4/28/09 – UpDate – Both Items have sold at auction – Thank You !
On April 25th, 2009 in New York City, the Saturdays at Phillips De Pury auction will take place. The toys in this auction are curated by the legendary Japanese toy dealer and collector Steve Agin. I’ve had the privilege of participating in several of these auctions and despite the current economic conditions they have done quite well. Steve has been spearheading a movement in the auction world to bring a spotlight on Japanese toys and the new artists who are influenced by them, such as myself. Like a lone fish, swimming against a steady stream, Steve is starting to make headway in this mission. There’s many opinions as to whether this type of auction is good for the movement or not .. I guess only time will tell, but I am a firm believer in letting an artist express his or hers vision in whatever medium they chose. While you may think this type of auction format would prohibit the average fan, actually quite a few of the pieces are priced at “normal” custom prices. Take a look at the ones offered in this auction .. you may be surprised that the minimums are not unreasonable 😉 For those interested i do have two items in this auction … the first is a custom Kaiju TriPus with internal guts. Here are more pics …
and also have this really, really awesome Ceramic Kaiju Eyezon, made by the very talented Mairuzu ! At 24 inches in height, this is a unique color from a total edition of only 10 of these figures made. It’s really hard to see in these pictures but the orange and red glazes are really beautiful to behold ! There’s a depth that you can only see in person. This massive piece was sculpted by Mairuzu, assembled, glazed and fired in a kiln. A very time consuming and fragile process that limits how many can actually be made.. and in this case the piece is so massive ..thats why there will not be too many made.
And finally something I did not know until recently about Steve is that he is also an accomplished fine artist .. although it does not surprise me as in retrospect my vision of what Japanese toys can be or viewed as, match what Steve is trying to do in these auctions and beyond. Here’s a sampling of recent work by Steve. Very impressive work for sure. ( For scale, I believe these are all very large paintings. )
Steve gets it, being a long time collector and dealer…he gets that Japanese toys and these newer toys and art pieces should be recognized an art form and not just “Toys “. But while pushing for this new distinction, we both realize that the Soul of all these pieces is that they are or were toys, that kids worldwide bought and played with. While some of the pieces I do now are not toys ( like the Ceramic Kaiju Eyezon ), at the core or soul, what i offer are they are still toys to me. I think it safe to say that everyone who has interest in these types of toys either had them when they were growing up or if they have seen these for the first time, it effects them in that intangible spot in your heart .. the ” Oh thats Cool ” factor. So for me these off shoots of what i do are done with an level of excitement and fun factor. I always hope this comes thru in all my work, whether spoken or unspoken … and I know Steve has worked very hard to do the same with these auctions.
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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