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Classic CES Gaming Treasures
Videogame Buttons & Pins

by Michael Thomasson & Bill Kunkel

These button and pins were distributed during the classic CES (Consumer Electronics Shows) shows in years past, prior to E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) being formed. The CES shows being held primarily in Chicago (summer) and Las Vegas (winter) and were closed to the public and only available to those parties involved within the industry. Most of these items were hard to come by, even to those that fit the CES attendance requirements. Take a look - You'll be impressed!
On the left is the original button issued by Westwood Studios representing the forces of the GDI from Command & Conquor. To the right is an updated version released at a subsequent E3. The second pin uses an experimental mosaic effect, but most hardcore fans and collectors (including myself) prefer the original.
Here's the other half of the Command & Conquor button set from Westwood Studios. The original Brotherhood of Nod pin is seen at the left alongside the more recent, mosaic-design update. I've worn a set of the original GDI and Nod buttons on the lapels of a cool leather jacket I bought in Amsterdam and have had several people come up to me thinking I'm a veteran, believing they recognized the insignia!
When EA Sports launched its famous sports division, it hit a speedbump. The original logo, seen at the left, stood for Electronic Arts Sports Network. Then ESPN got a look at it and decided it looked a little, oh, I don't know... familiar? Before you could say "litigation" the division was re-christened EA Sports and a new button was issued.
Based on the Sega Genesis and Super nintendo game with the same name.
A nice job on this cutaway portrait button of Earthworm Jim. The game wasn't the megahit its developer expected, but the button is still the best thing about it.
Nintendo got into the grunge look for this "Fast Forward" campagn in the mid-90s.
Atari went for simplicity and name recognition when it tried to push its Jaguar hardware at CES this time out. The upside: They can (and did) giveout the same buttons at the next few shows!
Sega's famous "Welcome to the Next Level" campaign was among the most successful in the history of video gaming and this button captured the triumphant, kick-out-the-formulas spirit of that period.
Nintendo tries to get funky again with its "The Best Play Here" button. The button is very cool, but the catchphrase never... caught.
Of all my pins and buttons, this has to be my favorite. The Street Fighter II logo (complete with Japanese "apostrophe") is very nice, but the hanging gold plaque reading "Championship Edition" absolutely knocked me out when I first got it and the whole thing remains my prize to this day.
Back before Sega knew it had a mascot (it's very own "Mario" at long last!), this nicely sculpted piece was distributed. His first appearance in a quality pin.
Sonic 2 inspired something of a crowd scene as Sega added Tails and other characters to its franchise. A nice button nonetheless.
I've included this one for the sake of having all three pins from the first Sonic trilogy, but I think it's a bit of a mess. Too busy, even for a character as fast as Sonic.
The Star Trek ensignia at the left is, I believe, the very first such button ever given out in relation to a game. I got this one from the folks at S&SI back in the mid-80s when Arnie Katz and I were writing Star Trek: First Contact (no similarity to the later movie), so it wasn't even given to the general press. I believe the pn on the right is from Interplay and is from the '90s.
Remember Virtual Boy? SURE you do! It revolutionized the world of VR gaming and... oh no, sorry, that happening in an alternate reality. In this one, Virtual Boy was a total turkey. Nice button, though.
Isn't this one a beauty? The shield and sword etched in a stone-like medium made this Zelda button an instant favorite. Also, Nintendo, unlike Sega, Sony, Atari and most other companies, was not exactly liberal with its buttons. Getting a complete set at any show was extremely challanging for members of the press corps. As a result, Nintendo items are apt to be much more rare than pieces from, say, Acclaim, which has always been very generous with its premiums.


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