The future of Kyosho re-releases in doubt

No news is good news they say, and for long we haven’t had any. Well I’ve got news, and it’s bad. At least for those of us who love the Kyosho Legendary Series of re-releases of the Akira Kogawa classics.

For quite a while there have been signs that Kyosho is losing faith in the re-release market, but no one have really connected all the dots. The first sign was last years confirmation that Kyosho had not yet decided on further platforms for re-release. As for now we have two platforms re-released, the Scorpion platform (Scorpion, Beetle, Tomahawk and Turbo Scorpion) and the Optima platform (Optima and Javelin), and Kyosho had not yet decided on further development. At the time I believed this to only concern the Optima Mid platform, as I had from various sources that something was planned with the Ultima for the 30th celebration of the 1987 World Championships. The second sign was the obvious lack of any form of “celebration” or acknowledgement of the mentioned World Championship title from Kyosho Corporation. Obviously there was no Ultima re-release either. The next sign was that Akira Kogawa, on behalf of Kyosho, started a crowd funding campaign to have low profile wheels and tires made for the Optima platform, instead of a normal release of the parts. When the crowd funding failed to reach it’s goal, and was cancelled, I started to fear for the future of the Legendary Series, but somehow fooled myself into thinking that everything was still on track. But if Kyosho used the campaign to “verify” the support for future re-releases, the answers they got from it was negative. I still believe they made a big mistake launching the campaign as “Japan only”, instead of using one of the many international crowd funding sites. I managed to put in an order through a proxy site, but I also know many who didn’t order because of those extra steps and costs. If the funding had been successful, the price for me would have been double the asking price, because of fees and extra shipping costs. At that time (October 2017) I was assured that the Turbo Optima would be released anyway, and I got the impression that the plans were ready for it. Then silence…. for quite a while. Then out of the blue we got the news that Kyosho Corporation was under new ownership, and a large restructuring process was started. I still hoped this would not be bad for the re-release product range, but when the Shizuoka Hobby Show was getting close, and there were still no signs of anything happening, I really started to worry. Then when the red and black Javelin cages, that were supposed to be released at that show, also failed to materialize, the alarm bells went off and I was seriously starting to have bad feelings about everything, and I started connecting the before mentioned dots. The restructuring of Kyosho HAD influenced on the decision making of future re-releases. Then a month later the red and black cages were announced, but I still had a feeling something was wrong. I carefully choose when to use my sources in Japan, not wanting them to feel misused, but now was the time to talk. The bad news that I got confirmed from two different and independent sources in Japan, is that as per today Kyosho have still NOT decided if there will be any more re-releases, Whether this also concerns the already planned Turbo Optima, or just new platforms, is something I don’t know, but I got the feeling that this just might be the case. I also talked to Akira Kogawa about this, who said he really wanted it to happen, and that he had tried convincing the “new” Kyosho Corporation to go on with the plans, but to be honest, he didn’t sound optimistic about being able to do it. So this is where we are today, with no new platforms (Ultima, Optima Mid etc.) in development, and uncertainty if the Turbo Optima will ever happen. Too bad, as Kyosho had a good run going there with the Legendary Series.

The end of the line? Was the Javelin the end of the line of Kyosho re-releases? Unfortunately that seems to be the case.

What do you think? What will this mean for the re-release market, and would this affect the vintage market as a whole? Tamiya have slowed down the re-releases, Associated abandoning it totally, Yokomo had plans that never materialized, uncertainty about future Schumacher re-releases, and now Kyosho seemingly jumping ship. Have we seen the peak of the vintage craze or is this just a little bump in the road? Let us hear your thoughts.

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About TomEG 56 Articles
I have been into RC cars since the beginning of the 80's, but have really never been much of a racer. I competed in some local races and some "Tamiya Cups", and actually came 6th in the Tamiya Cup Norwegian Nationals in 1987. My main interest has always been building and modifying, and that's where I still am today. Through the years I have been able to build a solid network of contacts around the world, consisting of both former and current members of the industry, as well as quite a few of the former top drivers. I have a genuine interest for the history of the 1/10 scale off-road buggies from the 80's.

40 Comments

  1. Gosh I hope you’re wrong. 🙁

    They were making beautiful re-re’s and I was eagerly awaiting the Optima Mid…

  2. It would be very sad, indeed.
    What will the new Kyosho owners focus on? mini-z? I doubt the drone racer succeeded in convincing folks… The vintage craze seems to be over, with the Avante, RC10, Optima, Cat xl(s) and Javelin already rereleased… ?!?

  3. Great write up, thx! I think it’s over except for Tamiya.

    I also predict several bankrupcies. There are way too many brands now. And interest in RC racing is not very high.

    • Exactly. You will have to offer something special to stay alive in todays market, and you will have to repeat that year after year or you’re gone.

      • Re evolving an original chassis design while keeping the same visual outlook could have been a way to merge innovation and nostalgia.

  4. Yes I feel this quite depressing, to be honest. I was so much looking forward to see the Ultimas and the Mids being re-released with Kyoshos unmatched quality. But nothing is decided yet, there is still a small hope that Kyosho will come to their senses. Another thing is the easy accessibility to CAD software for everyone, and with 3D printing CNC cutting etc becoming better and better every year, I’m sure every part will be possible to remake at an affordable price in the years to come.

  5. They took way too long to get to this point. In my opinion starting from the tomahawk/beetle/scorpion was mistake. Perhaps these cars were iconic, but popular? Had they surveyed the market worldwide, they would have released cars that people wanted, cars that had made them money in the first place. The RC boom mid eighties affected people who were ten years old. No one knew/had a tomahawk! Now the same guys in their mid forties have increased buying power and really wanted a turbo mid Se and a turbo Ultima. Really not hard to figure out.

    • From what you’re writing I’d say you are about 5 years younger than me. I most definitely remember the Scorpion, Beetle, Tomahawk and Turbo Scorpion and drooling over the big, colorful and glossy pages in the huge Graupner catalogs. I can tell you they were VERY popular. The popularity would of course be different from place to place, but at least in Europe (through Graupner) and in the US (through Cox) the Scorpion was one of the BIG sellers. I don’t think it was wrong starting with the Scorpion, as that was a pretty simple model to re-design, and a way to “test the waters” for future releases. I do however believe it was a mistake to re-release ALL the models in the Scorpion series, at least in such a short time. Yes there are differences between the models, but all the same they’re very similar. Body kits and parts to convert a Scorpion could have been another way to do it, or maybe release other platforms in between. The excitement about the re-releases went down (for me at least) with every new model on the platform. I didn’t buy all the versions. I just bought the Scorpion and the Tomahawk. I also bought the Optima, but not the Javelin. I did buy a lot of different colored Javelin cages, and enough spare parts to build a Javelin or two. And I’m as Kyosho crazy as it’s possible to be. Maybe another release order could have helped, like Scorpion, Optima, Ultima and Optima Mid? Then a second wave with Tomahawk, Javelin, Ultima Pro, Turbo Optima Mid Special. Then they could have released the other versions as conversion kits or something, or maybe a third wave with the likes of the Turbo Scorpion and Turbo Optima. And I will repeat this until I take my last breath of air, failing to release the Ultima for the 87 Worlds anniversary was the biggest mistake they made. They have Joel Johnson in their “organization” as head of AKA Products, and they could have made a “WC’87 Joel Johnson Special Ultima”. It would have been a huge seller.

  6. I can’t believe that a mid rere could have been anything but a technical and commercial success, STFU. Very angry about kyosho right now.

    • Here we agree 100%. The Optima Mid would have been a huge success. The crazy thing is that half of the parts are already there with the Optima and Javelin re-releases. The only “complicated” parts would have been the gearboxes, the rest are mostly flat parts like the chassis plates etc. It could have been done without much effort.

    • The Turbo Optima was my first Kyosho when I was a kid, and it was a real “upgrade” from the Tamiyas I had previously owned. I still have that Turbo Optima, with the box and everything. This was the re-release I was looking forward to the most. My plan was to put away a NIB one together with a NIB re-re Tamiya Sand Scorcher (my first Tamiya) and take them out when (if) I eventually goes to live in an old peoples care home. I would bug the nurses all the time asking them to bend down and pick up my screw driver or the “D-parts” bag that I dropped 😉

  7. Naughty Tom;-)
    Talking of chronology, I wonder if kyoshos choice of chronological rerelease was somewhat misguided, if you can guess the cars coming next, then the whole process is a leak, you just have to wait long enough for the one you really wanted. This is what I was planning to do for the turbo Optima. LOL…

  8. Yes, in Japan the scorpion series was incredibly popular. At least amongst racers. The young people were more attracted by Tamiya (Frog and Wild Willy were huge hits and ignited the ep offroad craze) because they seemed more accessible (a bit cheaper and easier to build, and Tamiya was already familiar to model builders).

    Kyosho was more an ‘enthusiast hobby lover’ maker, as were AYK, Hirobo, Asso, Schum, etc.

    I still believe in Akira Kogawa. Even though 87 worlds anniversary was missed for the Ultima, there’s still interest.
    And I agree that Kyosho could have left the beetle, tomahawk and turbosco as upgrade parts and focus on the other platforms instead. Or test waters with pre-order or web polls before developping expensive kits.

    • I have faith in Akira-san, too. I know he is doing whatever he can for the “journey” to continue……

  9. Lets hope they come to their senses(Kyosho). The Tamiya re-releases got me back into the hobby about 8yrs ago. I have 2 of the first Kyosho re-released kits(Scorpion & Tomahawk) & an original Optima. I was super excited for the Ultima & Turbo Optima,and hopefully Optima Mid Re-releases. I still hope they happen, but todays economy may not allow it. I Hope they find a way…..

  10. Very sad news if true. I have an optima and turbo scorpion (re releases) and they are both up there with the best quality products in the RC market. I truly hope kyosho stay on track. An ultima with updated slipper etc would be fantastic

    • We’ll just have to cross our fingers, and maybe “mailbomb” Kyosho with our wishes, as pr now, there are no such plans.

  11. Are we all cerctain here that kyosho will do no more re releases or is it just the current situation they are in causing us to surmise that they will do no more?

    • The plans have changed so many times just the last year or two, and could of course change again.

      What we know for certain per today is:

      1. Kyosho have two platforms that are re-designed and re-released, the Scorpion and the Optima platforms. All models on the Scorpion platform have been re-released, besides the gas powered Assault and Advance. Three models remain on the Optima platform, the Turbo Optima, Salute and Optima Pro.

      2. Kyosho have not ordered re-design of any new platforms as per today.

      3. Akira Kogawa is keen on re-designing further platforms, but Kyosho is not yet convinced that it is profitable enough.

      4. Kyosho could with minimal extra costs and effort re-release any of the three remaining models on the Optima platform. This is the most likely option, although no such plans have been made, at least not last time I heard about the matter, which was in July. Could be done pretty quickly though, if Kyosho’s position should change. The most work will be making new molds for the bodies, the wheels and tires. I heard rumors they were working on the Turbo Optima body almost a year ago, so for all I know this job could already be finished.

  12. Is there no way of gauging if the current re releases have sold well or not? Tamiya obviously make a profit as they are still releasing vintage models. Maybe kyosho are spending too much redesigning their models instead of just making minimal upgrades. I’m not sure if I believe all the old molds and tooling were discarded. The new kyosho models are uninspiring so these re releases are a breath of fresh air. Would be nice if kyosho would give us an official statement as to whether they have killed off the re re Program.
    Cheers guys

    • Hi Leeroy.
      Kyosho don’t release neither production numbers nor sales per individual model, so there are really no certain ways to tell. But the fact that they tried selling the Turbo Optima wheels and tires through a crowd funding campaign could indicate they’re not satisfied with the re-re sales. We also know that Kyosho have not been healthy financially the last years, and that an investment bank has taken over the company. How this ends, we don’t know. It might even end sooner than we think….

      Regarding the old tooling and molds, they’re long gone, and that’s from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Akira Kogawa had to go back to his old workplace at Auto Model to get his old drawings to re-draw them. There he also found the original molds for the Tomahawk and the Optima. The Tomahawk mold was in a good condition and could be re-used, so all re-re Tomahawk bodies are popped from the original mold. The Optima mold was in such a bad condition that they had to make a new one, using the old one as a base. All other molds and tooling had been disposed of a long time ago. I know there were some chatter on Tamiyaclub some years ago, saying that Kyosho still had their old tooling, and I, among others, where strictly corrected every time something else was suggested. IF, and I say IF any of the old tooling had been kept and maybe stowed away in a dark cellar of the Kyosho building, it would have been found now, as Kyosho have completely emptied that building and moved to new and smaller premises. I have not heard anything about such things being found, so this is just wishful thinking.

      I don’t think we should expect an official statement on this, as things could change, and it’s not something Kyosho would do. Maybe a comment in an interview is the most we can hope for. As I have said a million times before, the Japanese work in mysterious ways, and that’s in no way showing disrespect for them, it’s just the culture. Until I hear something else, I trust Akira Kogawas word that Kyosho have not ordered any more re-releases, but that he still hasn’t completely given up the thought of something in the future. I’m not very optimistic, though.

      And I agree completely with you that the new models (both Kyoshos and others) are uninspiring, and it’s kind of a paradox that it’s the 30 years old models that are considered breaths of fresh air. That said, I’m looking very much forward to see what Kogawa is working on now, maybe he’s the one who can change that?

      Tom

  13. Tom. Your comments are very welcome and thanks for the honest info. It seems we are all disappointed with the way kyosho has gone and are probably all wondering how such a prolific company for so long now finds itself in the situation it is in.
    I for one really hope that they get back on track as it would be a crying shame for them to go under. I don’t know whether they read this page but hopefully they are aware of how much support they have and try to get through this difficult time. Hopefully the re release programme can continue.

    • Leeroy, new info (today) suggests things might be happening, after all. I don’t know any details yet, but I was told there is a 50% chance of something happening, and that’s much better odds than just a couple of months ago. Keep fighting for us Akira Kogawa!

    • No updates atm. but if they re-release it I would expect the “Chassis Guard” to be sold as a spare part, like the rest of the parts.

  14. I’m not sure if anyone at Kyosho will see this site, but I love their re-releases. I’ve bought a re-re Turbo Scorpion, Beetle, Javelin & am now building an Optima. If they keep re-releasing the Optima line I will definitely buy more…as well as Ultima and Optima-Mid if they ever happen.

    It’s not just the kits, either. Their re-release program has separated me from more of my hard earned money with the LeMans esc & brushless motor for the re-re’s. I’ve purchased HG shocks for the Turbo Scorpion, extra wheels & tires, parts to essentially upgrade the Beetle to Turbo Scorpion specs with shocks, towers, wheelbase, etc. For the Javelin, I’ve ordered red & black cages direct from Japan because I couldn’t find them in America.

    FWIW, I never purchased a new a Kyosho kit before the re-releases. It’s not that I didn’t want them, but as a kid they were not in my budget. I’m 44 and in 1987 the Tamiya Hornet was as good as it got for me. I’m not complaining but man did I study the beautiful Kyosho ads in RCModeler & RC Car Action at that time. I got back into rc as an adult in 2006 and by then the then current offerings of Team Associated were more to my liking. Kids came along & my rc hobby went back into the attic. I did pick up an really nice original Javelin before they all got stored away.

    Like others have said the newer cars don’t evoke much emotion. That goes for the other makes as well as Kyosho. Last year I decided to buy a “real” rc for my 8 year old son. It was then I discovered the Kyosho re-re’s. I hope this isn’t the end of the line for re-releases, but even if it is, I’d like to thank Kyosho. They have been a blast to build and bash.

    It would be a shame to be sooo close to (in my opinion) the coolest buggy of the 80’s and not release it…the Turbo Optima. The Javelin & The Turbo Optima were both at the very top of my wish list. I now have an original Javelin & a re-re Javelin…please give us the Turbo Optima. If it comes to crowdfunding, I’ll take three…a box-art, a blue & yellow pick-up I remember from a late 80’s RC Car Action article & my all time ultimate…a Turbo Optima in a Javelin cage.

    • Adam! Thank you for sharing your story. If things don’t change (yet again) Kyosho now seems to have decided to go on with the Turbo Optima re-release. This is a quite easy/simple thing to do, as they have most of the parts already with the Optima and the Javelin. I have not heard anything about the future beyond the Turbo Optima, but I suspect the sales of the Turbo Optima will determine the road ahead.

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