Tommy Kaira Hebi Bebi
Like Varrstoen to Volk Racing, AIT to Top Secret, Shine Auto Project to just about every JDM aero company out there, and countless others, here is yet another fly-by-night company looking to make a dollar off of a JDM product that is proven and for which there is high demand.
Yes, I guess it applies to shift knobs now.
There is a certain connotation, or undertone, inherent in the acronym "JDM." I feel confident suggesting that quality, rare, and valuable are among the adjectives that come to mind among the more educated enthusiasts upon hearing its utterance. A distinct respect and value placed on that which is JDM, there is a certain have-to-have mentality surrounding these parts. There is a reason they are in demand. These products are worth the months of waiting. Far more often than not, the quality, craftsmanship, and attention to detail is second-to-none. It is my contention that the novelty and captivation of these JDM parts slowly fades and diminishes when products such as this look-alike shift knob surface. To one interested in the JDM culture but just a bit less savvy than the diehard JDMophile, upon quick glance, the shift knob in the Z pictured above could easily be mistaken for the rare and elusive Hebi Bebi ("Heavy Baby") knob, not a visibly similar copy of it called a "Fat Boy."
The end of the world? Hardly. However, it is certainly another drop in the proverbial bucket of replicas and knock-offs marauding the Japanese tuning culture. The high cost is often the justification for those "enthusiasts" supporting the knock-off and replica companies. Aero and wheels are expensive parts indeed - often setting us back thousands of dollars. But a shift knob? Come on...
Perhaps I am a bit idealistic (or, to some, obtuse), but I truly hope there are enthusiasts out there, young and/or old, who would rather save their money for just a bit longer and endure the arduous wait for its arrival from Japan to buy the rare, authentic Tommy Kaira knob, as opposed to this fake $100 replica.