|post by Kawaguchi Facebook|
Looking at the few post by him, being pretty strong about this bootleg vs original/licensed product issue, got me thinking of the reason behind. Especially from Kawaguchi, a supposedly an old-school, having a more indirect approach towards bootleg or pirated products, Bandai personnel.
Pressure from within (From Bandai mgmt n share holders)? or outside (The bootleg industry has gotten too powerful and not obliging to the hidden rules of the mkt)?
Well, this is indeed an interesting topic, but this aint what i am going to blog about today.
I am more interested in the reaction of the consumers/market.
Before I start, I must make it clear: I am too, guilty of being a buyer of unlicensed products, mainly on resin kits (both originally unlicensed sculpt and recast) and injection kits mostly consist of weapon systems and add-ons. Therefore this is NOT a moral court, as i am in no position to condemn anything nor any people. Just letting go my opinions.
First thing I saw this round, aside from the usual bootleg argument, is the complaints of the Premium Bandai, in short, P-Bandai (Link for the site: http://p-bandai.hk/).
In d context of gunpla/plastic model kits, P-Bandai is an online shop where Bandai is selling limited edition stuff. In a business point of view, it is a place where they max out the commercial value of their lines of products, a test-market platform etc. To make it more exclusive, most, if not all, the products sold here are not available else where, which this oso give a sense of "limited" or "special" edition of the product. Last, it's also vaguely geographically bounded, as the online shopper needs to have a HK address for postage.
Comments I read from Facebook are basically bashing Bandai for coming out with re-colored edition. Re-colored? Yes, and other stuff, majority are basically the same as their normal stuff which everybody able to purchase off a shelf from their local hobby shop or any online hobby store. The questions is: why is that a problem?
Some might want something different from everybody else, and to retain that exclusiveness, I bet many would hope n happy Bandai actually makes them super expensive n not so easily acquired by "everybody else". Now, with the geographical contraints, in fact, i know a few who r actually pretty happy with that. As a result, which I think, at least up to this point, Bandai has made it a success. targeting the right group of consumers and make them happy while its own pocket is filled, which makes its share holder happy too.
To me, Bandai has already said it's a "special edition" and it is sepcial, so what's wrong with it?
As for some may argue that high price with the minimal improvement/variation on the kititself is unethical, I would say, as long as somebody (the REAL target audience) are happy, what's the ethical issue? Commercialism, money shifting between the buyers n sellers, as long as both are doing it willingly.
I am selling this, at this price, and i have never force anybody to buy it, so what wrong have i done? If u dont like it, dont buy. If u like it, buy. If u like it enough, u will find a way to get hold of it.
From a modeler point of view, i see Bandai's way of "milking" money from collectors, as a plus point too; at least for a short period of time. This is mainly due to the costing of a manufacturer of consumer products which many, especially those who are not in manufacturing line, may not be very sensitive on this part of the industry. Instead of listing out all the factors and such, i just put it into a very simple n real example (I believe the source where i get this piece of information is reliable). Remember the 2012 top-selling MG Nu Ver KA? The R&D of this kit was so overbudget until the first batch of the product (including the out-of-stock-restock-in one-week), Bandai's still making a lost depite the fact it was selling like hot cake. It's the second batch where Bandai finally broke even n started to make a profit.
This is how i see Bandai's attempt to increase profit by coming out with this premium Bandai edition kits; which in a way, makes R&D costing more tolerable n flexible. This, I sure think is a good thing for Bandai's been known for producing high quality products. Besides that, it's also a good platform for them to "test water"; to get a glimpse of how well a new product is being accepted in the market, by launching P-Bandai-only new product.
Next, the all-time bootleg vs licensed product. Besides the same-old "I dont have money", "Bandai's product is over priced" bla bla bla; some are trying to justify their action of supporting pirated stuff by bashing Bandai's model kit. "The China made ones are so detailed now, whereas look at Bandai's, they are just pain."
As I said earlier, I do purchase some unlicensed products too. However, my point is, if i am a cheapskate thief, at least i have the backbone to admit that i am cheap. Just stop making excuse; they will only make you not only being cheap, but lame too.
For example, u say china's bootleg are so detailed now while comparing to Bandai's seem-to-be-plain/simple kit; let me ask you a question: U r holding a box of elyn's 1/100 Ksathriya on your hand, (wow, it's so detail, it has metals, so is a must buy!) u adore it. Now, imagine this: the logo on the box is "Bandai" instead of "Elyn".
How would u be reacting when u know this is produced by Bandai? With the same level of accuracy, contruction design, and even same price?
This is absolutely unfair to Bandai, as we tend to be more forgiving when we know it's a bootleg. In addition to that, what Bandai has been doing n excelling in are the mechanism design, accuracy, even the construction flow experience as a whole; are far less flashy compared to vent holes or panel line on the armor; yet cost so much more in R&D. I dont think anybody will say constructing a bootleg is more fun than building a Bandai original.
Costing aside, as a modeler, one who do some modding too, I am grateful that Bandai has make its kits as the way they are now. If simpler with lesser gimmicks, even better. Gunpla is started by Bandai no doubt, and there is more than just static plastic model in gunpla to the conventional ones. As opposite to the traditional static model, the challenging being instead of to follow the original subject as close as possible, Gunpla is about redesigning your kit to a way you like it. As a result, I do not mind Bandai doing kits as they do now. The recent trend of Bandai putting so much effort in having more details on the kit somehow make life much harder for the kind like me. Good example will be the latest Sazabi ver KA that I personally think is a challenge to make it into "my" version.
Ok enough of talking crap; this is what i think of when i read replies from people regarding this post. However, my true concern after reading post like this by Kawaguchi is the intention of him being so blunt to Bandai's consumer market. Bandai should have a PR department or at least, an experienced top management personnel could have shown more PR skill that this. What's going on in Kawaguchi's head? Consumers that tolerates bootleg, are they not big enough to to deserve more careful reaction from this Giant in model kit ? Well, at least seems like Kawaguchi doesn't think so. On the other hand, this group of bootlef-friendly people, too, think the opposite.
As Murakami Haruki (村上春树)'s always on the side of the egg belief states, we shall be standing together with the weak against the giant. However, who's the weak now?