Collectible figures are works of art
Your favourite action figure possesses the spirit of your superhero because of the skills, passion and patience of its maker.
Collectible figure lovers are happy to spend handsome sums of money on their favourite hand-made action figures.
Yet they may not know that figure makers take years to hone their skills and it is hard to put a price tag on their effort.
Mr Bob Yu Hon-wan, a visual arts teacher, has taught figure making for eight years. He imports teaching tools and textbooks from overseas and designs teaching plans for figure carving. Yet despite his efforts, he remains dissatisfied.
Mr Yu said it was difficult for a figure-making class to survive because it was hard to teach the skills it required. Many students also neglected the importance of basic practices such as sketching a draft and visualising the three dimensions, he said.
"Students request to advance to the next level only one or two months into the course because they find the training in basic skills boring," said Mr Yu. "It is only when they realise their techniques are insufficient that they start to know how important the basic steps are."
Mr Chan Man-fai, a figure lover but rookie figure maker, was one of these students. He realised his lack of basic skills and spent two years improving his drawing techniques so that he could start making his favourite collectible figure, Predator.
"I didn't know the basic steps were so useful until I found that I couldn't make the details of a figure perfect. If I didn't master the basics, it would have been impossible for me to make a good product," said Mr Chan. "The perfection we strive for is to have zero flaws."
Aside from skills and techniques, Mr Joseph Tsang Ngai-Yan, a local figure maker who works at Hot Toys, said figure making required dedication and modesty. "Hong Kong is losing its advantage in figure making to Korea," he said.
"The competition between Korea and Hong Kong has been intense. The former puts in more effort in carving training, while the latter focuses on ideas, creations and designs and treats basic training as time-consuming," said Mr Tsang.
Although there are figure making experts in Hong Kong, they are not willing to join the industry because they do not like being criticised for their products, he added.
"Film companies keep modifying the figures of the characters in their films and a figure artist has to know how to take others' comments, make corrections and meet the requirements as soon as possible," said Mr Tsang.
Reported by Alice Wan
Edited by Cleo Tse
《The Young Reporter》
The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.
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