Japan October 2010, In Living Kolor – Part 6

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.


Part 6 – Going Home

6 amazing days in Tokyo … well, really how could one not have an amazing time in Tokyo ?!! We have our bus tickets to Narita airport for 11:30 am … so we decide to get up late for once .. well, I don’t know about the others but I could have slept till Noon ! Guess I’m on Japanese time .. just my luck now to return to US time .. ugh, the jet lag coming home, I’ve found is always the worst .. but that is the price one pays for traveling abroad.

Our morning routine, is as may have you guessed it, the same .. we walk over to McD’s and sit our tired butts down as we inhale cigarette smoke … I glance over at a couple of High School aged kids .. looking at us and probably thinking whats up with those two white guys, and whys the Japanese guy speaking perfect English ?!! .. Ya that’s what I’m thinking all the time, too …

My trips to Tokyo happen to center around toys and art .. both things I have a passion for and would do no matter what I was doing in my life. Many of the artists I met with and get to know are the same. Some have part time or even full time jobs, but their passion and dedication keeps them going .. producing new works, and I think having .. dare I say it, the “F” word … “FUN”.

I think many may measure success merely by the bottom line, and for sure that is important to keep going, but the for me why does one even bother to put up with the hassles of creating a piece of art or toy, unless it’s fun ?

Well, that is just me, my way of dealing with all this … toy politics, who I can talk too, who i should not, where to go, where not to go .. yes, that exists and at least for me is a reality I have to deal with in this toy world. But, despite such things, I see glimmers of hope, as I like to say, that re-energize my passions for art … I see it in up and coming artists… the same passions and excitement I remember … when any thing and every thing was possible.

Being an old veteran at this ( ha-ha ), I encourage this excitement, but also temper it a bit by a small dose of reality … I like to say it’s a marathon and not a sprint … ideally an artist would like to have a long career , versus a quick rise to the top followed by a crash .. that’s not good.

Another perception I have speak to in Japan, is the hope that the US is the Golden Ticket to fame and fortune ;-P … for a very few it may be, but for the rest of us, it’s slow but steady course, of art shows, self promotion, self producing and self motivating… again slow and steady … and not to set up too high of expectations … not to say you should not be excited but realistic, too.


We gather our luggage and off to the bus stop we go, being early we are able to board a bus at 11 am .. and we’re off to Narita airport.

We arrive at the airport and have plenty of time to have lunch and look around .. I’m the first guy to fly out .. I say good by to Matt and Keith .. and settle in for the return trip to San Francisco. The plane is empty, I have the entire row to myself.

In one of those time travel things, I’ve left Tokyo, Tuesday at 4pm, and will arrive home at 9am on Tuesday … so like ground hog day, I get to do the day over, again.

My day is just beginning and it’s a full day of catching up with emails, Max Toy web orders, custom toys I need to paint … and much more …

As of this writing I most likely will return to Tokyo in April 2011 .. for a special show that will also travel back to the US, and show at Double Punch … I’ll reveal more about this show soon … !

2010, 2011 and Beyond !

Next week Nov 13th, 2010, is a Kaiju show at Double Punch ( see new blog post ), December Love Show at Frog Gallery in SF, January, Kaiju show at Dragatomi in Sacramento, February, Alien Argus show at Toy Art Gallery in LA .. and further out, July SDCC, September Toy Karma 3 at Rotofugi … and I’m sure other stuff I don’t
even know I’m involved with yet ;-P

Thanks for reading these ramblings. I’m not a very good writer, but I hope you can get a sense of what my trips have been like for me.

My travels have taken me to many amazing and truly awe inspiring places and I have met so many wonderful artists and craftsmen. Many people will roll their eyes, but I do believe things I have done and will do are part of my Fate and Karma .. in fact, there have been several instances of people or situations in which I have dreamed about meeting them already ( deja vu ) or more oddly, someone else has already dreamed it (!)
It’s happened too many times for me to dismiss it .. I have no idea what it means but let the path unfold in front of me as it will … but also am very pro active in making things happen. It could be argued that even in my own planning this is somehow preplanned by a higher power ;-)… but in case it is not I go ahead and set my own course and more importantly follow through.

I look forward to seeing my friends in Japan soon, and wish them all positive Toy Karma !


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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