Alien Argus Custom Group Show

Toy Art Gallery is proud to present Mark Nagata’s Alien Argus Custom Group Show! TAG, Mark Nagata and Fig-lab have gathered together over 70 of the best Kaiju and toy artists in the world to customize Toy Art Gallery and Maxtoy Company’s first collaborative figure project

Participating artists include:
Abe Lincoln Jr.
Art Denka
Ben Mininberg
Bert Gatchalian
Bob Conge
Buff Monster
Carlos Enriquez Gonzalez
Cieromuco/Abel Vasquez
Cliff Kirschner / MONSTREHERO
Cris Rose
Daniel Goffin
Dead Presidents
Dr. Strange Toys
Dustin Cantrell
Emilio Garcia
Fig-lab / datadub
Hints And Spices/Shane Haddy
Jan Calleja
Jeff McMillan
Jesse Moore/Rawshark studios
Jon Knox
Kaiju Chronicle
Keith Fulmis
L’Amour Supreme
Mark Nagata
Matt Doughty / Onell Designs
Megan Smithyman
Mikie of Blamo Toys
Onaka Takeshi
Osiris Orion
Paul Kaiju
Pico Pico
Skull Toys
Spooky Parade
Steve Talkowski
Thiyea Project/ Takeshi Togo
Thiyea Project/ Mai Nagamoto
Toybot Studios
Triclops Studios
Troy Stith
uhoh Toys

Opening reception is February 26th 2011 from 7-11 PM. Show runs Feb. 26 – March 26.

Max Toy Company 

Ultraman Zero — the Movie —

Taking its cues from the spate of high-end superhero flicks pouring out of Hollywood, The Ultraman franchise has been upping its game with the last couple of Ultraman Movies.  Since the beginning, most Ultraman series have been presented as a standalone takes on the overall series template – then they are slowly crossed over, sliced and diced and mix and munging with the series and characters that came before re-inventing the overall universe over and over.

But since the 40th anniversary Ultra Series – Ultraman Mebius – broadcast in 2006 – and the ensuing theatrical release – Ultraman Mebius & Ultraman Brothers, Tsuburaya has been slowly but surely tightening up the continuity. The original Showa Ultramen (1966 – 1980) are now part of the “Canon” as Continuity Geeks like to say. I should note that the 2008 movie – Superior Ultraman 8 Brothers – unfortunately was a bit of a misstep – using a clunky alternate universe plot device to mix and match Heisei Utramen Dyna, Tiga and Gaia with the old school Man, Ultra7, Jack and Ace with Mebius somehow in the middle – Inferior is more like it.

However I thought 2009’s Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy was everything one should expect from a 21st century modern ultra-flick. A lot of it takes place on the Ultra homeworld. The villain was pretty bad-ass, the evil Ultraman Belial (he kind of looks like a McFarlane reject – but I still like the idea of an evil Ultraman). The new main Ultrahero – Ultraman Zero – is a bit of an rebel outcast which is a cool touch (as well as the son of Ultra Seven). And all the Showa Ultra-dudes have cool roles in the story. 

I like the fact that they really just went for it and went over the top, instead of pussy-footing around. Considering that first and foremost these movies are for kids and are in someways just toy commercials on steroids – I am always pleased when the movies give copious nods to the old school. Hopefully the producers are realizing that there is a discerning secondary market in older guys who grew up with the stuff (or at least wish they had) and are open to take a chance to be entertained by this kind of fare.

The newest movie, called Ultraman Zero, the Movie was released theatrically this past December looks like it is following on in this gonzo vein. One thing that has piqued my interest are 3 new characters which are homages to 70’s tokusatsu heros that were outside of the Ultra Pantheon. 
They all show up in these teaser – see if you can figure out who is who!

Official Movie Site

More tomorrow.

ILANENA 10th Anniversary Dai Kaiju Card Monsters Custom Toy Show

To celebrate its 10 year anniversary, Tokyo-based Figure Label ILANENA is having a special Exhibition in Nakano at the alternative cafe!!

Every release-to-date of ILANENA’s iconic Dai Kaiju Card Monsters – encompassing a mind-boggling 73 unique sets – will be on display. Additionally there will be a Custom Show featuring Daiju Kaiju Card Monster sets by 23 select Western Artists. As an added bonus, a special collaboration between alternative comic virtuoso Jim Woodring and Ilanena will be unveiled.

February 8th – 20th, 2011
alternative cafe, Nakano, Tokyo
party February 11th 18:00~21:00

alternative cafe

Special support from Robot Robot and Presspop Gallery.

Customs will be available for sale at the venue during the event and afterwards online through and

Participating Artists
Aaron Blstr / Sqdblstr
Brian Bunting / GalaxyPeople
Brian Flynn / SUPER7
Cliff Kirschner / MONSTREHERO
Daniel Goffin
Datadub / FIG-LAB
Dennis Hamann / Shirahama
FU Irene / Kaiju korner
Ilanena Hoshina / ILANENA
Jesse Moore / Rawshark Studios
Jim Woodring
Kirkland Jue / Toybot studios
Koji Harmon / Cometdebris
L’amour Supreme
LASH / Mutant Vinyl Hardcore
Luke Rook / Lulubell Toys
Mark Nagata / MAX TOY
Matt Doughty / Onell Design
Paul Kaiju
Ralph Niese / Bruno Orbit
Randy Borden / Kaiju Big Battel
Ricky Wilson / VELOCITRON

Inspire Fireman

Fireman from Inspire japan
This 7 inch Figure of the classic 70’s Tsuburaya Hero Fireman is scheduled to be released at the next Superfestival in January. The Inspire company continues to release these classic Tokusatu heros in the size I like to call the Bandai Modern Standard. Every since the King Zaurus series by Popy in the late 1970’s pioneered this form factor, this style of figure has become the standard issue for the entire line of Ultra Heros and Kamen Riders alike. While the mainstream heros and monsters of the Ultraman and Kamen Rider franchises are continuously mass produced in China by Bandai and sold for 600 – 900 yen in stores all over Japan by the thousands, and a few of the classic Toei heros such as Inazuman and Barom One have been released; there are alot of older classic 1970’s Tsuburaya heroes that have never been done in this Modern Standard style. Sensing a gap that needs to be filled is often the purview of many small Independent Japanese Vinyl companies, and Inspire has been filling this gap. And while its sometimes to hard to justify the disconnect of a form factor that match mass market figures that sell for less than 10 bucks and the price tags one associates with indie vinyl – these figures retail for over $40, Inspire definitely delivers on what is sets out to do. So far they have released quality figures of classic heroes Mirror Man, Silver Kamen, Spectre Man, Gambaron and many other obscure characters from the deep pantheon of Japanese Heros.
Iron King
Red Baron
Mirror Man
Silver Kamen
Silver Kamen  Giant
Spectre Man

Design festa 32 was a hoot

Another design festa has come on and gone. This was my 4th design festa from “the other side side of the table” as it were and as is the tradition now – I shared the experience and the booth with my good friends at Art Denka & Goccodo. New insights were gained (mini-booths rule- full booths are a waste), others were re-inforced (Saturday is far and away the day for figure sales. My sales were easily triple saturday what they were Sunday.) However it did seem like there were more actual people in the venue on Sunday. Small cheap stuff rules – while this seems to be the order of the day in the figure world in these Economically- challenged times this has always been the rule of thumb at Festa known as Design. Postcards, badges and stickers rule the day – I noticed alot of vinyl under the 1000 yen price point. It was still an amazing yet tiring weekend – I always see new friends, unexpected folks (Joe from squibbles ink!!) and discover something new.

Hope to see you there one day.

Kaiju Korner has some great pics from day 1!

– Posted from my iPhone somewhere in iJapan

Super Festival! Super Friends!

SuperFestival 54 has come and gone but it was definitely a BLAST! The long heat wave of summer had finally broken, and there seemed to be a better than average sized-crowd of folks in the house. Superfestival is by far my favorite toy event in Japan. Kaiju Korner has a really good blog entry about the event with tons of pics. (Yokoso to Japan Andy!)

Mori from Real x Head got us all a group booth that made a solid block of fun. So many new releases – seems like everyone in the crew had something new for sale. Participating in the block party were Real x Head, Cha-iro Brown (Shef & Tama-chan), Uamou, ArtDenka, Goccodo, Kaiju Blue, Nerd One, Dr. StrangeToys, Refreshment, Pop Soda, Copy Robot, Kowelly Town, Spooky Parade, Fig-lab, Atom A. ArmwrestlerMirock ToysCord Viper, and – the boys from Boston – Onell Design & Rawshark Studios. 
This was my haul [See the annotated version at flickr]