Mr. To descends of the famous Chinese Tang Dynasty poet, “Du Fu” a legendary scholar in Chinese literary history. It would probably be an understatement to address Mr. To, co-founder of VSTank, simply as a toy engineer, his knowledge in mechanical design far supersedes toy industry applications.
Im high school he earned first place in the national high school electric powered model competition. Graduating from university, his final year thesis project was “half-track tractor design”, which earned him second place in the faculty He then spent 19 years as an engineering design supervisor in the mechanical engineering faculty. In addition to his genius in engineering design, he is also an artist, and was assigned to draw a massive sized oil painted portrait of Chairman Mao.
In 1984, he moved to Hong Kong and began working at a famous local radio-controlled toy manufacturer. Recalling a memorable experience, he tells of being assigned to design a 12-inch radio-controlled car operated by AM 27MHz frequency band. The most difficult part was not just the design itself but the limited time frame, only 8 weeks to submission deadline. Fortunately, his design was eventually chosen by Radio Shack and earned a fruitful result for the company - an order for over 100,000 pieces.
A decade later, he left his position and set off on his path carrying on designing various types of radio-controlled toys One of his most pioneering designs was the four-wheel steering radio-controlled buggy - every wheel could rotate making it capable of steering in all directions. For this particular product he had even been interviewed by local media channel, Television Broadcast Hong Kong, TVB.
In 1998, he received a special request from a Japanese trader, whose customers were looking to implement an airsoft gun design into a radio-controlled tank. Radio-controlled tank design had been around for a while but fitting an airsoft gun inside was something new! The project challenges included noise reduction and overcoming air pressure leak issues in the gun barrel cavity to ensure the BB bullet capacity to travel a trajectory distance of 25 meters and over 10,000 times of shooting endurance testing. All these had to be fitted in a 1/24 scale size tank. Needless to say, Mr. To’s design had outdone other design firms and became the exclusive supplier to this project.
In 2000, the underlying customer behind the Japanese trader was revealed. The project was in fact commissioned by the one of the most famous airsoft gun companies in the world – Tokyo Mauri. The airsoft gun design was eventually fitted to a 1/24 scale Japan Ground Self Defence Force Type 90 tank. Besides being able to shoot 6mm diameter BB pellets, it could drive forwards, backwards, turn left and right, the turret could rotate and the gun barrel could elevate.
After the success of the JGSDF Type 10 R/c tank, they also developed the 1/24 scale US M1A2 Abrams and German Leopard2A6 radio control tanks.
Between 2000 to 2003, Mr. To’s company was awarded with an annual order volume exceeding 84,000 pieces, making this 1/24 scale radio controlled tank the best hobby selling item across Japan and many Asian countries.
Unfortunately, good things end too soon. The trader between himself and Tokyo Mauri had frauded a few payments; on one hand he asked Mr. To to extend him credit lines, shipments left without payment, on the other hand, the trader took regular payments from Tokyo Mauri.
Worst of all, the trader infringed on his design, re-engineered the three 1/24 scale radio-controlled tanks, and had them manufactured in other factories in China. Intellectual property infringement was not valued as highly nearly two decades ago and Mr. To could do nothing against this act.
Despite the fraud with the Japan trading firm, Mr. To’s pioneering design and engineering precision had earned him a trustable reputation among the Japan hobby industry. He was then awarded another project assigned by famous radio-controlled manufacturer, Kyosho, to produce 1/80 scale radio controlled city buses and 1/20 scale radio controlled fork lifts to be used as souvenirs by the Toyota corporation.
In 2005, Mr. To decided to set off alone with the three 1/24 scale r/c tank models. During the Hong Kong Brands and Products expo, he met with Steve, founder of ToyEast, a marketing expert who could assist him to re-brand the radio-controlled tank product line and expand to the export market.
The two parties cooperated together. With Mr. To’s extensive experience in radio-controlled toys and Steve’s novel marketing technique, it laid the foundation for VSTank. In the later years, the brand blossomed with more new tank models and functions to bring more joy and fun to consumers.
Towards the end of 2017, the partnership between Mr. To and Steve came to an end because his co-founder decided to devote full focus and effort into his new venture, producing local culture diecast collectible vehicles. As for Mr. To, it was getting more and more difficult to operate a manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China, a city soon to be forged as the new “Silicon Valley” in China. Vincent from Waltersons Industry arrived at an agreement with them both to purchase VSTank and its mold process.