You will have to excuse me as I’m suffering from jet lag today ! The family and I just got back from Japan .. this mere days after attending San Diego Comic Con 😉 So lets briefly start at SDCC 2008 …
this year I decide to have the fine folks at StrangeCo show and sell my Max Toys at SDCC. For the first time in over 6 years I was able to actually walk around and enjoy SDCC without worrying about rushing back to my booth (!) although in hindsight I should have arranged times I would actually be in the StrangeCo booth.. as I missed many folks who wanted to see me.. sorry about that… next year we’ll have it down better… but thanks to those who did stop by !
to be quite honest one of the only booths that got me excited about toys was my good friend Steve Forde’s booth, GoHero ! I’d known about his project for awhile, and even saw some pics of his protos but this was the first time to see them up close …
I have to say I was blown away by the quality and craftsmanship on the figures. I love classic Buck Rogers and these figures are a home run, for sure ! One each please … 😉 and you can not tell but the deluxe versions will have a Mp3 player in them .. pre loaded with old radio serials of Buck Rogers (!) and get this you can download into the figure more sounds from the GoHero site…. man the applications for this are numerous … ! and for the classic Buck Rogers Disintegrator Gun .. awesome ! Replicated in tin like the original and it makes a spark and pop noise to boot ! Very nice, and yes I must add to my Ray Gun collection, too. I know Steve’s got a bunch more cooking .. so if I were you i would bookmark his page and get on his mailing list.
My main focus this year was to let Max see whatever he wanted and as usual this lead us to the Lego booth and of course to Star Wars stuff. One thing I thought was lacking from SDCC were places to sit and eat .. we ended up sitting on the floor and eating lunch.. Ok for the toy geek but not comfortable for kids.. Oh was great to hook up with Brad Warner and Alex Wald, who by the way was nominated for an Eisner as Best Colorist.. sorry to say he did not win ( boo ! ) but man what a thrill it must be to be nominated !… hmmm, I did not find much for myself to buy.. did see some nice Jack Kirby originals, but at $35,000 a bit out of my league 😉
after returning to SF…a few days and we were off to Japan for Summer Wonderfest 2008 ! This time we had a table next to Cronic and NerdOne. I know Japan is hot and humid in the Summer but man this heat was almost too much to take. I believe most of the days we were there is was 93 degrees to 104 degrees ! Yikes… poor Max .. poor me too … if not for the toys (!!) Anyways we all woke up early and left for Wonderfest at 5am.. the Sun was actually already up in Japan and with Jet Lag we actually woke up around 3:30 am !.. the drive was about 1.5 hours to Tokyo Big Site and Thanks to Yo Miyamoto, Max Toys Japan correspondent, made much easier in air conditioned fashion !
after setting up were quickly ran off to meet up with other companies and see what everyone was selling and or showing ! I don’t have any pictures of this as we were only spending a few minutes if even that at each table … but as always saw many, many cool toys and even if some of the styles of toys did not appeal to me as a collector I can appreciate everyones dedication to their toys. Dream Rockets Yajima-san and Rumble Monsters Wakahara-san briefly stopped by our booth to wish us well, too..
I enjoy seeing these guys, and enjoy their positive attitudes about the vinyl toy scene… After this we got back to our booth and the doors opened… of course the next few hours were a blur of selling, and greeting Max Toy fans in Japan. While all this was going on the air con was either turned off or not working ! We were all sweating in 100 degree heat ! Poor Max .. Anna ran off on many water runs but finally even the water and sodas sold out ! At one point she bought 2 ice creams for her and Max but by the time she walked back to the booth both had melted all over her hands ! We also found out there was a terrible accident on the long and tall escalator .. I guess a few guys got really hurt on it … good thing we were on the ground floor !
As I look back on all these pictures there’s no way to convey just how hot and awful the conditions were inside … to be quite honest if they don’t have air con next year I would not even go to attend .. it was that bad for me ;-( I don’t do well in heat..
Ok thats it for this post … next time I will highlight the toys I picked up and thought were cool… make a few brief comments on the soft vinyl scene in Japan, and a report on a true master I had the privilege of meeting on my visit …
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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