Tracking Down a Crystal White GameCube Controller

That’s a Crystal White GC controller, part of a set given away through a contest to promote Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, limited to 150 units. If you want more info about the contest, you can always check my entry page for the controller. It used to be in my collection, but I’ve started selling and now it’s gone. I have a statement here if you’re curious. (I want to be a costume maker, who would’ve thought…)

The Crystal White is extremely easy to fake, and more so now as I’m going to share the tools to make a fake. This is why I’ve been hesitating to share this info for quite some time. I also wanted to make sure I had all the information right.

Back to the subject, The Crystal White set (exclusive to Japan) was known from a long time ago, but it was thought to be the same color as the Pearl White set (exclusive to Europe), only with an exclusive GameBoy player. But around early 2017, some rumours started going around about the Crystal White being just slightly different from the Pearl White, with a terrible picture to back it up. The Pearl White is such in a bad shape in this picture, that I had my doubts. So I decided to track one down.

The arrow pointing on the supposed Crystal White, with a terribly worn Pearl White to compare.

I sent a few messages to collectors I knew had the controller, but mostly got no response, until I hit up the Final Fans Museum community, a Final Fantasy collectors group. The creator/chairman of the group, who owns a full boxed Crystal White set, was kind enough to offer taking good comparison pictures of the controllers. So I sent my mint Pearl White to France, and $150 of shipping later, we could finally confirm that the Crystal White controller was unique. See the pictures album here.

One thing that caught my attention is the color of the screws on the back. They’re golden on the Crystal White, and are always golden, while for the Pearl White, it’s the opposite, always silver. Also, the shells are both very similar in color, but the Crystal is ever so slightly ivory. It’s much easier to see the difference when taking a picture with flash.

A very subtle tint that’s very hard to see on normal lighting. Notice the screws, so Crystal White on the left.
With flash however, the difference is clear.

Now to track one down for my collection. Being so limited and rare, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to find one, at least for a reasonable price. After being tempted at a full set selling for $2000 on eBay, I decided to put the search on hold.

One night at 4am, on January 29 2019, someone shitposted in my local Melee group chat and woke me up. I decided to check eBay, and posted 5 minutes earlier, a Crystal White controller for sale for $128.95. Not only that, I found yet another one two days later, for $249.99. Insane luck.

And with that, I had two Crystal White controllers. I sent one of them to a collector friend, and kept the best one for myself. My set was complete, 27/27, and my celebratory post on twitter somehow gained over 2k likes.

Most importantly, I had access to two real Crystal White controllers to try and figure out its history. First thing I did was to open them. They’re T3, and sadly, there is nothing about the internals that can be used to tell them apart from a Pearl White, they pretty much share the same hardware. However, I figured out why the Crystal White has a slightly different shade than the Pearl White; while I think the shiny paint is the same on both, the Crystal White seems to have a slightly darker, ivory-colored ABS plastic that was used to cast the shells.

Crystal White on the left. Can you see the slight ivory shade, compared to the white plastic of the Pearl White on the right?

While I gave away tools to make a fake Crystal White, I hope there is enough information here to tell them apart. Be careful, ask for comparison pictures, and good luck, they’re hard to find.

To conclude:

  • Golden screws for the Crystal White, silver screws for the Pearl White.
  • Ivory-colored plastic for the Crystal White’s shell, and plain off-white for the Pearl White.
  • While they are hard to tell apart on normal lighting, using flash on your camera will give you the chance to tell them apart easily. The Crystal White appears slightly darker than the Pearl White.
  • The Crystal White is unique to Japan, while the Pearl White was released solely in Europe.

Big thanks to the Final Fans Museum and Fabian for the opportunity and the pictures, and huge thanks to Georgie from my local Melee scene for that shitpost that led to so much.

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