Wonderfest Japan Summer 2008 part 2

This time I’ll recap some of the nice toys I was able to get and also see. I guess I’m what you would call an advanced collector ..I really do not buy too many “new” toys anymore .. I’m old school in taste, so most of what i do collect has a vintage charm or appeal to it. I do appreciate some new stuff, but I do not feel compelled anymore to buy more than one example ( Ok not a hard fast rule as you will see ! ). To be honest if I have to go thru too many hoops to get some of these toys, than I’m just not that interested anymore. I guess it’s the nature of the toy scene right now that micro runs or even one offs ( yes, I am guilty of this ! ) can make collecting soft vinyl toys a near impossible feat. Speaking of micro runs,lets start with this interesting toy that I only saw a glimpse of a few months ago. Made by a company called Yutari and in such low numbers, I believe 30 pieces (?) it caught my eye for it’s cool Mecha Kaiju design !

Called JIKIRO (GIKIRO) and it is from old Tsuburaya/Toho
live action TV show called ‘Ryusei Ningen ZONE’. Jikiro was on the first episode.
Next up not a new release but a kaiju I like that has that old school charm, this one by a company called Nakayoshi ( corrected from previous post !) This kaiju is called BANGARU. Nakayoshi is run by Yamashita-san and is his original kaiju done in standard size or 9 inches tall.

While trolling the Nakano Sunshine Mall, and of course Mandarake, came across this gem by toy company, Shikaruna Kobocalled MARINE KONG. This is from old live TV show called
‘Kaiju Marine Kong’ See pictures here!

I bought it merely on it’s look, I love the goofy expression it has, but did not realize it’s nearly spot on to the actual kaiju form the show. Another interesting note is that from what i heard this figure was only released once, than they had to stop production due to a license dispute.. so for now you’ll have to try to track this down via Yahoo Japan or such …. oh this one stands 12 inches tall ! Also I’m not sure if they are still taking orders but they will be selling a giant sized version of their Zagora with mini figure and a standard sized figure !!! yep three figures … it’s on the front page .. I saw the proto and it’s awesome 😉 and at about $315.00, a great price for a huge hunk of vinyl !

and I spotted this Eyezon in a consignment shop in the Nakano mall… hmmmm, 9800yen or about $98.00 US, a slight mark up in original price ;-), but I did not buy it ( ha-ha)
Oh and did I mention the yummy food ?

Yes I do more than just toy shop when i go to Japan 😉 here’s Max at a park / zoo in Tokyo. One moment your walking in busy streets and the next it’s nice and quite and full of lovely trees 😉 Did I mention it was hot ? despite our smiles it was over 90 degrees and humid and sticky … yuck …So imagine my horror when we petted these guinea pigs .. oh poor guys all covered in fur …!
Jumping back to Wonderfest despite the heat inside was good to meet up with old friends like Tadayuki of M1Go
I met Tada on my first trip to Japan back in 2001,he was about to go work for M1Go at the time (!)Wow time flies for sure …

oh also picked up this cool Pilot Ace Harryhausen Cyclops in soft vinyl style …a bit expensive at about $120 bucks .. but I love the Cyclops,so of course had to buy one…
They only had 30 for sale at the event but even though I bought mine at the end of the show they still had them ;-( over all I think an indication of the state of the vinyl world…you can blame the economy, oil prices, toy politics, dealers and more .. or all of them.. but one thing is for sure complaining about it isn’t going to solve the current down turn.. I think positive attitudes help, but as another soft vinyl guy blogged in Japan recently it’s best to take the lead and look for new ways to revitalize the industry together … I know a tough thing to do when we makers are all doing it on our own, but something I try to do in my small way with collabs and or joint projects or just by showing what others are doing out there… in the end despite the toy politics we are all tied together.. when the industry starts to falter it will affect us all. Add to this the fact that the guys pouring vinyl in Japan are old guys (aged 60+ !) ..with no young guys to replace them..some of these guys pour and flip molds so much that their arms go numb for several days after large orders ! Many are also saying in the next few years may spell the end to the soft vinyl toys made in Japan that we all know…I don’t know what the future will hold for this industry in Japan, but it’s good that the fans know whats happening now, and to support the company of your choice… we may not have another chance to experience these types of toys made in Japan by traditional makers much longer. My advice to any fans out there reading this, go to Japan soon, seek out these makers and companies, live history not just learn it… there’s nothing to beat real people interaction versus Web interaction…it’s great to own a toy but nothing can beat meeting these guys in person… Ok I’m stepping off my soap box …
Ok on a more positive note next time more toys and a report on a special master painter I had the honor to meet … it’s these interactions I live for and make for special memories.

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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