Just some interesting historical information...
I recently read Shunsaku Tamiya's book "Master Modeler: Creating the Tamiya Style". This is a fascinating oral history of the company by Tamiya's president.
Tamiya produced wooden ship kits right after World War II. Tamiya, Hasegawa, Fujimi, and Aoshima were all located in Shizuoka for a good reason, it was a big lumber town where wood for producing models was readily available. The local model manufacturers formed an industry association which met regularly to discuss the business. Toward the late '60s, the companies were looking for ways to expand their product lines. On an overseas visit, Mr. Tamiya spotted a series of small scale metal ship models in a hobby shop window that he thought were really cool because you could see the relative size of each ship. Tamiya always had a passion for ships and wanted his company to start producing a line of constant scale ship models. He suggested to the industry association that Tamiya, Hasegawa, Fujimi, and Aoshima jointly produce a line of 1/700 scale ships and cooridnate their efforts so they wouldn't produce duplicate subjects. The companies all agreed to produce unique ship model classes in order to offer customers the maxiumum variety of ships. The ship classes for the first batch of kits were "drawn out of a hat" and thus began the 1/700 scale plastic ship line. I always wondered why all the 1/700 ship kits from these manufacturers had the same "look and feel".
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND reading this book! It is not a comprehensive history of Tamiya, but a very personal oral account of Mr. Tamiya's experiences with the company. There are really interesting tidbits of history about things like the 1/700 scale ship line, and about the time the company bought a Porsche so they could disassemble it to make a really accurate model (the mechanic they hired to reassemble it was NOT a happy person!). Another interesting story is about Tamiya's first visit to the Aberdeen Museum in freezing weather where he ruined a suit crawling under tanks to take photos. The really striking thread throughout the book is Mr. Tamiya's obsessive passion for modeling. This really started me thinking about modeling in different terms (and also got me buying more Tamiya kits).
READ THIS BOOK!