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Weigh My Fish
I figured I could help chip in from a PAL perspective.

I also have a made in JAPAN grey controller, which I got with my near launch console in the UK - ~June 1997.

On the side of the console box it states that the 5 coloured controllers will be made separately available in the second-half of 1997. This implies that the grey controller was available to buy individually from launch (1st March 1997) and my assumuption is that the others were released the same day as Mario Kart 64 (13th June 1997) tho I've yet to find confirmation of that.

As you know, the key difference with the European controllers is the ferrite bead, or kludge as we like to call it here. Initally they were sold coated in rubber, before a second version was released with just the plastic housing, before finally removing it all together.

My launch grey controller has the rubber coating, and I have seen examples of all 5 solid coloured controllers with the rubber coating too. Sadly I don't own any of these versions, so it is possible that they were also made in Japan, but I have extensively researched the back of their boxes and they always state that they were made in China.

I got a red controller for Christmas 1997 (box code C/NUS-A-CR-UKV-1) and it was just the plastic housing, meaning that the change happened early on. Both the controller itself and the back of the box state that it was made in CHINA. As a side note, just above this the controller is referred to as Model No. : NUS-005A (box only), however this only seems to apply to the plastic kludge version as the other 2 are both referred to as Model No. : NUS-005 in my experince.
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