Toy Karma 3 at Rotofugi Gallery Chicago

Toy Karma !!! … can it be nearly 4 years since the first show in 2007 !?! I realize 4 years is a short time in the scheme of things, but in this toy world that’s like an eternity ! On this eve of the next installment to the Toy Karma art shows, I thought it a good time to take a quick look back at the previous two shows and preview some of the customs I’ll be selling this year.

So for those who may be be asking what’s a Toy Karma and what the fuss is all about .. let’s go back to the first show in 2007. I like to say I coined the phrase “Toy Karma” a few years prior .. basically it is my belief that the Toy Karma credo of paying it forward in a positive light in all your toy deals and your Holy Grail toys will come to you !

art for Toy Karma 1 show 2007

From that positive place, the kind folks at Rotofugi approached me about doing a group Kaiju-concentric show called Toy Karma. We both agreed having a mix of familiar artists and toymakers mixed in with up-and-coming creators would embody the positive theme as well. To be honest, both Rotofugi and I had no idea what we were in for, in terms of the amount of pieces in the show, to the amazing response to it.

The Toy Karma 1 debut in 2007 at Rotofugi’s old store location and was an incredible success. But with the amount of work it took us to coordinate what turned out to be a Global art show … it was decided that every other year we’d revisit Toy Karma .. plus this would also allow new and emerging artists to join in.



Above and below some of the customs I offered at this first show. They oddly look primative to me ..haha !

Toy Karma 2 was held in 2009, and any doubts I had about people showing up to the show opening was quickly erased by the overflowing reception ! I was also floored that folks had started lining up the night before to get a chance at various toy exclusives .. something that until this point was only heard of at Japanese toy events.

art for Toy Karma 2 show 2009

So, here we are only days away from the September 10th, 2011 opening of Toy Karma 3 !

art for Toy Karma 3 show 2011

I’m set to travel out to the show and one of my favorite places to visit, Chicago in a few days. I feel like Comic Con just happened and I really had no down time after that major show, as i started in on customs for this show.

Below are some pics of the customs, all painted with Monster Kolor paint, and of course they are one of a kind figures. I don’t usually take any time to look back or even dwell on the past .. but seeing my older customs and what i do now .. I can see an evolution to my work … which is kinda cool to see 😉

















Now, let me say that there will be literally hundreds of toys and artworks that will be in this show … for a full artist line up and latest news about the show, be sure and check out the Toy Karma page here : http://www.toykarma.rotofugi.com/

Sorry, but those who attend get first crack at the stuff ! However, after the show opens, available pieces will be posted via Rotofugi’s website.

Once I get back, I will be posting pics and write up a post-show blog .. for those who will be going to the show, I look forward to seeing you and thanking you for your support !

In these tough times, it’s even tougher for artists to make a go of it, and your continued support of Kaiju arts and artists in general does make a difference in their lives but also in bringing positive Toy Karma to the world.

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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