Everybody wants a white Famicom, but they are starting to get harder to find. Once you’ve found one, how do you know how white/yellow it really is? Here’s a jpeg image I’ve been using as a yellow scale. It’s just four Famicom consoles that give a relative idea of how white/yellow a particular unit is.
The percentages at bottom are the relative abundance1 of each. So if I see ten FCs, only around one will rate an A. Around 2 will be in the B range, then the other 7 will be C to D range.
Now the interesting part is that color has nothing to do with how well an FC unit will work. Some really dirty, grimy units I come across have good sound and graphics and sometimes even the super white units have problems. It’s a crap shoot, so I always test everything.
Why do they yellow and how to prevent further damage…
If you let the plastic sit in the sun or any brightly lit area, it will start to yellow. I always keep my consoles under a dark cloth next to the TV, and in the box on a shelf out of the light if they are being stored. I don’t have any technical explanation why the plastic yellows, but usually if the cart access door has been closed, the plastic under that area will still be white, the rest of the unit will be yellow. Same with the Super Famicoms, which have a way of turning sort of green. I’ve seen units where there was a game cart stuck in the console and then left to sit for a decade or so. Near the cart where the cart blocked the light, the color is good, but everywhere else, yellow.
Trick photography: compensating for a digital camera’s auto whiteness (levels) function…
Most point and shoot digital cameras automatically will do a whiteness adjustment, so your slightly yellow Famicom suddenly becomes a little whiter in the image. This is just your camera trying to make the picture look good, but if you are buying and selling, it’s best to have a truly representative photo. The best thing to do is to turn off the whiteness adjustment on your camera, or better yet, just stick a piece of blank white paper under the FC. Then the image will look a lot closer to the actual console.
1. Had to ask a smart friend (Rob, the cycling ecologist) for that word. Relative abundance: “the number of organisms of a particular kind as a percentage of the total number of organisms of a given area…” via http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/relative+abundance.