This is not based on a true story, but rather a real story. When our “young Skywalker”, Vincent, began building his first Tamiya model kit at the age of eight he recalled he “almost felt like an automotive engineer”. Since then he became fascinated with plastic model kits, his interest spreading across various genres; sports cars, tuned JDM by Tamiya, Fujimi and Aoshima; commercial & fighter jets by Hasagawa and Doyusha; Gundam robots by Bandai; aircraft carriers by Italeri; Diecast models by NZG, Military models by Dragon…almost anything you could find in a brick & mortar hobby shop. Vincent was one of the fortunate kids who grew up during the 80s and 90s – the Golden era of the Hong Kong hobby industry. There could be more than 10 shops located just a short walk away from one another. It was a joy spending every weekend wandering in every shop hunting for a new release.
At the age of 14 he left Hong Kong to pursue further education in Canada. He recalled his most precious possession among belongings he packed was not books or clothes, instead it was his Tamiya hand-held spray gun. His interest towards model building eventually steered his education focus into engineering, specifically in Electrical engineering from University of Western Ontario, now Western University.
After graduating from engineering, he came upon an opportunity to study investment banking in Cass Business School, United Kingdom, a career choice in an opposite direction and a new journey in his life that he could never have anticipated. Shortly after his semester began, Vincent noticed irritating noises coming from his roommate's dorm. One night, he decided to investigate the noise. Upon stepping through the door he was shocked to see mountains of toys piled in every corner of the room, you could barely see the bed. His roommate revealed the truth behind the noises - evenings spent cutting tape and packing boxes of toys for delivery. To Vincent's surprise, his roommate was selling toys ONLINE. He'd never considered hobby to be something he could trade in besides simply building and collecting.
In 2009 Vincent returned to Hong Kong upon graduation and devoted himself to toys and hobby trading. Military related items became his core focus because his passion towards the study of history steered him towards this direction. Having worked a few years with some brands in China he discovered that the quality and innovation wasn’t close to what he used to encounter during childhood and thus, he had an outrageous idea – establish his own brand, “Waltersons”, named after his father and mentor, Ir. Walter Tang.
Walter was born of a humble background, his father was a locksmith and could barely afford to put him through school, so Walter quit at the age of 14 to look after the stall size locksmith business until becoming legal age in Hong Kong. At the age of 18 he enrolled into the “Yui Loi” shipyard as an apprentice. Walter always recalls the importance of higher education; he spent 18 years studying in night school. During his studies he earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and eventually qualified as a Chartered engineer, with multiple professional engineer qualifications in Europe and the U.S. He founded an engineering servicing company conducting maintenance projects for leading power providers in Hong Kong, and his company was later sold to Alstom Power. Since then, Walter focuses his efforts on trading and manufacturing in the sanitary fittings business.
Waltersons’s official maiden project was the 1/72 scale Infrared controlled battle tank, which launched in 2015. Vincent established a small production line to assemble these battle tanks, while many aspects were outsourced to sub-contractor factories.
In 2016, Vincent encountered one of the greatest of opportunities (or challenges considering the deal size) - Forces of Valor, a well-known scale military collectible brand, which he first had seen at the Bovington museum souvenir shop back in 2007, was UP FOR SALE? The brand portfolio contained more than 180 SKUs, a vast product category ranging from Armored fighting vehicles, aircraft, helicopters, battleship, aircraft carriers, model kits, figure and diorama, and a large tooling possession containing over 1,500 moulds. The bright side of the deal was being able to acquire a well-known hobby brand, yet the dark side was a lack of production information, not even a design file was included in the acquisition.
Out-sourcing manufacturing has been very common for many brands, however it is a double-sided sword. On one hand it offers less day to day production and management burdens, but on the other hand because it is not your own factory they don’t service exclusive to you, and manufacturing know-how may be shared across the industry to your competitors. With that in mind, in 2017 Vincent made a bold decision – establish Walterson’s own manufacturing facility. He now recalls it being the “ultimate suicide mission” of his life.
In 2018, another opportunity emerged - the famous radio control tank brand VSTank. The manufacturer who’d developed the first BB bullet shooting tank for Tokyo Mauri was looking to exit the market because their joint venture partner pursued a new career in the diecast vehicle market. Vincent eventually arrived in an agreement to take over their brand and tooling process.
36 months since the suicide mission had begun, Waltersons now had established a comprehensive production facility, consisting of the following in-house departments;
- Plastic injection
- Metal casting
- Plastic sprue treatment
- Metal polishing
- Spray painting
- Weathering effect
- Electronics design
Besides those, we have our in-house 3D modelling, tool design and mould making departments also.
It has been a very long journey to build our own factory to accommodate all these products, but the underlying mindset hasn’t changed from that of building a single model kit - it takes patience, thinking, hand-skills, resources and time.
Waltersons is committed to the manufacture of hobby-orientated products to all enthusiasts around the world. GAME ON!