Jun 09, 2010
Interview: Paul Kaiju
I had the pleasure of joining Mr. Paul Kaiju for a day at his new humble abode here in sunny San Diego. After seeing all the amazing custom Kaiju figures Paul has pumped out over the years, I have become a huge fan. Not only can this guy customize any figure in his path, but he is also a very talented sculptor. Take a look at our little interview session.
VP: Howdy there Paul! To get this interview rolling, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
PK: I was born in Germany in 1965. We came to the states and lived in Chicago for 7 years and returned to California in 70-71'. After living in Long Beach since 1972 I now live in San Diego. So far, I really like it. My Father was born here and I still have family in the area. I'm settled in, happy, and keeping very busy.
I did attend some Art classes in College, but at the time I was hired into the aerospace boom of the 80's and worked in that for 15 years until almost all of it closed. That was pretty hard work, so on the weekends I helped a friend cast resin kits at his loft in downtown LA and painted samples for sales. It was there I learned many of my skills and knowledge of materials. After getting laid off from Aerospace in 2001 I decide to start casting Blythe eyes to make some money and did that and custom dolls for a few years. The rest is now. Good times.
VP: When designing and sculpting toys, where do you draw your inspiration from?
PK: It's a combination of many things. Particularly, old Sci-fi,that freaked me out as a child like "The Outer Limits" and Sid Pink movies to Yokai type creatures. Also there is a great influence on me of older toys such as squeaky toys and cheap plastic dime store rubber monster toys. I was also highly influenced by the works of Paul Blaisdell who designed the monster from "it conquered the World" and "invasion of the Saucer men"
I got to visit Bob Burn's house and he was great friends with Blaisdell, he happened to have a restored saucer man mask that was rescued from oblivion and was rotting rather badly. His monsters always blew me away. Yet they are so simple, all veiny and eye-bally with so many folds of tissue.
VP: I’ve never heard the term eye-bally before… but anyways.. You have customized hundreds, if not thousands of toys.. If you had one last toy to customize, which toy would it be and why?
PK: I have painted at least a few hundred toys. As for favorite figure… I would say the Anraku Goga, which is just a fun toy to paint. The texture is so rewarding with the overspray it paints itself. It’s a magical toy.
VP: Do you have any favorite customs?
PK: These were always the most memorable for me. I was really happy with them. One is the Mummy Punch and the second is the Tooth Fairy Kaws.
VP: One of my first toys I have a vivid memory of would be my TMNT Ninja Turtle Action Figures. Do you have memories of your first toy and what got you into collecting?
PK: My first "toys" I would have to say is the Mattel "thingmaker" and "strange change" machine, which had a huge influence on my later interests. I still have some of these vintage toys and I break them out for visitors from Japan to play with. Even the goop still works!
Another was "Billy Blastoff" who was originally made by Edai. I purchased one on ebay a few years back and he still smelled the way I remembered. I think I bought him just for that. The scent of my happy childhood.
VP: Aaahh.. good ol’ childhood memories.. What do you collect now a days? any guilty pleasures?
PK: Ball joint dolls. I love big resin dolls. I always wanted mannequins, but they’re too big, so these are just the right size.
Western Vinyl.. I tried but the quality always left me with the buyer’s remorse. I think it was the time My Scary Girl dove off the shelf and broke in 2 places. I said never again.
I like Mexican coffin toys. They were sold at Mexican wrestling matches in the 60’s and they have a pop up body and a theme like a clown or scientist or Martian, they are awesome. I also collect vintage squeak toys. I am proud of everything I have. I have boxes of Atari 2600 games too. WHOOPIE!
VP: This is something I’ve always wanted to ask an artist for hire.. have you ever refused to paint a toy, due to its rarity?
PK: Yes! I have talked people out of it. One was my grail for awhile, Gargamel x Marmit Dogora. No Paintey! However, I have done some restoration on vintage. I love restoring toys too.If it's for someone I know has full intention of keeping it, I’ll do it.
VP: Toy restoration ey? You really are a jack of all toy trades.. do tell…
PK: I've repaired many minor damages on old and new toys. Even I understand, minor scratches in the wrong place can bug! I really enjoy color matching. It's a challenge!
VP: You have recently teamed up with Super7 and have released your first vinyl figure. Is there such thing as to many versions of a figure or should they keep being produced as the demand is there?
PK: As long as people want it, keep making it. Super7 and I are working together to keep producing amazing colorways. I have a large endless catalog of inspiration and there’s something for everyone, I’m sure!
VP: Well said! From snooping around your pad I know you have some special projects currently in the works. Is there any possibility you can share anything with us today? Hints? Anything?!
PK: It’s really too early to say, I'm planning a sneak attack. I will say there's going to be some great stuff in store for SDCC this year!
VP: Awww.. you’re no fun… To conclude this interview, I would just like to say you make an amazing grilled garlic chicken. Do you have any other specialty dishes?
PK: Yes, I love beer boiled pork ribs. I use Pabst and add some cloves of garlic and pepper corns and boil em' for an hour. Then just sear them on the grill, best ribs ever.
Oh with BBQ sauce of course. Like candy. I also make a mean stuffed flank steak, feta spinach and sun dried tomato wrapped up in a flank steak.
VP: Sounds very delicious.. you better have that ready for me for the next time I roll through. Just wanted to say thank you for your time and hospitality!
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thank you vinyl pulse for such a great interview!