Alien Argus show at Toy Art Gallery recap



above Mark Nagata (left) and Toy Art Gallery owner Gino Joukar (right)

Friday night, February 25th, 2011 … I’m sitting in the after hours Kaiser clinic with my 84 year old mother. Shes not feeling well and we are waiting for a test result to come back. I’m thinking I’m not going to make it to my Alien Argus show the next day. Its kinda deja-vu for me as the last TAG show I was suppose to attend I caught a really nasty cold and could not drive down to Los Angeles. As the time dragged by .. finally we get good news .. a prescription in hand .. within a few hours I’m back at home and finish up my packing… LA here I come !

As we drive down there’s reports of possible snow over the Grapevine route along Highway 5 … but no matter we forge ahead .. I’m not about to let some snow get in the way !!!
I’m always looking at clouds .. and this one caught my eye ! See the face ??
I’ve highlighted the face I saw in this pic above .. haha …

about 3.5 hours into the trip we stop off at Harris Ranch .. they are known for Beef .. and this Steak sandwich does not disappoint ! I do have to say though driving by the thousands of cattle awaiting their doom .. does make me feel a bit guilty and the smell is pretty potent, too … ah well .. it was most tasty lunch !

back on the road we approach the Grapevine .. hmmm we can see snow on those peaks .. and those clouds don’t look friendly at all … oh and the temperature has dropped to 40 degrees !
Sure enough at the top of the route .. it starts to snow !

but within an hour we are out of the mountains in in sunny LA !

I actually grew up in Southern California when I was younger .. so it feels like a second home … though I do prefer Northern California 😉

Making good time we arrive at our hotel .. a nice one this time.. we pull up in our dirty Subaru as Mercedes and Porsche sit in front … haha …it’s in a new complex called LA Live … how to explan this best .. it’s mostly a sport arena / convention center type of complex …. indeed as we arrive thousands of fans are going to a basketball game … eh .. I’m not a sports fan, so I’m just wanting to get to my room …

we make our way to the room and it’s a really nice one … but, I’m beat and my 46 year old body is not what it use to be .. 6.5 hours of driving .. I decide to lay down before heading back out to the Toy Art Gallery.

The gallery is about 15 minutes away according to MapQuest … hmmm, after a few wrong turns and being stuck in LA traffic its like 40 minutes later !… the show has been beautifully laid out by Aaron and Sean, both of who have pieces in the show…

I’m going to try to not single out any ones pieces in particular as they were ALL amazing ! I have links below to additional coverage and pictures. And as many figures have sold there are still some available so check them out on the Toy Art Gallery web site link below …. enjoy the pictures !






While seeing in person all this incredible art, I have to say my highlight of the evening was when long time Japanese Toy Collector/Jumbo Machinder expert and Stand Up Comic, Tom Franck showed up with his daughter … who gave me this most Awesome drawing she did of Alien Argus ! Wow !!!

Every now and then I come across kids who have a natural talent for art .. and Tom’s daughter certainly has it ! I was very touched by this kind gesture … you know there is some good in the world.






several folks asked me what i thought about seeing all these versions of Argus.. well the short answer is speechless ! The longer answer is it’s all very surreal to me.. it’s a figure I designed and yet with each artist it has been transformed into something very cool and unique to each person. I can not pick a favorite .. not only is that not fair to anyone in the show, but also it’s like picking your favorite child .. impossible to do ! Well in my case very easy to do … haha …




















By the time we get back to the hotel, it’s close to midnight and I have not eaten at all … this burger was most welcome to my gut ! Fade to sleep ….

Show over the next morning we could take our time getting up and opted for a all you can eat buffet in the hotel.

Haha .. I grabbed this teeny tiny Tabasco bottle .. I don’t know why … but it just cracked me up !

So back on the road we head … a quick trip and back home ! But our next stop is something i’ve been stopping at for my entire life . and that’s for Pea Soup at Andersens !


I order the all you can eat Pea Soup Travellers special .. but can only manage 2 bowls full ! Oh so good .. but truth be told my mothers version is better ;-P
I love how we can bring Max along to places like this .. really throw backs to simpler times .. thank goodness this hasn’t been taken over by a big corporation.



when we see these windmills on the hills we know home is only about an hour away !!!

Ah the Bay Bridge .. so back home we are .. another Kaiju show under the belt! More to come this year ! I’ll be in Japan next, back to San Francisco at Double Punch, San Diego Comic Con, out to Chicago for Toy Karma 3 show … the Kaiju Train never stops !

Finally thanks go out to Gino Joukar and Toy Art Gallery for not only producing the Alien Argus figure but also organizing and hosting this massive show. Also thanks to Don Kratzer/ Fig-Lab for getting the artists from Japan to participate.

Below are links to buying any remaining Alien Argus customs and other show coverage.

Finally a huge Thank You to everyone who participated in the show … your enthusiasm and awesome artistic talents so impressed me. Thank you and Toy Karma to you !

Toy Art Gallery : http://shop.toyartgallery.com/current-shows-c-3

SpankyStokes : http://www.spankystokes.com/2011/02/recap-mark-nagatas-alien-argus-custom.html

Vinyl Pulse : http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/album.php?fbid=10150097656796631&id=56989376630&aid=272775

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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