Atomic Mushroom is a newly formed independent Toy Company founded by artist and toy designer Robert De Castro. Established in early 2007, Atomic Mushroom produces limited edition vinyl toys inspired by Japanese pop culture. Robert DeCastro writes," I grew up in this culture being of Asian descent. My youth was spent marveling at all the TOHO films such as Godzilla, Gamera and other monster movies. At home, if it wasn't monsters, it was robots, much to the dismay of my parents. All I could talk about was my favorite animated Japanese Superhero robot shows like Mazinger Z, Grendizer, Voltes V, Getter Robo and most of all Tetsujin (Gigantor in the US). It's probably no surprise to know that my favorite toys where Vinyl Kaiju (monster) rotocast figures and die cast metal Superhero Robot figures not to mention my 12" inch GI-Joe figures.

In 1997, a new form of art was created using toys as the canvas and vinyl as the medium. Christened "Urban" or "Designer vinyl", the art movement was born in Japan by independent toy designer Hikaru Iwanaga of Bounty Hunter, a popular Japanese clothing boutique in Tokyo's Harajuku district. He decided to create a simple rotocast vinyl toy to compliment his line of street ware. One way or the other, the concept of a toy created from artwork or perhaps done outright as art itself spread throughout other artists in Japan, and from there the idea caught on to Hong Kong like a wild fire then Europe and the US where it's quickly gaining widespread popularity.

I had been a self taught artist all my life and had been working in the toy industry for several years. As a designer I created 1/6th scale military uniforms and accessories for companies like Ertle, Replay (sister company of Playmates), 21st Century Toys and independent projects with Don Levine and Kirk Bozigian, creators of the 12' inch GI Joes in the 60's and 80's for Hasbro.

In 2005, upon rediscovering old Japanese toys from my childhood, an internet search led me to a site where I discovered "designer vinyl toys", and a new world opened up. As an artist, this was an exciting new discovery. My illustration work was nearing a dead end, and I had lost interest in designing 1/6th scale military toys. This new genre of art and design was just what I needed to channel my creativity. The experience I've had in the toy industry and all the inside contacts I've established through the years made it easy to research the complexities of producing limited edition toys. My passion for Japanese pop culture made it clear what kind of toys I wanted to produce for our newly named company, Atomic Mushroom. As I mentioned earlier, I love robots and since few designer are doing robots, it was pretty much a no brainer. So after long sessions on my drawing table I came up with my first design. Combat-R Zero is a commixture of childhood memories of giant superhero robots and the pop culture that shadows it.

We're just getting started and we invite you to look around our humble little corner of the internet and see what we have to offer. Dive in and discover what's under the radioactive cloud: Mechanical marvels, creatures and mutants of all manner and form just waiting to emerge. Suspend reality for a moment much like you did when you where a child and take a ride with us into the Atomic Mushroom where imagination is alive and thriving."


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