When you think of the vinyl toy scene, Montreal is not an obvious location, but Jean-Marie Sauve of Kaijubento, an animator turned toy maker, is here to prove otherwise. Kaijubento trades in the stereotypical Quebecois poutine for a sushi-bred kaiju, named Wagamo created on the Island of Dr. Spagh. Like most vinyl toys, the inspiration didn’t just come out of nowhere, but was created to go with one of Jean-Marie’s animation projects. Kaijubento also has had the great fortune of being lifted off the ground with the help of the worlds premiere toy distributors DKE Toys.
“For me, Kaijubento, it`s all about inspiration that you drop in a shaker with little bit of this and little bit of that and, voilÃ ! It`s like a Pandora box!”
Format: What does Kaiju mean to you?
Jean-Marie: Well, it`s little bit ironic. When I started my toy’s company I was looking for a name and was inspired by the American cartoon and Japanese cartoons. So I made some research on Ultraman and I found kaiju meaning monster in Japanese. Then I came out with the name Kaijubento [Monster lunch box]. But at that time I didn`t know everything about the importance of the kaiju market. So I discovered a few weeks later this type of toy. My toys are inspired by the American culture with some kaiju influence.
Format: Why did you start Kaijubento?
Jean-Marie: I have an animation background and I was always fascinated by stop motion. People who creates something in 2D and can animated in 3D, I find that amazing. So when I saw the vinyl toys scene it was an opportunity for me to bring my character alive by making it in 3D able to share with people.
Format: Bento makes most people think of bento box, the tasty Japanese dinner/lunch
set, why do give your design this name?
Jean-Marie: Cause, you never know what you gonna get. For me, Kaijubento, it`s all about inspiration that you drop in a shaker with little bit of this and little bit of that and, voilÃ ! It`s like a Pandora box!
Format: The toys remind me of Kodos and Kang, the aliens from the Simpsons series.
Were they an influence for you?
Jean-Marie: Not really! I like The Simpsons series but I never saw Kodos and Kang.
Format: Please tell us the story of Dr. Spagh and Wagama.
Jean-Marie: Well, the concept is about a Dr.Spagh who was working for the government and got fire and now wants revenge. So he decided to live alone on an Island to create a monster, that’s what he did, when he accidentally dropped a sushi in the formula to conquer the world. And one of his monsters is Wagamo.
Format: How is Kaiju Bento being received in Asia?
Jean-Marie: Right now I can`t tell you cause my Wagamo is officially in sale since October first. But I appeared in an Asian Website [Singapore] and received good feedback, I cross my fingers!
Format: Why do you think Kaiju is so popular now in the North America?
Jean-Marie: I think we were exposed to the Japanese culture with series like Ultraman, Godzilla, astro, etc, and at the same time it`s so different of what’s being done in North America.
Format: Do you have any future vinyl projects?
Jean-Marie: If people like Wagamo, I’ve planned some variants colors. And Iâ€™ve got other type of Monsters, one hero on my drawing table, and, we musn’t forget, the Evil Dr. Spagh character!