Toy Karma – Golden Buddha by Budi Nugroho

I’ve been collecting now for over 20+ years … actually hard to believe it’s been that long but I’ve experienced many ups and downs being a collector. From the thrill of the hunt for the holy grail toy to burnout over the hobby.
That’s not to say that I’ve washed my hands of it .. no far from it. In fact, it makes moments like these even more exciting. I have to admit that over the past few years in producing my own toy line and working with so many talented artists that the process or experience is actually more satisfying to me than the final product.

I’ve never taught before, but perhaps this feeling I get of helping others and educating them along the way is what teachers feel ? It’s a great feeling, that’s for sure .. a very positive one .. and follows the path I set for positive Toy Karma.

Enter Tumblr.

I have Japanese artist friend named Tulip ( Sachiko Yabe ) to thank or maybe not to thank for showing me Tumblr. The only reason I set up an account was to help promote her work on there … to be honest, i had no wish to add yet another social network site to my already overburdened list of things to update and post on !

Anyways, slowly I’ve posted things on there and gathered folks to follow … I still don’t “get” it .. but do it any ways 😉 haha …. out of no where I see this Golden Buddha figure inspired by Ultraman … instantly I got that feeling inside !!!

I will try my best to describe it.. hmmm, first is WOW !!! .. followed by, I will OWN that … followed by “Who made this ?!!” … and the slow realization that others want this too, so I better act fast !

This piece hit me on so many levels… I don’t know where to start. First off, for those who do not know … Ultraman’s look, the serene face he has was in part inspired by the ancient Buddha statues in Japan. This artist knew this .. but the beauty is that I have never seen anyone take this most basic concept and apply it to Ultraman … till now !

Sometimes the most simple idea is the hardest to come up with .. but this particular idea he has sculpted perfectly.

Of course by the time I saw this post on Tumblr several collectors where already trying to track the artist down ! So I knew the hunt was on !

In comes Twitter.

Armed with this image only, I posted it via Facebook and Twitter and soon enough made contact with someone on Twitter who pointed me to this artist and his blog !
The artists name I found out is Budi Nugroho from Indonesia !

After making contact with him and seeing more of his work, I think you’ll agree he’s not only very talented but has a unique take on cultural icons and characters, while also being sensitive to his cultural heritage. Budi’s concentration is the fine art world, much like my friend Carlos Enriquez Gonzalez and has a love of Japanese characters.

Below is are some process pictures from the clay sculpt to the fiberglass piece. Here’s an AstroBoy inspired piece:

A Madonna-like Marge Simpson:

and another version in finished form:

The following is a brief interview I had with Budi about his work and influences.

Interview via email May 2011 –

Hi Budi, and thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions.
Can you let my readers know what your art back ground is.? Did you go to school to learn art ?

Hello Mark, yes I did, I took bachelor degree (2000-2005) in sculpture studio and master degree in fine art, practice class (2007-2009). Both in Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

I came upon your work via the web site Tumblr … someone had posted an image of your Sitting Gaia ( Buddha Ultraman) figure. I have to say as soon as I say that I fell in love with that art work ! Did you grow up watching Ultraman or playing with the toys ?

I do watch them in my childhood, and some other superhero at that time, such as Megaloman, Sharivan, Gaban and also Doraemon. But not with the toys, I only have 6 inch Sharivan on his bike-it’s all i can remember. I’m a third of four child, toys wasn’t the most important thing for my parent to give to their children

Your based in Indonesia, how is the arts scene there ?

Art scene in Indonesia is grow really fast in the past decade, market hold the keys. Baby Boomer artist arise in this time, but in some case artist, collector, gallery and auction run unhealthly.

I also like the Plasticman pieces you’ve done ! Is there any stories behind these pieces with this character?

Plasticman character chosen for the elasticity of contemporary art scene in Indonesia, it can bend and change to other shape in the name of contemporary, for good reason or bad one.

Oh, and the Virgin Marge piece is really impressive. I notice you’re able to take Pop Culture characters and cast them in Iconic poses and settings. What kind of reaction do you get from these pieces when you show them in the gallery. Do people think they are funny or serious art work ?

It’s a strategy that i try to use, a mix of popular icon ( same strategy with Warhol banana or Brillo box , Jeff Koons kitsch twisted balloon) with a sensitive issues in local art scene discourse (such as unhealthy market, visual that more important than concept). So the art world (specific or common) can simply read the concept of the artwork or simply connect it with their personal life and like it as you do with the Ultraman.

Can you tell us how you start your ideas. Do you make sketches first ?

Sometimes I’m using sketches first , I mean in detail way, but some just with a rough 3D sketches, and the idea kept growth in the process

Do you sculpt all your own work or do you work with other craftsmen to help make the sculptures?

For the first five year I do all the work by myself, but since 2010, I had one craftmen, especially to do the fiber casting progress ( process )

How do you decide what kind of materials you may use for the final art work ?

Basically, on my budget 😀 i do sometimes make from alumunium or copper casting, or even a steel hammered, but most of it is a commissioned project. But for the “i like contemporary, but contemporary like it shiny” project, had been reach 11 of this series; it doesn’t matter what material i’m using on it, the important thing is, it should be shinny. That (is ) the keywords.

Who are some of your artistic influences and why ?

Jeff Koons, Agus Suwage, Heri Dono and many others, and its all because they thought, crossing and mixing borders to create work in their way, they were a creative artist with a clever art and economic strategy.

Any final thoughts you’d like to add ?

Thank you very much for your attention, really! I like to say, that the universal world right now can do more thing without border, ideas grow in all around the globe, and art can do many things for the humanity, expanding art movement, crossing and blurring the art, science and technology.

Thank you so much for your time, Budi ! I know many artists and collectors will be interested in your art work !

You’re welcome Mark, I hope we can create a more larger opportunities in the future, for the communities and humanity 😀


I think you’ll agree with me that Budi is set to be a very successful global artist. I only hope this small showcase of his work will lead to many more projects for him.

It is sometimes hard for me to believe, as Budi talks about, that the internet allows us to show our work and make connections to people every where. A positive aspect of the world wide web.

I for one am looking forward to seeing more of Budi’s work and I look forward to working with him in the future as well.

Oh and that Golden Buddha Ultraman ? Lets just say if all goes well I’ve a perfect place to display it … No worship him in my room !!!!

Pictures soon …. Toy Karma !!!


Artists Contact info:


Email: budi nugroho

oh and of course he shows me this piece .. !!! Stunning !!!

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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