It’s easy to think that Tomica had the Japanese 3-inch market to themselves all this time, but that isn’t quite the way it went. For a few short years, there was a bitter rival: Cherica.
Actually, to understand the Cherica brand, you need to look at the full name: “Yonezawa Toys Diapet Cherica”. Yonezawa Toys, makers of the Diapet line of 1/40 scale diecast, had purchased a company called “Sakura” in the early ‘70s. They had produced 1/43 diecast since the 1950s - and shortly before the take over launched a couple of 3-inch models as well.
“Sakura” is the Japanese word for Cherry (Blossom), and so that’s how “Cherica” got their name - “Cherry Car”. “Diapet” by the way is short for “Diamond Pet”.
Cherica pretty much covered the same ground as Tomica, though their models tended to be a little bit larger - much like a Siku.
The quality was very high by the standards of the day, but so, apparently, was the price. They did not succeed in the market place in the 3-inch segment, and were gone by the mid 70s. This Celica in JAL livery is one of the rarer variants, but having a few nicks, and being without the box, it was went for very little money on the Japanese Yahoo auctions.
However, not all was lost for Yonezawa. Their Diapet models kept on dominating the 1/40 scale diecast market, where the Tomica Dandy models struggled and eventually failed. But who knows, now the the Premium RS models are coming, and Diapet are history? We will see.