Hong Kong Handarts, a company that distributed Asian products throughout the Western world, released the Ultra Hand in Australia. They altered the boxart so that the child is snatching an unsuspecting baby Kangaroo (Joey) out of its unhappy mother's pouch.
Gunpei Yokoi was an engineer for Nintendo's playing cards assembly line. He had created the Ultra Hand as a personal project and had it in the factory when Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi came in. He found the Ultra Hand and with the permission of Gunpei he ordered his company to create over a million of them for the holiday. Yokoi has claimed that when Yamauchi summoned him, he was certain that he would be fired for playing around with the toy while at work. Instead, he found that Yamauchi was extremely interested in the product. After it was released it sold an outstanding 1.2 million copies in Japan. The success of the product led Yamauchi to promote Yokoi and make him the manager of a new R&D studio, the first at Nintendo. Nintendo sold them for just $6 each.
The Ultra Hand was Nintendo's largest success up to that time in the toy industry. They had developed several other toy products prior to 1966 such as the Rabbit Coaster and the Picture Cutter, but none had come close to achieving the same success as the Ultra Hand. Due to the success of the product, Nintendo opened up its first Research and Development division within the company, which Yokoi led. Nintendo has referenced the Ultra Hand in several of its video games. Nintendo also developed a Club Nintendo-exclusive WiiWare game called Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! that focused on the toy.
Appearances in games
- In Mario Power Tennis for the GameCube, Wario has a special move that causes him to use the extending arm of the Ultra Hand to hit a ball that's too far away.
- In Mario Kart 8, several Ultra Hands uphold the elevated portion of GBA Mario Circuit.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D it can be found in the Bomb Shop in East Clocktown behind the counter on the wall.
- In WarioWare Gold the boss microgame for 9-volt's stage is centered around this toy. The player must use the touch screen to extend the Ultra Hand in order to snatch fish from the pocket of an unsuspecting Man, who resembles the man seen on the box for the ultra hand, and feed them to hungry cats before a crab can break the hand. The toy also appears as a collectible souvenir in-game that details the product's history.