Episode2(Interview):Apio’s Keita Takahashi x Kyosho’s Kazumasa Hirotani ~ Thoughts of the model prod

We ask Kazumasa Hirotani of Kyosho R&D Group development in charge of the body design and Keita Takahashi, Apio’s Creative Service lead, to talk about how the Suzuki Jimny Sierra APIO JIMNY TS4 was brought to life.

Keita Takahashi, Apio’s Creative Service lead

Currently, Mr. Takahashi oversees customer support at Apio, however he previously worked at Kyosho managing the body design of the MINI-Z series. His successor is Mr. Hirotani. Previously part of the Kyosho team, Mr. Takahashi joined Apio in April 2017 and acted as a bridge between Mr. Kono and Kyosho.

Mr. Takahashi: I managing different body designs including the MINI-Z and Mr. Hirotani was working on different scale models. It wasn't until I moved to a new department within Kyosho that Mr. Hirotani started working on the MINI-Z. For this project, I worked to develop the MINI-Z 4x4 Apio Jimny TS4 from the Apio side.

Hirotani: Yes, Keita-san (Takahashi) was very kind to me (laughs). Prior to the Apio TS4, I first made the standard Jimny Sierra, but I visited Apio many times for assistance. I think that everyone will understand how effective it is to see the actual vehicle in creating the model, this was made possible by Apio.

Looking at the real car in full scale, you can understand the subtle characteristics of the shape, which is difficult to grasp from looking at a photo. I am truly grateful to Apio and Keita-san for their collaboration in this development.

When we designed the MINI-Z 4x4 Apio TS4, Keita-san was very active in helping Kyosho as well. What really made a difference was Apio provided the design drawings of the Apio parts. Of course, drawings of actual vehicle parts cannot be used as they are because they need to be adapted to model scale, but the drawings provide the correct base to work off. In addition, proper design drawings provide accuracy that is more precise than hand sketches from the vehicle or photos. It cannot be understated how helpful this was.

To scale down a real car into an RC car body may not seem like a difficult thing at first, but like the MINI-Z series, the chassis dimensions are determined before anything else. From that point the shape of the body is adapted according to the chassis size and created with a mold. The process has many steps and requires expertise and experience to do well. With Mr. Takahashi’s experience in this field to support the exchange between Apio and Kyosho, did the body design progress smoothly?

Mr. Takahashi: Of course, it was helpful for me to have experience in MINI-Z body design. However, from the standpoint of the actual vehicle parts manufacturer, it can be difficult to understand the position of the model manufacturer. For example, Mr. Kono once made an improvement request to Kyosho regarding a part, but I understood the implications of that request in relation to the production and commercialization of the model. So I hesitated to advise "Mr. Kono, isn't that a little difficult?” I even thought about how hard this would make things for Mr. Hirotani. But now I’m on the other side of the fence, I know it's up to Kyosho to decide how to respond to such a request. That's why I'm going to hold back here (laughs). Is this off-record?

Hirotani: In the meetings with Mr. Kono, Keita, and myself, there were times when I saw Keita's eyes twitch when Mr. Kono spoke (laughs). I saw that he was processing a lot of thoughts. 

Of course, it is my job to respond to the requests from car manufacturers, so I did my best to fulfil these as far as possible. Fortunately, Mr. Kono was pleased with the MINI-Z 4x4 Apio and he seems to appreciate the performance of the Jimny TS4. If it is endorsed by the car manufacturer, I think that MINI-Z customers will also be satisfied.

Takahashi: Yes, I think it's really well done, 10 out of 10! In a sense, it is expected that the MINI-Z has excellent model quality. However, this MINI-Z 4x4 Apio Jimny TS4 goes one or two steps further with the precision reproduction of fine details. For example, the tires are embossed with the same BF Goodrich logo as the actual car. This also means that the tire manufacturer has recognized the value of the MINI-Z 4x4. In that sense as well, I think the MINI-Z 4x4 Apio Jimny TS4 is a true scale model that would not have been possible when I was managing MINI-Z body design.

Apio's Jimny special parts are for styling and performance. This reproduction of the MINI-Z 4x4 Apio also recreates the driving performance of the Jimny TS4.

Hirotani: It's easy to see the differences between the TS4 and the normal version, for example Apio's front and rear bumpers are shorter than the standard. This design prevents the lower part of the bumper contacting the road surface when going up or down a steep slope. It is also effective in improving driving stability for the MINI-Z 4x4. This is the how an Apio part enhances the Jimny.

The MINI-Z 4x4 Suzuki Jimny Sierra APIO JIMNY TS4 was born from collaboration between people with a love and understanding of both the Jimny and the MINI-Z. Examine its workmanship, completed with the full cooperation of the manufacturer and you can sense the expertise of specialist manufacturers and appreciate the unique characteristics of Jimny.

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