(MRC) Hi Ivan, thanks for taking some time to chat with us! We are excited to get this opportunity to learn some more about you and Carisma!
(IC) Thank you guys. Its good to get a fresh new start. The new site is pretty amazing. Love the logo and very easy to navigate. Top Job Guys.
(MRC) Your main company is MA Toys based in Hong Kong, how did you get started making toys and how did you come up with the Carisma name?
(IC) Well, the company started in 1967 by Mr Cheung Ping Kwong; my father. We used to make toy grade RC full function cars and one thing led to another, we started making Hobby Grade Radio Control Model. We worked with some of the top brands in the industry and we have been very fortunate to work with some iconic figure in this field. Some of the products you guys use are probably made by CARISMA…LOL. The Carisma name? Very simple…The HK company name is MA TOYS. We are a car company..hence Car is MA = Carisma
(MRC) Were you surprised when you heard a bunch of people in the UK were racing the GT14 kits or was that part of your plan to produce a car for a racing series?
(IC) Every now and then, I will allow my engineers to do some engineering exercise. One time, I used one of the GT14 Touring car and put some Kyosho Mini Inferno Wheels and tyres and see. It turned out pretty cool. So I contacted CML, our UK distributor and get there opinions. CML led me to Cris Oxley, and we talked and so the birth of GT14B mini buggy was born. It won the MicroX 1st time out in the hands of Phil Sleigh. It was just a combination of good timing. And now the GTB turns out to be the champion in both the Micro X and the UK BRCA Micro Nationals in the hands of Craig Harris ( also the Official Carisma Factory Driver)
(MRC) Are there any people in particular who have helped inspire you to grow the Carisma brand and continue coming up with new ideas to support the Micro class of racing?
(IC)We cannot do this alone. This is all about team work. Many people involved to get the ball rolling. We constantly shooting ideas and we do our best to improve and to make a better product for the racers to race. Our cars gotta be easy to drive. At the end of the day, its about the smile on your face when you do a great lap or a great race. Its all about having fun. When people are having fun, they want more and hence this category will grow. Without fun, No one wants to join.
(MRC) Do you think the hugely successful UK National format could work in the far east?
(IC) What happens in the UK will have direct impact to the rest of the world. UK is the leader of Micro Off Road racing. We are constantly looking for opportunity in replicate something similar in the far east or even USA. ( Some of you probably saw two Americans participated the MicroX event) Hint Hint!!!
(MRC) We’d be happy to come to Hong Kong to help set it up and promote it for you! 😉
(IC) Absolutely. I have a dream. Its one day to do a MicroX International Event in China. Step by Step. One thing at a time.
(MRC) From your Facebook page it looks like you are well into your racing normal size cars too, can you tell us where your love for the Classic British mini and Lotus race cars came from?
(IC) I love British Engineering and the passion of Motor Sport. I obtained my education in UK. So I kind of grew up with British Sports Cars. I like racing a lot and its a very disciplinary sport. Well..if you crash. You die..LOL I guess ultimately down to the simplicity of those chassis. I like the feel of the chassis and non assisted brake pedals. The steering wheel feed back to your fingers trigger all senses in my body and its a natural relaxing hobby for me. I enjoy driving on the track so that I can relax. Weird but true.
(MRC) Have you had any success in your motor racing career or is it mainly for fun?
(IC)Motor racing for me is just a hobby. However, I took it very seriously. I was trained by Mike Knight of Winfield Racing School and I started racing in 2008 and got podium finishes couple of times in China. last season I went to Japan to race the Japanese Elise Championship and I got a 3rd place for my class at the Tsukuba Race Circuit.
(MRC)Back to the small cars.. J Where would you like to see Carisma go in the next 10 years? Do you have a game plan to develop it into other scales of racing and perhaps take on the Associated’s, Yokomos and Team Losi brands that we see dominate the RC world in Twelve, Tenth and Eighth racing world?
(IC)Going forward is to focus on improving what we have already and look at ways to help people have fun using technology. Clever use of technology can help people immensely. Some of the racing class you mentioned here was built by Carisma already. It just had a different badge on it. Some of the racing gears on the market are built by Carisma. We are already into the racing world, just with different name on it. Who knows, may be one day, there will be a world championship won by a Carisma Car. Now, I have another dream..I dreamt that One day Carisma Car is the world champion car.
(MRC) The GTB was one of the most popular cars entered into the 2013/14 UK national championships. How do you see the GTB evolving in the future? Is there a GTB V2 on the way?
(IC)One of the key things we noticed is the evolution of the power plant. The brushless Motors get more powerful, the liPo batteries get more power. We are now dealing with over powerful vehicles which was unheard of when we 1st designed the GT14B. Things have changed and we have to evolve with the technology. When the ball diff can no longer handles the power, we have to create the gear diff and so on. So the answer to the second part of the question: the GTB will continues to change and make it goes faster, corner harder and most importantly more reliable so that you can enjoy racing it rather than rebuilding it.
(MRC) We love hearing about new parts/products like the upcoming gear diff for the GTB that we announced on this website a few days ago, is there anything else in the pipeline that you can tell us about that will be heading to our shores?
(IC) Development never stops. What we are doing behind the scene is to make the car better. So, next time on the track, take a look at some of the team guys’ car and may be you will see some proto parts on it.
(MRC) Are there any plans to release a special fully race ready RTR version of the GTB?
(IC)No plan at the moment…I think I hear the word “Kit”
(MRC) You came over to the UK for the UK Micro X last September at Caldicot CRCCC where your Team Carisma drivers did a great job of filling the A final with their cars, do you have any plans to visit us this year?
(IC)Most definitely. The food sxxk but the racing was fun.
(MRC) one final question. We’ve had many a debate around this subject during race days and club nights and was hoping that you might be able to resolve this once and for all. Does the man make the beard or does the Beard make the man? 😉
(IC)Same here, I don’t know why I like Curry Chicken on Monday and a cup of tea on Tuesday
(MRC) Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us, we look forward to seeing you soon.