The popularity of “RC models” is increasing, driven by the demand for nesting due to the spread of the new coronavirus infection.
What made the shrinking RC car (radio control car = radio control) model market “revive”? We interviewed Tamiya (Shizuoka City), one of the largest manufacturers.
Tamiya Chairman “Production is not in time”
RC cars that can be played by remotely controlling a model car can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Even adults, there are enthusiastic players like former Chunichi Dragons pitcher Masahiro Yamamoto, but although there was a big boom in the 1980s, it has been shrinking due to the ageing of the players since then.
The person in charge of Tamiya Public Relations Office explains that the demand is higher than before the expansion of the new corona.
“Demand for RC cars and other hobby products in general is higher than before Corona due to the prolonged stay home period.”
One of the factors supporting its popularity is that the number of followers on its RC-related SNS accounts has increased significantly.
The number of followers of the “Tamiya RC Models (@TAMIYAGP_STAFF)” (opened in June 2010) account, which disseminates RC car-related information on Twitter, has doubled from about 6,000 to 12,600 in the past year, and YouTube subscribers. The number has also increased significantly from about 70,000 to 130,000.
As Chairman Shunsaku Tamiya said, “Production is not in time and there are not enough products worldwide” (from the article delivered on December 27, 2020 in the Asahi Shimbun), we can see that it is a solid success.
Lively on SNS even if the event is cancelled
On the other hand, there are cases where the RC car competition event has been forced to be cancelled due to the corona damage. The industry’s largest exhibition “Shizuoka Hobby Show”, which is held in May every year, was cancelled in 2020, and in 2021, the acceptance of general customers was stopped and it was held only by distributors.
However, “the longer I spend at home, the more attention I have to the model hobby in general, has had a positive effect” (Tamiya public relations), and I am interested in RC cars via SNS and word of mouth. It seems that the number of users is increasing.
“(In response to rising demand for nesting), we will use YouTube and Twitter to send out product information and RC car driving videos, and actively carry out user-participation-type planning to increase the number of new customers, especially off-road buggies. Model RC cars such as “Glass Hopper”, “Hornet”, “Neo Mighty Frog”, and “Neo Scorcher” are performing well, and sales of reprinted models of RC, which were popular in the 1980s, are also increasing steadily. RC cars that you can drive and enjoy are also compatible with SNS, and by uploading images and driving videos of your car to Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, your share is expanding and the entire market is revitalised.”
Being able to share works on SNS also seems to be a tailwind.
Cooperate with real car makers
RC cars boomed in the 1980s, but the market has been declining since then.
“A major factor is that men in their 30s and 40s, who are the most voluminous zone of users, can no longer afford to spend on their hobbies, both in terms of time and money, and young people in their teens and 20s. One of the reasons is that we weren’t able to acquire a certain number of users” says a Tamiya representative, but the company is now trying to encourage middle-aged and its children, who know the boom of yesteryear, to enjoy RC cars.
“We are focusing on measures to encourage the resumption of RC hobbies for fathers who experienced the boom of the 1980s. Furthermore, automobile manufacturers (Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, Nissan, Honda, etc.) aiming to acquire younger users. We are constantly planning RC cars for families in cooperation with us, and as a result, the number of cases where families enjoy RC cars is increasing in recent years.”
Both have analysed the recent situation and are trying to break again as a hobby that parents and children can enjoy.
Source of original article in Japanese language: J-CAST News