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Kendamas Not "Made in China"?

Discussion in 'The Sesh' started by BrettFromTibet, Apr 30, 2020.

  1. BrettFromTibet

    BrettFromTibet Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2019
    I am sincerely interested in supporting kendama companies or product lines that perform 100% of their woodworking & painting operations outside of China. Here are some of the options I know of offhand:

    • Legaxis
    • Ozora
    • Kenholix
    • Grain Theory (select products only)
    • Kendama USA (Craft line only)
    • Terra Kendama (handturned products only)
    If you know any more connoisseur-quality kendama brands or lines that meet the above criteria, please post them and where they are made in this thread...
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2020
    Apr 30, 2020
    Djoul, htimSxelA and xplodit like this.
  2. goenKendama

    goenKendama Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2016
    Location:
    Metro Manila, Philippines
    Last I heard these were still made in Japan:
    Whirlwind (company) - JAC kendama, ALL kendama (brand/model names)
    Hakushinsya (company) - Shinfuji, Minna no Kendama (brand/model names)
    Yamagata Koubou (company) - Ozora, Taisei, Taiyo, ReShape, etc. (brand/model names)

    Additionally Hakushinsya and Yamagata Koubou own the means of production. i.e. they own the machines and the workers making the kendama are their employees.
     
    Apr 30, 2020
  3. Emil Apostol

    Emil Apostol DS Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2017
    Location:
    Philippines
    1. Da\O out of Austria!

    Their kens and tamas are hand-turned! I'm not sure about their tama paint collabs with other companies, but as far as their core range is concerned, it's made in Europe. (https://www.dao-ken.eu)

    2. EVO Kendamas out of the USA

    EVO makes custom hand-turned kendamas. (https://www.evolutionkendamas.com)

    3. RWB Mfg. out of the US

    RWB are the manufacturers of Grain Theory and the Kendama USA Crafts. Once upon a time, they also had their own line of kendamas, but I'm not sure if they still make their own kendamas; feel free to reach out to them, though. (https://www.instagram.com/rwbmfg/)

    P.S. Kudos for this thread, dude. Given the current pandemic and the worsening global political climate against China, I think that supporting companies that do business outside of China is something that everyone should consider.
     
    Apr 30, 2020
  4. BrettFromTibet

    BrettFromTibet Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2019
    I think that some companies, like Sweets, are starting to charge too much for their Chinese sweatshop-made kendamas. If I am going to spend $50 to 80+ for a kendama, I would rather get one made in a free country.
     
    May 1, 2020
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  5. Emil Apostol

    Emil Apostol DS Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2017
    Location:
    Philippines
    More power, man. I think the industry as a whole may need to realign its manufacturing and supply chain away from China sooner rather than later. This seems to be where the socio-economic wind is blowing toward, and I wouldn't want kendama companies to be left behind.

    P.S. You could ask companies where they manufacture their damas; not everyone has their kendamas made in China. I recall talking to a kendama company owner and they mentioned that they had their kendamas made in Taiwan (which is an independent state, unlike what the Chinese Communist Party wants the world to think).

    P.P.S. Sweets Homegrowns are 100% US Made. Unfortunately, Sweets doesn't seem to be releasing them much anymore.
     
    May 1, 2020
  6. CodyGriz

    CodyGriz Slayer

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2016
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    1 - "sweatshop-made kendama" is pretty rude and insensitive if you have never visited a companies production facility
    2 - What Sweets is $50 - $80 for something made 100% in China
    3 - Sweets and a number of other brands have LOWERED the cost of their base models in recent years..
     
    May 1, 2020
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  7. htimSxelA

    htimSxelA Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2016
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Just to expand on this, a few other Terra products qualify (even though they've been out of stock for a little bit):
    - Handturned Terra (made in Vancouver by myself)
    - Handturned Roddama (made in Vancouver by Rod)
    - Prefects (CNC production in the USA)
    - Premium LBBs (CNC production in Edmonton, Canada)
    - Beechwood LBBs (produced in the Czech Republic)

    Supply chain for Chinese productions has been slowed up by covid, so I won't be surprised if prices for some products are increasing to help offset losses.
    Additionally, foreign exchange rates are pretty volatile right now, the $CAD fell against the $USD quite a bit, so that is going to affect prices of China-produced goods as well (for non-US companies, mostly).


    It may be no surprise I fully support the vibe of this thread, show some love to the people that are making quality products in their own ways! I'll tell you right now that the easiest route is to buy some cheap China-made damas and mark them up a bunch, respect to everyone that goes their own route and tries to create something more special.

    And honestly, a massive thank you to everyone that has purchased a handturned Terra recently. We are literally 100% out of stock of pretty much every other product because of covid shutdowns, so without those customers, we wouldn't be paying rent lol.
     
    May 1, 2020
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  8. Anthony Priolo

    Anthony Priolo n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2016
    Personally I don't mind the Chinese made stuff. But basically it's a crap shoot. Sometimes you'll get a ken thats wonky or doesn't feel like the best quality or balance,and other times you'll get a great honed feeling one. It also allows companys to produce bigger batches and keep them pretty reasonably priced for the most part. I will say I miss the Homegrowns alot. The quality of those OG Homegrown Kens for a couple years there was amazing.
     
    May 2, 2020
  9. Djoul

    Djoul Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2017
    Location:
    Soultzmatt, France
    It will probably only interest EU based people but you can also add Nativ kendama to the list. Those are manufactured in France with locally sourced wood species and eco friendly packaging.
    Personnaly the social and environnemtal impacts have become some major points that drive my kendama buys lately.
     
    May 2, 2020
  10. htimSxelA

    htimSxelA Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2016
    Location:
    Vancouver
    eco-friendly packaging has been a design goal for Terra for a long time too, it is unfortunate that a single-use plastic box is the easiest and cheapest route to get 'good packaging'. I'm always hyped to see good alternatives! What does Nativ's solution look like? I haven't added one to my collection yet

    Timely example: We just got some bandanas made, so there is a new product coming soon with a bandana for packaging. Obviously re-usable :D
    (and maybe kinda unintentionally timely, with covid prompting widespread mask-use, though the bandanas are obviously not medically rated in any way)
     
    May 2, 2020
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  11. goenKendama

    goenKendama Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2016
    Location:
    Metro Manila, Philippines
    1. DA\O kendama are CNC machined according to Eric Woss though not mentioned in his thread here but in email correspondence I've had with him.
    2. EVO used to be KCK (Kendama Custom Kreations) if anyone remembers them
    3. My understanding is that RWB is gone and production of Grain Theory has moved elsewhere. I believe they were bought out by KUSA for their Craft production.


    For reference: What is meant by "hand-turned" when it comes to kendama?
     
    May 2, 2020
    slothymane, Emil Apostol and Djoul like this.
  12. Djoul

    Djoul Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2017
    Location:
    Soultzmatt, France
    For their previous line up they were using carboard boxes like the ones from the OGs homegrown but made from recycled cardboard. And in their latest ones, they switched to bags made from certified organic cotton. So nothing really crazy new but they care about the details.

    If you remember, we already had that discussion some months ago (I’m the crazy French guy :D who requested and accepted to pay few bucks more to get my bamboo goon mod in one of the nice bags sewn in your workshop) and I understand that for physical stores, those solution are not really interesting as it doesn’t display the product easily and properly. But honestly the plastic boxes which are put to trash after 10 sec aren’t either. Maybe companies should give the choice to people to get their damas without packaging simply because most of us probably already have kendama bags sleeping at home and I don’t see any major risk of dommage during transportation.

    But this bandana solution sounds great and I look forward to support your action ;)
     

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    Last edited: May 3, 2020
    May 2, 2020
  13. goenKendama

    goenKendama Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2016
    Location:
    Metro Manila, Philippines
    We put bagged kendama in plastic boxes so we can display them on the wall (using pegs/hooks) but the boxes aren't sold/shipped with the bagged kendama. They help people to see the product but not leave the kendama exposed to everyone's manhandling. :D
     
    May 3, 2020
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  14. slothymane

    slothymane Slayer

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2017
    Location:
    Austria
    Dao is not handturned. They are Cnc machined in Europe as far as I know. The thing that makes them seem hand turned is that eric eakes sure sure to weight match every setup (sarado - spike and tama).
    Most of the Tamas are hand painted by eric though!
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
    May 3, 2020
    goenKendama likes this.
  15. KeeganS

    KeeganS DS Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    A bit unrelated, but will we ever see a new v-custom series in pro clear again?
     
    May 6, 2020
  16. BrettFromTibet

    BrettFromTibet Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2019
    I wrote to Sweets to request more Homegrown ("made in the USA") kendamas ASAP. They replied that due to the Wuhan coronavirus "the woodworkers and the artisan craftsmen that turn our products will not be headed back to work for the foreseeable future."

    I know outsourcing everything to China is much cheaper, much easier and much more profitable... but I wonder:

    Is it really difficult or impossible to make machine-turned wooden toy in the USA, sell it for approximately $50 to $80, and still turn a profit? If enough customers insisted on it, like I will from now on, could it make business sense to sell domestic-made artisan kendamas?
     
    May 7, 2020
  17. KeeganS

    KeeganS DS Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    That sounds more like a question for someone from Sweets. I just wanted to ask Cody if pro clear would make a reappearance in the future.
     
    May 7, 2020
  18. Emil Apostol

    Emil Apostol DS Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2017
    Location:
    Philippines
    May 7, 2020
  19. Emil Apostol

    Emil Apostol DS Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2017
    Location:
    Philippines
    Pro clear is the nuts! Best paint in the game for real hardcore players.
     
    May 7, 2020
    KeeganS likes this.
  20. slothymane

    slothymane Slayer

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2017
    Location:
    Austria
    People have certain expectations for "made in US/Canada/Europe" products. They are expected to be of the highest quality possible, weight matched and fit & finish should be top notch.

    The thing is - the more requirements you have to fulfill the more "bad" kens are discarded because they don't meet the high standard.
    And as wood is a natural resource it's hard to control every parameter about it. If you want to create high quality kens you need high quality wood - which is hugely more expensive than cheap maple or beech from asia due to it beeing grown, cut and dried differently and longer.
     
    May 7, 2020