Chien Ting Chin (chinc@sten.sunnybrook.utoronto.ca)
Fri, 23 Jul 1999 14:38:35 -0400 (EDT)


On Fri, 23 Jul 1999, Edward Ju wrote:
> My source and other friends will not be happy about this being out in the
> open, but you guys deserve to know this.

Thank you very much, this is very educational.

> 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.

Well it likely won't develop that way (see my other post), HLJ and R10
have always been above-ground legally and will always be. But the outcome
is the same, they will both be prevented from doing e-export.

A few months ago, there were a lot of rumours that Toys R Us will start to
distribute and promote Gundam kits, I think I did predict that the model
kits will go up in prices. The quality of Bandai kits are so far superior
to the typical American kits (especially MPC/Ertl, makers of Star Wars
kits) of comparable prices. Even if you factor in a doubling from the
Japanese domestic suggested retail price (SRP), they are still underpriced
for most American modellers who are used to paying US$40 for effectively
sub-HG models.

Now, another prediction if I may (predictions are cheap anyways). If the
American edition of Bandai kits do come out at "rationalized" prices and
HLJ and R10 do disappear from the scene, we will see a lot of small
e-import companies to serve us hardcore Gundam fans. If nothing else,
eBay will see a steady supply of Japanese kits. These companies can have
their Asia contacts pick up kits at the Asian price and ship them to N
America. Legally it's completely kosher, the only way Bandai can go after
these little guys is to cut off their supply. But if worse comes to
worst, these guys can buy the kits at retail prices from shops in Tokyo or
Hong Kong, they can still undercut Toys R Us by a good chunk.

The down-side is that these company won't invest in a fancy online
catalogue, or have a comprehensive stock of selection of older kits. The
up-side is that us knowledgable consumers will still be able to get new
reasonably priced kits.

With some luck, this may turn out to our (old-time fans) advantage.
Gundam could become mainstream in US, and we will still be able to import
kits at prices that we are used to. And if Bandai find enough customers
who put down US$150 for a MG Dom, I guess I can't complain. Remember
capitalism thrives on un-informed customers.

CHIN, Chien Ting
Dept of Medical Biophysics, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre
... o O *
Man is a bubble

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