你好 as they say in China (which translates to hello and to say it, is pronounced "nee-how". The literal translation from Chinese Mandarin to English is "you good"?). A little Chinese lesson to start this blog post!!
At the beginning of this week I returned from a week long trip to the Copperfox Factory in China, to visit, view and inspect the upcoming new models, which you will be pleased to hear will be unveiled very shortly (aka next week)! It's been a manic week since my return, with us packing models for our trip to the USA which just over 10 days away. I've finally managed to sit down and sort through my pictures, and share with you the highlights of my adventure to half way around the world.
The trip, in short, was fabulous and full of new experiences and moments! Not only did I get the chance to see all the new models, it was fantastic to see everyone at the factory again too and have the opportunity to catch up. My last visit was in April 2016 so we had lots of stories, feedback and things to share, as well as talk about new ideas for the future (which is always very exciting!!)
Here are some pictures and highlights from my trip, including some images from the factory and behind the scenes during production. Pictures and details of the new colourways will be released next week, so stay tuned for details!!
First things first. Any trip to China always starts with the must-visit-pre-flight-ritual to the Sushi bar in Heathrow airport and to skillfully pluck one (more precisely four or five!) of the domed dishes from the moving belt. If you haven't been to a Yo! Sushi, I would thoroughly recommend it for a taste of Japan and the wonderfully fresh dishes- that and the brilliant way the meal is presented and eaten. Although it's not Chinese cuisine, its always is the perfect opportunity to practice my chopstick skills before arriving in China, where they are put to the test during every meal!
A quick snap from the airplane waiting for takeoff and another soaring above the twinkling London skyline, just as night is falling. Hong Kong, here we come! The flight time from London to Hong Kong is just over 12 hours, so it's one of those flights you have to settle in for and hopefully manage to catch a few hours sleep! Zzzzzzz!!
When you arrive at the factory, you are greeted by this imposing Chinese god, who if I remember rightly is "Guan Yu", one of the best known historical figures in ancient Chinese history. He was a Chinese general who was so great that after his death he was deified into a god. He is generally known as the God of War and is a symbol of loyalty, righteousness and bravery, with many business owners creating a shrine for him too, in order to gain wealth. At this shrine at the factory, they offer Guan Yu fruit and burn incense to not only make everything smell pleasant but to drive away demons and please the gods.
One of the best things about visiting the factory is seeing the creation of the models from scratch and all the various steps and stages that each model must go through to transform it into the models we all know and love. These images are of Welsh and Irish Sports Horse models during the polishing stage, which is straight after the models have been moulded. All of the polishing and sanding is done by hand- not machine- which enables the finishing on each model to be tailored to that particular model. One seam that appears on one model may not be the same on another and polishing by hand means that these little things can be taken into consideration.
For this run of models, our bare plastic colour has also been changed to beige. This helps to identify the areas that need to be polished easier and also when painting the models; it means less base coats are required.
Eating in Chinese is always an interesting experience, in more ways than one! Chopsticks are a must aswell as a open mind and an willingness to try new things!! The picture, left, is actually my breakfast. A tasty Chicken broth, with rice noodles, vegetables, fungi, tomatoes and a healthy dollop of chili sauce. Whilst it's not the usual thing I would have for breakfast, it was certainly filling, requiring no need for lunch!!
The picture on the right is from a restaurant we visited one evening. The tanks are full of a variety of fish including sturgeon, lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams and scallops that you could select and then they would cook for you to eat. Whilst it seems a little odd, you could argue that you couldn't get any fresher!
Whilst I'm at the factory, I always wander around to every department to see what everyone is doing. This picture is of a Irish Sports Horse, who has just completed the polishing and sanding stage and is now being sprayed white, to become an upcoming Blank Canvas model. These newer versions of the Blank Canvases are models that will be ready to paint, with no previous paint underneath, unlike our previous Blank Canvas models.
These are some pictures from my travels to and from the factory, which I thought you might like to see. I always seem to post pictures from inside and not outside, so this time, I wanted to capture some of the scenes! The picture, top left is off the general traffic that you would see at 10pm at night, with cars, trikes, motorbikes and bicycles weaving their way through the buildings. At nighttime, the buildings came to life with colourful displays (top right) advertising their wares. I did try to learn some of the Chinese symbols whilst I was there but it's quite a complex language! (The Chinese language has 5000 symbols which can be said differently depending on where you are from in China. The symbols, when combined together with one another also make a totally different meaning!).
In China, as you know, it rains and when it rains, it really rains!! Bottom left is waiting for the rain to ease before we dash to the car!! The image, bottom right, is a glimpse into the Chinese way of driving, which can only be explained as a hold-on-for-your-life-and-shut-your-eyes type of driving!! Ahhh!
One thing I was coaxed into doing on this trip was karaoke, which is as crazy as the word implies!! In China, they *love* karaoke and even have a TV channel dedicated to it. The image below is of some people from the factory enjoying the evening, in our own private karaoke room, complete with drinks, food and microphones! And yes, they did get me to sing sing, very poorly, to a very old song by WHAM! Hahaha, it was a memorable evening for sure!
My trip to China always begins and ends in Hong Kong. I've been to the factory four times now and flown into Hong Kong the same amount but have yet to actually see the city! I managed to snap a quick picture on the way back to the airport (left) and vowed next time to build an extra day into my itinerary to actually get to explore it! Did you know that Hong Kong has a Disneyland? I'll add that onto the must-visit-list too!!
Before catching my flight back to the UK, I have to admit I succumbed to a very large pizza, a beer *and* a glass of wine (!) after a busy week and a menu of Chinese meals. It was delicious and not a crumb (or drop) was left!! They say, everything tastes better when you fancy it!!
I hope you have enjoyed another behind the scenes look from our Copperfox Factory and my trip to China. As briefly mentioned earlier, the new colourways will be unveiled next week, so do keep an eye out for this exciting news! I'm sure you are going to love them both, although the tough decision will be what finish. Matt or Glossy?