Sunday, October 31, 2010

Real Head x Kaiju Blue New Releases

Today, another wave of Real Head releases were sold at Kaiju Blue, as part of the ongoing Shinjuku Battle Royale exhibition.
Unlike the last wave, which was blind bagged, today's releases were handled lottery style. So, at 10:45, a Kaiju Blue staffer put as many numbers in a bowl as there were people in line, and you chose a number to determine your buying order. There was a limit of one of each figure per person.
We pulled some lucky line up numbers!

After the drawing, we waited in line for a few minutes while they readied the store. A pic from outside looking in:
Once inside, everything was very orderly. You had a chance to look at everything on the table and pick up what you wanted when your turn came.
These two one-offs (Kazariya Minokichi x Real Head collabs) were the first to go:
Other exclusives:
It was a pretty good sized gathering for a day that was supposed to see the back end of a typhoon. Fortunately, the weather was mostly dry and not too cold - a welcome change!
The new releases were also set up for public display in the main display cabinet.

Some pics and close ups:
The next two were already sold, but they were put back out on display for a few minutes:
Everyone had a good time hanging out and chatting with Mori, and it seemed that most people got what they wanted. There were around 10 of the Skulltoys collab + Fortune Cat, and around 15-20 of each of the Chaos figures.
Here's what I picked up:
Toy wise, this was probably the best event of the Halloween weekend. Good times!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Max Toy x Medicom exclusives!

After walking around Harajuku today, striking out at Secret Base, and being very impressed by the Omote Sando Hills mall (architecturally stunning from the inside, though the store selection is a bit foo foo for my tastes), I slogged through the rain (typhoon's a coming...) and headed down to Shibuya.
One of the coolest toy shops in the area is Project 1/6, Medicom's flagship store which features all kinds of toys, collabs, and exclusives from one of Japan's best toy companies. Their quality is always consistently high, from Bearbricks to Kubricks to the 1/6 line. Pretty cool shop too, but I'll save those pics and write up for a future store visit blog.

I was really there today to check out the new Max Toy x Medicom exclusives. And they did not disappoint! Two figures are getting the exclusive treatment: Dragigas (7,500 yen) + Alien Argus (7,000 yen).

They won't be on sale until Nov 3, but the store has already put them out on display, along with Mark Nagata's original painting for the Dragigas header card!

The display case is nicely placed in the center of the store, so 100% of visitors see it when they walk in. Classy.
Side and back shots:
Closeups of Dragigus:
This is a really stand out paint job, with metallic blue, red, and gold colors + silver teeth and claws. A classic, clean look that does a great job bringing out the sculpt and character. I love the way the blue spray angles up the side of the figure's face + halfway up the ear.
Oh, and it comes with two extra heads!
Here's a closeup of Alien Argus:
To be honest, I'm holding out judgment on this fellow. It's an interesting design that fits in nicely with the Max + Xam alien kaiju theme, but it's also very symmetrical (three eyes on head + 3 suction cups (eyes?) on the left and right hands). Plus this paint job is very literal, with the chest ovals precisely filled in and the arms, legs, and head a very bold and direct green.

So, I think I'm going to come around to A.A., but it's going to take a few more looks/releases before the figure's character is revealed through the paint.

Anyway, it's great to see Medicom get more involved in the sofubi side of things. (I also spotted a Rangeas for sale in the store). Let's hope the trend continues!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New OneUp sofubi set up

Slogged through some mighty wet and windy weather today! Walked from Koenji (where we stopped in to say howdy to the Thrashout gang) to Nakano, which is about 20 minutes away on foot. Found a cool vintage toy shop in Koenji and took some shots at Thrashout. Will blog those in a bit.

For now, here's the new OneUp sofubi set up. The shop has a presence on the 3rd and 4th floors of Broadway Mall in Nakano. For years, the display cabinets outside the 4th floor shop held a hodgepodge of sofubi from a bunch of companies. They've recently completely redone the cabinets and seem to be focusing on a few companies.

So, here's a wide angle shot of the long row of cabinets:
The Dead Presidents customs/Monster Kolor cabinet:
These are some of the customs from the In Living Kolor show. They're currently display-only at OneUp. Not sure when they'll go on sale.
The cabinets are really clean and nicely lit, so you can get a good look at what's inside. For example:
More Dead Presidents stuff in another cabinet:
Here are some other shelves with toys produced by OneUp (Touma, Gumliens, etc), plus customs and production pieces from other companies.
Some nice Max Toy figures:
Itokin Park:
Mad Panda:
It's a nice, streamlined display, and really the largest variety of original sofubi at Nakano. The 4th floor store is also the place where OneUp holds its custom shows and exclusive releases, which is nice since there is a ton of space up there and just a few shops.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In Living Kolor - Full report

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:
Nerd One:
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'!
Interested onlookers:
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:
Dream Rockets:
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:
Pinstripe art:
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:

Day 2

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!
The equipment:
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!
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