One of the most sought after collectibles for the PlayStation isn’t an actual release per se – it’s a custom made Contest Prize created by Working Designs.
Celebrating the release of Elemental Gearbolt, WD decided to play off of an in-game character’s very specific accessory – the mysterious floating briefcase that follows her around. One of the 40+ sets was awarded to a regular chap who won a tournament at the CES in 1998. It was officially awarded June 3rd, 1998 at E3 – the rest were awarded to various web and print gaming editors from around the industry.
The set consists of one original piece – the briefcase itself.
Brushed aluminum with rubber feet and corner pieces, the case measures a robust 16 3/4ths by 9 3/4ths by 4 inches. It has a moveable handle, with matching lock tumblers, which are preset and ‘locked’ to 000. The game’s Japanese logo, complete with uncensored fairy silhouette, is embossed / raised in the top panel. With the briefcase open, there is a custom designed foam insert glued in place to hold the contents – a Memory Card, GunCon controller, and the game. An included letter congratulated the winners and also provided a warning on how to care for the gun’s plating job. A sweaty palm could actually ruin the coloring!
The copy of Elemental Gearbolt is simply the retail copy – no frills there.
The GunCon is the main center of attention. An Official Namco GunCon accessory, which can be used with the included game as well as Time Crisis and the like, was custom “vacuum metallized” with a Gold sheen. The guns were disassembled to allow the cord and buttons to remain in their original colors. A nice touch and attention to detail was that the screws holding the shell together were matched, giving the gun a very nice overall look. Very, very sexy looking.
The more curious part of the bundle is the Memory Card. In true Working “Variant” Designs fashion, there are two different versions of the set. Some sets have the standard “Red” Memory Card, and other sets have a vacuum metallized ‘Gold’ Memory Card that matches the GunCon. Victor Ireland, the founder of Working Designs, finally confirmed the mystery of the two cards.
Regarding the red cards….there were also some late cases that had red memory cards (to match the red button on the Gold Guncons) when some of the gold memory cards came back from the factory not looking as crisp as I would like. The edges looked a little fat from pooling or something. The red cards were just a substitution.
Finally, the confirmation letter, which warns of the GunCon’s new coloring having a problem in relation to sweaty hands.
The Assassin’s Case
The Red Version Memory Card and Sealed Game
The Gold GunCon
The Thank You Letter
Trivia and Facts
- Since this was a custom made set by Working Designs, which essentially voided the Accessory Warranties by customizing them, this obviously isn’t considered a ‘canon’ release or variant for a complete set. It can be filed under the ‘Perk’ part of the collection.
- The GunCon and Gold Memory Cards are vacuum metallized. They did an amazing.
- Roughly 50 of these kits were made, both variants combined.
- The case’s two lock tumblers have their “open” combination set to 000 each. There are / were two thin red plastic pieces slid through them to keep it as such.
- It took a full year for all contestants to get their prizes.
- Working Designs held two different contests at the E3; one that supported both print and digital game magazine editors, and the other with attendees. Then Gaming Age editor Mark Macdonald took the professional first place. The attendees version was won by a fellow named Joshua Parker, who ran away with a final score of 11,555,240 on Master Difficulty with no continues allowed. (Jason’s Note: Gawd Damn!)
- Timing for the convention and the first set of prize cases was so tight, that several employees from Working Designs were re-assembling the golden GunCons at the show days before the event.
- The ‘Thank You / Warning’ letter included by Working Designs is printed on special card stock / resume type paper. Due to the age of the paper, you should now be able to see the paper maker’s very large water mark in plain light (See Photos). This would also help avoid fake / bootleg letters…if that was ever a thing.
- A very important aspect of the Case is the foam inserts – with the item nearing the 20 year mark (of this page’s posting) the cases are beginning to lose their fight against time. The glue that binds the foam to the case is starting to brown, and the edges are beginning to separate from the case. It’s also important to make sure the foam itself hasn’t started deteriorating. I had an older Turbo-Grafx 16 carrying case where the foam, for lack of a more scientific word, essentially melted. The goo crept into every nook and cranny of the deck and accessories that it contained, and many could not be saved.
The complete roster for the professional tournament:
- Dan Amrich (GamePro)
- Oliver Chin (Animerica)
- Howard Grossman (Expert Gamer)
- Kraig Kujawa (EGM)
- Wataru Maruyama (Official PlayStation Magazine)
- Eric Mylonas (DieHard GameFan)
- Greg Off (PSExtreme)
- Andrew Reiner (Game Informer)
- Francesca Reyes (Game Buyer)
- John Ricciardi (EGM)
- Tyrone Rodriguez (Tips & Tricks)
- Byrn Williams (Gamers’ Republic)
- Chris Johnston (videogames.com)
- Mike Fahey (videogamers.com)
- John Braden (Digital Ages Online)
- Jeff High (Inside Games)
- Joey Gray (PSX Nation)
- Brian Preble (Game Sages)
- Dan Granett (High Resolution)
- Sam Kennedy (Gaming Age)
- Marty Chinn (Cyber Games News Center)
- Andrew Pfister (Now Loading)
- Mark Macdonald (Gaming Age)
- Kelly Bradley (Game Otaku)
- Duke Ferris (Game Revolution)
- Lee Saito
- Fabian Blanche, III (Gaming Age)
The full text of the thank-you letter reads:
June 11th, 1999
Dear Contest Participant:
Enclosed, please find the long-overdue promotional premium we promised you around E3 of last year. We had a number of problems with the vendor doing the gold-plating, and only recently completed the work with them.
Enjoy the game and gold-plated GunCon. One tip, however. If your hands sweat a lot, you might want to limit the play on the gun as acidic sweat from hands will eat the gold plating off the handle. Not everyone has this condition, but we wanted to warn you if you do!
Working Designs Staff