Friday, December 12, 2014

Go! Go! Tomica First Edition

I have always been wanting to make my own Tomica. I mean official Tomica, not secondary privately made Tomica. You might ask why am I still making these BRZ which are not considered official. Here is my story.

When I started collection Tomica back in late 90s, I bought my Tomica mainly from eBay when I joined as a member in 1998. Before joining ebay, I started buying them from SOGO back in '96. I couldn't really afford all the range because I was just a student. The start of eBay expand my collection vastly. I was buying mainly foreign series because I preferred European or American cars then. I also started buying from some Japanese website which doesn't exist now. That is also the time I started open up my collection to limited edition Tomica which were produced by model car shops or Japanese organizations such as Toyota Automobile Museum (TAM). All these Tomica were made in limited quantity of 3000 pcs of each variant. Most of these limited edition Tomica were still made in Japan then till around early millennium. Of all the limited editions made, what actually caught my eyes are the 2 Nissan Cedric Hong Kong taxis. Most Tomica taxi I have seen are Japanese taxi and I find that the 2 Hong Kong taxis are unique comparing to the Japanese ones. I know that these are produced by Danny Ngan, a Tomica collector in Hong Kong. I was following his website regularly during the 90s. I thought to myself that if an individual collector can produce a Tomica, anyone can do the same. Little did I know that it was actually a collaboration with Gulliver then. I couldn't afford to produce 3000 pcs so I gave up the idea totally.

When Takara and Tomy had a merger in 2006. I realized that the limited edition Tomica were stopped. I heard from fellow collectors that Takara Tomy only accept order of minimum 6000 pcs instead of the original 3000 pcs. They could link me up if I am interested to produce 6000 pcs. 3000 pcs is a lot as it will take time to sell all of them. 6000 pcs is way too many for any market. I started checking with various taxi companies in Singapore starting from the largest one in Singapore, ComfortDelgro. As expected, nobody respond. Well, ComfortDelgro did but it was negative as the spokeswoman informed that they have already produced the models and was selling in Toys "R'' Us. I even wrote to MacDonald as well but it wasn't positive either. I almost gave up until I saw some Tomica made by Kahla Enterprise in 2009. I was surprised that they could print design onto the car just like it was produced in the factory. Since then, I started looking for vendors or friends who could help me in producing my own design but no luck at all. Most vendor quoted me stickers or decals which is not at all my intention.

The only thing I could do is to custom made my own Tomica as a hobby. One of my favorite model to custom is the Toyota Crown Comfort Taxi because we have this model as a taxi in Singapore. Sad to say that all Crown Comfort taxi should be scrap by 2015. If Takara Tomy can produce Hong Kong taxi, when can't they do the same for a Singapore taxi?

Prime Leasing might be the smallest and latest taxi company in Singapore but if there is a chance to produce a limited edition Tomica, I might pick them over others. They are using mainly Japanese cars which are available in the Tomica range. I like to see a PL Axio taxi made into a Tomica. The PL colour is quite unique that it looks in between cooper or pink to me.

This might be the smallest taxi in Singapore. It will be very unique if to make it into a Tomica Honda Fit taxi as well. I think it will sell well as a Tomica (gut feel).  

So in 2nd half of 2014, I finally found a vendor who is capable of doing tampo printing. I was skeptical due to previous experience thinking he might be referring to stickers so I requested to meet up with him in his office on the same week after our conversation on phone. Before the meeting, I need to choose a car out of the 120 models. Eventually, I chosen the Subaru BRZ that was yet to release at that time point because I can use a Toyota 86 to do a sample print before I place order on the BRZ. I brought a Kahla Toyota 86 and a regular Toyota 86 and told him that I wanted similar quality. He assured me that it shouldn't be any problem so I had to come back with a design for him to do a trial.

I decide to do a Redbull BRZ because I had seen Kahla did similar on a 370Z. I just wanted that car but it was sold as a set of 8. Therefore, I taken a pass on that, one car was about SGD$60.00 and imagine if I had to buy all. It took me about 2 weeks to finalize the design as the original one might impose problems for printing. The original one was more expensive too because there was one additional colour and one extra point. I am lucky that my brother does designs and he used to do packaging for Cadbury chocolate and advertisement for some departmental stores or organizations. He did all the designs and amendments for free. Otherwise I will be charged another few hundred bucks for the designing portion. Once the design is ready, we did a trial print on a red 86. That actually took another 2 weeks because the vendor has lots of project on his own. He need to fabricate moulds and jigs for the trial. The end results was alarming, everything was fine with exception on the 2 side prints. He assured me that he will resolve the problem by using another method. I passed him all the BRZ I needed to print plus a few red, silver Toyota 86, 1 black one and 1 Tomica Limited Toyota 86. Since they are the same car, it might be interesting to have in other colours.

After a full 3 weeks wait, the BRZ (and some 86) were ready for collection. I was happy with the results because the printing was perfect, no flaw or any defects at all. I was really happy to pay him the cash almost immediately. The printing cost is the killer in this project as it's a few times more than the cost of the cars. That set me off a few thousand dollars poorer now and I have a trip to Japan the same month. Whole project took almost 3 months but I was satisfied. I appreciate the car more because it wasn't easy at all on coordination. This project is not about money making but a dream to fulfill. I don't mind to keep all the BRZ I printed but I do also sell to collectors who are really interested at cost. I am not doing hard selling on my cars, I just want someone who really appreciate my work to pay for the cars willingly as it is a dream for me to do such project. I might and might not do this project again unless I have the money and an idea on the model to custom. I still like to have an official Go! Go! Tomica someday. I hope Takara Tomy can loosen a little on their end, private collectors or blog from overseas market especially to make maybe 1000 pcs instead. It will not be allowed to sell in Japan market officially. It will be easier to sell the 1000 pcs in my market rather than 6000 pcs. All models and designs to be approve by Takara Tomy eventually. I believe there are collectors out there will like to produce an official Tomica under their name too. Make it a truthfully dream project for someone who enjoys and love Tomica. Anyway, I would like to thank all the Go! Go! Tomica supporter all these years.