The following series of blogs are about my trip to Tokyo, Japan to participate in the “In Living Kolor” toy art sale and demonstration show.
The basic idea of this show was to introduce a new type of paint for toys, called Monster Kolor. Matt Walker ( aka Dead Presidents Designs ) is the developer and creator of this paint, but has also gained much attention within the Art Toy world as a top notch and sought after toy painter. By setting up several airbrushes and having plenty of paint to use, invited artists could use the paint in person on an actual toy.
Joining us on this trip was Keith Fulmis of BeBop Designs, artist and designer and maker of most awesome pins ( Like the Kaiju Eyezon pin, ;-P ). This was his first foray to Japan.
Breakfast in Japan
In what be a daily routine we got up and out by 8am and dragged our butts to the McDonalds near by.. truth be told I would much rather eat at a noodle place or similar Japanese styled place .. but it’s easy and the staff put up with our finger pointing at the menu .. as i mumble .. ” Set-o ” … simply awful but what can i do ? A side note on the very last day we ordered breakfast they flipped the darn menu over and it was ALL in English ! ha ha …
Being from California, I’m now use to practically a smoke free environment everywhere .. and although Japan is getting better about smoke free places the smell is everywhere.. so each morning we are greeted at this McDonalds with mix of smells of hot cakes and smoke … yummy ;-P Being the first morning in Japan, we talk about the set up today and how Yo and myself will be gone in the afternoon to meet up with the Medicom President, Akashi-san , but would return to fetch them to go to our group dinner later that night. I glance over at a sleeping girl at the table across and another guy sleeping in a booth … it’s amazing to me that in Japan one can sleep almost anywhere, restaurants, trains and not get robbed 😉 ah, being mostly of one race there is unspoken code of conduct .. that’s not to say folks don;t get robbed, but for the most part they are left alone, to wake up and stagger to their daily jobs .. amazing, we all say that could never be in the States. I guess a social comment about the US ? Maybe… with that were off to Harajuku to the Design Festa Gallery East building and setting up the show.
Ready, Set, Go !
Being a Friday the entrance to Harajuku was not it’s usual crowded mix of tourists, locals and hawkers selling their wares…
After a short walk we reach the building, which is very familiar to me as in March we had Kaiju Comrades 2 show upstairs… this time we have a nice room that opens up the street.. again perfect for airbrushing. As luck would have it the weather was clearing up and the Sun was set to shine !
Set up is easy, we need a few tables to put paint bottles on and unpainted or blank toys … plus set up the compressors and there snake-like hoses…
Kaiju Drazorans, cleaned with Alcohol to remove any grease from the surface are ready to be painted ! The question is will anyone come to paint with us ?
Above, for those not familiar with an airbrush are two examples (dirty examples !) An airhose would attach to the bottoms to allow you to spray a very fine mist of paint from the front tip.
Slowly Yo unwraps one beautiful custom after another from Matt, we all stop what we are doing to stare in awe ! I’ve said it many times before, but you can never photograph these painted toys .. you miss the full depth of color, the glossy coat and the glittery effects going on ! If your lucky you will see one in person someday or better yet buy one for your collection 😉
Our lunch was from the nearby Lawsons ( like a 7-11 ) and was simply delicious.. even the lowest grade Japanese food experience is higher than what you find in the States.
Matt had to do some last minute pin stripe on a few toys .. which would need a few hours to fully dry … with that Yo and I left for our meeting…
Medicom Toys Meeting
It’s odd were life takes you sometimes … as much as i plan out what i do or any goals I may have for myself or Max toys, I usually just move forward and put the blinders on to my critics .. really what else is one to do, everyone has likes and dislikes and the old saying you can’t please everyone all the time is very true in the toy world. So when Yo told me that the President of Medicom liked the Kaiju Dragigus figure, it kinda of set me back for a second… I thought but they don’t do Kaiju figures ? ;-P
Via their Project 1/6 store, they have been offering some kaiju exclusives lately and Yo said they wanted to offer a new colorway of Kaiju Dragigus and also the newest collab figure, Alien Argus produced by TAG Toys. Wow, of course i would want to do this, and to be able to further the Kaiju movement I saw this as a very positive chance. As luck would have it, my trip was the same time that the figures would be previewed in their Project 1/6 store,the following day. Our meeting with Akashi-san also included Shigenobu-san, Corporate Planning Dept, and Chief of Overseas Section , whose English was perfect by the way !
To my amazement we learned that Akashi-san was about our age ( lets say we’re in our mid 40s ) and had Bullmarks as a child. He’d loved the standard sized figures and still had a passion for them to this day. So his direct involvement with this project was no fluke .. he’d love to see more kaiju projects and we obviously agreed ! Still to be a kaiju maker these days is tough .. the younger crowd seeks out what they know or licensed items that are familiar to them … if you did not grow up with Bullmarks well you have no first hand memory of them … in fact, Shigenobu-san grew up with Popys, which are smaller … I think over all my impression of this meeting made me realize that even in mega large companies, there are still individuals who want to support small kaiju makers such as myself .. and shine the light on what we do .. I’m so grateful for this chance. There’s still life left in the Kaiju world !
The Medicom Toys meeting exceed our estimate so we got back to the gallery with no time to waste … gather up our stuff and Matt and Keith and head to the restaurant.
As the guests arrived it felt like a family dinner, familiar faces greeted us and the eating began !
One table had Matt, Keith, Yo and Yamashita of Nakayoshi Toys ( he sculpted the mini Drazoran and will be doing more soon ! )
My table had Sunguts, Touma, and Tulip .. the other table had Dream Rockets, Pico Pico, Namiko Sonobe, OneUp and TTtoys.
One thing i noticed is these guys, and girls, can EAT ;-P which is great, but I could not compete with the volume of liquids and food being consumed in front of me ! And for the most part everyone is rail thin .. I suppose it’s the amount of walking most of them do around Tokyo .. and generally the lower caloric intake … I need to lose some weight .. ugh …
above: Sunguts looks on as Tulip cooks her vegetables and stays away from the Meat…
the only other women was artist Namiko-san, here deciding what to order :-)… a brief comment about the lack of women artists in the Kaiju world .. it is something that will be changing over the next few months as I and others tap this under used resource of super talented artists. To be honest they don’t really do kaiju but thats not really important to me. I look for not only ability but the willingness to breakout of what they normally would do and try something different. Thats what I like to do myself, and feel to stay in the box is to grow stagnant, but to push the boundaries is the only way to grow and expand not only your abilities but also to experience new things. This way is not for everyone I know, so any of these artists who are willing to put up with translations, sometimes a clash of American vs Japanese ways , well I appreciate their efforts even more so. All this to say you will see much more on this front over the next few months and into next year from me, and others ! … stay tuned !
It may sound hooky, but I am aware of the future importance these kind of events and gathering will play in the history of kaiju art and toys. I usually do not take a macro view of these events .. a simple dinner with friends.. but I know the amount of talent and sheer will power in each of these artists will impact the present and future of kaiju and art. This event although planned, is the result of many years of my work to get to this point .. I have a vision for all this kaiju stuff, but I also let Fate guide my way. This is not to say I let stuff happen randomly but the paths all of us in this room have taken, had at this moment in time placed us in this room, on this night.
As the evening wound down, Makino-san of TTtoys showed me the progress on a project we are doing.. i’ll tease it with this head 😉 hmmm, what could it be ?!! Makino-san is a top notch sculptor and even though this head was not done, sheesh looks perfect to me ! Amazing … I wish i could show the rest but all in good time 😉
I stood up and made a semi coherent speech, at least this time longer 😉 than my previous one at Kaiju Comrades 2 show and presented Yo with a painting as a big thank you for making all of this possible ! I could never repay him for all his hard work …and most of all his friendship.
As I looked around this room, I knew despite the language barrier and even different artists temperaments ( ha-ha ), in the end they all showed up to give support to Matt and myself, and Yo … these are good people with good hearts … I won’t forget their kindness and will do whatever I can to help support them in the USA and beyond. This is how it should be, helping each other, and building each other up, not tearing down each other … I’m naive, I know this .. for the most part this world is made up of frighten and scared people … but, for me the positive Toy Karma I felt in this room was reward enough.
Next blog – Saturday, In Living Kolor show !