China: LEE plastic models

PPP: I just returned from Beijing with 1/350 model of a Jiangwei class frigate (Hull number 112) picture http://www.defencetalk.com/pictures/showphoto.php/photo/13745/cat/171/limit/recent
The second is a slightly smaller ship without the Jiangwei's stern helideck but with more radar and cannons (Hull number 168). They should build into attractive static models but are designed for running as well.
The parts detail and quality is real good. I have no opinion on scale fidelity as I have no knowledge of PLAN ships. At RMB 80 or USD $10 I'm not fussy. They are manufactured by LEE but I haven't heard of this company before and couldn't find any information on the NET. This is the jewel. Each comes complete with a dual shaft gearbox driven from a single minimotor. Its 2 cm between shaft centers with the output shafts just 0.3 cm from the base of the hull attachment tabs. This allows the prop shafts to be almost horizontal and therefore scale-like coming out of the hull. The overall gearbox dimensions are 3.5 cm wide x 2.0 cm high x 0.7 cm thick. The bottom corners are bevelled to fit the curve of a hull bottom. I have been looking for something like this gearbox for a long time and would have gladly paid more than $10 for the gearbox alone.
I bought them at the China clone of WalMart called Wu Mart. Don't laugh. Its a real and credible Chinese retail rival who had a story in FORTUNE. The owner is named Wu. I'd prefer Wu Mart anyway as they had a more interesting mix of consumer goods, groceries and cooked food delis as well as a sit down bar counter type restaurant. I didn't see a Beijing WalMart while I was there. I don't know enough Chinese to ask for the location of a hobby shop. I missed the only chance I had when, on arrival, I spotted an outbound passenger with Chinese knockoff kits of what looked like Tamiya's USS New Jersey and HMS POW but did not ask where he bought them. The other missed opportunity was in Guangzhou where in a RC models hobby shop were a ready-to-run 1/6 scale Tiger II tank (<RMB 2000 USD 250 )and 1/6 Tiger tank (RMB 800 USD100)copied from Tamiya's models. The Tiger I was off-scale and had molded in hull fixtures as in the same manner as Tamiya's original 40 year old 1/35 Tiger. The shop didn't have any stock and would not sell me their display models. Although they were poorly finished I still would have bought them as I intended to strip and detail them.
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On Tue, 13 Jun 2006 10:24:06 +0000, ppp wrote:

I've built a Lee kit of the Japanese I-401. I'm glad you appear to be happy with your frigate, but to be honest the I-401 was a joke. The kit took incredible amounts of filler, detail is minimal, and the result only resembles the original subject in that it is obviously a submarine.
Rob
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you know, some of the design and machining teams are still embedded in the Cultural revolution, hence the only tools they have are their hands and elbows. Man, I bought some airliner kits a while back, and they were pretty good stuff I thought. And cheap (yay! happens sometimes). But as we get more spoiled, we will force the Chinese to up the price and quality until we can complain about the same things as we do for the Japanese, LOL
--
Gernot Hassenpflug ( snipped-for-privacy@rish.kyoto-u.ac.jp) Tel: +81 774 38-3866
JSPS Fellow (Rm.403, RISH, Kyoto Uni.) Fax: +81 774 31-8463
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On Tue, 13 Jun 2006 22:16:41 +0900, Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:

Maybe, maybe not. I don't mind building a 'temperamentful' kit, but the result has to look like the original. For example, the antique Airfix Phantom can be built into a fair resemblance of an F-4B, but it will put up a fight. The Lee I-401 will never look like the I-401, no matter how you fight it.
Rob
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On Tue, 13 Jun 2006 22:16:41 +0900, Gernot Hassenpflug

The Cultural Revolution was in the 60s-70s which was eons ago. In any case the toy industry is far more significant in the overall industrial development process than is realised. I look forward to someone dowing an academic paper on this.
LEE, through its I-401 model, seems to have followed the well trodden path. Buy someone else's worn out and dated mold and put it into production. Probably with someone else's worn out injection mold machine. This is to gain cash flow and experience in production, distribution, marketing and market size. With that step upgrade soon to cloning someone else's models that sell well (those Tamiya USS NJ, HMS POW knockoffs?). Finally go into original design. Niche touches like motorizing the model and offering PLAN ships no one else does is good marketing.
(I forgot to add that I also picked up a $10 LEE 1/35 motorized Bradley AFV which is pretty good but has rubber tracks. Just as well Wu Mart had a limited selection of models or I would have gone gaga and overloaded my luggage limit. )
You will notice that all the fantastic selection of collectable models and action figures come out of China because it is the only affordable source where one can have patterns of the most fantastic fantasy action figure or dream machine made. The Chinese ability to transfer these design ideas into production molds is unchallenged.
Pay a visit to China. Its a very safe country and very easy on the pocket. There is so much to see that it overwhelms. Beijing will blow your socks off. So will Shanghai and at leat 100 other major cities. Take a look at their transportation systems. Their rail, light rail, buses, heavy road haulers, cars are up their with the best in the world and are practically all Chinese designed and made. I was at a technology show (electronics) that had an auto show on the side. Oversize muscle SUVs, specialized 4WD "safari" amphib truck, limos etc., the full range for every taste, would look good in any western auto showroom. The vehicles include every ergonomic and stylistic feature I could wish for or imagine needing. I was particularly impressed with the Semi-tractor unit and the large tour bus on exhibit. I had already used the light rail system and the double length articulated buses. They are all very modern, clean and purr smoothly.
The same question arises. How did the Chinese come so far so fast? My take is that experience working with the toy industry to come up with ever more fanstatic toy designs to tickle our fancies gave them the skills to come up with and incorporate futuristic design features into full sized vehicles. There are a lot more superlatives in every area. But that would be bragging.
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On Tue, 13 Jun 2006 18:23:22 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Simple. The communists embraced capitalism...
--
Al Superczynski, MFE, IPMS/USA #3795, continuous since 1968

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wrote:

Sorry Al, Youre wrong there. The Chinese don't give a bugger what their government says, they are, and always have been, CAPITALISTS. They don't let something as simple as idealism get in the way of business. The Chinese government has started to realise that it is easier to let the businessmen get on with it. If the government keep their noses out of it for another ten years, then watch out the rest of the world. They will bloody near own everything.
Ian
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wrote:

Read it again. I said the *communists* embraced capitalism; I said nothing about the Chinese people as a whole.

Um, yeah. That's pretty much my whole point...

If their banking system doesn't collapse from bad debt first...
--
Al Superczynski, MFE, IPMS/USA #3795, continuous since 1968

My "From" address is munged - use 'modeleral (at) swbell (dot) net' to respond
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Sorry Mate! When you said 'chinese' I assumed you meant the government. You know what they say about assuming things. Maybe the govermnment is just letting things go and seeing what will happen. Most of the old guard, hard line communists are dead now and while the government is still talking the talk (officially, at least), I really don't think they are as dedicated to it as the the old hard liners were. I think taking over in Hong Kong opened their eyes a lot.
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Ian Burnley wrote:

Yes taking back Hong Kong did open their eyes ,if they thought the capitalist business was bad they would have reverted Hong Kong back to the old ways,save for an agreement with Gt Britan to keep Hong Kong unchanged. But every capitalist industrialised country in the world is at China's doorstep begging to invest in industry there because they see mega billions in it for them .It's almost the last frontier for the rest of the world to make money.Almost unlimited cheap labour for a few years at least.
--
Kevin (Bluey)
"I'm not young enough to know everything."
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On Wed, 14 Jun 2006 03:55:50 GMT, Al Superczynski
PPP: The bank assets vs loans valuation question is over simplfied. Business loans and personal loans are still pretty hard to get. So enterprises are mainly self financed be this domestic businesses or foreign direct investments (FDIs). If businesses get their sums wrong only they themselves get hurt. The banks barely. The big bad debts so often referred to are book debts of giant legacy government owned rust belt enterprises that are being wound down as soon as practicable. This because they employ tens of thousands in company towns that had provided the whole social support structure. This is not unlike the US government providing unrecoverable bridge loans to a bankrupt General Motors so that the whole sheebang doesn't implode suddenly. (The GM scenario is hypothetical but not impossible). You don't hear of spectacular bankruptcies from China ala Enron, WorldCom et al. The Chinese government has more than enough foreign currency reserves to undertake any support program it needs to.
A bulk of the bank debt is in real estate tied to real assets in a red hot market that has to be cooled down by regulation. If a developer fails (rare) someone else is only too ready to take over and finish the job and make money. There is so much going on that it is unlikely that any single developer can bring down a bank. How can you fail when properties are sold before they even get built and prices rise by the week. The banks have more money in personal saving than they have places to invest in. New government regulation to cool the real estate market will only i ncrease the problem of asset management not bad loans recovery.
Meanwhile pablums like " If their banking system doesn't collapse from bad debt first" and "the whole rotten system is corrupt and will fall apart soon" is a useful fiction to keep the western media happy and writing op-eds that really mean little and affect little to the business of making money in China.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:
--snip-

--snip--
I agree with most of what you wrote and acknowledge the I'm quoting without context here, but the circumstances you describe above constitute the classic recipe for a "bust."
Charles Metz
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I think the bottom line here is the Wasan Plastic Co. which seems to be the "leashholder" for most of the Chinese (state owned) model companies. That covers Lee, Trumpter, and several others, but right now they are hell-bent-for-leather making Trumpeter world class whereas the others get handoff or hand-me-down molds.
They all got their start like most other Oriental modeling companies -- buy someone else's kit and copy it, then undersell them. The Chinese are notorious for this, and the biggest and grossest example I ever saw was a 1/1 scale BJ-213 (AKA Jeep Cherokee) that sold for less than half of what the factory original Jeep did two blocks down the street.
But after getting body slammed -- and also making the kits in nearly unbuildable ABS like plastic, Trumpeter decided to clean up its act and go after the world market. Some of the others have come along, but then again they also have migrated molds (e.g. Hobbycraft of Canada had some of them not long ago.)
Would be interesting to see the entire "Wiring Diagram" of Wasan Plastic.
Cookie Sewell
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Craig
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All the nasty stuff about China is probably correct but I can tell you for certain that we (the USA) are very responsible for creating the monster. Our company sells industrial fasteners and have to buy a great deal of product from China simply because there is no other source. The price of steel, stainless steel, brass, zinc, etc. is going through the roof because most of the world is now "soul sourced" for these items in China. If the good old USA would have offered some protection to US manufacturers when these items were being dumped here at prices that were below cost, we would still have production here to fall back on. Without this production capacity, they have us by the "nads". We did it to ourselves, no one did it to us. I for one (and I know I am in the minority on this) would be happy to pay more for well engineered model kits developed and produced here then settle for badly engineered and produced product at low prices. That is what you get and will continue to get it this new "World Economy". Get used to it...........
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US companies have been under extreme pressure to lower costs and thus prices. Shipping manufacturing jobs overseas to cheaper labour is the route they took to comply.
Bill Banaszak, MFE Sr.
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Mad-Modeller wrote:

Multiple factors. As I posted before, the normal growth in an industry includes lots of companies sprouting from older companies; the engineering outfits that came out of Hewlett Packard, or the proliferation of American car companies in the early days of the industry as the Dodge Brothers expanded from providing parts for Fords to making whole cars, for instance.
Next: as you say, the expectation in the US of ever increasing standard of living requires continually dropping of costs and/or increase of wages. The obvious easy answer is foreign labor. If you can't ship the worker to the job (see "illegal immigrants") then you ship the job to the worker.
The last factor is rewards for bad management; good management always has involved preventing either your customers or your suppliers from becoming your competitors. See "eliminating the middleman". But given the now usual short-term periods considered when rewarding management, and the now usual 3-5 year tenure of management before jumping to the next job, there is no penalty for turning a company into a burning wreck for high short term profits and jumping ship before the slow process of sinking is serious. Whereas digging in for the long haul and playing it conservative is, ironically, certain to meet with death both for your career and for your company's stock prices.
And most ironic of all, the driver demanding short term profitability is the big shareholders who have to show immediate profit out of owning company stocks and bonds and move their money around on a daily basis to get it; these shareholders are, of course, to a great degree the big pension and mutual fund companies, which have to keep their shareholders happy by showing big returns so they don't jump ship on a quarterly basis; said shareholders being the workers who are demanding these big returns from their investments because their jobs aren't secure. Which takes us back to square one. The mind boggles.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Well, a lot of it is from our outsourcing manufacturing there; that enables them to learn that side of the biz while getting paid to do so. After a while the sharper ones have picked up the marketing end of it by watching, so they take the manufacturing end and start their own company to compete with their former employers. It's not in principle different from the way industries expand in the US, but because of the big tilt to manufacturing in China from the low costs it's happening more quickly.
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At last a reasonable take I can respond to. I am Chinese but not mainland born. I saw the writing on the wall early on and took early retirement. My job(s) disappeared too. So my feelings are ambivalent and yet proud for China. In this rms series of posts many of you take the patronizing attitude that the Chinese are cheats, copy cats, will never amount to anything, the whole edifice will fall apart soon, communism doesn't work, etc. Should I feel offended? Not the least. All it means to me is that you people still haven't caught on that a fundamental and global paradigm shift has already occurred and is gaining momentum. Somebody will wake up some day and say "Who ate my lunch?" It won't be China.
But this group is a hobby, not a political forum. For those interested in global politics look up the URL for "Beijing Consensus" a seminal paper by Joshua Ramo on the asymmetrical challenge to American hegemony described as the "Washinton Consensus." You will come across these two terms in many serious papers on national development in the years to come. As an example of how prescient this paper has become read to recent (Jun 15-16) reports on the Shanghai Cooperative Organization just held in Shanghai. SCO sounds harmless enough? http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/HF16Ad01.html http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/HF15Ag01.html
I am an active participant in the soc.culture.china newsgroup and you can read my recent comments on Chinese affairs there.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

It's not as if we hadn't been through this before, Japan being such a big example, but SE Asia with less public handwringing now becoming such a big source of our manufactured goods. To repeat my point, it seems kind of obvious; Revell or whomever sets up a manufacturing facility in China, thereby immediately bringing the Chinese folks up to speed with all the manufacturing knowhow Revell accumulated over the last 50 years. I guess the assumption is that they won't understand the US market enough to dare enter it. But of course, anybody with half a brain can get pretty well clued in to what's happening in the US market by just watching what they are manufacturing and how many, and figure out what is selling and what isn't. And like any ambitious and talented employees anywhere, they decide the management is just holding them back, so they quit and start their own company. It's the American way!

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