Paul Chu and Christopher Pun Redwolf founders - even though my late notice on my arrival to Hong Kong - have found a lot of time to show me the shop, and as well to answer to following short interview questions. Enjoy!
Wmasg.pl: Redwolf is being seen as a reliable retailer, with long history of getting airsoft assortment to players. How would you state your mission?
Redwolf: To become biggest airsoft supplier, like Amazon for airsoft products.
Wmasg.pl: How did it started? Have Redwolf founders been somehow interested in airsoft or military topic in general? Please also tell us how was the logo inspired.
Redwolf: Chris (Christopher Pun) was a huge airsoft enthusiast, very early - in the age of 11-12 years old. He was interested in related topics like milsims, police tactics and all military background. I (edit. Paul Chu) had business experience in business consultancy - we met by coincidence. We saw that in 1996 there were very few retailers in the west - while airsoft has been very popular in HK and Japan already. There were very few retailers in Taiwan, few in HK - mostly buying from Japan, and selling to overseas. 1997-1998 we decided to start selling overseas. Paul was growing up in USA, so without further research he saw how big market is that.
As for the logo, Paul saw images of wolfs, top of the mountain, then we used Photoshop - it was a bit clunky - edited it, with the sun - like Japanese. The impression was to make it sound like military operation, inspired by Starwolf episode, one of the pilots was a "red leader", or by 'nightwolf' things like that. You might say idea came to me under the shower: "Oh! Redwolf". It is frequently like that, good ideas does not come to us during a work time - but after - sparks during the meetings influence time after work.
Wmasg.pl: Could you say something about Redwolf and Poland? Do you have any frequent customers from our country? Is there anything in specific which is being ordered, which you could name number one order of Polish airsoft players?
Redwolf: Polish customers are similar to most in Europe: m4 / ak47 are typical buy and g36 are really popular in Europe, not different to Poland. We have some players registered, and as wholesalers we provide products to some shops. We want to have more presence, it excites us because there is number of enthusiastic players in Poland, we would like to start to become more present on WMASG.
We have quite few competitions, as you can see on our website. During last one - airsoft movie competition - 2 in the top 10 were from Poland, we think that people in your country know us.
Wmasg.pl: Now, as we know something about Redwolf and Poland, how about Redwolf in Poland? Do you plan to go into our market by starting local branch?
Redwolf (Chris): We would probably like to join several games, and play with local players, before we do something in the market we want to understand the market. About our present cooperation, we work with local companies, we have to rely on locals. (Paul) i think we are already in the Polish market, by online selling, we ship on regular basis, we are already there, the quesiton is, if we want to establish physical network, it is already good and big retailers network, and we want to support them, there are not short term plans to establish physicals local retailer. We use network of retailers, and target them.
Wmasg.pl: Chinese replicas are flooding the market. Full metal body, wooden parts in unbelievably low price. What do you think of them?
Redwolf: More than happy to see them, they introduce the game to players to those who cannot afford, or are not willing to pay. Those players are able to distinguish the quality, the players who want the improvent, time after time they go to high end products. So they obviously get players into the market. We do not touch them, it is not our mainline, we sell some, but high-end is our market and destination. You sometime have to go for BMW or Mercedes. In upgrades like Systema, Chinese replicas are also getting some of that market.
Wmasg.pl: There is at least a couple of competing shops in Hong Kong, but we know little about airsoft society in this SAR. Could you tell us more about the airsoft community in HK?
Redwolf (Chris): There are wargame sites, some urban inside the buildints for CQB, lot of scenarios have been built within those - I went to some of them - not all. Quite a few of them, are putting a lot of effort to get scenarios interesting, like inside subways- they have built a Black Hawk model. Most of them are short distance fights, it is too expensive to get space for games in HK.
Wmasg.pl: We encounter some worrying signals also in EU zone. Our law makers watch carefully any replicas which might be used in i.e. "armed" robbery. What do you think of bringing to life association of local communities, fansites and retailers, lobbying against proposed restrictions?
Redwolf: We understand worries and we would like to leave it to customs and police. We can always educate players, keep and maintain products in the market, if they are worried airsoft might be banned. Redwolf would stay behind any sensible, mature association in positive supporting asg. In UK, in 2006 they passed the law called VCRA (Violent Crime Reduction Act), which has put restricts on airsoft - it was said to be too realistic. When he heard, all the retailers came together, and started UKARA (United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association).
As it is shops were much stronger, than a single one, they could negotiate with government, say it is killing jobs, income from taxes and retailers as they are. They could say: "we understand concerns" so they proposed national database to register guns, and registered shops might sale. By such a self regulation - to make a go feel at ease, to make them feel those who would use them to commit a crime, are surely not applying for a membership in an airsoft group. Airsoft group membership required regular presence on airsoft games - (3 times in a 2 months?). Redwolf was a key member of that group, uk meetings were held in our office - for that reason we were a key supporter - we helped make the government think its a healthy activity.
Wmasg.pl: Could you give in some secret about one product which would be soon available in Redwolf, exclusively for Wmasg readers? It would be for sure interesting for customers from Poland. (previously posted in following column: link )
Redwolf: One thing is coming out, you have heard about Airsoft Innovations - for HK for us - its distribitors, it's a news they've created ground device to launch Tornado grenade as a land mine.
Wmasg.pl: Where could we meet Redwolf on international events, during the end of this year, and what is scheduled for the next year?
Redwolf: We are going to be at Shot Show - in Florida on January - as in last year IWA, but our booth is going to be bigger than last year. If you can introduce us to Polish games, we would be interested in taking a part, to have a booth there. There is also Berget - we would try, depending on our time schedule. We want to be more involved ( since we have office in UK) in Eastern Europe.
Wmasg.pl: Thank you for your time,
Redwolf Airsoft: It was nice to have you here. Thank you!
Paweł "Bukhart" Starzycki had interview with Paul Chu and Christopher Pun in Redwolf Airsoft, Hong Kong.