Buying and Building Japanese Wooden Model Kits

I’ve been getting a couple emails from a Japanese friend who sells kits internationally. He’s been a bit dismayed lately, as marketing to North America and Europe opens up some new issues for Japanese products, particularly with builders who lose parts or mess up their builds.

Woody Joe kits have lots of parts, well organized into bags and well labeled. Photo of a Japanese pagoda kit.

He goes out of his way to work with the customer to get parts from the manufacturer. But, some customers upon learning they need to pay for replacement parts (as opposed to parts that are missing or faulty), suggest that either he or Woody Joe is practicing poor customer service. But, this is how things are done in Japan.

In Japan, he explained, there is an important Japanese concept called “Haji”, which is a sense of shame when one makes mistakes. I’m sure many of us feel this same kind of thing, but this is much more ingrained in the Japanese culture. But, as a result, people in Japan don’t expect or ask for free replacement parts, which seems to be an expectation among many ship modelers here – Does this happen in any other industry? In Japan, they pay for parts they mess up. He mentioned that even as a kid, when he needed a replacement part for a plastic kit, he paid for it.

I’m just posting this, because I often recommend these Japanese manufactured kits to readers. I do so, with a bit of trepidation, because I know that some people will have issues and may not understand what they’re getting into.

Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit shown under construction.

I was at one point hoping to convince Woody Joe to market their kits here in North America and in Europe. The owner doesn’t seem interested in doing that and I think this issue, and other related ones, have a lot to do with it.

I continue to recommend Woody Joe kits to builders of wooden model kits, but please be careful with your builds. Don’t rush them, keep track of the parts, which are well organized into individually labeled parts bags and on clearly marked laser-cut wood sheets. If you do make a mistake and can’t reproduce a part yourself, please understand that helping you to obtain replacement parts is good customer service. Just because there is a charge and you don’t want to pay for your own mistake doesn’t make it bad customer service.

A sample of some of the “thank you” gifts that Zootoyz includes along with orders sent to customers.

Also, bear in mind that many people who are trying to help you take a lot of pride in doing things well, so please don’t make thoughtless comments about their service. If you do, we may all lose out and find it even harder to obtain some very nice kits. Ω

1 thought on “Buying and Building Japanese Wooden Model Kits

  1. Christos Mesis

    Had such an issue and the your friend was absolutely great in serving me. Lost the figurehead of Sir Winston Churchill. Found it from woody joe and send it over to Cyprus… as I received it I asked what I owned and then and only then, it was that he send me a 7-8 euros (cant remember exactly) invoice. (shipment incl. from Japan to Cyprus air post 7 days).

    Great to shop from him. I surely do it again and again!



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