Forget the CGI mess that was Michael Bay’s Transformer movies. You want to look at everyone’s favorite robots in disguise in real life? Check out Wan de Real’s uber detailed custom Transformer models. A full time lecturer by day, Wan customises existing Transformer toys to movie/cartoon perfection and even builds some from scratch. More than rivalling the original toys, Wan’s models make them look like cheap knock-offs you’d find at your local Pasar Malam. Don’t mistake this for child’s play though, his design work has never been met with demeaning questions by others. He has won the Grand Prize in International Kitbashiong Competition and his models commands up to USD3000 a piece. JUICE recently caught up with Wan de Real at his workshop
Text Alif Omar Mahfix + Kenneth Lim
How did it all begin?
I’m a big Transformers fan, specifically the first generation versions from the cartoons. When the first Transformers movie was out, I felt unsatisfied and decided to take matters into my own hands.
What kind of modifications do you do?
The first generation Transformers toys have limited movements and detailing. Their arms and legs, for example, can only move back and forth, which prevents them from being adjusted to pose like how they look like in the cartoons. I take them apart and create movable parts, sometimes even allowing them to transform into something that even the Hasbro original could not. Then there are those that I make from scratch and those that I add details to make them more realistic. I use anything and everything made from plastic and steel, from zippers for fingers to audio cable jacks for guns while some parts are recycled from other Transformers toys.
Are they considered replicas?
My creations are considered ‘transformers’ in the hobby because they can transform. Replicas are like action figures and sculptures, normally these are toys that hobbyists add details to or build from scratch but cannot transform.
It must be hard for your kids to resist playing with them.
Nah, not my kids. Before I build a Transformer toy, I will buy an original Hasbro unit and will let my kids play with it until I need it since I’m going to take it apart anyway. It’s funny because my kids are so jaded that they are not even interested in looking at toys at all when we go to the mall.
Speaking of which, how annoying is it when people still ask you why you play with ‘toys’?
I’ve never met anyone who’d ask me that kind of questions, really. Mostly when people saw my collections, they would just smile and ask when did I start collecting. At most they’d question if this hobby isn’t a waste of money but most are really fascinated by my figures. They get even more excited when they find out I made them myself. By the way, they aren’t toys, I never play with them…
Sounds very serious…
I came from the art and design field. I treat and appreciate Transformers models as clever sculptures and designs. Imagine that people are making billions of profit just from the toys.
How have your toys, uh, we mean ‘transformers’, been selling?
I have sold 12 units so far for mostly USD1000 each, but I’ve recently got commissioned to do a piece worth USD3000. Orders have been pouring in since I appeared in the papers and I can’t take all of them. My schedule is fully booked until May next year as it is.
Which has been your most successful project so far?
That would have to be the Masterpiece Astrotrain that I made for the Triplethreat Challenge by Sector70, an international kitbashing site. I slaved like a mad man on this one, but it was worth it because it won first place, trashing international competitors from the States, Canada and even Japan. I’ve also started building a 4.5ft Metroplex and that will be massive. It’s still a surprise but you will hear about it soon enough. J
Wan de Real’s Transformers models can be found at derealtransworks.blogspot.com.