Happy Father’s Day !

above: Me and my Dad, 1964

Happy Father’s Day ! After 12 of these, I’m still shocked to hear this .. yes, I am a father .. but perhaps because I am still immature or have that Peter Pan syndrome ( never want to grow up ! ) I still have trouble processing it in my brain ! Recently I had to go over a few old documents and realized that my parents were both 37 when they had me ( I am ten years younger than my sisters ) .. my mom used to joke that I was the mistake ( ha-ha )… a joke that went over my head for many years … so my memories of my father are sometimes vastly different from my sisters. My sisters for the most part were gone to college and out of the house .. so i felt like an only child .. well a spoiled only child 😉

above: Me and my Dad, 1972

My dad was a life long banker for his career… but actually was ahead of his time in his thinking. Examples of this… he use to help my mom by changing diapers ( yes, a shock during the 50s and 60s !) , helped with the cleaning of the house and later on encouraged me to become an artist (!) even though he wondered how i would ever support myself .. something i still wonder too ( ha-ha ) … and, before I was born, he even thought about taking my mom and sisters and joining the Peace Corps overseas ! He battled his demons ( as we all do ) and conquered most of them, like quitting smoking after 40+ years ! .. just up and quit cold turkey one day … amazing… I was lucky in that I spent many years with my father after he retired, having lunch with him, buying his lottery tickets, watching the occasional basketball game with him.. and in that strange transition slowly over the years instead of me depending on him … he started depending on me… He was a typical Nisei Japanese-American in that he didn’t say too much .. about himself or past events .. but when he did, well you were either in trouble or it was something important ;-P In the arc of his life, he saw ups and downs, as a young teenager was interned with his family in a World War 2 concentration camp, joined the Army to show his Patriotism, but also saw the horrors of post war Japan, got married and had a family, spent his lifetime building his career and the disappointments that resulted. My father did say if your lucky enough to live long enough you will have to endure many events, good and bad .. that’s what life’s made of … so with that perspective I know nothing stays the same forever, life is always in flux .. it’s when your in it that you do not see the bigger picture playing out …being able to look back is indeed 20/20 vision. It’s been 8 years since he passed away .. but I am glad he got to experience Max for a short time.

above: Max and Me , 2010

So I do my best as a father to Max .. he knows I make mistakes, but i always tell him you can learn from them and to move forward. Along the way you will have some amazing experiences, make some good friends and maybe one day have your own family.
The one thing my father said to me that meant the most to me, was when Max was born, he said to me , ” .. I know you will be a great father ” … wow … to this day i think about that moment.. and try my best to live up to that one statement. I hope I will be … and if Max ever has his own family I will tell him the same.
Happy Father’s day !

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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