The march forward, beginning
from Chinese manufacturers
If there is laughter, there are also fights. During the golden age of garage kits in the late 90s, Eva and Kaiyodo went head-to-head a number of times, and in ‘97, using their winnings, Kaiyodo set out using the same structure for a budding (T/N!!!: “undeveloped” sounded a little bad) Chinese manufacturer. Before long, their first action figure was born using the anime “Fist of the North Star” as its motif.
“Setting out to a Chinese manufacturer faster than anywhere else as a prior investment, so to speak. An elaborate action figure came out of blister packs at the time based on a work called “Spawn” by an American cartoonist, Todd McFarlane, and became a hot topic among fashionable people. We called them “cool toys,” and wanting to imitate those was the first reason.”
The spoon action figure was mass produced in an injection mold using metal, and was a popular product for its delicate molding and coating. Kaiyodo didn’t really have the funds to use the same method domestically, so what caught our attention about China were the anticipated low costs. Naturally, when it came to implementing Kaiyodo’s quality there, there were some unusual troubles.
“Inspired by ‘Fist of the North Star,’ 2 products were born. One was the ‘ChocoEgg’ animal figures which materialized using China as a base. Another is the action figure series ‘Revoltech,’ developed by our sculptor, Katsuhisa Yamaguchi, which adopted a new mobile-joint mechanism.”
Since then, Kaiyodo’s name has spread through all fields of modelling, from free figures included with magazines based on the boom of candy food to models displayed internationally and works by modern artists like Takashi Murakami.
“Revoltech, which was particularly sold in ‘06, was born as a result of Eva. To begin with, Evas are a human-like macho robots that appear to be little more than skin and bones. That complex movement is particularly suited for being expressed in the form of an action figure.”
Various model manufacturers of the same scale have followed the path of Chinese manufacturing paved by Kaiyodo. The abundance of finished figures that can be easily bought in convenience stores, arcades, and anime shops is a result born from that path. And now, in 2015, 20 years since Eva was first broadcasted, among Japan’s… no, the world’s hobby fans, there’s no longer anyone who doesn’t know Kaiyodo’s name.
“Things have come this far and my company has its own building, so I think we’ve earned worth as is. When we were kids, there were absolutely no toys or models that adults could enjoy generally. Even 30 years ago when we first started making garage kits, we never thought that this kind of future would come. On the one hand, I think we were just able to make days overflowing with our beloved figures, but personally, sometimes I also think, ‘I guess it’s alright.’”