How it All Began
After many hours of scrutinizing what limited information is available on the miniature guns of the Japanese artists, digging deep, researching facts over and over again but getting nowhere eventually I felt a prudent move would be to respectfully ask master Ohba a few questions. Like what got him into the making and dealing with miniature guns in the first place? Or about his philosophy regarding their making? And finally which techniques are applied in the making, batch production, use of (external) free lancers etc.
Here is what Mr. Ohba wrote in November, 20181):
"Long ago, when I was not a maker of miniature guns yet, one of my friends who owned one of Beretta's real shotguns, gave me a necklace with a very small pistol-shaped pendant. That pendant was a tiny Beretta 92 F cast with solid brass and had absolutely no function at all, but the proportion was so wonderful. Then I went to some firearm store selling Beretta's shot guns and accessories, and bought another same 92F-pendant."
"I could finally completed one movable 92F miniature gun by using slide and frame cut out from that two 92F-pendants. It was about 1/4.4 scale and the first movable brass miniature gun I ever made. That was the opportunity for me to start making original 1/4 scaled miniature guns by myself."
Kimiaki Ohba's Beretta 92F pendant
"Now I am making some miniatures and also help some friend-makers export their miniatures to customers outside Japan."
"I founded my work shop and website of K-OHBA Minifacturing in 2003."
"I wish to make the realistic miniatures to realize the function of the original gun at 1/6 to 1/4 scale as precisely as possible. But miniatures are only - for display and handling. Dummy ammos could be loaded but will never be fired."
"I make a prototype with brass parts first. Then brass parts are replaced with cast parts finally replicated with 925 silver."
"The miniatures made of 925 silver could be polished to simulate a stainless or a nickel-plated gun. Or they are chemically gun-blued to simulate realistic and beautiful black-steel guns."
As further explained by Ohba his company is serving a number of Japanese miniature gun artists as an outlet providing access to the international collectors' market. Incidentally, the business is handled on a production against firm order base.
The Art of Kimiaki Ohba
Scroll down and have a look how nicely Ohba expresses his talent.
This 1:4 scale blued miniature cased set of a Colt 1851 Navy with round triggerguard in the Hunzinger Collection is a gem. It was received in 2015 in a walnut case together with cap box, powder flask, two cavity bullet mold and nipple wrench as accessories.
The fully functional percussion revolver has been fabricated from a 925 silver cast. Its serial number reads #92508. Were this serial number found on a 19th century Colt 1851 Navy it would have been made in 1859 already.2)
Marks and Markings of the Kimiaki Ohba Colt 1851 Navy
Barrel top: -ADDRESS SAML COLT HARTFORD C.T. -
Frame (forward left side):
Serial number (visible on barrel lug, frame, triggerguard, butt strap): 92508
U.S.-Italo-Japanese Family Reunion –Three Generations of Colt 1851 Navies…
… displayed on a Connecticut State flag, because that's where it all started in the 19th century (from top): Full size original "father" from 1855 #32196 (Hartford-London Navy, courtesy Lutz Viertel Collection) vs. 1:2.125 scale Uberti made miniature "son" #PM873 vs. 1:4 scale K-Ohba Minifacturing miniature #92508 "grandson"
Son and Grandson – Two Colt 1851 Navy Round Triggerguard Miniatures
Comparing different scale Colt 1851 Navy miniatures (top down): Uberti #PM873 vs. Ohba Minifacturing #92508
Colt 1851 Navy #92508 – Full Set with Accessories in Walnut Case
Cased #92508 with accessories
Impressions of the Ohba Minifacturing Colt 1851 Navy #92508
Right and left side view of #92508
Marks and Markings of #92508
Close-ups of #92508 (top down): barrel marking ADDRESS SAML COLT HARTFORD C.T.; COLTS PATENT No 92508 between Ormsby naval cylinder scene ends, two-line COLTS PATENT forward left of frame; cylinder legend ENGAGED 16 MAY 1843, complete serial number on barrel lug, frame and triggerguard; complete serial number on butt strap
Close-ups of Accessories of #92508
Accessories (top down): Eley Bros cap box; two sides of powder flask; brass made two-cavity bullet mould for round and conical ball
MY NAME IS NOBODY is an Italian western comedy movie directed by Tonino Valerii, starring Terence Hill as Nobody a bum but fastest gun of the West, and Henry Fonda as Jack Beauregard an aging gunslinger wanting to retire to Europe.
Both pistoleros carry Colt 1851 Navies.
Several of the memorable scenes were actually directed by Sergio Leone. By the early seventies, the Spaghetti Western genre was fading. It became the subject of parodies. Leone and his people decided they would make the ultimate spaghetti western comedy.
Since then the film has achieved cult film status. This fun and surprisingly resonant film Steven Spielberg called his favorite Leone production. Terence Hillhas stated that it is his favorite movie.3)
1. Ohba, K.: CORRESPONDENCE, November 2018
2. Wilson, R.L.: THE BOOK OF COLT FIREAMS THIRD EDITION, 2008
3. Western Movie: MY NAME IS NOBODY, 1973
December 19, 2018