Plastic Models as Art: Touring Kaiyodo’s Headquarters and Hobby Land Museum

When Kaiyodo founder Osamu Miyawaki submitted a painted Revell mannequin of the Constitution ship to a metropolis artwork exhibit in 1970, the judges disqualified his work after they discovered it was a painted plastic mannequin. Undeterred, he informed the organizers, “Just as you want a material canvas to color an image, the assembled plastic equipment is a type of canvas. This pink bronze coloring is appropriate for the title of Shura (Battle) and is a chunk I achieved utilizing all of the strategies I had!” With that, he persuaded the organizers to overturn their determination, permitting his painted mannequin to enter the exhibit.

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The mannequin ship in query in a case
Photo by Matt Hodgkins

This thought of Art-Pla — the artification of plastic fashions — stays a driving drive in determine and mannequin maker Kaiyodo as we speak. Osamu Miyawaki’s son Shūichi Miyawaki (recognized as “Senmu”) now serves as the corporate’s Senior Managing Director, and he’s pleased with the inventive accomplishments of his firm. During a latest tour ANN took of the corporate’s headquarters, Senmu boasted that Kaiyodo has acquired awards from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, has collaborated with Takashi Murakami, and has had its works displayed on the Palace of Versailles and the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris. He believes that what units Kaiyodo aside is that whereas the corporate has made a variety of merchandise which might be seen as artwork, the merchandise’ costs are low and the employees are very specific about their merchandise.

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Senmu speaking about Kaiyodo’s accomplishments
Photo by Matt Hodgkins

Kaiyodo’s sixtieth anniversary is that this 12 months, and Senmu says the corporate has at all times centered on the slogan his father launched the corporate with, to unfold the enjoyment of creating plastic fashions to everybody.

Today, Kaiyodo is thought not only for its mannequin kits and figures of dinosaurs and different creatures, but additionally for its REVOLTECH line of moveable figures that features robots and anime characters, its capsule toy figures, Evangelion figures, and its ARTPLA line.

Kaiyodo as an organization nearly did not occur. When Osamu Miyawaki was 36 in 1964, he wanted to search out regular employment as his son Shūichi was about to start out elementary faculty. He had labored greater than 30 jobs till that time, however he was torn between opening an udon store or beginning a small enterprise for plastic fashions. So he determined to go away it to destiny. He tied the wood sword he used for train to the ceiling, then lower the string and let it fall. If the sword pointed east or west, he would open an udon store. And if it pointed north or south, he would open a plastic mannequin store. And so Kaiyodo opened in Moriguchi City in Osaka in 1964 (and the famed sword at the moment hangs in entrance of the doorway to the Kaiyodo Hobby Land museum).

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Photo by Matt Hodgkins

That first retailer was solely 3 meters extensive and 1.5 meters deep. Miyawaki went to wholesalers daily to buy items. He put in a show window for completed fashions, and greater than half of the shop was taken up with a pool that guests might use for submerging submarine fashions. He constructed a diorama in a nook of the shop put in with firecrackers the place prospects might run mannequin tanks, and even arrange a slot racing course.

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Image through Kaiyodo Hobby Land’s website

He later opened a “play faculty” in 1977 named Hobby Museum to oppose the tutoring colleges that have been booming on the time. He additionally rented out a warehouse and added a 180-meter slot racing course, a diorama space, an exhibition space, and a crafting space. One of Kaiyodo‘s most well-known sculptors, BOME, then in highschool, grew to become a part of a bunch recognized as “Zokei-Kyo” together with Senmu, and started experimenting with supplies such as resin to create what they needed. They then introduced these creations to exhibit at Hobby Museum.

In 1999, the corporate labored with sweets maker Furuta to launch a line of chocolate eggs titled Choco Egg (just like Kinder Eggs within the UK) that featured miniature animal figures inside. They bought 130 million chocolate eggs within the span of three years.

Today, Osamu Miyawaki is in his mid-90s; Senmu tells us he plans to quickly transfer again to his hometown of Kochi Prefecture. In a message on the web site for Kaiyodo Hobby Land, he writes about how greater than 50 years in the past he would boast that his tiny store would develop into an enormous passion land sooner or later:

For greater than 50 years, we, as father and son, have been amassing hobby-related gadgets along with plastic fashions, and we believed it was time to stimulate the curiosity and creativity of all kids by way of surprise. But earlier than I knew it, I had been 93 years outdated.
Does my dream come true in any case these years? I’m undecided, however with the assistance of so many individuals, now we have constructed this Hobby Land.
Feel free to snort at this 93-year-old man who spent his complete life making this bragging right into a actuality.

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The Kaiyodo Hobby Land museum opened in 2021 and is situated strolling distance away from the corporate’s headquarters in Kadoma-shi, Osaka. It’s situated on the third flooring of a procuring complicated, and takes up all the flooring. A flyer for the place options the tagline: “Come Together! Children of as we speak! Children of the previous!,” and it definitely lives as much as that. The place is a treasure trove of determine, mannequin, and storage equipment historical past, that includes 1000’s of figures.

I can’t understate this. The museum options 1000’s upon 1000’s of figures and fashions.

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No, actually. The beneath video is simply the figures in instances exterior of the museum.


The museum additionally has an space highlighting the friendship between Miyawaki and particular results artist and director Chris Walas (Gremlins, The Fly, The Fly II). The two held the world’s first movable full-scale dinosaur exhibition in 1993. The museum options life-sized replicas of heads of Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, as effectively as gadgets from the Gremlins movie.

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Kaiyodo Hobby Land additionally options shows of a number of the bizarre stuff Miyawaki has collected over the past 60 years, early figures from the corporate as it transitioned from a store to a determine maker, and a group of miniatures collected by late actor Eiichi Imashimizu.

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There’s a variety of kappa-related figures and fashions on show
Photo by Matt Hodgkins
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Early figures from Kaiyodo
Photo by Matt Hodgkins
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Miniature masks
Photo by Matt Hodgkins
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Miniature armor units
Photo by Matt Hodgkins

There can be a big space devoted to highlighting particular sculptors, together with Kuniaki Teraoka, Akira Tani, Nobuchika Ohtsu, Yuko Shimizu, Goro Furuta, Tetsuya Umeda, Kinoshita Takashi, Takuma Katsuo, Katsuhisa Yamaguchi, BOME, and extra, with consultant works from every sculptor on show.

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The museum hosts each day determine portray experiences, which takes about an hour and no reservation is important as lengthy as there’s house. Those can paint figures of dinosaurs or different dwelling creatures. Ours had us portray a basic cat determine driving on a sword.

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The museum has capsule machines all through and everybody who goes will get a free coin to make use of on their gacha machine of alternative. The museum additionally has revolving short-term displays: after we went the short-term exhibit centered on Daicon Film.

Kaiyodo additionally runs the Kaiyodo Figure Museum Kurokabe Ryuyukan in Nagahama, Shiga prefecture; and each the Kaiyodo Hobby Museum and Kaiyodo Kappa Museum in Shimanto-cho, Kochi Prefecture.

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Senmu greeting us on the entrance to Kaiyodo headquarters
Photo by Matt Hodgkins

Touring the Kaiyodo heaquarters, it’s instantly apparent how a lot everybody loves what they do. Especially Senmu. After being greeted by the very actual “maneki neko” (fortunate cat) within the lobby, the very first place we toured was the warehouse, the place, amidst partitions and partitions of bins of figures, there was a full-size 88mm Flak anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun that Senmu casually mentions he purchased from Hayao Miyazaki at public sale, with a field of a Tamiya mannequin equipment of the very same factor sitting proper subsequent to it.

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The fortunate cat within the lobby of Kaiyodo HQ
Photo by Crystalyn Hodgkins
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I imply, think about if that is the place you held your work conferences (how do they get any work performed?):

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The headquarters consists of areas for design, sculpting, and portray, and in every space workers have been laborious at work with crowded and seemingly messy workspaces. All of them have been glad to indicate us what they have been engaged on and have been excited to speak. It was a relaxed and informal ambiance with everybody’s craftsmanship on show.

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That’s BOME within the black-and-white striped jacket
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3D printing space
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And in fact there’s instances and instances (and instances) of figures and fashions all through the entire constructing.

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Photo by Matt Hodgkins

Kaiyodo and seesaw are partnering with town of Kadoma on a brand new visitor home situated near the headquarters and to Hobby Land known as “Ota House.” The visitor home was below building throughout our go to, however opened in late January.

Ota House options two visitor rooms and a shared house with a kitchen. The visitor home has an off-the-cuff decor with a theme of “a pal’s home that’s full of belongings you like,” and in fact consists of figures, toys, books, and instruments wanted to color figures so those that keep there can even have their very own determine portray expertise. The guesthouse’s web site states it is a spot that is a gateway to like and otaku.

Kaiyodo‘s preeminent sculptor and paint grasp of organic figures, Gorō Furuta, is supervising the determine displays which might be on show on the visitor home.

Reservations are made by way of AirBnB and can be found by way of the home’s website. Those can even try Ota House on Instagram.

Kaiyodo additionally began working public excursions in December, together with visiting Kaiyodo Hobby Land and different Kaiyodo-related museums.

If you’ve any love for plastic figures or fashions, and you ever end up in Osaka with a free day, Kaiyodo Hobby Land is a superb method to spend the time, immersed in nostalgia and the awe of how stunning this inventive medium may be.

Thanks to the Anime Tourism Association for his or her help with this text.

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