Aoyagi Metals Company

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Aoyagi Metals Industry Co. Ltd (青柳金属工業有限会社, Aoyagi Kinzoku Kōgyō Yūgen-gaisha) (commonly known as Ayk in America and Aoyagi in Japan) was a Japanese company that became notable in the 1980s for its radio-controlled cars. The company began in the 1960s manufacturing metal chassis for slotcar racing; 1978 saw the introduction of the RX1200, a 1:12 scale on-road racer, which was the start of the RX series of 1/12-scale on-road chassis. The RX2000 followed and took the Japan Model Racing Car Association All-Japan Championship title in 1980, the first of three consecutive titles for the company. In 1984, Joel Johnson won the title on his first trip to Japan with Trinity. Conventional manufacturers mounted their differential gears between the right rear wheel and the motor compartment, but ayk placed theirs within the axle, which centered the weight more proportionately and kept the differential gears protected. By 1984, they resorted to an outboard gear diff much like the current Delta of the time. In 1982, the same year that AYK took its third consecutive 1:12 title (with the RX3000 EXL480), like other manufacturers, ayk broke into the 1:10 off-road buggy market with the 566 B Super Trail. The buggy included aluminum chassis, enclosed transmission with all-aluminum gears, and a waterproof radio case. This model was closely followed in the early eighties by a series of race-ready 1/10 off-road buggies which saw reasonable success on the semi-pro circuit. By the mid-1980s, Ayk abandoned the 1:10 two-wheel-drive off-road to concentrate on off-road four-wheel-drive models and on-road 1/12 scale. After winning the Japan Model Racing Car Association 1:12 on-road title with the Super Parsec, the company began its decline following the death of its president in 1989. The Japanese asset price bubble (バブル景気 baburu keiki) bursting in Japan was the other primary reason AYK closed down. These two events had more to do with AYK closing than the common overseas racing car market rumor. One of its staff members, Tatsuro Watanabe, left the company by 1986 to emigrate to the United States to start up Hobby Products International, a company specialising in radio-controlled cars. Later on, some other employees found themselves working either for his company (Hiroyuki Iida) or rival manufacturer Mugen Seiki (Takashi Aizawa and Koji Sanada). The Koiwa Ayk office still stands, although the service center is now an apartment complex.
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Ayk Racing
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