I use hyperbole a lot here. My love of cars runs deep, through all eras, types and countries. From a two stroke Trabant up to a 300mph Bugatti, if it’s got an engine I’m into it. Subsequently I’m wide eyed and amazed at many vehicles, and equally at their scale counterparts. So forgive me for using hyperbole again but this thing is awesome. This thing is really awesome. If it had arrived a month or so earlier, we’d have a 2021 top 10 and another contender in the coveted 64 car Lamley royal rumble. It’s uber cool, it’s beautifully executed and presented and it’s landing today, 11:00am PST. It’s the Tetsuma Bisimoto Porsche 935 K3V.
The 935 K3V itself is one of the coolest cars out there right now. Built by Bisi Ezerioha and the mad scientists at Bisimoto, the 935 K3V combines the excess and retro race car cool of the classic Porsche 935 with an electric heart, giving blistering performance without the emissions.
The attention to detail is staggering and the specs speak volume: 636bhp, 0-60mph in 2 seconds, 165mph. Some may snub the rise of electric vehicles but there’s no denying it, they’re here and they’re going nowhere. And in my opinion that’s a good thing, and it’s great to see such a big tuner take on an electric project like this. We’re not going to be looking too much at the technical side of things today, we’re here purely for the diecast. Or as the case may be, resin.
And *what* a job Tetsuma have done with this thing. From the moment you open that clamshell display box and set eyes on it, it’s an experience. Attention to detail is second to none, from the paint and decals right down to the miniature Brixton Forged wheels. It’s gorgeous.
My example rolls *just* but this isn’t a thing for rolling around your desk in my eyes, it’s a display piece to stare at, absorb every detail and just enjoy owning. It’s to sit in the open clamshell on your desk, in your display cabinet or anywhere else and instantly hook your gaze. As we have seen with Stance Hunters awesome Koenig Evolution, rolling isn’t everything. Tetsuma have done scale Porsches before in the shape of a couple of Singer restomods, and this is another layer of cool. They’re proving themselves capable of great things.
And I’ve managed to bag a Q&A with the man who’s making those things happen, the very kind and accomodating Tommy Hua, founder of Tetsuma. It’s always interesting to hear what the guys behind the designs are thinking, especially when they’re a real petrolhead like Tommy (just check his car history), a diecast collector to boot and just an all round “decent bloke” as we say in the UK. So, without further ado…
So, introduce yourself! Who are you, and what company do you work for?
My name is Tommy Hua, and I am the founder of Tetsuma Inc., born and raised in Los Angeles, California
How did you start in the die-cast world?
I’ve been around the collectibles industry for several years; I worked for one of the U.S.’s most prominent model car distribution companies for years before I decided to venture out and pursue my dreams. The word “die-cast” is a little misused in our industry as die-casting requires pouring hot metal into a cast to create an object. Many model cars are made with various materials and methods, including injection molded plastics, cast resin, and 3D printing in addition to the traditional metal die-casting. The first TETSUMA models have been produced in resin. We chose resin as our material because the method allows us to get more delicate lines and details that have been unobtainable by traditional die-casting.
Why did you choose to work with Bisimoto? What has that experience been like?
I first saw Bisimoto’s version of the 935 K3V at a charity that ran my Purist Group. If you’re unfamiliar with the Purist Group, it is a non-profit organization founded by Sean Lee. The Purist Group organizes massive events that bring all the car enthusiasts from all over Southern California and other states to collect toys for under-privileged children or food and necessities for the homeless populations. When I first saw his car pull up to the parking lot, I immediately started walking towards it as it is one of the most eye-catching vehicles I have ever seen roaming the streets of Los Angeles. I had no idea who owned or built it; all I knew was that it was beautiful, and I couldn’t stop staring at it. All this happened before I started TETSUMA. In 2020, after I learned about Bisi Ezerioha and Bisimoto Engineering, I had to reach out and try to get an opportunity to work with him. Bisi is one of the most down-to-earth persons I have ever met in my life, anyone who can call him a friend is blessed.
What does a car have to be to become a Tetsuma miniature? What criteria are there, if any?
We will be focusing on art cars, vintage race cars, and contemporary coach builds.
Are you a collector yourself? If so, what do you collect?
Yes, I am a collector of things that evoke my emotions! That includes model cars, artwork, and some other automobilia as well. I have always been an enormous fan of AutoArt models. After starting TETSUMA and understanding the difficulties and work behind producing a model, I’ve become an even bigger fan. I also collect Mini GT, Minichamps, Kyosho, Tomica, and Hot Wheels. As far as things outside of model cars, I started collecting these custom car pins loosely based on cars you see on Instagram and social media from Leen Customs. If you haven’t heard of them, you’re late to the game!
What features do you value in a die-cast model? (I.e. detail, value for money, the ability to roll, opening features etc.)
For me, the most crucial feature is accuracy and details. When we made the Bisimoto 935 K3, we studied everything about the vehicle and pulled in as many resources as possible, including people directly involved with building the car. Rolling wheels and opening features are excellent for play, but who’s playing with the cars at the end of the day. 9/10 collectors put them up on display and don’t touch them, including me. With that being said, we still try to make our wheels roll if it doesn’t compromise the overall presentation of the vehicle.
How important do you think it is to keep an eye on the competition? Do you take any inspiration from them?
It’s essential to keep an eye on the competition, but I see them more as potential collaborators in the future. As a collector of these “competitors” products, I did see some things that I wish they did differently, but ultimately they are doing what they are good at, and they will have people who appreciate them and will spend their hard-earned money on their product.
How important do you think it is to keep in touch with collectors?
Extremely important and mandatory. As a manufacturer, you are nothing without the collectors, so listen to what they say and talk to them. You can’t please everyone, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore anyone. Be human, connect even if they don’t spend a dime on our products.
Are you a car person yourself? And what do you drive?
Absolutely! I hope that anyone who starts a model car brand is a car person first. I know you’re asking what I currently drive, but I’m going to share my whole vehicle history. I’ve had several “project” cars over the years. My uncle handed down my first car to me, and it was a 1991 BMW E30. In case you’re wondering, no, it wasn’t an M3, but I was totally in love with that car. So when Mini G.T. released their E30 in White, I had to get one. After that, I got a 1990 Nissan 300ZX in red. I got it from the owner of a local car wash. That was the first car that got me into modifications and customizations. It had a Ferrari-like red paint job and black wheels with a complete cat-back exhaust system from Stillen Racing. It’s one of those cars you park, walk away, turn around to look at it, smile, and continue walking. After that car, it was the Nissan 370Z, which was totaled in an accident caused by severe weather. In 2011, I explored and tried to enter the Solar power industry, so I purchased a Toyota Prius. Yes, I know, A PRIUS???!! In my defense, the car was fun to play with, and there were many bolt-on aftermarket parts available. Tanabe USA used my Prius for R&D when they developed the Sustec Z40 coil-over suspension. After doing everything I did, I ultimately got bored and wanted something fun and small for my long commutes. I ended up with a VW MK6 Golf TDI and drove that for a couple of years. Then I started getting into Outdoor activities like hiking and camping, and I wanted something that could compliment that lifestyle. I did research and ended up getting a Subaru Outback. I got it lifted, slapped on some all-terrains, got a rooftop tent, and just went on full adventure mode with my soft-roading overland Subaru build. I sold the vehicle after a couple of years, as gas prices in California kept rising. Currently, I drive a Golf Sportwagen (Estate in Europe) TDI. We never got the GTD Estate in the U.S., so I swapped the front bumper and grill to the ones from the GTD. It’s lowered on K.W. Variant 3 coil-over suspension. Brembo cross-drilled rotors with steel braided brake lines for added stopping power. Forged wheels are from Titan7, and up and coming Forged wheel company from the U.S. There’s other stuff that’s been done to it that I cannot freely talk about because of V.W.’s history with emissions.
It’s clear to see Tommy has passion and a great engagement with the hobby and car culture in general, which is a huge bonus for us as collectors. Stay tuned. Tetsuma have great things ahead of them, and this 935 is but one step.