You ever have that feeling your being talked about behind your back ?.. you know that ears burning kind thing? ;-P
Of late, I’ve had that feeling … I suppose one has to be careful about saying such things… I mean it can be read as a kind of paranoia :-0 I usually go about my toy business with blinders on .. just forging forward and be damned with what anybody else says .. well that hasn’t changed much ( ha-ha ).. I’m still doing what I like, as opposed to what the market may dictate with my toys …but more and more this Kaiju Art Movement that I have pushed for over nearly 5 years plus has taken a life of it’s own 😉
That’s a good thing, I think .. in my opinion any niche movement ( and yes Kaiju toys is a small slice of the toy pie in America ) needs to grow, have new blood and new events to keep things fresh and hopefully push the boundaries of what it can be.
Going global was always part of my plan to expand Kaiju themed shows. Japan was obvious as the birthplace of these toys, and Chicago, Miami and San Francisco in the USA ( with more to come ) are in my native country but Kaiju Attack – Barcelona – Spain, and others in the planning are pushing forward into uncharted territories… I think a very exciting time for fans .. but also for the artists involved.
Yes, the economy is tough, and it’s bad all around the world.. but it’s precisely in these times that if your able to support these artists (and Art) your actually keeping this art form alive and in many cases helping these artists survive.
To be a toy maker or an artist is tough … ya there’s a few superstars out there, but for the most part we all plug along, selling our figures in the hopes of being able to do another, and another ;-P Glamorous ? nope ( sorry to burst your bubble ).. for me the drive is to not only express my toy vision, but also to expose some of these other artists and what they do.
With the success of Kaiju Comrades 2 in Japan, and especially during these down times proved to me that great work will always sell when presented in the right way.
So the buzz I hear or rather FEEL I hope means I’m on the right path. Plans are in place for 2011 and beyond.. and if we make it past 2012 ( ha-ha ), well you can bet Kaiju will be stomping ahead full steam !
Note: Someone called me and asked if everything was Ok with me 😉 .. well yes I said, why ? well after reading this blog they thought I was going off the deep end .. Hmmm, I guess i should have added something at the beginning like, I’m being sarcastic here folks, wink-wink …so no I’m not going off the deep end .. not yet ! Thats for next week ;-P
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.”