SEGA Memories: Game Gear promotional events of the 90’s

The Game Gear, SEGA’s little handheld that had a color screen and a very bright back lit screen, is over 20 years old. Sure the device never out sold Nintendo’s juggernaut known as the Game Boy. But if you were a SEGA fan back in the day, the bad battery life didn’t keep you away from owning one. Some people may wonder what sort of promotional events SEGA did before launching a device like the Game Gear. Well, this week on Monday Memories we take a look at “Operation Game Gear” and “Superstar Kids Challenge”.

Operation Game Gear

On April 5th, 1991 SEGA invited the public to New York harbor for a day of fun and Game Gear playing. Over 600 amused SEGA fans showed up. That doesn’t seem so big now, since thousands show up to E3. But this was over 20 years ago. Gaming was as big as it is now. So 600 is a respectful turn out. SEGA had the event at New York Harbor on the U.S. ship called the U.S.S. Intrepid and even had a helicopter fly in to deliver “America’s first Game Gear”.

SEGA used the help of New York City’s top radio station, the “Z-100”, to promote the event. At the event, SEGA had several kiddie pools filled with many foam balls, and only sixty specially marked balls. If the contestant found one of the specially marked foam balls, they won a free Game Gear with some software titles. SEGA continued giving away Game Gears using top radio stations around the country, but not all those events where as big as New York’s Operation Game Gear.

One of the pictures for Operation Game Gear, showing everyone’s bad early 90’s fashion sense. Check out the kid with the mullet. That is some classic SEGA fan stuff right there. I can’t believe that SEGA had the Game Gear playable on batteries. They must have been using mini nuclear reactor batteries from the future because those kids probably got like 30 minutes of gameplay.

Notice how the majority of the people digging through the foam ball pool for those free Game Gears happen to be adults? Those kids never stood a chance. Look at the balding man with the tan shirt, just waiting for an opening to jump into the pit with all those children.

Here we have the kid pool, look at the blond kid in the middle with the 1,000 yard stare. I’m sure for some kids, this was a very anxiety inducing event.

Superstar Kids Challenge

SEGA had a co-sponsored “Superstar Kids Challenge” with Universal which was taped on April 19th and 20th, 1991. The even had 20 TV stars which included David Faustino, Jason Hervey, Sara Gilbert, Candace Cameron, Josh Saviano, Mayim Bialik, Danny Ponce, Danny Pintauro, and Soleil Moon Frey.

The show was hosted by Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner and MTV’s Martha Quinn. The best part of the show is obviously when they had SEGA related challenges, this time it happened to be a SEGA Game Gear duel event. Another cool event is an obstacle course set around Steven Spielberg’s An American Tail playground. By the end, over $100,000 was won for a variety of charities. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Look at those faces of horror when they saw the weird looking Sonic costumed thing in the back. Though to be honest, the red head isn’t very good at pretending to be excited. The man with the fancy Mr. Roger’s sweater was CEO for SEGA of America at the time, Tom Kalinske. Look at him smile, horrific faces of children with SEGA consoles seems to please him. Wait until they see the 32X and SEGA CD.

The dude with the cool leather jacket talking to the young adults playing the SEGA Genesis was SEGA’s Director of Marketing, Al Nilsen. SEGA of America’s CEO is right there too, talking to Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner. My favorite thing in the photo? The kid with matching blue shirt and shorts that have his name written above his right butt cheek. Not only that, the dude is sporting a serious rat tail. 90’s perfection.

Here is another photograph with both SEGA’s CEO and the creepy Sonic. But what you really want to look at in this picture is the first attractive girl we have seen in these photos. Wow, nice. Look at the dudes she is with, tying their sweaters around their waists… they must be her brothers.

Oh yes, my favorite SEGA character, Captain Crunch.

Lucky for us and the internet, you can watch SEGA and Universal’s “Superstar Kids Challenge” in its entirety on YouTube. Part 1 of 8 is embedded below


8 responses to “SEGA Memories: Game Gear promotional events of the 90’s

  1. Kori-Maru says:

    Oh the pictures brings back so much nostalgia from the 90’s. I ain’t gonna lie though, that girl looks pretty hot. Are you going to do more Monday Memories?

  2. Great article George! I really think your snark, combined with this feature, is a perfect mix. Next up has gotta be Melissa Joan Heart playing Sonic 2 on Nick Arcade.

  3. Matt says:

    “Oh yes, my favorite SEGA character, Captain Crunch.”


  4. Crazytails says:

    The person to the right in the main picture. Isnt that bud bundy?

  5. Crazytails says:

    Oh yeah, david faustino of course. Awesome :p

  6. TaroYamada says:

    There are a shit-ton of famous child actors in there, I wonder how much that event cost them.

  7. B says:

    They held this in both 1991 and 1992 (photos you have are from 1991, video is from 1992)….I think 1993 as well – I think I came across video of Ashley Johnson for it. Just wanted to clear up confusion. Do you by any chance have any photos of Mark-Paul Gosselaar from 1991? I have a few, but none of him in his official shirt or with other celebs (clippings and pin-ups…one is with a teen mag editor and the others are of him in a towel after competing in a water event I assume). I have photos from the 1992 event as well. Joey Lawrence has longer hair in these, and the celebrities are different. I’m also thinking that the 1991 event didn’t have the Sega name in the title? But the 1992 event did? One of my magazine clippings says the 1991 event was called the Universal SuperStar Kids Challenge while my 1992 articles call the 1992 event the Sega Star Kids Challenge.


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