President Mr. Shunsaku Tamiya talking about behind the scenes of the birth of the Mini 4WD

Chairman Tamiya Shunsaku Tamiya, the creator of the Mini 4WD. / Hyungwon Kim

By freewriter Noboru Kobayashi

“Right now, the relationship with automobile manufacturers is very good. 2018 , Fuji Speedway conducted by the Toyota of GAZOO Racing FE STI in VAL, RC (radio control) cars and mini four wheel drive experience of the corner prepared. We have also held our events at the showrooms in Mazda and Honda, and the new model is ready to be released at almost the same time as it is released, providing data before the actual vehicle is available.”

ToshimasaTamiya , President of Tamiya , the biggest plastic model manufacturer , talked about the relationship with the car manufacturer.

Before more than 60 years from now, toy manufacturers Marsan of the first domestic plastic model was released that the line-up in the, Nissan Motor Co. of small passenger cars “Datsun 1000 people to know that that contained the” less. This is, of course, the first kit in which a domestic car is made into a plastic model.

Many car kits have also been released in the advanced countries of plastic models , the United States and the United Kingdom . Overseas products released from Level , Aurora , Renwall, Pyro, Airfix, Frog, etc. were listed at the department store ‘s toy store , but were said to have been Takatsuki flowers for children. Exactly the second half of the 20th century was an era of motorisation.

Plastic model on the market, the automobile that the item is tanks and fighter because it is familiar, unlike such as, beginners have been the easy to take in hand. “Haveing a plastic model gave a lot of people the desire to have”. Let’s follow the history of automobiles in plastic models.

● Was conquering the market slot car single curve over-time

There were several automobile booms in the plastic model market . The first of which is a “slot car” boom was. In a game where a model car runs on a course with a slot and competes for the order of arrival , the slot is an electric circuit, and electric power is obtained with a current collecting brush provided on the guide on the car body side, and the motor runs It is structured. The user accelerates and decelerates with the controller in his hand . It can be said that this structure is the same as the railway model .

This slot car thing was born in the UK, 1950 exploded in the United States of the West Coast over the 1960s from Daimatsu hit , and in Japan is said to have entered the 63 (Showa 38) around.

“Running plastic model” was called slot single car, plastic model manufacturer , wholesaler, Mabuchi Motor (at that time, small size can be mounted on the car model motor is Mabuchi overwhelming share had) involvement, and large-scale market pioneering was done. Courses have been created at amusement parks and bowling alleys and trading companies have also entered. The actual game is 30 yen to run for about 10 minutes once 50 yen in long, is in its rate thing of car rental also included charges.

Single car is real sports car which was to reduce the vinegar scale is 1/24 the mainstream. On the other hand, a home circuit that can be played at home was also released, and 1/32, which is a little smaller, was released. 8-shape of the plastic of the course and the car is set has become. The home circuit was priced at nearly 15,000 yen at that time, but sold like Christmas and New Year.

Of course Marsan, Tamiya , Imai, Hasegawa , the Japanese at the time, such as Nichimo plastic modelmakers unanimously also, the slot thing entered the car.

● Crime incidents on children occur frequently Boom ends in just one year

And kind regards of Japan’s boom would have ceased in just more than a year. This is because there were frequent incidents involving crimes, such as the child who went to the racetrack was in depression, and PTA and schools prohibited entry and exit. With the sudden drop in the boom , some manufacturers went bankrupt due to problems of over investment and bad inventory.

On the other hand, by developing high-quality products that can be used overseas, such as Tamiya ‘s Jaguar D type , some domestic manufacturers have succeeded in developing overseas sales channels as domestic consumption declined . Tamiya’s President Shunsaku Tamiya looks back on that time and says:

“Slot car ting will get quickly ended in the domestic, but Tamiya is to develop products that stuck to thoroughly driving performance, it is also being evaluated in foreign countries.

1965 was released in September Lotus 30 for ball bearings adopted, by attaching the suspension of grayed, overwhelming speed has been achieved, the stability. In 1966, I went to a retail store in New York ‘s Long Island , but I couldn’t keep up with the fact that “Japanese kits are not good”.

However, Germany in Tamiya of the slot car said is not selling the car. Where we didn’t know at all, a Swiss wholesaler bought it and sold it in Europe. At that time, it was 360 yen per dollar, so Tamiya’s kit was very popular because it was cheap and fast.”

It may be too little to say, the Japanese automobile is, before the actual vehicle plastic model I wonder who is that was not evaluated in the world.

● The milestone of automobile plastic model “Honda F1”

Slot car over-time to the domestic seemed on whether stagnated in the termination of plastic model kit that surround the big topic in the industry was released. It is 1/12 “Honda F1 RA 273” of Tamiya released in 67 (Showa 42). This can be run with a motor mounted, but the basic is a precision model for viewing. Thoroughly made interviewed the actual vehicle, rubber tire capital of the Red faithfully reproduced down to, was able enough was also surprised Soichiro Honda said.

Although I can now not be considered, F1 has a low awareness in Japan at that time, but say that there were many, such as wholesalers that do not sell even if the kit of the F1, Tamiya was at that time in, the British agency president Richard – cons there was a strong recommendation from Mr. Tamiya and it was commercialized. The kit 120 was an expensive price at that time of 0 yen, ready-to-10,000 set Uriageru the hit became a commodity.

This kit is 68 years, Tamiya is first in the world’s largest Germany – Nuremberg in the featured product at the time of participating in Toy Fair, called the great response to foreign buyers. This can be said to have triggered Tamiya ‘s leading position in the F1 boom that began in the 1980s.

● Super car boom that became a social phenomenon

Car of the plastic model of do not forget, the 75 (1975) year in the series began, “Circuit Wolf” ( Shueisha stemming from the) super car boom would be. Satoshi Ikezawa draw this cartoon is the hero of Fubuki Yuya is Lotus – Europe riding, public roads and circuit in the rival of Lamborghini, Countach, such as, a variety of super car that confrontation with the storyies.

The cartoon gave an eye on, at that time , Tokyo of Edogawa there was Nitto science in Komatsugawa, cartoon “serializing the Weekly Shonen Jump in” comics take the license of the use, the package Ikezawa to Satoshi of the illustrations and title logo put It was.

First “was released in Ferrari Dino special rate” is a big hit, Nitto science one after another supercar to launch the 1/28 kit of. The kit was motorized and sold explosively at its peak, so it was difficult to arrange the motor . Nitto science is a total of 29 points supercar released, both “Circuit Wolf of” illustrations also there it was, logo, none more than 100,000 of the large hit became.

Other manufacturers also title logo but such can not be used, a variety of scan scale many in the super car was released.

● RC car boom and Mini 4WD

Super carboom about the same 1976 (Showa 51) years and, Tamiya is the first electric radiocontrol car (RC car) “Porsche to launch a 934 Turbo RSR”. A further two years after the RC of off-road car, 1/12 XR311 Combat buggy announced. This was a big hit , especially on the west coast of the United States, because it could be driven even on sand.

On the other hand, the RC car is lightly priced at nearly 20,000 yen if a transmitter, receiver, etc. are added to the body. Then, it is hard for children to buy with their own money. It was the Mini 4WD that Tamiya thought about whether it could make a plastic model of a car that could be easily played at a lower price. The concept is four-wheel drive , and the amount of money that children can take out. The assembly was to be as simple as possible so that elementary school students could make it.

The first kit 82 (1982) July, RC even the popular Ford Ranger 4 × 4 and the Chevrolet Pick-up at two points of the 4 × 4, was what one was also model the actual vehicle. Both AA batteries 2 and small motor built-in, old slot single or car, it is impossible to output adjustment by hand as RC. The price was 500 yen at that time. Although it was a new product expected by Tamiya , it was difficult to sell at first.

Through trial and error, had arrived is, the scan of the real car kale rather than a reduction, more children may be a fictional be accepted, comical and attractive body design it to, off- road to focus on running properties such as rather than focusing on speed , it was about improving the game.

Then, it was Hot Shot Jr. that became the first of Racer Mini 4WD that was released in 1986 (Showa 61). This modeled on the appearance of a Hot Shot, an RC car that became popular in April 1985 . When this hot shot Jr. was introduced at a department store event , it quickly became a hot topic among children, and coupled with the start of serialization of manga by “Korokoro Comic” at that time, it became a big hit. From the end of Showa to Heisei, the Mini 4WD became a social phenomenon.

● Boiling of F1 boom

When the Mini 4WD was a big boom centered on elementary school students , F1 was popular in a little older generation. 67 years, Tamiya is Honda at the time, which was launched the F1, F1, which has not been very well known in Japan, through the nearly 20-year boom. Opportunity is 87 (Showa 62) years, Suzuka Circuit the first F1 Japan held at the Grand Pre Fuji TV was to have been broadcast. Satoru Nakajima is hero next, F1 magazine has been launched one after another. In response to this boom , plastic model makers also released F1 kits.

Among them, Tamiya was ahead. The 1/20 Williams FW-11 Honda was released in anticipation of the popularity of F1 the previous year . This kit has been devised to reduce the number of parts to make it easier for new fans . Continued Satoru Nakajima ride of the Lotus – Honda and 99T, Ayrton Senna of McLaren – HondaMP4 / 4 also been released, a large hit became. Other manufacturers also entered the market one after another, and the market was crowded.

● New minicar appearance

Around the F1 boom , a big change came in the world of minicars. The minicar was a complete model of an automobile , and was completely different from the plastic model . Originally, die-cast made of miniature cars in overseas World War II in the old toy-model there from before, after the war match boxes and Corgi foreign products, such as have been imported. Domestic minicar 59 (1959) year to Asahi toy is the first to model a pet is that it has released under the name of, 58 (1958) grade rare domestic plastic model was a product having substantially the same history and.

70 (1970) is a year Tommy is minicar launched, Tomica gained popularity as. However, from the late 1980s, apart from die-cast cars for children, not only die-casts for enthusiasts, but also precision minicars using resin (resin material) and metal parts will appear.

These minicar is Tomica unlike such as 1/12 to 1/18 -scale very precise degree is high in, more than lightly even 10,000 yen price it is a finished product. Same scan scale of plastic model but significantly higher when compared, such as, the finished product is there a demand that enters the hand, one time plastic model of the car was also what was said that it would be take away the market.

At present, plastic model makers also sell finished products, and some of them are acting as import agents for miniature cars for enthusiasts .

● Mini four-wheel drive, unprecedented boom

In 1994, Tamiya introduced the “Full Cowl Mini 4WD” as a new series to the Mini 4WD that has been obscured by popularity . Already four wheel drive mini from those of the format is that the scale of the original vehicle, fictitious body design was supposed to further promote it, up to that formula type from, tire the cover of the full cowl that design has evolved into.

The full cowl type of mini four-wheel drive is a child “from our brackets to obtain the support high and good”. A new series of comics “ Bakuso Brothers Let’s & Go! !The popularity of” the Mini 4WDboom has started again. In 1996, the Mini 4WD boom reached its peak.

Regarding the success of this mini 4WD , Shunsaku Tamiya said, “Children still like to run. They try to make various modifications and try to run as fast as possible. The plastic model elements are condensed.”

● The future of automobile plastic models

2019 58th Shizuoka Hobby Show Looking at the automobile of plastic model various manufacturers had elaborate plans. For example, at the Tamiya booth, the actual Toyota GR Supra and the new plastic model GAZOO Racing TS050 were exhibited at the same time. Of course, a mini 4WD and RC car course was also installed.

The Aoshima also “Mitsubishi Stallion exhibited vehicle of Gr.A ’87”, further new car series The snap kit of the series had was PR. This is a new kit that does not require painting and does not require adhesives.

Once the airplane plastic model Stephen the name in to the Hasegawa also, recently the 80’s from the 90’s 1/24 scan was popular over the kale the launch of domestic cars are gaining in popularity. At the venue, a 1/24 kit of Toyota Starlet EP71 Turbo S released in 1988 was exhibited.

Finally, I asked Mr. Shunsaku Tamiya about the relationship between plastic models and automobile manufacturers .

And referred to “still declining birthrate Toka youth of the car away, automobile manufacturers also on the side of the I think there is a sense of crisis. Want exposed to the car from time to time as small as possible, that sort of thing, for example, showrooms in mini four-wheel drive events and RC car of the contest will’re connected to.

You may have a Mini 4WD in the wake that wants children to come to the showroom to learn the name of the car. The Mini 4WD used to have a wave of boom, but now it is selling very stably. It is in one Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia and Indonesia , Taiwan, Hong Kong, such as the Korean mini four wheel drive and that is becoming an important market, the domestic automobile manufacturers, I think it’s because is followed by a good relationship with”.

Source in Japanese language: NicoNico News

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