The Japanese imagination has led to many of the world’s most extraordinary toys. Japanese toys span an unparalleled gamut—from a centuries-long practice of traditional doll making to whimsical folk toys, such as ghostly mechanical kobe figures and papier-mâché guardian dogs. Japanese Toys! From Kokeshi to Kaiju provides a feast for the eyes and the imagination. This exhibition captures the remarkable evolution of Japanese toys.
We will hear from toy collector Mark Nagata and Bandai toy designer Tsuyoshi Nonaka on the history of Japanese toys and their influence in today’s culture. If you’re not flying out of SFO’s United Terminal before the exhibit closes on April 30th then this will be your one chance to see it in person! Kokeshi dolls, menko playing cards, and battery-operated robots are among the quintessential toys on display. Vinyl kaiju figures, Ultraman novelties, and a dress made entirely from plush Hello Kitty dolls are some of the unexpected items on view.
SFO Museum curator Nicole Mullen will moderate.
More info on the exhibit here!
About Mark Nagata:
Over the years Mark Nagata has collected thousands of toys and a fair amount of titles. The man behind San Francisco-based Max Toy Company is widely known as: Toy Collector. Illustrator. Magazine Founder/Publisher. Toy Designer. Artist. Author. Husband. Father. But the one description that might fit best is an unofficial one – Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador.
Trained at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Mr. Nagata honed his skills working for himself and for some of the most notable businesses in the country. As a freelance commercial illustrator, he completed works for such prominent companies as Lucasfilms, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys, IBM, Sony, and numerous advertising and design firms, both national and international. Mr. Nagata’s colorful style graces over 40 cover paintings for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series – Give Yourself Goosebumps.
After hundreds of assignments, Mr. Nagata made the decision to move in another direction, and that choice has led to whole new career as a successful businessman. For four years, the owner of one of the largest Ultraman toy collections in the world co-published Super 7 Magazine showcasing the finest in Japanese toy collecting. His devotion to presenting collectors with a selection of original figures inspired by classic Japanese toys from the 1960s and ‘70s as well as new versions of licensed Japanese characters is at the heart of Max Toy Company. Named for his son, Max Toys specializes in custom and limited editions of “kaiju” (Japanese monsters) toys and artwork. Many of the original toys produced are hand painted by Mark, a tradition that goes back to Japanese toy makers of the past.
About Tsuyoshi Nonaka:
Tsuyoshi Nonaka has been a devoted to toy producer who has been working in the Boy’s Toy Business at Bandai Co. LTD (Japan) as a toy designer and planner for more than 20 years. While working for them, he was responsible for creating and designing Heroes, Robots, Vehicles and Weapons for kid’s TV series and turning them into TOYS.
His masterpieces are Toei “Metal Hero Series” and “Super Sentai Series”. (a.k.a Power Rangers) It is needless to say that Tsuyoshi is known as the original designer of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (a.k.a Kyoryu Sentai ZyuRanger) in Japan as well as several Kamen Rider series. In addition, he has also created a successful toy series-brand for adults in Japan called “Chogokin-Damashii (a.k.a Soul of Chogokin) and recreated his childhood favorite character Mazinger Z (a.k.a Tranzor Z) as part of collectible die-cast Robot toy series towards the collector, high-end market which are still growing today. Not only this , he has provided mechanical designs for Mazinkaiser SKL, Shin Mazinger Shōgeki! Z-Hen and DICE.
From 2011, he has shifted his creative base from Asia to North America where he has become the head of “PLEX International Design, US division” working for Bandai America Inc. (Cypress CA).
Photos Courtesy of SFO Museum
Light appetizers and drinks provided.