 17th, 2009 - 9:50 am
  • Nelsonic Space Attacker Game watch

  • **Because the subject matter is a game watch, the tone of today's article is a bit more playful than usual.**

    Although I am a CASIO watch collector by heart, there are some non-Casio watches that I acquire from time to time.

    Today's watch is the Nelsonic Space Attacker; it is highly sought after by many watch collectors and many game collectors. And don't even get me started on the game watch collectors!



    In a way, this watch is the basic ingredient in game watch collection soup. Um if it was a soup. Which it's not. .. Anyway the point is, this is one of those watches that every game watch collector should have.

    The watch has a very nice large display that shows the current time, day, date, month, am/pm information and alarm status all at once.

    One press of a button lets you adjust the alarm



    And it even has a microlight to help you see in the dark.



    By all regards, this is a very capable digital timepiece for 1981.

    But in the immortal words of salesmen around the world, "that's not all!"

    Why would you call a watch "space attacker" unless some kind of space attacking functionality was built into the watch? hehehe.



    OH MAN, this game is actually FUN to play! (Unlike that digital invaders game on Casio's calculator watch) The game is played entirely with the two front buttons. The left button moves your turret, and the right button fires. Simple yet fun!



    As the menacing attackers from space come down to destroy earth (at least that's what I think they are), they will fly in specific patterns around your conveniently placed turret, so that you can blast them out of the sky with a well timed rectangular LCD segment. Oops I mean a well timed cannon round.



    But if they get you first exactly 3 times, they win and earth is lost. Wow that's a lot of dramatic pressure to place on a child's wrist. Perhaps that's why it comes in a metal case with metal band, so that the "weight" of the dire situation is made tactile.

    Did you notice the demo button yet? If you press it, you get to hear the famous music and see this awesome test screen. Yeah, I thought it would be a real demo where space attackers attack... but it's just a test screen.



    Again, I think it's a marvel for 1981, and in some ways more advanced that Casio watches of the time. So, how did Nelsonic put all this into this small package?

    Well the simple answer is that they (Nelsonic = a brand owned by M.Z.Berger Co Inc.) outsourced it to Hong Kong. Brilliant! Again, so ahead of their time! And here you thought outsourcing and shipping jobs overseas was a new concept.



    But the long answer is... complicated. Let's look inside, shall we?



    The watch is powered by two batteries (391), which are easily replaceable.

    The module itself comes in a self-contained package, similar to Casio's designs.



    But what is totally different from Casio is this circuit board.



    What's that Timmy? "It looks just like any other watch circuit board?" Well look closer!



    TINY microscopic wires hanging onto dear life. That is some crazy soldering. How did they do this? I'm convinced that Intel engineers from 2012 traveled back in time to make these circuit boards. But that's just cause I'm ignorant and have an overactive imagination.

    I have seen many a space attackers destroyed because overzealous people opened up their watches and poked around without even noticing these tiny exposed wires. The result, of course, is 50 disconnected wires that are thinner than hair. So if you ever come across a space attacker want and have a urge to open one up, DON'T!

    One more note: It's hard to see in these pictures, but the module uses a two-layer LCD so that it can display all of the time information in one mode, and display the game in another.



    Now let's close this watch back up, carefully!





    ===========
    Begin rant:

    It's sad that these fun watches are no longer manufactured these days. Technology has advanced to a point where we can mount GPS sensors and cell phone functionality inside a watch, but the major manufacturers have not really pushed to return to their awesome geeky roots. Casio and other manufacturers would say that there's no market for weird digital watches, and sadly they are right--as much as we collectors would love to see these gems brought back to production, only geeks like us would buy them. And worldwide, that's going to be a very small sales figure.

    One of my secret goals for this website is to convert all regular folks into digital watch geeks. Once we constitute a large portion of the population, watch manufacturers will have to listen to our demands to bring back the classics. :D

    Who knows, maybe HP will revive the HP-02.. Or maybe Casio will make a anniversary Marlin with 200M water resistance, sapphire crystal and backlight with marlin logo!

    But sadly, I think manufacturers have tried to serve us geeks, only to be met with repeated disappointments by unsupportive geeks. Remember the Abucus by Fossil? No? I rest my case.

  • Filed under: watch
  • Comments!
  • » Great review and great site!

    Regards from Italy ;)
  • by: Alec, submitted Sunday, May 24th, 2009 - 1:48 am
  • » A friend of mine pointed out (quite accurately) that the watch DOES have a real demo mode. Once you enter the "display test" mode, press the top right button. Then the watch will show you a demo of how the game is played.
  • by: admin, submitted Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 - 3:26 pm
  • » I had one of these when I was only 9 and jeeeeeeeeeeeeez would I like to have another one now.. But they are so hard to find in nice condition and for a reasonable price.. Can anyone help? Awesome pictures... Ahh the memories

    Please please please contact me if you have one for sale..
  • by: Parks, submitted Saturday, June 27th, 2009 - 4:12 pm
  • » I had this watch! It was later "upgraded" to the Nelsonic Pac-man watch. I spent many an hour in school shooting down aliens with this little jewel. One felt positively James Bond being in the 6th grade in the early 80's with a *metal* cased watch with not only a light, but a *game*. The future had arrived.

    This watch was far more "stealth" than the Pac-man watch -- unless you knew what was going on, it wasn't very obvious to your teachers that you had a game on your wrist.

    I miss the days when technology was fun and optimistic.
  • by: Darren, submitted Thursday, September 10th, 2009 - 4:42 pm
  • » I just bought one of these off ebay and am very excited to receive it! Thought I do not remember owning any game watches as a kid, my (ex)wife bought me the Casio Straight Flush game watch a few years back. I love these things!!!!
  • by: Heath, submitted Monday, November 2nd, 2009 - 7:26 am
  • » Can you tell me how to open the case-back? I have fresh batteries to install.
  • by: Russ, submitted Thursday, November 5th, 2009 - 7:52 pm
  • » Hi Russ,
    The back will just snap off if take a small screwdriver and use leverage on the little notched opening on the back. :)
  • by: admin, submitted Thursday, November 5th, 2009 - 9:28 pm
  • » Man, I had this watch! My father traveled to Hong Kong and brought back some amazing gadgets. I can still recall the anxiety when I got an enormous, fast wave of ships attacking in the higher levels. :)
  • by: cwclifford, submitted Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 - 12:27 pm
  • » this is a great watch. Still have the one I got for xmas in 1981. waiting for new batteries to play it. what does something like this go for.
  • by: Paul, submitted Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 - 7:17 pm
  • » I have the watch in front of me but am missing the back. It is well kept and clean. I hope it still works I think it will. dose any one know where I can get a back to try it holds great sentimental value to me the last gift my mother gave to me. I love that it is all metal before all went plastic
  • by: JOE, submitted Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 - 8:39 am
  • » I also have one of these, though mine is marked as a ZEON and the game is called Space Invaders with the tiny copywright sign for taito corp. Apart from that and the display surround being grey/blue and gold it's identical (might be a UK version). I cannot find another Zeon version at all on google and it was only by chance I found this site. Mine was bought in 31st Oct 1981 from Currys in Canterbury (UK) and cost £29.95. It's still boxed with instructions,guarantee, receipt and the cardboard Space Invaders box surround. Apart from a tiny bit of wear on the printed alarm slots it's in new condiditon (no scratches on the glass or back). As for the batts, they are easy and cheap to get but boy does it use them up and fiddly to fit. You need a good micro screwdriver to remove the screws that secure the batt retaining clip. My second set lasted about a year at most and that's without playing the game or using the alarm.
    It would be good to know how much these are worth now.
  • by: David H, submitted Monday, June 28th, 2010 - 2:00 pm
  • » hi had one of these watches many years ago.Been after one for quite a while keep missing them when up for grabs if anyone knows of one for sale would be much appeciated thanks gaz stuart
  • by: gaz stuart, submitted Thursday, November 4th, 2010 - 4:47 pm
  • » I unearthed one of these when cleaning out my old room. Can you tell me how to set the time & date?

    Thanks
  • by: Dave, submitted Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 - 12:26 pm
  • » hi, I have one of these its mint, all functions work except the alarm/melody .This can only be heard when held very very close to your ear any ideas how to fix this ?
  • by: steve, submitted Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 - 4:38 pm
  • » Great site. I dug up old Space Attacker recently, and after putting new batteries in it, it works! Can you tell me how much are these watches are worth? Probably going to list it on eBay
  • by: David L, submitted Sunday, April 10th, 2011 - 10:57 am
  • » can anyone tell me how to change the batteries on this.I know how to take the back off but do you have to unscrew the strap that goes over it? I just want to make sure I dont want to break anything. i have one I was thinking of letting go but I want to put some fresh batteries in it.Thanks!!
  • by: Brad, submitted Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 - 7:02 pm
  • » I would LOVE to buy one of these in working condition. I had one when I was 10 in 1982. Anyone have any ideas where I could get one?
  • by: Steve Randle, submitted Friday, July 1st, 2011 - 2:55 pm
  • » i have a Nelsonic Space Attacker Game watch
    just like pitcure for sale what are thay wourth
  • by: frank ROGO, submitted Sunday, September 4th, 2011 - 5:13 pm
  • » hello could you tell me whats wrong with my watch because button music don't work nothing happened when i press the button this is normal? my watch works on one battery
  • by: Stefan, submitted Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 - 10:22 am
  • » I had one of these as a kid in 1982, but it was OEMed to Armitron and had a resin case. Looked like it had the same electronics and the game was so much better than the one on the Casio CA-90 that my dad had at the time.

    Alas, both watches are long gone.
  • by: twinkyt, submitted Monday, January 30th, 2012 - 10:11 pm
  • » Had one of these @ it was stolen in gym class.
    Are there any of these for sale ANYWHERE!!!!!
  • by: Rod, submitted Friday, June 22nd, 2012 - 5:39 pm
  • » How much is it worth?
  • by: Cat, submitted Sunday, September 9th, 2012 - 8:56 am
  • » Nice imagery of the watches internal structure and components. Is it the same with all watches? Also, is that a processor I see in there? I have a starfox lcd watch and couldn't be more happy with my purchase. Sure its a retro(1983-1994) model but hey, a nelsonic wrist watch is a nelsonic wrist watch.
  • by: Brandon, submitted Friday, November 2nd, 2012 - 11:19 pm
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