A Visit to Tamiya
proudly supported by Squadron.com
A Nice Day
for a Drive...|
Driving 50 miles south along the apparently endless freeways of
Los Angeles will bring the traveller to quite a different
destination. Ranches perched on rolling hills are juxtaposed against
widely spaced shopping malls and uniform housing estates in pale
earthy shades under the clear blue sky.
This must be the new face of southern California.
Our journey takes us across a creek and, while heading up another
tree-lined boulevard, we find the Corporate homes of some big
companies. In this hybrid rural/new-suburban landscape we now see
Pepsi's offices and, on the opposite corner, Tamiya America.
It seems somehow appropriate that these brands should occupy
adjacent territory. Surely Tamiya's products are at least as
addictive to many modellers as their neighbour's cola is to their
Tamiya America's premises is around ten years old, but it looks
newer. The grounds are landscaped and the offices overlook Aliso
Creek and the plains of Aliso Viejo below.
entering the cool foyer, the visitor is greeted with the spectacle
of a showroom/museum of Tamiya products. This is no cold Corporate
display of boxart and sales achievements. No mahogany boardroom
table and executive bar are to be seen here.
Tamiya America's Corporate showpiece is almost regal in its
design, with a long red carpet running the length of the room,
capped by arches and flanked by ten giant model display cases either
side and a full-wall, all glass cabinet. The arches, flags and the
perspective of the long room draw the eye inevitably to the Tamiya
brand on the back wall. The cabinets are full of Tamiya models built
by real modellers. The blend of product and passion is impressive,
to say the least. At least, that is, to this modeller!
Many of the models in this room were built by Bob Ohler,
currently Marketing Manager for Tamiya America and an occasional
HyperScale contributor. But any collection this large must be the
result of many modellers' efforts.
Fortunately, this modelling treasure is not always locked away
from view. In April each year, Tamiya opens its doors for the
TamiyaCon, and visitors can witness Tamiya's unique homage to
plastic for themselves. The TamiyaCon is growing every year, with
over 400 entries in 2001 and interactive entertainment involving
Tamiya remote control products.
Click the thumbnails
below to view larger images:
The Aliso Viejo premises also hosts Tamiya's model photo studio, and
the American Customer Service and Administration staff. Tamiya
America has recently decided to focus on taking advantage of the
speed of the Internet to disseminate information quickly. Usage has
increased sharply. They now even employ a staff member devoted to
answering emails directed to the US-based website (Tamiya
America's website is actually
different, and often more up to date, than the English-language part
of the Japanese Tamiya site).
Tamiya's Customer Service area also boasts the biggest "spares box"
I have ever seen. Kits that are damaged or have parts missing are
eventually returned to this office, where they are kept and used for
spares where required - whether for a customer, a modelling project,
or a request from a film production house.
Despite the genteel atmosphere at the front of the building, the
main function of the premises is a warehouse and distribution
centre. There are over 80,000 items in Tamiya America's inventory
system. That represents item numbers alone, not the total number of
items in stock. The warehouse is enormous, and boxes wearing the
familiar twin stars are racked, packed and stacked to the high
There is also a large processing area. I was surprised to hear
that none of Tamiya's products are shrinkwrapped on arrival from
Japan. Each box must be unpacked, shrinkwrapped and re-packed for
delivery to the network of Tamiya distributors in the USA, Canada
and Puerto Rico.
So what did I learn about Tamiya America during my visit?
Well, I picked up a few statistics about warehouse size and stock
levels, heard about processes and distributors, goggled at the sheer
amount of that smooth Tamiya plastic under one roof. All good stuff.
But the biggest impression I had was one of relief. After seeing
that showpiece model museum at the very front of the building, and
understanding the investment in passion and effort that must have
gone into it, it is clear that somebody at Tamiya America
understands what makes modellers tick.
And it was most certainly a very nice day for a drive!
My sincere thanks to
Bob Oehler, Marketing Manager at Tamiya America, for organising the
visit, and to Chris Downey for being my tour host on the day.
Images and Article Copyright © 2002 by
Created 26 July 2002
11 August 2002
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