The new Vstone Robot Center is being featured in the current issue of Hiragana Times, a popular magazine for both students of the Japanese language and for Japanese trying to improve their command of English.
According to the article, Vstone was established in 2000 as a specialty camera manufacturer by Nobuo Yamato. As it turned out, one of the company's executives was really into robotics as a hobby, so the company decided to try it's hand, and introduced it's first humanoid robot kit.
Although the robot was fairly expensive, listing at just over 400,000 yen (close to $4,000), the market acceptance was surprisingly strong, amazing every one. Encouraged, the company shifted it's focus from cameras to robots.
Robovie, the most popular Vstone series, was introduced in 2003, and has racked up sales of over 5,000 units so far. That's quite aways behind Kondo, the market leader, but still quite a respectable number.
The new Vstone shop plans to offer training courses and a fully equipped workspace for hobbyists to use fabrication equipment, in addition to robot kit and parts sales over-the-counter and online.