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KSN Midori

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
KSN Midori company logo

KSN Midori was a Japanese manufacturer of injection-molded plastic model kits that produced some of the earliest model kits of the USS Enterprise in 1969.

HistoryEdit

Originally located in Kagoshima, Midori has been a Japanese manufacturer of model kits, and was in operation from the 1960s through the early 1970s. Apart from the usual car, tank and plane kits, they produced a fairly large line based upon the Irwin Allen and Gerry Anderson science fiction franchises (such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or Stingray, respectively), hugely popular in Japan at the time. The remarkable thing about the Midori products was, that many, if not most of their products were endowed with toy-like properties. Most of their products could be, if so desired, equipped in the most cases with friction motors, allowing the finished and assembled products to move on their accord when wound up. A Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea submarine variation, for example, could allegedly move, when fully assembled, submerged in water. This particular feature the company apparently inherited from the former independent "KSN" half of the company which had, in the 1950s, specialized in he construction of self-propelled balsa wood flying objects.

Toward the end of its existence, the company had moved its operations to Tokyo as Midori-Syokai, Co., Ltd. Up until that point it had employed a purely Japanese home market orientated marketing strategy, as all box art and instruction sheets were only composed in Japanese. Despite a last ditch effort to try to break into the international market, by releasing the then popular "Slot Racing Cars" model line with both box art and instruction sheets exclusively composed in English, the company has faded from existence.

In the current model kit community, the Midori sci-fi model kits are nowadays commanding premium prices in the secondhand market, on sites such as eBay and Amazon.com, due to their scarcity.

Star Trek association Edit

In 1969 Midori released two differently sized Star Trek model kits, representing the original USS Enterprise. Midori released these on the occasion of the very first airing of Star Trek: The Original Series in Japan, the first episode of which airing on 27 April 1969 by the Nippon Television Network Corporation. [1] While no scales were stated on the box art or instruction sheets, the smaller one was measured at 23×14×4 cm, whereas the larger one measured 32×18×5 cm.[1] Set against the established length of the 1:650 scaled AMT model of the Enterprise at 45 cm, that translated to roughly a scale of 1:1250 for the smaller one and 1:915 for the larger one. The smaller one has proven to be the "normal" standard model kit, without any embellishments.

USS Enterprise large Midori build-up model 1969

The "propeller and wheel" version as built

It was the larger one, No. 350-5, that turned out to be the "odd one out" as far as the Star Trek model community was concerned (as evidenced by a modeler reviewing one), as it embodied the "play options" for which Midori was renowned. That model featured a friction motor in the guise of a propeller sticking out of the shuttlebay that would drive the assembled model, mounted on a wheel assembly, on any flat surface. It should be noted that neither of the two were in any way related to the AMT/Aurora products, neither in scale nor in tooling, and thus Midori originals.

It should also be noted that it is unclear whether or not any of Midori's products were officially licensed. No definitive answers were provided on the box art or in the instruction sheets, as none were mentioned there. Furthermore, legalities surrounding copyright issues were not yet resolved definitively for Japan in general at the time. Nonetheless, Midori has been, besides AMT/Aurora and Estes Industries, the only company who, until 1992, released Star Trek model kits.

Midori Star Trek releases
Item Scale Release Item No. Notes Boxart
USS Enterprise 1:1250 1969 150 "standard" model kit USS Enterprise Midori 1969
1:915 350-5 the "propeller and wheel" version USS Enterprise large Midori 1969
unknown re-issue of unknown date, but with revised box format USS Enterprise large Midori re-issue

FootnoteEdit

  1. Toshio Okada, Lost Plastic Models (December 1998), Bbmf Magazine, Inc., pp. 36-37, ISBN 4766332687

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