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Meikai AW-4366 favori envoyer Print
Photos by RP text by RP. From the collection of RP
France Version française

Chronology of the Meikai brand  New window

Manufactured in Chine from Circa 1990 until 0.
Index of rarity in France : Rare (among non-specialized garage sales)
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Inventory number: 5716

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Meikai AW-4366

Meikai  was a brand used by several companies called Tougodo (or  Togodo ) run by three brothers in Japan before and after WWII. Tougodo specialised in very inexpensive cameras designed to be sold from chain stores in Japan and the USA. The later ones in the 1960's, were designed to use 35 mm film and had only one shutter speed and a simple lens, with apertures formed by a rotating piece of metal with a slot of varying width cut into it.

Tougodo ceased making cameras in the early 1970's, and at about the same time, several Taiwanese companies started making cameras using the same formula, but wholly out of plastics. The first of these was probably the giant Formosa Plastics Group (FPG).

In January 1986 the Arrow Trading Company Inc of New York made an application for a trademark of the word 'Meikai' in the USA. Soon afterwards the strange and highly original 'bows and arrows' script seen on this example appeared. That trademark remained in force until 2007*. (Meikai = "Clarity, Clear Understanding" in Japanese)

The Arrow Trading Company commissioned a number of these 'toy' cameras (actually prizes), first from Taiwanese makers, and then from about 1989, from makers in mainland China. The Taiwanese examples look like 'real' cameras of the time, the Chinese examples became more and more flamboyant Into the 1990's**.

This is an early Chinese example, and I suspect that it was made at about the time of the first Batman movie of the modern era in 1989. Unlike the Taiwanese products, the aperture in this one is formed in the shape of a square like those of the Kodak Instamatics . (The focal length of the lens is not 50 mm and the maximum aperture is not 5.6!)

* The trademark was also registered in the UK in 1992.

** Meikai cameras usually have model numbers starting with AR or AW from the word 'arrow', or DI suggesting the shape of a bow and arrow.