I won’t even go into how most people know me, and that’s as a Ultraman collector 😉 In fact, before all this toy stuff I do I was an Ultraman collector .. my web site www.ultramantoys.com , in fact, was an early way for me to interact with fellow collectors and fans .. now all my time is taken up with my toy company, Max Toy Co. … so much so that I actually do not buy as many Ultraman toys as I once did. Well to be honest the newer stuff after say Gaia never really spoke to me… at least not on a collecting level. Also, I’ve reached a point in my vintage collecting that the few items that i do not have are one, way too expensive or two, something i just don’t know about. Case in point .. this toy i just got.
So about 2 years ago, while searching Yahoo Japan, I stumbled across some amazing original art auctions .. in hindsight I wish i went all the way on some of the items that were up for bid .. but, alas watching my collecting budget, I focused my attention on a few wonderful pieces.. and got them !
One them being this gouache on board illustration of Ultraman, with his alter ego, Hyata behind him. I do not know the artist ( if you know please email me the name ! ) it is done in vibrant colors and is quite large in size, 11 x 23 inches.
So until a few weeks ago, I’ve been searching to find out what this art was used for .. the other pieces I won, I was able to match them up with boxed ray gun type of playsets, but this particular image i could not find in any books I have.
and suddenly while searching Yahoo Japan, Bingo !!! I find this auction, for an Ultraman gun set by Toymark .. and look whats on the front cover .. yep .. the same painting !
So, needless to say I was not going to lose this auction .. having never seen this set before and owning the original art for the cover .. I knew it to be my Holy Grail !
the playset is fairly straight forward and actually kinda boring… the gun is obviously re-used from a military type of gun .. not even a ray gun type. The gun does not fire anything, but sparks and makes a grinding type of noise when the trigger is pulled. But, even though the actual toy is not too exciting, Boy the front cover does it for me ! Over all while comparing the art to the cover they are about actual size .. the time period for this gun would be 1966. While the box has some water stains, and is a bit faded, it is still a very nice example .. and as i said something I have not come across in my 20+ years of collecting.
So just when your not looking, something will fall into your lap ! Toy Karma at work .. now the original art and the toy can rest easy having been reunited in my collection !
Now that’s a Love Story I like to hear !!!
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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