With most toy shows and events, you have an idea what you're in for a few weeks or months before the opening. There's a lineup of companies, a few preview shots, and some exclusives or customs to queue up early for. In Living Kolor was not your ordinary event.
The two-day show was held in Harajuku at the Design Festa East Gallery, the same venue that hosted the Kaiju Comrades II show in early 2010. (Click here for my coverage of that show.) It's a great location both transport and atmosphere-wise, since the area is full of galleries, interesting stores (including toy shops like Secret Base and Erostika), and aspiring goth lolita runway models.
At first glance, the promo poster for In Living Kolor looked like it would be a very cool custom show, and it was definitely that. But that was just the beginning. As the show's title suggests, the event's focus was to show off Dead Presidents Designs line of toy paints called Monster Kolor, which debuted not too long ago.
The show's headliners, Mark Nagata (of Max Toy Co) and Matt Walker (of Dead Presidents), brought a bunch of customs for sale. They were all painted using Monster Kolor - Matt's line of vibrant paints with colors that really pop, especially in the sunlight.
Here's the big table of customs, with the large figures (from companies like Yamomark, Marmit, and Toygraph) painted by Matt, and the small ones (all Max Toy minis) painted by Mark:
This fantastic creation was a collaboration between 4 artists:
You're probably saying, "Dude, take the friggin yellow filter off!" Yeah, I know. Sometimes indoor lighting makes it hard to do toys justice. But fret not! M&M were nice enough to let me take some figures outside to shoot.
Here's where the Monster Kolor paints really shine:
This cool Matt Walker/Bob Conge collab (short run of 10 pieces) has a strobe-on-impact multi-color LED inside!
Here's what I picked up:
Another shot of the Nagata Gang of Four:
The next part of the show, which started soon after the doors opened, was what made the event one of the most unique I've been too. It was an opportunity for designers to try out Monster Kolor paints. Quite a few of the most well-known Japanese vinyl companies were invited, and a bunch showed up to put the paints to the test.
Matt brought the paint, clear coat, and other equipment. Three airbrushes (which wound up running nearly constantly once things took off) were also available.
Mark provided blank Max Toy figures:
Here's a unique shot I set up before the painting began - clear blanks of a bunch of Max Toy figures.
And here's a good look at the difference between Chinese and Japanese vinyl:
Eyezon was manufactured in China, while Dragigus was made in Japan. The quality difference is stunning, though Mark pointed out that when Monster Kolor paints + a clear coat are applied to a Made in China figure, it still pops with the same vibrancy and brings out the figure's transparency.
Artists started streaming in shortly after 11:00 to spray toys under a gorgeous autumn sky. Here are a few in action.
Akamatsu-san of Marmit (Like a few other designers, he brought one of his figures to paint):
Rhymes with Zapata:
There were also a few first-time painters including this toy fan from Italy:
Matt was always on hand to make sure the brushes were clean and the equipment was in tip top shape.
Mist II - The Clear Coat:
As more and more folks rolled up, the event turned into a real Harajuku happening. The brushes were a sprayin' and the fumes were a floatin'!
Keep in mind a lot of the designers on hand were testing the paints to see if they might want to use them in the future. Also, you have to think there has probably never been an event where so many designers got together to paint figures in public. So it was a very cool cross pollination and meeting of the minds!
Onto some pics of the finished figures.
Mark Nagata. Here's an in-progress shot:
The finished figure:
Hariken (Mad Panda):
Ilanena modeling his figure:
A few others:
I think the finished toys speak for themselves. Hopefully we'll see more designers working with Monster Kolor paints. OneUp will be carrying them in Japan.
Here are some random shots from Day 1.
Matt had some film of the event shot for a toy documentary he's working on:
The original painting for the promo poster:
I hear it's now part of what may be the world's largest collection of Mark Nagata original paintings. Or is it...
Postcards + Eyezon pins by the talented Keith Fulmis of Bebop Designs:
An upcoming addition to the Cosmic Squadron:
Helmet pops off really easily. Left-hand side is silver sprayed from the inside!
Dinner at the Design Gallery's all you can eat (aka viking) restaurant:
This was pinstriping class day - another great opportunity to try your hand at a technique used by toy artists, including of course Matt Walker.
Matt brought the brushes, pinstriping paint, and templates. We the students brought our steadfast spirit and (perhaps not so steady) wrists. Professor Walker started by showing us how it's done.
Looks so easy when the master of 100,000 stripes models the proper technique!
So, a bunch of us tried it out and discovered it is *really tough*.
Are we witnessing the first strokes of a new stage in Mark Nagata's career?
Mr. Dream Rockets:
Ricky of Velocitron:
Matt walked around dutifully checking in on everyone's progress and giving pointers.
Best in class?
Well, there you have it for In Living Kolor - two days of unexpected, but very interesting and Kolorful painting, pinstriping, and toying.
Thanks Mark, Matt, and everyone else for a great event!