Edward Ju (gundam@loop.com)
Fri, 23 Jul 1999 00:06:10 -0700


My source and other friends will not be happy about this being out in the
open, but you guys deserve to know this. Even though my source is very
reliable, take this with a grain of salt since I haven't gotten any hard
facts other than circumstantial evidence to back it up.

Many of you have been complaining about Rising Sun beginning to suck and
practically vanished from the scene a little over a year ago. Here is
what happened:

In its own Big Bang Project, Bandai of America is consolidating distribution
of imported Gundam kits to three retailers. The Right Stuff got exclusive
distributorship for the West Coast. That's why they (and their retail
store Legends) are able to get away with charging more than they should for
the kits and still get away with it - there's nobody to compete, because
those who dared to compete, such as Rising Sun, who has their own
distribution connections based in Japan, got a cease and desist letter from
Bandai of America ordering them to stop distributing Gundam kits imported
from Japan. They had to order from one of the three "Bandai-approved"
distributors in the U.S. This means higher cost, and inability to compete.
Those who knows a thing or two about economics will be able to figure the
rest out:

less competitors -> higher prices -> consumers lose.

"Eddie, you're full of shit. I can order directly from HLJ or R10."

Wait until you get a load of this.

The consolidated and restrictive distribution arrangement is merely a
precursor to what Bandai of America has up its sleeves: they are planning
to distribute Gundam models domestically, with English boxes and manuals.
This is nothing new, such rumor has surfaced on the GML almost a year ago.
They plan to have Gundam kits in major toy store chains such as Toys R Us
and Kay Bee Toys.

"Hooray! Gundam kits with English instructions! I'm all for it!"

These "English version" kits will retail for a higher price than they
sell for in Japan.

Worse yet, I fear that HLJ and R10 will get a similar cease and desist
letter from Bandai of America once they are ready to roll out Bandai models
in the U.S., because they'd be "competing unfairly" in a market Bandai of
America claims to have developed. What is now technically grey market
imported goods will become black market infringers overnight. You as a
consumer will not have a choice but to buy the more expensive all-English
kit.

When I was on the Neo Geo mailing list, SNK of America had an official rep
on it who'd participate in the discussions and provide feedback both ways.
So far I haven't seen anyone from AnimeVillage.com or Bandai of America
making a friendly gesture to their core audience.

Since opinions are like assholes - everybody has one - I shall leave the
discussion to y'all...

Eddie

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