Behind the Scenes – Comic Con
I’m usually one of the behind-the-scenes crew (the other crew member being Max) at Max Toy Company. If you get the wrong toy in the mail, you can probably blame it on me, a.k.a. the shipping department. When we decided to have a booth at this year’s Comic Con, I was fully prepared for the toy onslaught…
You Max Toy Club members attending the Comic Con – I’m so proud of ya’ll. Some of you came in your Max Toy Company t-shirts. Nearly all of you had your Toy Club membership cards with you, and had your membership number memorized. Members were able to pick up a free goodie at the Con. Those who cannot attend will get their freebie in the mail soon. Hopefully I don’t screw up the shipping.
What was the best part of the show? Meeting folks in the Japanese toy collector community. Yeah, really. Before the Con, I just knew your names and addresses. I was glad to finally put your faces to your names (or is that “your face to your name”?) and to find out more about your collections.
(Gargamel and Godzilla artist supreme Bob Eggleton )
( Tim Biskup, Ugly Dolls David Horvath, Sun Min stopped by to see the amazing Gargamel toys )
The toy makers were also super cool, especially our boothmates from Gargamel. So what if we didn’t speak Japanese and they didn’t speak English? Exaggerated hand gestures usually got the point across.
( you really have to see the clear vinyl Gargamel stuff in person…it’s like blown glass ! )
( sneak peek at the next Max Toy Company toy …Alien Xam with movable claws ! )
The worst part of the show? The food at the convention center. Enough said.
I didn’t spot any major celebrities, but I did spot a few B-listers, like Luigi and Princess Peach, as well as Napolean Dynamite.
Would I do it again? Heck, yeah. Even though my feet are swollen to triple size from all that standing. We’ve already got some exciting plans for next year’s booth. Sorry, I can’t tell you any of those plans, you’ll just need to wait till next July. If you weren’t able to make it to San Diego this year, you’ll definitely kick yourself if you miss out next year.
Keep checking the Max Toy Club website — my occasional mutterings may occasionally make their way to the site. And just to see if you are reading this, the first three people to send an e-mail to Mark saying that they read my article will get a free Max Toy Company t-shirt. Just let him know what size and color (black available in all sizes, red in limited sizes), and your mailing address.
Final photo…we’re all tired but had a great time !
And now a few pics of friends stopping by the booth…thanks everyone for your support ! See you next year Comic Con, July 2007 !!
Kim from Threezero and the toy he helped produce !Kim’s a great guy is a true fan of these types of toys.
Funny how life is (!) This Comic Con featured the return of little Mark and Big Mark..which is which ?
Max’s first Comic Con …he had a blast and I actually spent my money on his toys for a change at Comic Con !
Anna meets Snoopy … I think Anna is cuter 😉
Over the years Mark Nagata has collected thousands of toys and a fair amount of titles. The man behind San Francisco-based Max Toy Company is widely known as: Toy Collector. Illustrator. Magazine Founder/Publisher. Toy Designer. Artist. Author. Husband. Father. But the one description that might fit best is an unofficial one – Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador.
In the Japanese-inspired art and toy area, as well as throughout the larger toy collecting community, Mark is welcomed and recognized for his personal passion and commitment to supporting artists all around the world and the unique works they create. Beginning as a collector in his youth, Mark has had for years a keen eye for great art and a personal interest in collecting that he has spread through a variety of outlets.
Trained at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Mark honed his skills working for himself and for some of the most notable businesses in the country. As a freelance commercial illustrator, he completed works for such prominent companies as Lucasfilms, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys, IBM, Sony, and numerous advertising and design firms, both national and international. Mark’s colorful style graces over 40 cover paintings for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series – Give Yourself Goosebumps.
After hundreds of assignments, Mark made the decision to move in another direction, and that choice has led to whole new career as a successful businessman. For four years, the owner of one of the largest Ultraman toy collections in the world co-published Super 7 Magazine showcasing the finest in Japanese toy collecting.
“I’d been collecting Japanese toys all along and suddenly realized it would be cool to have a magazine of some type devoted to them,” Nagata says.
Mark’s devotion to presenting collectors with a selection of original figures inspired by classic Japanese toys from the 1960s and ‘70s as well as new versions of licensed Japanese characters is at the heart of Max Toy Company. Named for his son, Max Toys specializes in custom and limited editions of “kaiju” (Japanese monsters) toys and artwork. Many of the original toys produced are hand painted by Mark, a tradition that goes back to Japanese toy makers of the past.
“Since our target is the soft vinyl Japanese toy collector, which is a very small niche, our runs of toys can be extremely small,” Mark says. “Runs range from 500 pieces of one toy to just one for a hand-painted, one-of-a-kind custom figure.”
Through Max Toys, Mark has taken great pains to widen the reach of his two passions – toys and art. He played a significant part in the development of the first group kaiju show in the United States. Held at the Rotofugi Gallery in Chicago, Illinois in 2007, the “Toy Karma” Show featured detailed work from artists from Japan, the U.S. and South America. Participants marveled at the custom-painted toys and art on display. “Toy Karma” led to Mark being asked to be one of the artists spotlighted in the “Beyond Ultraman: Seven Artists Explore the Vinyl Frontier” exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The October 2007 show, held jointly with the Los Angeles Toy, Doll and Amusement Museum, marked the first time – in a museum setting – that the influence of Japanese toys on California artists was explored. The exhibit featured more than 30 of Mark’s original paintings, toys and a selection of his vintage toy collection.
Mark continued to be at the forefront as interest in Japanese-inspired art and toys expanded in 2008. Prestigious art houses Philips De Pury and Christie’s in New York and London sold Mark’s hand-painted custom kaiju toys in its auctions, spreading this unique art and toy movement into new and uncharted areas of the art world.
In 2009, Mark once again took his love of toys and art overseas this time to a receptive and welcoming audience in Tokyo, Japan. Here, Mark curated the “Kaiju Comrades” Art Show, once again bringing together artists from various aspects of the kaiju toy realm in this first-of-its-kind toy art show. The following year found Mark in Barcelona, Spain co-curating with Emilio Garcia “Kaiju Attack,” the European country’s first kaiju art show.
As the growth of kaiju art and toys increases worldwide, Mark continues in his unofficial role of Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. He has written and had his artwork and toy designs included in several books and magazines, both domestic and international. In 2010, Mark served as guest lecturer on kaiju and the toy-making process at the Morikami Museum in Florida. The San Francisco resident and his art can also be spotted in the first volume of the “ToyPunks” DVD and the “Toys R Us” DVD, while the video for the number one song by Owl City “Fireflies” featured Mark’s popular Kaiju Eyezon character. During this same time period, Mark has spearheaded the “Toy Karma 2” and “Kaiju Comrades 2” shows and has plans for future shows both in the U.S. and overseas.
“Max Toys allows me to produce original artwork, new toys and work directly with a lot of talented artists,” Mark says. “Max Toy is a synthesis of toys and art, both life-long passions.”