A prototype GameCube controller sold on eBay several weeks ago and I somehow missed it. It ended up selling for its listing price of $1999,99usd. Usually I’d be pretty upset, but in this case there were so many red flags that I don’t even know where to start.
So what is it? It claims to be a wired “prototype sample” in the colors of a WaveBird, acquired from the archives of a “former video game magazine editor”. I decided to contact the seller to gather more information, specifically about the magazine and hopefully a manufacturing date, and this is how he responded (The messages start from the bottom):
I’ve contacted a bunch of eBay sellers to gather more info on their listings in the past and this is the first time I get a response like that. Red flag.
I managed to get extra pictures, and I can confirm here that the shell is actually painted. You can see that the front is actually a clear shell with a grey coat of paint on top of it. For the back, you can see the primer underneath a scratch in the paint, and the unavoidable bulging from paint filling the letters. This is actually very similar to what Controller Chaos has been offering on their website. While they don’t offer this specific WaveBird grey color, there are plenty of artists in the custom controller scene that are capable of making this.
You can also see that the internals match those of the very first variant released in 2001. But the back shell has the “• Made in Japan” stamp and the extra support boning only found on controllers from 2003 onward. (More info in my internals guide)
So assuming this prototype is legit, what would be its purpose? A pre-production unit is already off the table because of its back shell dating from 2003+. My only plausible guess it that it would’ve been an actual sample, similar to those N64 prototype variants that never made it to production. But painted? That doesn’t make any sense, that would be way more work for any Nintendo engineer to get something painted than to order from the Mitsumi factory itself, considering they already had that specific grey plastic in the factory from the WaveBird’s production. And late into the GameCube’s lifespan? For a video game magazine?
I am definitely not convinced, there are way too many red flags. With this kind of stuff, you need documents and testimony of the unit’s legitimacy. We have nothing of that sort here, the seller is evading providing any further details, and the thing is painted. I think it’s fair to say that this unit is not legitimate.