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Official Article

My Super Mario Bros Bathroom

As far as mustachioed pop culture plumbers go, there are two points of reference in my mind. First you have Snyder, the denim vest wearing greaseball from 70s sitcom One Day At A Time (OK, he was more of an all purpose handyman) or the Super Mario Bros from the Nintendo Entertainment System. If you know another plunger wielding superstar, please let me know.

So when I got permission from my wife to decorate our downstairs bathroom with the theme of one of these icons, who do you think I chose? Sorry, Snyder, it was the saviors of the Mushroom Kingdom all the way. So squeeze down a pipe with me as I share with you the sights of my Super Mario Bros bathroom.

If I had my choice this whole space would be decorated with vintage Super Mario home décor items released between 1988-1991 (more about that Wish List later), but since those items go anywhere from 50-200 bucks these days, I had to settle for just one retro item, a Super Mario Bros Dixie cup dispenser. Hitting store shelves in 1989, this device was sold with cups featuring licensed Mario graphics and in several different dispenser designs. I’m happy to settle for this little slice of video game history, imagining how much fun I would have had with it in my own childhood bathroom. My kids use it now while brushing teeth before bedtime, so hopefully it will be a happy memory for them someday.

Now may I invite you to take in the glory that is this Super Mario Bros 2 shower curtain. Although there are several Super Mario shower curtains online, I had to have this one since the vegetable throwing, Birdo filled adventure is my favorite in the series. What may strike you at first (aside from the awesome sight of Luigi bench pressing a Shy Guy in the lower left corner) is that these graphics are not from any American game box you are familiar with. That’s because this is the cover art for the Japanese Famicom console release called Super Mario USA.

Retro gaming fans in the know are aware that the North American release from 1988 called Super Mario Bros 2 is actually a game called Doki Doki Panic with Super Mario Characters swapped for the originals. This is because the Japanese Super Mario Bros 2 was basically just a rehash of the original, but with an amplified degree of difficulty, which Nintendo’s American branch deemed too hard to be fun for Western gamers. So when the game came out in Japan, they just slapped USA on the box so as to avoid confusion with the sequel that gamers in the land of the rising sun had already experienced. And now it is my shower curtain.

To transport me into the Mushroom Kingdom when I enter the room, I’ve adorned the walls with various decal scenes. These wall stickers are so great, depicting the 8-bit artistry of the original game that made Nintendo a household name. I’ve done my best to recreate the initial frames of Stage 1-1 on the wall adjacent to the shower and I can hear the iconic theme every time I see it.

On the opposite wall I’ve approximated other moments of SMB gameplay, but also created my own piece of framed retrogaming art. You may recognize these GamePack trading cards from store registers back in the day. Each pack contained 2 stickers featuring characters from games like Punch-Out! or Legend of Zelda, but also 3 scratch off game cards that that revealed images that let you know if you won that level. The scratching was never very fun, but I loved the cartoon art. I mounted a few cards on top of some vintage Nintendo ads from 80s comic books to give it that retro flair.

Behind the bathroom door is a more modern Super Mario Bros wall sticker set that reflects the current rendering of our Italian plumbers on systems like the Wii and Nintendo Switch. With a few leftover stickers from that set, I decided to give my toilet a dash of fun. 

Yep, I created my own Yoshi toilet seat, while a helpful Goomba instructs users where to leave their “deposit”. What you can’t see is that the toilet also contains a color changing light which gives it a magical glow when the lights are turned off. It’s like the gang are racing down the Rainbow Road in Super Mario Kart when the lid goes down.

Speaking of wacky toilet lights, how about this off-color novelty night light featuring Mario on the throne. This one is a real winner. It just makes sense that in between worlds Mario and Luigi would have to take care of business like the rest of us. I imagine the bathrooms in the castles at the end of Overworld stages are pretty posh and hopefully stocked with reading material like “Pipes and Wrenches Monthly” or “Modern Plumber”. I on the other hand, have opted for a different periodical to pass the time on the pot.

Yes, easily at hand in my latrine are vintage issues of Nintendo Power magazine containing valuable tips on how to beat games like Ninja Gaiden and 30 year old news about upcoming releases for the NES. As you may recall from my previous article exploring a random issue of Nintendo Power, this magazine meant a lot to me as a kid and continues to excite the adult me as I introduce my son to classic Nintendo titles, using the Classified Information section to enhance our gameplay. 

I’ve also managed to obtain a print of the 1st issue cover of Nintendo Power to hang on the wall, a clay sculpted image that is as nostalgia inducing to me as blowing into a game cartridge.To me the launch of this magazine heralded the rise of the NES to pop culture dominance, like Willy Wonka opening the gates to his factory, we were being let inside the Nintendo headquarters. Plus, seeing this issue laying on the floor of friends' rooms let me know they were serious about becoming video game superstars, having been on board since the beginning.

Thanks to a donation of a TV/VCR combo from my neighbor, I can also get video game tips from VHS tapes that were popular back in the day. Having a TV in a bathroom has been a dream of mine for years, so check that one off the list. But an extra bit of retro fun is added to my morning routine when I can pop a tape of The Wizard or the Super Mario Bros Super Show in and bring back memories of days before I had any facial hair.

Another clever craft item I found online was this tissue box cover designed to look like the everpresent Question Boxes found throughout the main Super Mario Bros titles. Sadly I can’t make money appear by jump-punching it, but given how my allergies flare up from time to time, a soft tissue can be just as welcome a prize.

Turning on the power in the bathroom is just as much fun as playing with power, thanks to these custom light switch covers. Again we return to that familiar blue sky with floating red bricks from the opening of Super Mario Bros, with a partial glimpse at Lakitu in his cloud, ready to toss down a Spiny on top of our heroes. But let’s be honest, that NES Control Deck switch plate is the real star of this wall space. The only thing that would make it better is if I could actually press the Power button to turn on the lights.

Now onto my favorite little touch, the Mario and Luigi sink fixture toppers. The Mario brother with a preference for green doesn’t get much representation as his shorter, more rotund sibling, so I was glad to give him the spotlight as the deliverer of cold water. I had to create a base for them to attach to the flat surface of the handles and wouldn’t you know it, red and green caps from Coca-Cola and Sprite bottles worked just fine.

So what could I possibly be missing from this NES inspired wonderland? Plenty. These are (ahem) “Pipe Dreams”, but there are a few vintage items I would gladly give a spot in my Super Mario Bros shrine if I were rolling in gold coins. Let’s head into the Warp Zone of what if for a few minutes.

Super Mario Bros Shampoo and Bubble Bath by Revlon

In 1989 Revlon started advertising these shampoo and bubble bath bottles in comic books (I even have a framed copy of the ad on display in my bathroom). I remember seeing these on store shelves, but never made my desire known to buy some for my own bath time. Nowadays these bottles go for 50 bucks a piece, but I would like 1 or 2 for display in my current shrine to Super Mario bath supplies.

Super Mario Bros Sculpted Vinyl Wallcoverings and Trim

Sure, I already have plenty of Mario stickers on my wall, but these vintage graphics that are slightly off-model would make it so much more special. Truth be told, there is an auction for a package of these at less than $20 right now, but I’m worried that they won’t stick after 30 years in a box.

Super Mario Bros Ceiling Fan

Ventilation is very important in a lavatory, so what better way to improve the circulation of air than a ceiling fan decorated with the Mario and friends. This is definitely a luxury item for a bathroom, but I love the idea of flipping on the fan and watching the characters twirl like their spinning down the drain.

Super Mario Bros Wastebasket

It's really hard to justify spending 50 bucks on an old trash can, but these licensed metal wastebaskets were all the rage in the 80s and I just love the idea of owning one. It's really the perfect way to tie the whole space together when even the spot where you throw old Q-Tips carries on the theme.

Super Mario Bros Trophy

I remember seeing these little plastic sculptures on shelves at Toys R Us back in the late 80s and was thrilled by the prospect of owning one (though I never did). What made these trophies so special was that there were no official action figures for Super Mario Bros, Zelda or Punch-Out! so these little guys were the first real 3-D representation of our video game heroes. They’re not exactly cheap these days, but would make a nice spot to place a toothbrush holder or soap dispenser.

Super Mario Bros Shower Power Shower Head

“That’s the one, Marv. That’s the silver tuna.” Yes, finding out that there was actually a Super Mario Bros shower head developed in the 80s was a major revelation. Not only that, you’ve got Mario and Luigi working together in their professional capacity to bring you scald-free hot water fun for shower time. This thing goes for $100 plus on the secondary market these days, but boxed versions are not too hard to find. The question is, would this designer fixture still work after all these years. Perhaps someday I’ll know.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring my new home space of vintage gaming fun and special thanks to my wife for letting me indulge in such nonsense. If you could decorate a room in your house with a specific theme, what would it be?

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Hoju Koolander Posted on Jan 06, 2019 at 11:59 PM

@Vaporman87 Oh, HGTV is all my wife watches in hotel rooms when we're on vacation. This is my passive aggressive retaliation.

@jkatz Now you've got me adding one more item to my wish list. This must happen.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jan 05, 2019 at 03:49 AM

A truly incredible feat of design. You should hosting a show on HGTV. Then maybe I would actually have a reason to watch that channel. lol

jkatz Posted on Jan 05, 2019 at 02:19 AM

Now all you need is a framed photo of Captain Lou Albano.

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