We should probably begin at the beginning! There’s so much to learn about Volks that can be readily found by searching the internet. For our purposes it remains helpful to know where the company came from and how it has evolved into the titan of hobby and Japanese culture that it is today.
Volks, Inc. (ボークス) is a Japan-based corporation that produces garage kits and mecha kits as well as the Dollfie, Super Dollfie and Dollfie Dream lines of dolls. The company’s headquarters is in Kyoto, with some 30 shops worldwide, and annual sales of about $50 million, as of 2008.
In 1972 Hideyuki Shigeta and his family opened Volks Inc. as a plastic model store specializing in aircraft. In the mid 1980s they expanded their model lines to include anime figures, garage kits and eventually highly customizeable, ball jointed dolls known specifically as Super Dollfie. This burgeoning business model would eventually lead to the development of several branches of business, many retail stores throughout Japan and a unique hobby culture that embraces a dollfie “lifestyle” with numerous special events. In 1999 that added a large consumer exhibition four times a year called “dolpa” or (doll’s party).
Volks Inc. is organized into three different enterprises:
- Ltd. Volks: Dealing with the hobby products “showrooms” both in Japan and international locations. This branch oversees the day-to-day operations of the the Volks Showrooms in Japan, and the Tenshi-no-Sumika shops in Japan, Korea, and the United States. They also manage the most spectacular Tenshi-no-Sato museum in Kyoto, Japan.
- Ltd. modeling Village (Zoukei-Mura or 株式会社造形村) : Companies that manufacture & sell the prototype modeling of three-dimensional objects. This branch also employs the well known Volks sculptors and designers/artists including: Akihiro Enku (the original sculptor of the Super Dollfie product line), MIKEY, Valico, Aone, Momo and Ciera.
- Ltd. Culver Virginal Art (株式会社ヴァージナルアート): Responsible for the merchandising, design and marketing concerning Volks company presence within the hobby market.
It is also worth noting that Volks Inc is a family affair for the Shigetas. Hideyuki Shigeta’s daughter MIKEY maintains her position as long-time lead designer for the product line and Hideyuki Shigeta’s son Hideyoshi Shigeta as newly appointed (2014) branch manager for the Volks USA office.
In an exciting launch on May 3rd 2018, Volks USA has launched a special About Volks Inc page that fills in everything you may want to know about Volks Inc. There is even a spectacular video at the end that give the entire history of the company. It’s magical, lovely and I almost cried. Please check it out here!