I've been building aircraft models as an adult for 25 years, and of course that pastime has included some of Hasegawa's offerings. But even if it hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to escape noticing the glorious box art that adorns some of their releases.
Paying closer attention at some point, I noticed the name of the artist, signed at the bottom of each of these cut-above works: Koike Shigeo. After that I learned his style, and whenever I saw one of the really tasteful boxes, I knew, without checking, it would have that same, neat signature.
My respect for his work growing with each exposure, I happened to inquire with Hasegawa when at one of the hobby shows here in Japan whether Mr. Koike ever attended. "Oh, that's him right over there," I was told, as he pointed to a tall, simply dressed gentleman.
I wasn't prepared for a sudden face-to-face, and I was very nervous as I said hello and told him how much I admired his work. He was quite humble about it in person, but I learned later that he appreciates the compliments far more than he shows.
Thus started an association that has now borne wonderful fruit: Many hobby shows' worth of speaking with Koike-san later, I'm proud and honored to be able to offer prints of some of the best of his work exclusively through HobbyLink Japan. Because we want as many fans as possible to be able to easily enjoy these spectacular aircraft portraits, we've priced them very economically. But we haven't skimped on quality; his works are printed on high-quality art board with offset printing, and Koike-san himself has approved all the color reproduction (he didn't give us any choice!).
Now, a beautifully framed copy of those two Corsairs greets me every morning as I sit down to work at HLJ. I hope you, too, can find a few prints among those offered here to light up a corner of your home or workplace.
Scott T. Hards