Japan Wrap Up

For this final post, I’ll recap some of the stuff that was happening..out of sequence but fun nonetheless. One of the nights we were invite to dinner by Gargamel and I had the pleasure and honor of meeting a favorite artist of mine, KaToPe. I know you Gargamel fans know his work.. and I’ve missed out on some of his work in the past few shows here in the US, much to my disappointment.. but was I surprised when he presented this incredible original art to me !

KaToPe actually was right handed but due to an accident had to train himself to paint and draw with his left hand ! Amazing… and even though it was raining KaToPe brought over to show me many original artwork, all his personal collection and not for sale… He showed me pictures done right handed and now left handed. There is a difference, but to be honest both ways are perfectly rendered. I’m amazed at the power of the human spirit to move forward despite such set backs and obviously says a lot about KaToPe’s raw talent and will power. I’ll post a huge painting I bought last year as soon as I get it ( thats another funny story ) by KaToPe .. I’ve had wall space reserved for it all this time … it’s a good one (!) Anyways, it’s this kind of personal interaction that I enjoy the best, and moments that I will remember forever.Thanks to Koji and Kiyoka for making this possible.

Another night we got together with Yajima-san of Dream Rockets .. I’ve long admired Yajima-san’s original kaiju such as Gumos and Balbagon … we enjoyed a great dinner and lively conversation about many topics.. I find it refreshing to hear about how others think and feel about these toys and Americans in general. I know we Americans are use to imposing our views on others without considering cultural differences, I’ve been guilty of that for sure, but it is a true fact. It was funny but I had to keep reminding Carlos this is Japan …when he was told he could not do something (thats another story , ha-ha)… even though we are foreigners and may not know all the proper ways to go about doing stuff we should still respect their ways. It was a privilage to also view Yajima-san’s sketch book ! Whoa some really killer designes.. and like a dummy I forgot to bring my sketch book..well next time. The evening ended with a nice walk along a river while Yajima-san recited and sang out loud his favorite Kikaida episodes 😉

On our final night we got together with Naoki-san of Cronic for grilled food…oh so delicious ! I could have eaten more 😉 and despite the crazy picture here we enjoyed good conversation and drink. I got Noaki to sign my test shot of TriPasu as other customers looked at us like we dropped in from a UFO or something 😉
We also squeezed in visits to Mandarake, Pokemon center for Max, and awesome Udon, Curry over Rice … my head is still spinning at the amount of things we saw and got done. So with that I left Japan with more than I brought, and a feeling that I am a very lucky guy to be able to partake in all this toy goodness. I’ll be back soon but in the meantime I send Good Toy Karma to my friends and colleagues in Japan !

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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