Kaiju Comrades Art Show , Tokyo Japan part 1

I’m still recovering form the show and trip .. right now my mind is processing everything .. to start with we had an awesome show that exceeded all we set out to do. The turn out and response was exciting and humbling at the same time. I will be posting a series of blogs about my trip, my observations and such over the next few days. I thought I’d have more time to relax and get back into the Max Toy world, but as is always the case have jump right into working on some sets for filming 😉 something very special, and a few other projects need my attention .. so without further ado, here’s my first entry:
The Kaiju Comrades art show, took place over a several days March 28th, 29th, and 31st 2009 in the Hyaku Gallery in the Ghetto building, Shinjuku district Tokyo Japan…
while only open to the public on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday we also had a invite only reception on Friday night.. because it was only open 3 days, I feared this would not be enough time for collectors to see the art and toys on display. But, as you will read, this was not the case, and much of my American take on these types of shows was misplaced… but more on that later.
I took off on a tuesday in order to arrive in Japan on a wed afternoon .. yes, we joke that Japan is indeed in the future(!) So after losing a day to flying I land and my trustworthy friend and Max Toy Correspondent Yo Miyamoto met me. We took a bus over to another terminal to meet up with fellow Kaiju Comrade Carlos Enriquez Gonzalez and his family. Dinner and than off to the hotel and sleep.. nice hotel great prices, called the Toyoko Inn. I know no Japanese at all ( being third generation Japanese American, but more on that later ) the staff did understand my simple questions and even though my Japanese face throws everyone off, was most helpful.

.. the next days would be hectic.
Each day the gallery was open to us around Noon, but the hotel preferred us to be out of our rooms by 10 am … this left a gap of about an hour before meeting up with Yo .. the area we stayed in was jumping at night with many “boy” and “girl” clubs, not like strip clubs here the idea I suppose is to pay to have a drink and clever conversation with them .. were this leads is any ones guess…many of the “boys” were made up better than the “girls”! any hows during the am this left not much open other than Family Marts ( like 7-11’s here ) and watching the occasional staggering kids after a night of drinking way too much…. but not much else to see.
The first full day was thursday and we had from noon to 8pm to get stuff unpacked, and set up.

Now to back track a bit when we have show like this in the US, the gallery is free from rent and has shelves etc to help show the art / toys and usually the shows last about 3-4 weeks in length… but in Japan, you have to rent the space, you have to rent the shelves( or provide them ) you have to have a trucking company drop off the boxes and pick them up … all expenses .. so it is not easy to do a show to begin with. But despite these added difficulties I knew I wanted to engage these artists and expand what they may not normally do as well as have their art seen by American fans. So with that we began unpacking and setting up in two rooms.

many of the pieces were delicate so unpacking them we had to take great care .. luckly nothing from he states was broken .. setting up rolled along, while many artists in Japan started to show up to bring in there exclusives or customs.. of course I didn’t take nearly enough pictures of everyone coming in so I apologize for leaving them out of my blog…but here’s Shintani-san bring in his massive custom diorama, which features his own kaiju ( dubbed drill nose ) fighting all hand made Captain Maxx and his created hero Dokoro-Taro ! This thing was massive but very light as he used a special paper clay .. and despite the retail price, I was so tempted to buy it (!) on the spot ;-P

I did not take close up pictures as i know Carlos did .. but now regret it .. I’ll post close details once I get them .. one of the problems I had through out the trip is I had no time to shoot pics, since most of the folks wanted to talk to me or show me stuff …or was in a rush to get to some appointment ….ah well, only so much I can do …

another early artist to show up was the super talented Yajima-san of Dream Rockets.. he was nice enough to sign the Drazoran for me. Drazoran is my new kaiju that I designed but Yajim-san sculpted and really brought it to life.

My jaw dropped as he passed a box to me and gave me the actual sculpt of Drazoran (!) he did. Ok this to me is like giving me the Soul of this toy .. amazing .. I thanked him but really I do not think he knows how touched I was in this gesture. Bare with me a bit, but I do know now there is a definite generational difference in not only toy fans but also toy creators and companies in Japan. I will write about this more later but something that was most apparent to me on this trip… these differences bleed over into buying habits and interactions I have.
More on this new figure in another post 😉 He also displayed an very early sculpt for a mini figure we will release called Neo Eyezon ( at least thats what it’s called now )

It’s not finished but from what i saw it’s a fantastic take on Kaiju Eyezon ! also of note I did not design this .. Yajima-san was inspired by Kaiju Eyezon so much that he went ahead and sculpted this version 😉 , wow, what again what an honor and the pure joy he brings to these projects is really like fresh air to me.. I’ll have more about Neo Eyezon in future blogs, so stay tuned… geez almost forgot he brought in these killer original kaiju called Cumalus .. painted in 4 colorways !

The rest of the day was spent in a mad scramble to get as much as we could set up as the next day (friday) we would only have about 3 hours to finish up and last minute details, till 3pm when an invite only opening would start ..as 8pm arrived and Yo, Carlos and I dragged or tired bodies away ;-)….for much needed sleep …
Next time, the show is ready to go ! Party time, and more !

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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