Saturday, August 30, 2008

[These People] Would You Sell Your Kaiju to Them?

See the original image in all of its foppish glory at Max Toy Co.'s flickr.

I was fully intending to use the original image, but felt bad stealing Mark's photo outright to dersh the auction (yes, you know where this is going). So I "created" my own. And let me tell you, there is no greater amusement on a Saturday evening than a bottle of beer and a willing copy of Photoshop.

On that note, I feel compelled to state that this is an opinion piece. Good for a read over morning coffee, perhaps, but please just consider these my personal feelings.

So it's here again. For maybe the second or third time this year, renowned auction house Phillips de Pury & Company has allowed its respectable premises to be subject to a small infestation of kaiju and other monstrosities. Items in the show are procured by everyone's favorite caps-lovin' eBayer, Steve Agin, and feature production toys as well as custom works from artists such as Mark Nagata, Paul Kaiju, Tim Biskup, Le Merde, Bwana Spoons, Carlos Enriquez, Kirkland Jue and Matt Walker (aka Dead Presidents) to name a few. Check out the current auction catalog here:

Prices are not in dollars. Those are British pounds, baby.

Make what you will of those numbers. I really don't know what to think anymore- except perhaps feel a bit sorry for the poor rich chap who ends up paying $200 for a Pop Soda Ekitai Ningen.

I've been collecting this stuff for about a year and a half now- longer than most of the newcomers, but not as long as the crochety old men. One of the things that I have always appreciated about Japanese vinyl toys is the sense of enthusiasm and love for the subject matter exuded by artisans and collectors alike. As I watch the community grow, however, this sense of 'genuineness' has been eroded slowly by slowly. Some designer toy fellow misappropriates the term "kaiju" for a stylized piece of crap. Another customizer comes to the 'scene' and starts cranking out a line of soulless, though technically proficient, custom toys- and everyone sings their praises. People mindlessly collect toys without appreciating the significance of its origins. And the list of offenses continues to grow. I don't think these high-roller auctions will be the death of our passion (as many claim), but they contribute to a cheapening of the spirit of the hobby. While I enjoy seeing the network of collectors expand, I hate that there always seems to be someone with an angle on turning a profit waiting on the other side.

We need to support the growth of this toy collecting community through its original artisans and customizer hobbyists alike. But at the same time, its visionaries and leaders need to oversee its growth in an intelligent direction- preferably one that is untainted by the profit-minded. This is necessary to avoid sacrificing the 'homegrown' spirit and innocence that drives this hobby, while allowing new collectors and artists to be welcomed.

And F--- the Kaiju Industry.


Friday, August 22, 2008

[???] Braxton County 2008


The following still images were recovered from camera and field equipment found in the storage room of a West Virginia police station. Upon developing the film found in the equipment, only about 10% of the images were usable due to the condition of the equipment, although they provide both a date and time.

The equipment is otherwise in an unusable condition as a result of physical damage and its age. Markings on the case of the camera and monocular are consistent with chemical burns.

The identity and whereabouts of the operator are not currently known.

This is the first photograph in chronological sequence. A humanoid figure and ship (?) appear in the distance.

At this point the operator attempted to use a more powerful monocular scope with night vision capabilities. The image is grainy, although it provides a date and time.

A clearer image of the humanoid.

This is the last photograph in the roll.

So, totally realistic, huh? Amazing that field agents in the '50s had access to night vision equipment with digital rangefinders. I had fun making that image... guess I got a little carried away. War of the Worlds, not quite.

Few ETs/cryptids have captured the popular imagination like the Flatwoods Monster and his Horvathian compatriot, the Mothman. Even in toy form, there have been many, many versions of the Flatwoods released in recent years- I have only a handful of them, photographed below. The particular toy used for this shoot is a tiny 3.5" glow-in-the-dark version made by ILANENA, and is one of only 25 pieces sold at a recent toy show in Japan.

With all of this popularity, I will be highly surprised if we go a few more years without a movie about the Braxton County incident... hopefully this time the filmmaker doesn't make the Mothman mistake of turning a real story into a hospital ward psychological thriller starring Richard Gere. If I wanted to watch The Eye, I would have rented it, thanks. At least that would have had Jessica Alba.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

[Super7] River Children

On August 9th, Koji Harmon finished the end of a very long trip in the Americas with a solo show at Super7 titled "River Children." Over 30 hand-painted customs were exhibited, encompassing not only the standard Gargamel fare of Zagorans, Hedorans and mini-Dethras, but a handful of Rumble Monsters sculpts as well. The show also debuted a limited edition Tokoji Seijin and a super-special surprise of the first Zombie Henchman from the Snakes of Infinity series!

Now for some photos and words.

Crazy GID Zago-tank. This Deathra was the one piece that I almost grabbed at the show (but buying Dream Rocket one-offs quickly depletes the wallet, hurr). I always think of that pastel blue color as "cartoon elephant blue." Why is that?

Megalo Tokoji... so cool. The little Zag is feelin' cheesy.

The two Cosmic toys done up by Koji really looked great up in person. I hope Gargamel uses this vinyl again in the future. And who wants some strawberry soft-serve?

This Tokoji is also a homage to another classic kaiju, but I can't remember which one... Zag and Mightin get desaturated.

Black with brown spray is quickly becoming Koji's signature style... the slight off-white and matte black give it a refined feel. It almost looks like old painted wood, where some of the paint has rubbed away with age. Very Japanese, very classy.


There was a bunch of other goings-on that night, including a street pinata bash (featuring The Original San Francisco Street Candy) in celebration of Joe Bunny's bee-day. Beer and other refreshment provided by S7, ever the gracious hosts.

Photos of those things on Toybot's blog.

So I was a jerk and didn't buy any of Koji's wondrous wares, huh? Yeah I felt like an ass talking to him after the show and having him ask, "So, did you pick anything up?" Uh, no. Me too poor to buy $200 toys, but me likey very much.

I did buy something, though, so I didn't totally mooch off of S7 that night. I bought Brian Flynn's monster child, the Dokuwashi- direct from the floors of SDCC 2008. I don't usually go for these, but it glows and the colors are so, so nice. You could totally see this flying about in a Japanese festival in some seaside town where the sole agricultural produce consists of an exotic variety of potato. I think it is the spot where the deep blue hits the bright pink that makes my heart flutter. So good.