Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Chatting with Paul Kaiju: Super 7 Florida Interview
Here's the interview Scott Dias, owner of Super7Florida conducted with our man Paul Kaiju so we could get to know him a bit better before his "Yield" show at S7 Florida this Saturday.
Q: After years of being considered one of the best toy painters in the world, how does it feel to finally be recognized as Paul Kaiju, the toy designer?
PK: It feels great to finally be getting some of my manifestations cast in vinyl and resin form. I’ve been sculpting in between painting for some time. It’s nice to work out and sculpt a design and consider how the paint will work with it. So I guess a lot of painting time actually helped in my goal. I’m really grateful Super7 decided to go with my Partyball design as a member of the “Monster Family” line. It was a really great learning process for me as well. Painting your own figure is pretty fun in itself. And I hope everyone is enjoying owning them!
Q: You’ve painted so many wonderful custom toys that have been considered by many to be masterpieces- so much so that a fan even coined the slogan “another PK Masterpiece” during the unveiling of one of your toys on the popular toy message board Skullbrain.org- do you consciously attempt to raise the simple act of toy painting to that of an art form?
PK: Ha! It makes me crave barbecue. Really, I’m not consciously doing anything. I’m just doing what hits me. Sometimes it’s just spontaneous. That’s the joy of these toys, anything goes! The household I was brought up in, if there was something you really wanted, but could never find, you were challenged to make it. Even if it seemed impossible, you came as close as you could. My father was a pro plastic modeler, and my mother was a seamstress. Nothing was impossible or half done. It’s just my nature pretty much now. Much of what I do now is carried over from plastic models and art I did heavily in the 80’s to the early 90’s. It seems all my interests have come full circle and collided. That’s something I have been waiting for.
Q: You also have a wonderful eye for picking interesting and compelling pieces for your own toy collection. How did your fascination with the whimsical and macabre begin, and how long have you carried the last name Kaiju?
PK: It really has to do with a combination of 70’s “Movie of the week” TV trauma in my childhood years all the way up to adolescence in the 80’s in the Punk movement. The Japanese Tokusatsu type shows I watched as a kid on local UHF was sandwiched between it all, and made reality so much better, that included the toys which I had started collecting in 75’-76’.
So as I carry on collecting I like to keep a nice assortment with a bit of everything. Memories of trips to the import toy shops as a child with Japan toy candy hanging off every wall. When you look online at vintage and find the selection STILL never ends!
As far as newer toys, if too bizarre for words then it’s a must have. Cheap looking and cheesy usually wins. Cheesy with a question mark is even better. Child-like toys that appeal to our adult sensibilities rock even more!
Paulkaiju just evolved from my resin model collecting days.
First it was “Ultra Paul” then “Kaiju Paul” then “Paulkaiju” so I kept it.
Q: What is your favorite toy you own, and why is it so awesome?
PK: Actually I have a few! Bullmark Missile firing MG2. I know it’s considered a rare or obscure toy, but to me it’s vintage perfection. Metallic blues and gold over grey vinyl with metallic red eyes, it’s simply beautiful. The sculpt style and all the textures mesmerize me.
I really dig the stance too. He’s ready to destroy every other toy you own. I’ve had mine since it was released, and I’m still blown away I never lost a part.
My second is Mr. Ree. About 6 years ago I got him at a garage sale for 50 cents. He’s a freaky vintage vinyl white skinned child that looks like an alien. I’ve tried to have him identified for the longest times, but no luck so I named him Mr. REE as in Mystery. He’s simple and smells weird and is quite priceless to me. I think a UFO must have dropped him.
Q: I find it interesting that your first Japanese Vinyl toy release is named Party Ball, as you have been known to show up to events sporting everything from a gorilla suit to a traffic cone for a hat. Is that analogy simply a coincidence, and what exactly is the story behind the beastly pugilist?
PK: I’ve found that most people I share this hobby with are generally good humored and twisted people who have come a long way and like to have fun. Who better to share this with? Partyball was actually inspired by a bizarre dream, which was quite a slapstick live action kaiju style battle, so in a way he’s largely representing the subconscious demon prankster soul of me that has to be controlled and locked up within. Maybe better to throw pies than punches. So you are not far off with that connection!
Q: You are one of those guys who knows pretty much everyone in the business and community of Japanese soft vinyl toy production, and with that being said, what makes a fifty dollar Japanese vinyl toy relevant in popular culture, especially in a down economy?
PK: Something I find intriguing is how these toy makers spent their childhoods playing with these vinyl toys and they’ve chosen to make a childhood dream come true and make their own. I see them more as modern vinyl forging Gurus forming special plastic medicine for the mind. But too much of anything can be a bad thing. Lately I’m finding more joy and complexity in the fewer things I’m keeping on display. In a simple setting a toy on display can really kick up the mood of a room and make it a great place to go about living in, full of music to the eyes. I would say that’s art worth the price.