Rafael Pantoja aka ‘Frank Mysterio Jr’ is a Mexican artist with a global following thanks to his magnificent art and designer toys. Whilst Frank can work in any style known to man he is best known for his Pre Hispanic (Aztec, Mayan etc) inspired lines and psychedelic use of colour.
With his art toy work, Frank has followed the standard path, starting with customs on other artist’s toys, and then working his way up to his own creations. Initially all made in Japan. Recently Frank has turned innovator and begun producing art toys DIY style in his home country of Mexico – such as the Primitivo figure above.
(A photo of Rafael below)
With Frank a pioneer in the world of designer toys, and continuing to spread his art all over the world, now is the perfect time to get to know the man, by reading the Art Talk interview, below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Rafael Pantoja alias Frank Mysterio Jr.
City, State n Country you currently call home?
City, State n Country you’re from?
Ciudad de Mexico.
(Photos below of some watercolours by Frank)
Describe a memory from some stages of your life ….basically trying to piece together some pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, romance, school, crime… ANYTHING really!
* age 5 – beginnings:
My first toys Playmobil.
* age 10 – continuations:
Star Wrs, He man and GI JOE.
* age 15 – getting serious:
X men, TMNT and SPAWN.
* age 20 – young adult:
TMNT and artoys – dunny, munny and qee.
* age 25 – adult mode:
Sofubi toys , real head, m1go, bullmark secret bases and airtoys.
* age 30 – fully formed:
Nagnagnag , shogun warrior, more kaiju.
* age 35 – adult continuations:
Rebel ink of usugrow.
* age 40 – meanderings:
(Photos below of the Frankballs made in Mexico soft vinyl figures by Frank)
Bobo clas , love teh dancehall music jamiaca.
When and why did you start making art of any kind?
From the age of 15 I started painting with the technique of watercolor.
What did you draw and / or create as a pre-adolescent child?
Because he drew comic characters.
What did you draw and / or did as a teenager?
Any fundamental artistic moment / influence?
(Photos below of some sketches by Frank)
What are you doing to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
This art is focused on pre-Hispanic culture, so museums are paramount.
The worst aspect of contemporary art?
The best aspect of contemporary art?
I really like the work of Skinner and L’amour Supreme.
(Photos below of some graffiti by Frank)
Favorite (s) other artist (s)?
Paul Kaiju, Mark Nagata, Cris Cooper Pushead, Alex Gray.
Why and when did you decide on the hustle and bustle of art?
It was something that I did not decide, I came alone and it was when I was 23, I spent a time of depression and I started to paint.
He is a friend, I met him in perssona I have exchanged our toys, I admire his work, I think we have both been in the movement of the toy kaiju.
(Photos below of some Made in Mexico Sirento soft vinyl figures by ‘Rotten Studio’ + painted by Frank)
Designer Toy Questions
For those who may be unaware – what exactly is the narrative universe which your toys fit into? Care to break down the cannon, key players, backstory etc – if one exists?
Much is the Japanese approach, I think that emi vision for lso toys change when conosi the sofubi, but I think this type of toy, is popular but does not fit at all.
You have to have the moustrosa vision of the 80s.
Describe the process of producing your soft vinyl toys? – from original sculpt, moulding, production, to finally holding that sweet sweet finished product in your hands… (dot point all o.k.):
Made in Mexico: First made a preboot in paper of the idea that I want, at first he asked for sculpture help, but I preferred to do it, I think I made it a more own work, after doing the modeling of the jugute I go with a friend who is the one who does The production to vinyl, the one in charge of making a mold in latex, to make the prototype in wax, after that is made the mold in copper which is made with chemicals, and already having the mold is made the casting on vinyl , Once with the piece in my hands, I make the art for both header and paint job, ready to sell.
Made in Japan: Thus, antichisto 666 was made in japan, with velositron and with chaukoski in the modeling part, the narquito model red dog and the production with velocitron.
Digital Vs Hand Sculpture – What Wins and Why?
It is manual work, is more fun and can ever more to detail, and enjoy even the mistakes.
(Photos below of the Narquito sofvi figure by Frank X Red Dog X Velocitron)
Are art-toys for children?
I think it can be for anyone who likes it, my daughter likes my creations.
Is the rise of ‘art’ toys an indication of the changing nature of ‘art’? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$$ and time?
There are those who consider my work art, they even see me as such, it is difficult for me to explain it, I do not consider myself an artist, but I enjoy what I do.
Thoughts on the current state of the Mexican art scene?
There is a lot of talent in Mexico, artists like Saner, Farid Rueda and more artists have had a presence worldwide and that is good, I love my country and I enjoy their art.
(Photos and art below of the Antichisto 666 sofvi by Frank X Velocitron X Chauskoskis)
What role did toys play in childhood?
I think that too much, mutant with the TMNT, some madball, were my inspiration.
What are the top 3 toys you own? – please include photos or drawings of them!
(Photo below of Frank’s daughter holding his Chogokigs toy)
Bebop TMNT Cybor
(Photo below of Frank’s Bebop toy)
Skeletor the Man
(Photo below of Frank’s Skeletor toy)
If people want to collaborate, work with you or just buy some art – how can they get in touch?
It is written me directly, I am not shy.
Odds n Ends
Does sex change everything?
Makes life give you joy, and more when there is sex with love.
What cartoon from the 1990’s would you like to see in a sex toy tribute, and why?
Mmm probably mnete April O’Neil of TMNT
(Photos below of the Primitivo Made in Mexico soft vinyl by Frank)
Who would win in a fight and why: Ultraman Vs. a drunk n rowdy Luchador?
JAJAJAJA, excellent question, probably probably Ultraman, but do not devalue the power of the wrestler blue demon.
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
I dream that I saw my family, a coexistence with them.
Of everything you’ve done, what would you like to be remembered for and why?
Because for my toys I believe that I am the first Mexican to make toys in Japan, and I have had important participations in the whole world, I believe that my art and my work would like it to be recognized a little more.
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
Ganja love, I like smoking.
Any collaborations on the horizon?
Primitive monster by Mark Nagata.
Any major projects you want to hype?
More toys, I would like to make a bigger toy and mostro.
(Photos below of some linocut prints by Frank)
- Frank Mysterio – Instagram
- Frank Mysterio – Blog
- Frank Mysterio – Online Store
- Frank Mysterio – twitter
- Art Whore Toy Review – ‘Primitivo’ soft vinyl (One Off)