|Consoles||Dendy Classic, Dendy Junior, imported official consoles.|
|Related companies||Micro Genius|
Steepler Ltd. (also refered to as 'Dendy Company' or simply 'Dendy') was a Russian game publisher founded in 1992 by Andrey Cheglakov. Steepler is most infamous for the Dendy Classic and Dendy Junior as well as their extensive advertisement campaign; which includes Video-Ace ([Video-Uss]) Dendy magazine and the TV show, Dendy: The New Reality. Having a large shop network all over Russia, they collapsed in 1996.
History and Overview
1992: The beginning
Before Dendy came into existence, gaming in the former USSR was sparse. The most widespread 'species' available prior to that point were LED handhelds like Elektronika's clones of Game & Watch or Chinese Brick Boy units. Less popular consoles were the ZX Spectrum and its clones, with the list ending with imported items such as Atari consoles or Chinese famiclones.
In 1992, a brand shop on Petrovka Street in Moscow was opened, where Dendy's were sold for $94 each alongside their cartridges and peripherals. The lack of money at the system's inception was mostly compensated by extensive TV advertising. Along with that, December seemed to be a good time for New Year presents, and the Dendy console became the best option for parents who rushed to find New Year presents for their kids.
1993: Expansion in the elephant family
Near the end of 1993 (possibly in November), the Video-Ace Dendy magazine was introduced.
1994: MegaDrive, SNES and The New Reality
After the reorganization process, Steepler made a spinoff company out of the selling network - Lamport. By the middle of this year, somewhere from 100,000 to 125,000 consoles were sold each month (by this time, their approximate cost was $30-35). The end of this year brought the new Taiwanese clones, Kenga and Bitman, to the company and is also known for introducing Dendy: The New Reality show.
In turn, Video-Ace Dendy introduced a new author, known under the alias of the Great Дragon (Великий Dракон). This would later be the namesake of the Video-Ace Dendy's spinoff magazine, in which the Great Dragon would become one of the authors.
1995: Suponev introduced Game Boy, Video-Ace split
This year became disastrous for Steepler. Aside from doing good in the beginning of this year, Steepler slowly started to collapse.
The second season of The New Reality lasted 22 episodes but after that, montages of previous releases were broadcast, and eventually went completely out of focus as well. (It has to be noted that some of the games reviewed here have been already reviewed before the second season actually started, with one of these, Felix & Jerry, being a graphical hack of Tiny Toon Adventures.) In April of 1995, after the release of two-volumed issue 18, Video-Ace Dendy was split into two separate magazines. The first one called The New Reality, which lasted only eight issues. The second one, Great Dragon, was more popular among audience, so it kept getting new and new issues until 2003.
1996: Eventual collapse
The cause of Steepler's bankruptcy is unknown. There's a possibility that the "brand" was slowly overrun by nameless clones distributed outside their consent. Another reason could be the contract with Nintendo due to the licensed cartridges and consoles not being sold with their price being much higher than that of pirated ones.
Dendy Classic and Dendy Junior
Probably, their most infamous products are still Dendy Classic and Dendy Junior famiclones. According to the 'Kommersant' newspaper's legacy articles, they were manufactured by a Taiwanese company which was highly likely to be Micro Genius. The Dendy Classic 1 and 2 are based on the Micro Genius IQ-501 and IQ-502 respectively. However, later Dendy models would drop the Micro Genius and TXC Corp. names, suggesting these weren't manufactured by Micro Genius. Aside from being widely advertised, the factor that influenced their high popularity was relatively cheap price and high reliability, which is usually not the case with Chinese famiclones. Even to these days, Dendy-s are proved to be 'bulletproof' hardware compared to the newer famiclones like Magistr (sold by New Game).
All the cartridges actually came from China and Taiwan, however, instead of being sold directly in the stores, they got Dendy brand back stickers and carton box inside which they were wrapped (with 'TV GAME CARTRIDGE FOR DENDY' on the front).
Aside from wide range of cartridges, Steepler presented a number of extra peripherals for the Dendy like the Beretta Gapdone Light Gun or the OWL Pad.
The PRO 16-Bit was a hardware clone of the SEGA MegaDrive II. It was sold along with the actual imported Sega MegaDrive II but at a cheaper price. It has been seen advertised during the broadcast of Dendy: The New Reality.
SEGA MegaDrive II
It's not truly know if Steepler had a contract with Sega to import the SEGA MegaDrive II and the official cartridges. However it's clear that not all the games were delivered from SEGA.
In some episodes of The New Reality, Suponev showed a Mega Key cartridge which is actually a tool that helps override the region lock.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Steepler is known to have had a deal with Nintendo to 'build a bridge' that would bring SNES consoles, cartridges and accessories to Russia in 1994. Dendy: The New Reality probably played the primary role in advertising SNES among children despite having really high prices.
Handhelds (Game Boy and Virtual Boy)
In 1995 Steepler would begin importing Game Boys and the system itself would appear on Dendy: The New Reality. On the show, all the games on this platform have been shown using the Super Game Boy add-on.
The Virtual Boy is known to have been imported by Steepler at some point, most likely due to negotiations with Nintendo.
Probably the most expensive console in Steepler's stocks. After Steepler's fall, however, it became obsolete due to the fact much cheaper Sony Play Station was popular all over the world and that PlayStation imports has started.
Panasonic 3DO was given as the first prize on a Killer Instinct tournament, sponsored by Steepler.
In other media
Video-Ace Dendy magazine
Shortly after Steepler established its business, Video-Ace publishing agreed to start producing a new magazine in their series, subtitled as Dendy. Having approximately 20 issues in the overall showcase, the magazine had to split onto two separate branches: Great Dragon and The New Reality, the second of which lasted only a few issues.
Dendy: The New Reality
- Main article: Dendy: The New Reality
Dendy: The New Reality is, perhaps, the most popular TV show created by Steepler. With 33 episodes broadcast on 2X2 channel and 22 on ORT, the show collapsed due to the Sergei Suponev's (the host of the show) contract issues.
After Dendy: The New Reality was closed, Steepler decided to make Mir Dendy (The Dendy world), which became a pass-by show in the result. In the era of Mir Dendy, the show was hosted by Semyon Furman (an infamous actor of Russian theater and cinema) and Andrey Gvozdyov. Suponev, however, made an appearance once during this show, as a host of Killer Instinct tournament's finals.
Steepler is known to sponsor the first episodes of Ot Vinta! (Taking Off!) computer game reviewing show hosted by Anton Zaycev as Gameover and Boris Repetur as Bonus. The show, however, lived longer than Steepler did.
Adventures of Dendy the Little Elephant
A 17-minute short cartoon made by Argus International, Приключения Слонёнка Dendy (mistranslated as Adventures of Elephant Dendy, keeping the Russian word order). The plot of the cartoon is pretty generic: The Boss, who terrorizes the peaceful city where Dendy's corporation is prospering, decides to get Dendy out of his way. Meanwhile, the little elephant prepares for a world tour with a purpose to 'make everyone in the world play Dendy'. On his trip, he brings a suitcase with all his things packed. The Boss's henchmen are up to replace this suitcase with a one with the bomb, but eventually get both confused and take the wrong one. The henchmen also attempted to replace a bottle of champagne with poison, but, obviously enough, they failed again. In the end, Dendy and his newly hired Secretary go on a trip without any accidents while Boss's headquarters collapse in an explosion made by the bomb suitcase.
Frankly enough, Dendy is the only character in the cartoon to be called by name. Interestingly, Dendy's great grandfather is shown in this cartoon.
Steepler is known to advertise their products on television. Some of their ads are known to be shown during the broadcast of Dendy: The New Reality show.
- Ivan Maximov was in charge of designing Dendy the Elephant, Steepler's probably most infamous trademark.