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How much did a ColecoVision cost in 1983?
I love browsing old newspapers and magazines and checking prices on items that I wanted at the time. While I had been an Atari user as a kid, I always wanted a ColecoVision, but at $149 in 1983, they might as well have been a million dollars.
The ad above is for Leisure Value, a company based out of Merrick, NY that ran ads in video game magazines during the period. They seemed to do most of their business via mail-order, which explains their discount pricing.
The ColecoVision at Sears and other major department stores was generally ten dollars more expensive, retailing at $159. Now Leisure Value does not mention how much shipping would cost, but it is extra in the fine print. So you might have been better off heading to your local Sears for a better deal if that was an option for you.
Adjusted for inflation, the ColecoVision base unit would cost about $391 today. This is almost $100 more than what you would pay for a Nintendo Switch on Amazon and easily 3 times what you will pay for an original console on eBay in decent condition.
I often think about the adjusted price when purchasing an original console. They seem to be expensive to me, but when it comes down to it, they are much cheaper than they originally were. It also makes me wonder about people who view these systems as collectibles. How long will it take before a system matches and exceeds the adjusted price?
At $24.75 to $31, the price for games is a bit of a better deal than what you will pay at a department store in 1983. Notice the outlier Zaxxon? That was often pricier than other games from the system. Why? It was the hot game at the time, a solid port of a very hot game. According to Video Games in 1983, this port of Zaxxon for the ColecoVision was a “coup for this new system”. It was a killer app for the system before that term would enter usage and it still holds up as very playable today.
Threee items that I find interesting in this ad are the Barrel Bags, Back Packs, and Perma Power Battery Eliminator. I wonder if the Barrel Bags and Back Packs had any special branding on them? I have seen Atari Barrel (or Duffel bags) with the Atari logo on them, but never ones for Coleco or Intellivision.
The Perma Power Battery Eliminator was a useful solution for gamers who owned Coleco’s Handheld games or the driving expansion Turbo Module (priced at $63). The Eliminator was basically a 9-volt AC adapter with 5 different tips. You could plug it directly into game systems or accessories, but it also came with these battery adapters that looked like batteries that you would put into your system and then plug the Eliminator into it.
The ColecoVision might not have been as successful as Atari, but in many ways, it was a superior system. Price-wise it was consistent at most stores up until the height of the Video Game Crash of 1983, which was already starting to happen when this price was published. After that, prices would plummet and by 1985, when ColecoVision withdrew from the video game market, you couldn’t find a ColecoVision product outside of the bargain bin.