UPDATE: A pinch of salt may be required in this case -- as some of you have already pointed out, the age rating on the box appears to be Australian. The console launched in that region before Christmas. Could this be imported stock, or a bad fake? It wouldn't be the first time that stock from one region has been sold in another, but we'll have to wait and see.

ORIGINAL STORY: This week, Nintendo Europe sent fans into overdrive by giving them the chance to purchase the New Nintendo 3DS before its official European launch. It was a totally unprecedented move, given that Nintendo hasn't even confirmed when the new system will be released in this region, or indeed North America.

However, according to a source who contacted us today and wishes to remain nameless, the system could hit European store shelves as soon as next week.

Our source has been told that the launch date of the New 3DS in Finland is slated for January 12th -- the same date that the special New 3DS Ambassador Edition promotion ends.

The photo of what appears to be a New 3DS XL box shown above -- complete with a RRP of 249.90 Euros -- has been supplied as proof of this.

We approached Nintendo UK for comment and were told that the company "doesn't comment on rumour or speculation". Make of that what you will!