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Interview of Aki Suzuki, chairrman of Kyosho, Auto RCM February 2004

 

At the last toy fair in Nurenberg (feb 2004) Aki Suzuki, chairman of Kyosho, gave us an long interview concerning the future of the Mini-z. We could feel how much he likes the Mini-z and how he sincerly appreciated people enjoying the Mini-z like he does.

ARCM: Hi, Aki, thank you for inviting us. First we would like to know your feelings about the success of the Mini-z. Do you feel some proudness?

AS: Yes, why not? The concept was different in the beginning but the success being there...

ARCM: Some numbers?

AS: 500 000 units produced (2004) and a worldwide hit in Asia, Europe and the United States.

ARCM: Talking about success, what about the F1, they don't seem to spread that much?

AS: I would not say that. In Asia, the F1 has a certain success, probably more than in Europe, that is right. But the choice in touring cars is wide and the volumes are important. In F1, the choice of models is limited and that can give the impression that this category is less pleasant. Model by model, the F1 have had the same success than the others in fact, globally.

However, I think we committed some errors with the F1. The price, at first, is too high to begin with compared to the touring cars, while the performances do no justify this difference in price. We should have made the F1 more exclusive and faster. It was possible, but then they would have been more fragile.

ARCM: In the 80's Kyosho tried 1/18 and 1/20 scale RC. Today, it seems that your competitors use these scales for their models, rather bigger than a Mini-z. What do you thinks about these scales now?

AS: The 1/18 and 1/20 Kyosho models from these times had some frank success. The problem was that they were too small for outside and to big for inside use. 1/20 was by then the smallest scale technically feasible. The technology did not allow designing models the size of a Mini-z and even today the Mini-z is very hard to achieve with these kind of performances. All the technologies exist, but the real difficulty is to join them together by choosing the correct compromises. It has been 5 years (2004) that the Mini-z is in existance and it has not been copied with success that much, despite certain attempts. The 1/18 cars spreading out today (2004, Micro RS4) can not be considered competitors to the Mini-z. In fact, the "size" is paramount. Some may ask why the Mini-z is not 1/24. The concept was to be able to use the model on a dining table. So, what is important is the steering radius. The actual scale has no importance (note: the scale of the Mini-z is an average between models: 1/27.52).
A 1/24 would have need much more space to evolve. The Mini-z is a scale by itself. Toy makers have developed their own universes in the past, and so we would like to etablish a "Mini-z size world", separated from any other scale, not using etablished norms.

ARCM: This implies that the Mini-z is at its beginning. What about that exactly?

AS: The Mini-z are 5 years old (2004). We already have plans for the next 10 years. The Mini-z will have in their range buggies, all wheel drive, and much more like Mini-Mini-z's, or front wheel drive, why not. The Mini-z are at their beginning but have many days in front of them.

ARCM: Among all evolutions, apart from the chassis aspect, are there other projects like competition, etc...?

AS: The cars call for the race. It is natural that the Mini-z races are spreading now. When you have Ferraris, Porsches, or Corvettes in hands of car lovers, it is rather logical that it will concretize in racing. Races are a part of the Mini-z and we attach much importance in them.

ARCM: Shall we expect a Kyosho Mini-z Cup?

AS: Why not? This will depend of the interest of the customers. In Japan, we organize 6 races/year and a finale, just like in France in fact.

ARCM: OK the Mini-z calls for the competition, but don't you fear that some enthusiast pilots would make it too sharp?

AS: You are mentionning experienced competitors able to sort the batteries or tune the motors... This is indeed a concern.
The race must remain a pleasure. If it becomes too difficult (I mean sorting batteries from a wide amount) or dangerous (overloading the batteries) to win a race, then our industry must react to preserve the spirit. In Japan, disposable batteries are mandatory during the finales. The cars are a little slower but accessible to a wide number of pilots and only the best drivers win.

ARCM: You were speaking about Porsche, Ferrari and other prestigious names. How does the cooperation with these brands happen?

AS: The cooperation with the car makers is not only mandatory, but also necessary. The car makers must protect themselves. We must protect our innovations and the makers their rights. We must negotiate copyright agreements. We only negotiate non-exclusive agreements because exclusivity tend to reduce the interest for a certain model in the scale model market. In addition, the licences guarantees the quality of reproduction.

ARCM: Regading licences, you announced models coming from the movie culture, like "Fast and Furious", and in Japan models from "Back to the Future", "Knight Rider", will we have these models in France?

AS: "Fast an Furious" without a problem. However, other models can not be exported to Europe today. The agreements only carry the Japan market. However, we are working on the development of this kind of fun models, and we hope the french collectors will be able to obtain them in the future.

ARCM: To conclude, what would you say to our readers and all the Mini-z fans?

AS: Like I previously stated, the Mini-z has at least 10 years of development in front of them. I already collected many ideas of wished models, more than 200 as of today. My wish is to be able to make them all, with no exception, one by one. So, if your readers may send me their ideas, I will add them to my long list.

ARCM: Thank you Aki, see you at the Kyosho Masters in June.

AS: Thank you all.

 

 

Also in the magazine: manufacture of a Mini-z

 


Mini 6Z, le club de Mini-z de Strasbourg et du Bas-Rhin