Welcome back to Dan’s ToyBox! Very excited to bring this interview to you today as I sit down with the creator of “AmeriKaiju: Monster Hunter in training”, Edgar Pasten. I cannot say enough good things about the people that I’ve been blessed to interview for this column and meeting Edgar was just as special for me. The first thing I found when we started talking was how down to Earth and relatable Edgar is, the second thing I learned was of his incredible passion for his products. Whether it be his work on AmeriKaiju or drawing designs for a small t-shirt business as a child, Edgar speaks with the enthusiasm and excitement of a new parent discussing their first baby. By the time we finished, I was jumping on Kickstarter to further support AmeriKaiju! After reading the first three issues, I can say with certainty that this is a book and project that you’ll want to get on board with! Without further ado, Edgar Pasten; Father, Artist, Creator, Designer.
DT: Thank you for spending some time with me today, Edgar. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about AmeriKaiju and your other works. I’m very excited to learn more about what you are doing.
EP: Thank you, I appreciate your interest and am looking forward to our chat.
DT: So, let’s kind of kick things off with a little background… what was your introduction to comics and toys?
EP: I grew up in Mexico City and “earned” the hand me down toys and comic books from my older brothers. During my time there, my grandmother would encourage me to earn my own money if I wanted something. Near her business, was a small shop that sold t-shirts with these logos and pictures on them… after practicing drawing the pictures I saw in my brother’s comic books, I thought I could do better than what the shopkeeper had. I worked out a deal with him to draw pictures for his shirts and he'd by them from me. It was great to have that money and to be able to go to the arcade and to buy comic books for myself. When my father emigrated to the United States, it was a little harder for me to come by money, but my passion for drawing was always with me. My father had a job working at the Glendale Civic Auditorium and when I was about 12 years old, I went to a comic con with a friend of mine. I got my first copy of Spawn and immediately got hooked. Incidentally, I got to meet Todd McFarlane at the booth and I’m fairly sure that I made a lasting impression when I rolled up my brand-new copy of Spawn and stuck it in my back pocket. What they didn’t know, was that action of stuffing things into my pockets was me putting it away for “safe keeping” I wasn’t yet in the habit of carrying stuff around that I didn’t care for. Anyhow, I fell in love with this groundbreaking book and began really working on copying the artwork and drawing more and more.
DT: I can only imagine the looks on their faces when you stuffed the book in your back pocket! When did you realize that this was your calling?
EP: I have actually been in toy design for 21 years and have always had a love for comic art and toy design. As I mentioned, I began drawing designs for that t-shirt guy. He would buy them from me for 50 pesos each. Then, I’d go out, buy more comic books, learn to draw the art and would turn around and sell to him. I’ve always had an Entrepreneurial spirit, so making money for me was second nature. This “gig” for the t-shirt guy really showed me that I could make money doing something that I enjoyed. Naturally I pursued this interest and studied Industrial Design at Otis College of Art and Design.
DT: What would you say was your breakout project?
EP: When I worked on Power Rangers. I’m very proud of the time I spent working on that property. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the process for comic book costume designs. I wanted to make certain that they were getting the love and respect they deserved, so I researched every bit of lore I could find. I set out to give the diehard fans Easter Eggs to enjoy, while keeping the core audience (4-8 yo) in mind. I was able to incorporate several design details that any superfan with an eye for detail will eventually pick out and enjoy. I even got a nice little mention in the “Green Ranger comic: Pasten’s Tower was named for me as a thank. You for the time spent on the franchise!
Needless to say, I am very fond of the time I spent working on this property and feel that my time on the comic book’s “Story Team” really helped propel me to where I am today.
DT: Which is an excellent segue to my next topic… Let’s hear about AmeriKaiju!
EP: Amerikaiju: Monster Hunter in training is best summed up in one line: “Can a five-year-old take on America’s most dangerous Mythical Monsters and still have time for a nap?” Ike, our 5-year-old protagonist has two mentors in this story. They guide him through his training and battles. Van, the older brother (Blue) is the methodical planner, while the younger brother Sid, (Red), is the impulsive “just do it” type mentor.
Amerikaiju has multiple levels for the reader. There’s always a lesson that the reader can take away and are based heavily on the interactions I have with my own son. The aim is to impart these lessons through the stories we tell, hopefully without patronizing the reader. Second is the structure of the stories is based on the 3 main characters. For example, from a bird’s eye view, Ike is really dealing with his ego, loosely based on Freud’s concepts of the id, ego, and superego. The idea of the two vastly different mentors suggests he must pick who he is going to listen to as he charges in to battle or simply brush his teeth.
Incorporating the vinyl figures into the mix helps bring these stories to life for the readers and allows them to recreate the action and hopefully lessons from the books. They are all great looking figures, and are in scale to one another, from Taggarik, the 8” tall figure to the Mini’s, new for 2022, standing between 3-4”. All are designed with my core audience in mind, keeping the adult collector directly in the crosshairs of course. There’s fun and cutesie design, with some really cool nostalgia built-in for those of us that grew up with this style of toys. Plus, there’s a ton of great monster artwork in the comics and covers, that I know people will love!
That said, in any personal project I work on, I like to have a style guide to adhere to. For instance, with Amerikaiju, there are some basic rules: There is no swearing for the sake of doing so, and nudity is NOT part of my brand. I want parents to feel comfortable reading these books with, or to their children.
DT: Tell me about your adventures in the toy industry.
EP: One of my early experiences in Toy, was designing for Roseart. Where I was fortunate enough to be assigned to the Color Blanks team, this brand brought in $10million in the first year with a single nationwide retailer! By the second year, I had 20 designs of these Color Blanks and we were introducing holiday versions. They were selling quite well and by the time I left, we had 72 figures in production! The experience definitely had a lasting impression on my career, to this day I still find more of my designs in the wild!
In comics, I had the opportunity to both meet Stan Lee, and design a Stan Lee figure that went into production in 2012. Stan’s team reached out and asked for me to design a trophy to award the winner of our “Make A YO! Art Contest”. (YO! was a customizable blank vinyl figure) Long story short, I sculpted and delivered the trophy for Stan to sign off on the design. He loved it so much, he asked when production on this “handsome little guy” would get started. As you can imagine, I said: “ugh…right away” That said, I can easily say that Stan Lee has been my biggest influence in the comic book industry and I can’t possibly say enough about the sheer number of stories he created and curated over the many years he was involved with comics. I don’t know of any other creator with as long a list of success stories as Stan. To me, that’s the magic he brings to the table. Different stories, different people, all written in their unique points of view.
DT: I can’t even begin to imagine how cool that must have been. Stan Lee has had such a deep influence on society as a whole and certainly is an individual that I quickly cite as one of my primary influences. So, with an amazing comic book and an incredible toy line on the horizon, what do you see to be the future of Indie Comics and Toys?
EP: I see comics staying true to their roots, we will always want to feel the turn of the page and collect special covers etc. but there are a large number that will shift to move somewhere closer to animation. (Madefire) As for toys, I think we will always have manual trinkets to play with, but the future of toys is exotic materials. Just a few years ago, asking for a flying toy was out of the question, but the tech has caught up to our imaginations. Now, it's time to dream bigger! Human-like robots have already begun to pop up in alarming numbers. I think robots at home, ala iRobot, is not so far off- 5 y.o Kids will be playing with their mechanical friends, as they now play with their own smartphones!
DT: I truly hope so… as you know I am a toy reviewer with a modest collection that continues to grow. It’s definitely not uncommon for me to have a figure near at hand when I’m working either in this capacity or even at my day job. When we were working from home, there was always a Spider-Man or Batman perched on my worktable. Edgar, I cannot begin to thank you enough for taking time to sit down with me today. I’m very excited to be supporting AmeriKaiju and I look forward to Ike’s adventures! I’d love to do a follow-up with you down the road.
EP: Thank you for talking with me today and for supporting independent comic books and action figures. I appreciate our time together today as well and look forward to talking again!
I had a lot of fun talking with Edgar, learning about his history, and digging into AmeriKaiju. The books are a very fun read, and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of the figures. I hope you’ll all dive into and support this awesome and fun project! Until next time, thanks for stopping by the ToyBox and… Geek Out!!!