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Imai Hobby is Bankrupt

Subject: Imai Hobby is Bankrupt
From: Scott at HobbyLink Japan 
Date: 2/21/2002 1:59 AM Eastern Standard Time
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Japan's Imai Hobby has gone bankrupt. We have just confirmed the rumors that have been drifting around the industry here since last week. This is, remarkably, the fourth time the company has gone under in the past 25 years, but this time, there will be no recovery. Japan's bankruptcy laws impose a liquidation upon a firm that has failed repeatedly to get their business back on its feet.

Imai had an extensive and diverse product line, most notably in Harley-Davidson motorcycle kits, wooden sailing vessels, traditional Japanese architecture and character-related merchandise from shows like Thunderbirds, Gotchaman, Mospeada, Orguss and most recently, Speed Racer. We understand that Bandai has already indicated an interest in purchasing some of these toolings, but we are a long way away from learning what will happen to all of the companies assets.

We are working with our distributors now to secure stocks of Imai kits already in the distribution channel to the extent possible and practical, but at this time it's impossible to say how this will affect our ability to fill orders for their products. As it becomes clear that some items will not be forthcoming, we will move them to discontinued status in our catalog.

Analysis: Imai had been floundering here for years and this is not all that surprising of a development. Most of their new releases have been of items of limited interest, and they had been surviving on reissues for ages. Apparently, unlike some of Japan's other hobby firms, they were unable to fill the gaps in their cash flow with tooling work outside of the hobby industry. Though most of Japan's hobby companies now are reporting less-than-stellar results, we believe that this is an isolated case, and that Japan's other major hobby companies will continue to press along just fine.

Imai was partner to a licensing agreement with Harley-Davidson that made them the sole manufacturer of Harley bike kits to the North American market. Let's hope that this will open the window for Tamiya or some other major to license this attractive brand and turn out some great kits for global distribution.

Scott T. Hards
President, HobbyLink Japan

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