By now, many of us have probably seen images that have surfaced on social media of a “leaked” Special Edition Tears of the Kingdom-themed Switch OLED model. Multiple photographs of the Switch’s box, and separate photos taken of the Joy-Cons and screen still in the plastic, have sent fans into a frenzy over whether the alleged leak is real or fake.


When I first saw the images, my initial thought was that they have to be fake. Now that I’ve mulled over it for a few days now, I’m still leaning towards them being fake. The thing I don’t understand about the images is that the Switch and its accessories appear already packaged for retail. It made me think: if this leak is real, what is this console supposed to be? What is the story here?

Is this a test model or prototype that Nintendo sent out? If so, why is it packaged that way? That can’t be what happened here. Are these images from a factory where a rogue employee decided to snag and open one of the boxes from the production line? Probably the more likely story, all things considered, but still pretty far-fetched. I know nothing about manufacturing, but do they really start boxing special-edition consoles five months in advance and let them sit around in a warehouse until its time to ship them to stores? After a little detective work, I’m convinced this is not a reality.

Back in March of 2021, news broke that Nintendo planned to begin production of the Switch OLED in June of that year, with a production goal of about just under a million units. The OLED panels were planned to be sent to assemblers in July; and the Switch OLED went on to release in October 2021. That means they spent about 3 months assembling and boxing the consoles. With that in mind, there is no reason for there to be a retail-ready Tears of the Kingdom OLED this early, when only 3 months is needed to both assemble and box just under a million consoles.

I suspect the “leaked” images were designed as they are in an attempt to be more believable, but it would seem the packaging in the photos are its own Achilles heel in the debate over this whole thing being real or a hoax. Let’s also not forget the Triforce design on the dock is a recycle of one used for the 3DS XL Hyrule Edition from 2015. If that isn’t the final nail in the coffin, I don’t know what is!

Of course, nothing is certain. Perhaps this is the Special Edition Tears of the Kingdom Switch right before us. I’m not convinced for one minute that it is, but if it turns out to be, I’ll eat my hat! Where do you stand? Are you convinced that this is the real deal, or do you agree with me that it’s fake? Let us know in the comments below!

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