Happy 11th Anniversary, Max Toy Co! Interview with Mark Nagata on the past, present & future of #MaxToyCo
Max To Co turned 11 Years Old in November this year, and I had to have a chat with owner and artist extraordinaire Mark Nagata, and delve into the past, present and future!
And do yourselves a favour (if you have not already) - stay connected to Max Toy Co on Instagram @maxtoyco / Twitter @maxtoyco / Tumblr / www.maxtoyco.com, and as well Mark’s personal blog @ toykarma.wordpress.com!
TOYSREVIL: Congratulations on your Anniversary, Mark! Do you have an exact date and time?
MARK NAGATA: ”Thank you so much Andy ! First, thank you for your continued support of Max Toys and toys and artists in general. I can't imagine all the work you do every single day to help promote everyone.TOYSREVIL: Thanks kindly for your words of support, Mark, really appreciate it! Eleven years is a “dedication” indeed! How did it all start? What was the “thing” which got you on this journey into “toys” and collectibles, that lasted 11 years?
Well, I don't really have an exact day or time but November 2006 is when Max toy Company ( Max Toy ) was born.”
MARK NAGATA: ”So prior to Max Toys I was a founding member of Super7 magazine and store. That experience lasted about 4 years and laid the ground work for my own venture. However, I'd say the thing that really got me started, was my Japanese toy collecting which began in 1973, when I was 9 years old. I can draw a line from my childhood exposure to Japanese toys, pretty much thru all of my illustrating career and toy career to this present day.”
(Above: Mark Nagata’s Workspace / Mark’s Astro Boy painting for Official Tezuka 70th
/ Unico 40th Celebration art show, co-curated by Chogrin)
TOYSREVIL: I still have some of those magazines with your name in it too! “The Ultraman Collector” was another name we’d refer to you by hahaha … The TOYSREVIL blog celebrated a decade anniversary last year, and to say “in a blink of an eye”, is not just a saying for me too :p
MARK NAGATA: ”Sure, over all it's gone by VERY fast .. and since I have a son, it's gone by even faster. When I started he was 7 years old and now he's 18, and in art college. I look at photos from a few years back and think where's that little kid gone ?!!”TOYSREVIL: The “11-years-ago Mark” - would he have imagined this journey to where you are now? How does the “11-years-later Mark” feel now about his journey?
MARK NAGATA: ”To be honest, I don't look back hardly ever. Yes, I try my best to learn lessons along the way ( good or bad ) but don't plan too far into the future. Mostly I'm creating and living each day as best as I can. Of course, I have projects and such that are planned for the next 2-3 years, but I'm old enough (52 years old) to know that things can change, get canceled or delayed. So it's best to put your efforts in the present and some things will just be as they unfold. If that makes any sense ! I've taken care of elderly parents and relatives so it's also given me perspective in terms of not counting your chickens before they are hatched .. haha ...”
(Above: Gacha-Maxx figures / Below: Office Cat & Tiger Boss sofubi with Javier Jimenez)
TOYSREVIL: What were the most memorable UPS and DOWNS of your 11 year journey? What have you learnt, of the scene, of yourself?
MARK NAGATA: ”Oh that's a tough questions actually. Any time I can make a new toy is a good thing. But on the downside I'd say the scene has shrunk in terms of overall new fans coming into the scene. I can only speak for myself of course. Sometimes I'll do a licensed items and it seems like that is where a lot of makers are moving towards. Honestly, it's not something I aspire to. The sales are good with licensed items, but generally the over all hassle of getting things approved is not something I care to spend my days dealing with. I prefer to just do original designs and work with fellow artists directly.
As for down sides, it's always disappointing when you find out that some artists have other agendas. I won't go into details ( haha ) but I guess that's how some humans are in general. But, over the 11 years now, I'd say the positive collaborations out weigh the negative ones.”
Ultra Nyan (C) copyright Tsuburaya Pro. / Hello Kitty (C) 1976 & 2015 Sanrio
TOYSREVIL: You are ‘strong’ with being able to handle / balance such personnel situations (I couldn’t so I still work alone tirelessly hahaha :p) … And too true about the collecting scene - it’s as if we are “recycling” collectors/collections, IMHO. Ironically, new folks coming unto the scene might well have started via ‘licensed toys’, methinks … toy-scene aside, If you now had one slip of advice for yourself, starting out 11 years ago, what would it be?
MARK NAGATA: ”To be honest, I don't have any advice for myself ! Good or bad, it's my life and has brought me to this point. I know having your own business is a risk, but I would have done it sooner or later.”
TOYSREVIL: You are one of the most prolific artists in the scene bar none. What keeps you going these days? What can folks look forward to in the near and distant future?
MARK NAGATA: ”Really ? I feel like the last few years my output has kinda lagged. While I consider myself an artist, first, I do run a business and as such, have fixed costs involved with it so I have to make money to keep going. I suppose thats why I keep releasing stuff haha. I actually don't sell directly at toy or convention shows and haven't for 9 years now. I really don't care for the grind and expenses involved. I'd rather spend my time creating and selling from home... I'm lazy I guess.”
MARK NAGATA: ”We have a brand new Kaiju TriPus coming out really soon. This version is made in Japan, and sculpted by Pico Pico. It's pretty massive and weighs almost 2 pounds !
There's a new Kaiju Cat mini sized Nekoron ( still needs a USA release ) and Jay222's new cat, Chubz the Cat. For Chubz we had a special online only custom show (launched) Friday Nov 25th, 2016 via www.maxtoyco.com.”
Previewed #onTOYSREVIL: http://bit.ly/2gfEtU1 = #CHUBZTHECAT Custom Show Online Nov 25th! Featuring a select list of artists hand-painting one-of-a-kind ChubZ The Cat vinyl designed & sculpted by @jay222toy & produced by #MaxToyCo! Customs by: Top-Row (L-R): @michaeldev789 / @ratokim / @guumon / @hhyattart 2nd-Row (L-R): @gadrylla / @maxtoyco / @kaijulegion / @kwilterlady + @sethlongmire 3rd-Row (L-R): @jay222toy / #jay222toy / @shifty_toys / Maya Doka. Bottom-Row (L-R): @cristina_ravenna / @javierjimenezxl / @mechavirus (WIP) / @tattoosbydoughardy #toynews #sofubi #customtoys #customcollectibles #oneofakind #OOAK
MARK NAGATA: ”I commissioned Javier Jimenez to make a special 11 year logo for Max Toys plus I'm working with him on a few projects for next year. One of them is something I've wanted to do for a few years now. I call him Sofubi Man ! Basically a tribute to the men ( and women ) who pull the soft vinyl pieces in Japan. Cristina Revenna who sculpted Tiger Boss and Office Cat will be sculpting him. I'm not fully decided on the final version, but these sketches will give you a general idea.”
MARK NAGATA: ”Looking off into the future for 2018, I have a couple of big events planned. I wish i could say more but will announce more details in 2017.TOYSREVIL: And I, and without a shred of toy-doubt, along with your fans will be looking forward to them ALL! Thank you for your time and trouble for this interview Mark, and Happy 11th, again, MAX TOY CO!
There's a few more toys in various stages of planning, but over all I'm looking for an easier 2017, haha ! Actually one the bigger projects will take up a few months of my time, so I have clear out some of my schedule for it.”