Beyond Ultraman Exhibition , simply awesome !

Here we are in front of the PMCA where the exhibit was taking place..lucky Max missed half a days school 😉

Was great to finally meet up with finally with Brian McCarty , whose well known as a brilliant photographer of Art Toys … nice guy and has some cool projects in the works…so be on the look out for that !

Also had the great pleasure of meeting for the first time David Gonzales, whose Homies toys are well known. I missed having my picture taken with him so this pic of the four of us signing books will have to do ;-P Us ealry folks sat down and started signing away … from left to right in the pic is David Gonzales, Me, Brian McCarty and Tim Biskup.
Anyways, I was impressed by the fact that every single figure he produces has a unique story and or personality behind it. I love to find out about toys, and the stories behind them.. something this exhibit shows. Each of the artists involved has a unique vision of what there art is about and seeing all 7 of our toys, paintings and such assembled in one huge room was very impressive … I would have had more pics of the inside but we actually were not suppose to take pictures ( oops ) .. !

Anna did snap this pic of Max and I under the Alien Xam display .. hee-hee…

Once the doors opened the crowds were non-stop for the next 2 hours … I actually did not get to see the entire exhibit as much as I wanted to, so I will have to return ( you have till Jan 6th , 2008 ! ) Had a great time meeting many Max Toy fans but also folks who had no idea what these toys are (!) I really do not mind explaining from my perspective what I think these toys are about.. and in the case of my stuff why I do what I do (!) In any case folks who came out where very impressed by not only our work ( thank you ! ) but the way it was displayed and laid out..I thought a stunning example of how these “toys” can be elevated to “art”. Maybe I’m too close to this project to have a unbiased opinion ( yes I probably am ) but I think maybe more than toys of old, these new toys are truely a new form of art .. but simply put on a cheaper level. Thats is , it’s not an original painting that will set you back hundreds or even thousands.. but for a mere $40 bucks or so you have a limited made item that reflects the artists vision of what it looks like.. not made by committee or corporate focus groups 😉 Basically in most cases from the artists sketch direct to the factory, than from the factory to the consumer.
Despite the recent Lead worries I think the Genie is out of the bottle and there will be more of these Art Toys made .. and maybe a few of them will even break the trend to become classic toys. In anycase after over 2 hours of toy discussions the reception was over and as you can see Max had enough 😉 PMCA and it’s staff did an outstanding job and I can not recommend more highly that you see this exhibit… it truely is a historic event in the short history of Art Toys.

I have to say none of this would have happened without the vision and tireless work
of Maria Kwong and the LaTda staff. Having curated the Toy Karma show recently I understand some of the difficulties in assembling a group together, but that was nothing compared to what this show and book is. You have to remember this is a museum, and not a gallery, as such nothing is for sale, but rather it is to document and show anyone what this new toy trend is, but also honoring the past and where this all springs from. Each artist and work chosen that would not only tell his story but also the over all arc of where all this fits in and maybe even where it’s going.

Of course you can just view all this great stuff and simply enjoy it for what it is, fun stuff… but if you choose to.. look a bit closer and come to this exhibition, you will see that what each of us has done and continues to do is slowly building another chapter in the book of toy history… I am aware of this maybe more so now after seeing my work with the others…it’s a bit daunting perhaps, but I know I will stay true to my love and passion for Japanese toys.

About toykarma

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.”
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