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Nintendo brings life-size Mario karts to L.A. Auto Show

November 18, 2011|By Nathan Olivarez-Giles
  • Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, left center, and West Coast Customs CEO Ryan Friedlinghaus join Mario and Luigi as they show off their life-size electric Mario karts at the L.A. Auto Show.
Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, left center, and West… (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles…)

Nintendo's 3DS handheld video game system features glasses-free 3-D screens that allow images to appear as if they're jumping off the display.

So, in an effort to help hype up the latest 3DS release, Mario Kart 7, Nintendo went to West Coast Customs (known for its past work on the MTV show "Pimp My Ride") to bring the cars from the 3-D game into real-life 3-D at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

"This is a first time for a Nintendo presence at any auto show," said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America Inc. "We thought it was appropriate. Mario Kart 7 runs in 3-D on the Nintnedo 3DS. We thought it was a great idea to actually make the cars in 3-D and bring them out and show them off."

The two cars on display are Mario's red kart and Luigi's bumblebee kart from the game. Both will be shown off throughout the show, which ends Nov. 27.

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Show goers can pose for photos with the cars, but they won't get to sit inside the life-size karts and there won't be any test drives, through Fils-Aime said the battery-powered cars do run, with a top speed of about 40 mph.

After the Auto Show, Mario's kart will head to the Westfield Topanga mall in Canoga, Calif., where it will be displayed outside of a Game Stop until the video game retailer gives it away to a shopper as a part of its Epic Rewards program.

"Some lucky consumer’s going to have a Mario kart that they’ll be able to tool around with in their neighborhood," Fils-Aime said.

Nintendo hasn't yet decided what to do with the Luigi kart, but it will head back to Nintendo of America’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters for a bit, Fils-Aime said, adding: "You’ll probably see me driving around in our campus out there in Luigi’s kart.”

If you want to see these specific cars in person, the L.A. Auto Show (and the Topanga Mall) will be your only shot, he said. As for next year's auto show? No plans yet.

"In terms of other auto show activity this year -- there is none," Fils-Aime said. "We thought it was most appropriate to be here in L.A. And in terms of the future, who knows? For us and our marketing activity we look at these types of opportunities as unique and special, and if there is a game that warrants a special type of opportunity, we may be back."

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