Ever since I stumbled on a picture of this sculpture via Tumblr… I knew it would be in my collection. Getting obsessed about a toy or artwork doesn’t happen much to me and of late really not at all … but, this time I got that feeling like it was destiny… something that was bound to come to me… no matter what !
As I blogged about in a previous post, the artist I was able to track down via a friend of his on Twitter. The artist, Budi Nugroho, is a young artist based in Indonesia and once we started emailing I knew this particular piece was coming to San Francisco ;-P
So here we are the fateful day when this masterpiece arrives via courier ….
Oddly enough this is the second time this week I’ve come across the letters TNT … like dynamite?!!
The van comes to a halt and the driver opens the back doors. I help him bring down the crate to the street and to the garage. It’s not too heavy…the crate is well built. All I can think is geez this is a huge crate.. and it has handles, too !
One side has a series of wood screws so i start unscrewing them …
With all the screws removed I take a screw driver and gently pry open the lid as my heart starts to race …
I peek in .. I can swear a rush of cool air blows back into my face… the smell of fiberglass and paint waft over me … yummy !
I feel like I’m opening the Ark of the Covenant ! Lets hope there’s no evil ghosts I let out !!
With the front panel pulled off, I can see the Holy Grail ! Ah !!! “Sitting Gaia”!!
The rest is a blur to me… I quickly unwrap the figure… and realize …
… this figure is much larger than I thought ;-P Wow !!! I don’t care .. it’s all mine !!!
Ultraman and Buddha ? Wha ?!!
Tohru “Tohl” Narita was the original production designer back in 1966, on the series Ultraman. Ultraman was in part inspired by Buddhist statues in Japan,like these, below.
So fine artist, Budi Nugroho, in creating his “Sitting Gaia” figure for his series of sculptures and art called “i like contemporary, but contemporary like it shiny”, has taken this concept of Ultraman and Buddha and merged them .. a contemporary , modern, commercial character, who was spawned from this ancient religious relic of the past. The result is an amazingly serene and compassionate in repose Ultraman.
The main figure is perfectly sculpted, cast and painted in all gold paint with a gloss coat. It is simple in details but that’s in keeping with the Buddhist way.
The sculpture came with this beautiful plastic case with Budi’s signature inscribed on it. Pulling out the clear insert reveals the details of the sculpture.
I haven’t even shown the beautiful triangle base that the figure will rest on … it’s massive too !!!
I’ve collected Ultraman toys and items for well over 20 years now .. and I have to say this new artwork perfectly captures that mythical and heroic quality that captured my boyhood imagination. My Ultraman shrine now has a proper deity to pray to … Toy Karma !
Artist Budi Nugroho – http://budiadinugroho.blogspot.com/
Email: Budi Nugroho
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.”