Well 2008 is coming to a close and to say it’s been a busy and surreal year for Max Toy Company and Myself perhaps is an understatement 😉
Who’d thunk that I’d be able to auction off custom figures at world famous auction houses in New York and London ?!! I try not to think about it… it’s very strange .. well maybe it’s just that it’s a different venue in which to showcase these awesome toys (and I mean all Kaiju toys not just my own). I remember having a talk with a guy in Japan and he just could not understand why someone would be interested in his custom painted toys .. to them, they always paint their toys, so whats the difference ? 1 or 100 of them .. they are all custom paints .. and to be honest I agree. If it’s done by a human hand than they are indeed slightly different. But I had to argue that if you only painted one of something, and did not make another in that style, well it would be one-of-a-kind and thus is a custom made/painted figure ( in USA terms ). It’s this unique quality that in particular these auctions are about. But since these auctions for Kaiju toys has just started, there is no precedent .. so at this point anything goes. Where’s all this going ? I have no idea, but I do have a wish and it’s why I participate in these auctions, and thats to raise the “artist” part of all this to a new level.. give recognition to these guys and what they are doing now, in Japan ,the US and Globally. I do know we are in the middle of what could be termed ” Kaiju Boom 3 ” after the 60-70’s where in Japan their Kaiju Boom was an explosion of Kaiju and Hero shows and merch … but this time Kaiju Boom 3 is on a Global scale and not just in Japan.
Also, with many artists being able to make their own toys and not have to go thru a big company, the ability to realize your own toy is now possible. Than you have all the many collaborations and cross overs, and with customs being painted and traded and sold off line, how do those toys fit into the history .. do they count as part of the series of toys ?
I pity the historian who will in 50 years try to make sense of all this … !
Since I started making my own toys 3 years ago, I still think of myself as a collector but realize as a toy maker, my views on these questions are now tainted … I have to leave these and other questions to the future authors and historians of this stuff.
In any case, here’s a special Rainbow Eyezon and a inner painted with gold, and tinted with colors outside, Tripasu 😉 to be auctioned off in New York at Christie’s auction house November 24th, 2008.
The journey continues many plans and projects are in the works for 2009 and beyond were Kaiju is concerned, some i am involved with others I know about.. but in the end I always try to shine a positive light on these artists and toys.
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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