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.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for saying the long necessary words about the current direction of this wonderful hobby. I have been what can be termed a "kaiju" collector all my life. Starting where many did with the classics, Ultraman, Godzilla etc. Having seen the hobby expand into divergent arenas in the past several years I have welcomed these newer creations for the fun and variety they provide. However this scene has begun to bleed over into the original scene and affected it in a negative manner. I miss the days of discovering an unknown piece of vinyl monster goodness and acquiring it for less than $20. This still occurrs but with a level of difficulty unwanted and unnecessary. The reason this hobby exists is because of the genuine, innocent core it represented to our childhoods. Anyone claiming to respect those values should practice it in their work.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, it totally captures the idea and spirit this hobby needs and not in an arrogant or disconnecting way.