It is nothing new to see companies going out of business, unless they are in the automotive industry or banking. It is a fact of life- companies fail. I am going to take a look at a few brands from the past that were revived under new management. To meet the criteria of this article, the original company must have definitively ended operations in one form or another (bankruptcy for instance). I won’t be discussing situations where a parent company simply stopped using a brand, only to later revive it themselves (such as Sony is doing with Psygnosis games). These are going to be in various industries too, not just one niche though they seemingly are connected by common threads.
First up, Commodore. In the 1980’s and early to mid-1990’s computers were either IBM compatible or Commodore’s. There was the Commodore PET, VIC-20, C64, C128, Amiga line of computers (including some “set top box” ideas). Commodore was well saturated in the market. Similar to the Atari situation, Commodore is quite fragmented and “all over the place”.
Commodore USA is my focus for this article (I know, I know, there are “others”). Commodore USA has licensed the rights to Amiga and the name “Commodore”. So far they have released a few pieces of hardware using the Commodore name such as improved upon C64’s, VIC’s and even the Amiga. There is also a “Commodore OS” available for these platforms (it is based on Linux)
Tradewest was a game company that was prominent in the 1980’s on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Some of their notable releases include John Elway’s Quarterback, Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road and others. They even manufactured hardware for some of SNK’s arcade machines. They had their fingers in a lot of pies so to speak.
Tradewest Games was founded in 2009, I covered it for UnNamed Gaming. Basically, Tradewest Games was the result of many Midway Games European subsidiaries pulling together. So far they have only shown work on Winter Sports 2010 for Wii, 360 and PS3 for consoles. Tradewest Games apparently goes by Tradewest Digital now and has released a few mobile games (Tiny Toots for iOS for instance).
Polaroid was once THE name for taking pictures. If you were holding a camera, no matter the brand, in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, people would assume it was a Polaroid. Want to take a picture back then? People would say “take my Polaroid” or “let’s take a Polaroid”- Polaroid was the same as ‘picture’ to a large populace in North America. They had amazing market penetration. Then things went to hell in a hand basket and sales plummeted. Bankruptcies and the like started in the early 2000’s.
Since the series of revivals for Polaroid started we have seen DVD players, Android tablets, televisions. For some reason it took till 2012 for someone to license the name “Polaroid” and put it on a camera. Seemingly the only thing the name was not used for was a pregnancy test (imagine the marketing campaign for that).
Coleco. This one is one that I have been following for a bit, interviewed the new owner of the name even. Basically, Coleco started life as the Connecticut Leather Company and eventually morphed into a gaming company. They released the Colecovision in the 1980’s and followed it up with the massive failure that was the Coleco Adam computer. After going bankrupt in 1988 their assets were purchased by many companies including toy competitor, Hasbro.
Recently, around the mid 2000’s, River West Brands acquired the name and began work on rebuilding the brand. They have worked to release the Coleco Sonic (Sega Game Gear/Master System portable) and with AtGames to release the Colecovision Flashback. Recently they licensed the name to RETRO Video Game Systems Inc, out of California, to use on their impending console, the RETRO Video Game System- now known as the Coleco Chameleon. For those that don’t know, the Chameleon uses Atari Jaguar console and cartridge shells and will be shown “publicly” at the New York Toy Fair late next month. For more information on the Coleco Chameleon, I have covered it extensively on Retro Gaming Magazine’s website.
Atari. The great video game maker from the 70’s and 80’s has seen better days. For more information on the history of Atari check out AtariBook.com and enjoy. For those that just want the Cliff’s Notes version, Atari released plenty of hardware from the Atari 2600 to the Atari ST computer that was a bane in the side of Commodore in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The Atari Jaguar didn’t fare all that well and we saw a reverse merger occur with JT Storage who then sold all Atari stuff off to Hasbro (they sure do get around).
Then Hasbro was bought out by Infogrames (who themselves is a reboot of other companies) and then Infogrames acquired the name “Atari” and renamed themselves yet again. Whew. Get all of that? Now, keep in mind that we are supposedly on the precipice of a “new” Coleco console that uses Atari Jaguar shells but won’t play games from either classic brand (at least not out of the box).
Acclaim. They were the “big name” of the NES outside of Nintendo. They went for the big movie titles, the licenses, etc. Too bad, for the most part, they ignored quality game development to go with those big licenses. You either loved their games in the 80’s or you hated them. As time went on they lost a lot of their luster with gamers but somehow held on till 2010.
The reboot of this brand is happening with Collectorvision games (based out of Canada). They have acquired “some” of the rights to the brand name and are working on getting others (this one is a complicated one to discuss).
Collectorvision are better known for their work on the Colecovision console (original model), their work on Adventures of Tiny Knight for the RETRO Video Game System/Coleco Chameleon and Sydney Hunter series.