Question: do we actually know that the Fender Lead copies are
Tokai builds? I'd love to see the innards of one, it should have Tokai production markings etc, I've searched for pics, but so far, no luck.
Since Tokai themselves (afaik?) never made a Lead copy, I find it surprising that it would be economically possible for budget-focused IMC to have Tokai open up an all-new production line for a guitar type they'd never made before? I mean, the Strat model is pretty obviously a Tokai ST-45 with a different headstock shape, and so based on a model already in production. Also, the Hondo II Strats turn up (mainly in the US, I believe?) under Tokai's own brand name as the "Golden Era" model, and I've yet to see any similar Leads.
There is a Wikia about MIK Samick guitars on fandom.com. I've no way of knowing anything about the accuracy of it, but they have a brief entry on the Hondo II Professionals:
"The Professional Series (also known as Pro Series) was introduced in 1980 after Samick's engineers took a trip to Japan to learn from their manufacturing processes and teamed up with Tokai and Matsumoku to create a line of Japanese-made models. The purpose of the line was to improve perception of the Hondo brand name. They were built from late 1979 through 1981, and sold from 1980-1983
Full entry here:
I'm not sure if Matsu made Lead copies for anyone else at the time (I haven't really taken an interest in the model so far), but they were one of the world's largest (if not the
largest) guitar manufacturer at the time, so it seems more likely to me that they had the capacity to produce them? If
they were involved at all, that is.