Max Toy Company Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention 2012

Has it only been 4 days since returning from Singapore ?! I actually had only mild jet lag this time … much less than when I go to Japan for some reason.Maybe because I had to get right back into work .. it almost feels like I wasn’t there at all  ;-P

In any event here’s my brief overview of the trip.

Coming right after SDCC 2012 I knew I had to get going on the various customs and exclusives i was going to bring to Singapore. I asked a few folks there what I should bring and how much … but to be honest their toy scene is just getting started and they really couldn’t tell me what to do ;-P I figured I’d be a cross section of Max Toys and in various price points.. so it should be enough .. or so I thought … !

I’ve never been a guest at a convention so I was very honored to be asked by STGCC. I thought it would nice to take along the family as well and even though Max had started school .. well I think this is more important for him to experience …so he came along, too.

The flight was in two parts and in total some 17+ hours ;-(  Thats the down side … after 11 hours to Tokyo we had a brief stop over at Narita airport … I got a quick ramen bite to eat … and back on the plane to Singapore ! A mere 6+ more hours … glug …

Being an American, I’m naive about this part of the world .. as you can see the various Asian countries here are all fairly close to each other … in fact, it’s this closeness that has made Singapore such a center of finance and commerce to these other Asian countries.

We arrive at the airport, gather our luggage and our greeted by a driver to take us to the airport. The first thing we noticed is despite it being midnight the weather is warm and muggy … two things i don’t care for ;-P On the way to the airport we can see that everything is clean and well maintained. The driver gives us a bit of back history of Singapore, and yes, you can not chew gum ;-P

Arriving at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel we step inside the marvelous lobby with super high ceilings and these cool glass sculptures on the seats… looks like water.

By the time we settle in it’s nearly 1:30 am and we have to get up and be ready by 8am .. glug .. what day is it ?!!

Its funny how the night can obscure things .. so with the dawn we could see more of the vista from our room. Even though there is a slight haze .. the view is very cool.

Breakfast in the hotel is a nice selection of Chinese and American food …. really yummy. Oh I don’t think I mentioned it but everyone speaks English (!) so unlike when i travel to Japan, communicating is very easy !

The hotel is part of larger complex, a high end mall and casino .. yes, Sands (casinos) is the owner, think Las Vegas .. but to be honest not as cheesy … very nicely done interior and everything is SO clean … cleaner than Disneyland I’m afraid to say ;-P Maybe because this complex is only 2 years old .. but still… Oh and with super high end shops like Gucci etc .. this really only caters to the wealthy tourists and gamblers from Asia… not us poor artists and toy makers  ;-(

Here’s a view of the outside … striking profile to the building the top is a pool and observation deck with views all around.

So it was not planned but my contact at STGCC, Rita Magnus, had asked if i would like to attend a press showing promoting the show. As we walked over we also met the famous Marvel comic book artist Leinil Yu (!) .. I love his work !

My geek out moment I had to get a picture with him and Max  ;-P He’s a Nice guy, too !

Along the walls they had samples of products showing or selling at the convention .. so there was some Max Toy items, too. The main press conference was featuring Leinil, Tristan Eaton, Andy Diggle and two CosPlayers from Japan. There’s a brief interview session and pictures are taken …

Here I am wondering why I’m even at this press conference  ;-P I briefly talked to some reporters about my toys and that was it.

Ok so with that taken care of it’s Friday and we have a few hours open to go explore before a dinner at night. We could have set up but ( which we should have ) but instead went out for a walk to this food court. While only a 15 minute walk the weather was very humid and made it seem like a 1 hour walk  ;-P

There was a line at this booth so we figured that must mean it’s good, right ? The chef was dishing up bowl after bowl of various noodle and fish ball soups …

This one bowl of fish ball soup was awesome ! Simple, clean and bright tastes … the noodles were not doughy at all …. wonderful.

We also had chicken rice which was also good …

And I had to try the sugar cane juice … it was not as sweet as i would have thought and had a kind of grassy after taste that was not a favorite of ours .. haha …

At night we had an amazing meal that had so much food we could not eat it all ! Best of all we had the famous Singaporean Chili Crab ! Really good, and check out those claws .. they’re huge ! Attending the dinner at my table were Mark Brooks ( Marvel comics artist), Leinil Yu ( Marvel comics artist), Andie Tong ( Marvel comic artist ), Mark Torres ( IDW comic artist ), Andy Diggle ( Comic book writer ) other tables had The Beast Brothers, Tristan Eaton, Gabby Tiongson …. sorry if I left anyone out …

The next day we got up early as we had to set up at the booth ! Yikes I was getting a bit worried as we’d have to do so in under one hour. My set up was going to be very simple, just the toys for sale, one vertical banner .. that’s it. I actually did not know how the booth was laid out so that was a bit of a concern to me .. but in any case we packed up and headed over to the convention center.

Sorry not many pics of the set up as it was a blur .. pulling out merch, pricing everything all while various folks came up to say hello .. haha .. add to this the mild jet lag .. I’m not sure who I met  ;-P

Once the doors opened the next few hours were a total blur as nearly 50% of what i brought sold ! The booth was looking vary sparse at this point … everyone kept asking me if I’d have more on Sunday … yikes … well … nope  ;-P

This day I had a signing scheduled so i took off for that .. it was nice to be able to met the fans and drawing something for them  ….

Something I don’t do often … but was nice to hear what types of toys they grew up with .. not too different actually from us in the US ! Over all the fans are some of the most polite and gracious I’ve encountered  !

I didn’t get much a chance to get out of the convention but when i did it was packed not only inside but outside as well ! The day was very long, from 10am to 8pm so by the end of the day the family had enough of the con and retreated to the hotel .. while I ventured out to try some local food. 😉

I was too busy eating to take any pics but it was all really good .. these deserts were really good ! I have no idea what was in them .. fruits and shaved ice !

The next day, Sunday, the weather was less hazy but just as hot. Good thing the hotel is connected to the mall and hotel via under ground walk ways .. and of course air conditioned !

We should have tried these  ;-P

Sunday, and we have almost sold out of everything we brought .. the booth is looking empty but lucky for me local max Toy collector and supporter Edward brings his collection to display at the booth. This was good so folks could see what I make and see some of the customs, but the downside was everyone wanted to buy the ones on display ;-P

Edward an I had a talk scheduled and so off we went. It was only a half hour and went well I thought. We even gave away a Boy Karma figure ;-P

Right after that I rolled into another talk this time with Martin Hsu, The Beast Brothers, Coarse, Tristan Eaton and our host, Jeffery Koh ( Flab Slab gallery ).

I have to admit I work in a vacuum of sorts .. I don’t follow the toy scene too much .. mostly because I have so much to keep up with with Max Toys it leaves me very little time to simply surf around and check out every ones work. Having said this what i took away from this talk is that everyone is very dedicated to their craft and we all put in countless amounts of hours towards it.

Everyone makes it look easy but the real truth is we all are working very hard and on multiple fronts. Everyone of us were leaving within the next day so we could go back to work or fly off to other commitments. We all are having a good time in what we do but toys are not child’s play.

and finally i had one more signing to go … here I am with left to right, Jefferey Koh, (crazy) Martin Hsu, Me and Max. Good times !

Up till this time I’ve had very little time to actually walk around the show, so since the booth was nearly empty I ventured off .. the first person to stop by was Andy of Toys R Evil blog. He was very busy with many people looking to buy and talk to him .. so i had to make my way to grab him and have a brief chat .. and of course pick up his special STGCC zine edition. Andy go the ball rolling in telling STGCC about Max Toys so i am in debt to his kindness and support !

Anna looking very bored in our empty booth  ;-P I decide to close up early and we all could walk around and take a much needed break.

We came back after “resting” … as old folks must do and found out someone took our sign 😉

From left to right: Jeffrey Koh, Myself and Edwin Kwan. Both of these guys have been supporters of Max Toys and not only encouraged STGCC to bring me in but also helped with sales, introducing me to many artists and the on stage interviews. Off site they both took us out to dinners and drove us around. Really too kind !!

Here are some misc pics of the convention in no particular order. My impression is that CosPlay and Comics were what most of the attendees were most familiar with. However, the presence of us Toy guys seemed to make a big impression. Hot Toys had a huge booth and needless to say they were busy all weekend long. I for one would return and i think the others I talked too also would return to this show. I have to also say that Rita and her whole STGCC crew were so kind and ran the show perfectly.

I’m sorry if i didn’t post your picture here as I may not have a copy but below are just a small sample of the nice folks and fellow artists that stopped by the booth. Again I’m very thankful to all the wonderful new fans that took a look at our toys. I’m sorry we didn’t bring enough .. but next time we will !

Above: I was able to meet Plastic Culture Joshua Artono .. the red blob is.. well… something that we are working on ;-P Stay tuned …  😉

Fans are really the same any where you go in the world  😉

Comic and Toy artist, Mark Torres looking spiffy in his suit !

My favorite custom Eyezon and it’s new owner !  😉

Up and coming artist, Gaby Tiongson. He gave me these cool screen prints but the large piece on the right is an original art done in Sharpie on watercolor paper  !! and it’s Ultraman !! I was floored he just gave this to me !!! I will frame it and place it into my Ultraman museum ! Many thanks to Gaby (1) and Gaby (2) !

The Killer stops by  ;-P good to finally meet up !

Eddie Sung is a incredibly talented photographer based in Singapore but is known for his Rock and Roll pictures of many famous singers and bands including Blondie. Thanks for the book !

A final picture at the booth and the show is a wrap for 2012 !

We all went out to dinner to a night market. The weather was still hot and humid but i was told not as bad as it could have been.

above: Sting Ray .. actually to me was very mild tasting fish-like.

I’m not sure what this one was called but it was yummy .. sorta Indian type of sandwich…

We actually could not stay too late as we were leaving for the airport at 3 am !! So we said our good byes and went back to pack and sleep only for a few hours. The plane ride back was slightly shorter as we were flying with the jet stream, arriving back in San Francisco, on a Monday morning.

A MerLion figure was my souvenir from Singapore … but more importantly was the new friends, artists and fans I met. While we didn’t get to see much of Singapore, what little we did see we enjoyed and I know we will go back again… it’s just too bad it’s so far away !

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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