Local company Imaginarium Art licensed to make Transformers Generation One statues

Imaginarium Art owner Danny Lim with the Soundwave statue.
Imaginarium Art owner Danny Lim with the Soundwave statue.ST PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Home-grown toy-maker's statues to travel to Thailand, Taiwan and the US

Home-grown collectible statue producers Imaginarium Art has ventured into the Transformers universe by rolling out two resin statues of the hit toy franchise's Generation One characters, Ultra Magnus and Soundwave.

The company - licensed by toy juggernaut and the makers of Transformers, Hasbro - is perhaps the first in the world to build models of the two characters of such scale (they are usually about 20 to 30cm). The statues - Ultra Magnus stands at 70cm and Soundwave at 81cm - are also able to change poses.

They were unveiled two weeks ago and displayed at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention that took place last weekend.

Pre-orders (a $400 deposit is required) can be placed for Soundwave, which is priced at $1,470, before 800 limited pieces of the figurine are released into the market in December. Details on Ultra Magnus have yet to be announced. Mr Danny Lim, who founded Imaginarium Art in 2013, says the company has received 400 orders so far.

While each figure comes with additional body parts for fans to fiddle around with poses, it cannot be transformed into vehicles or weapons.

Imaginarium Art has also previously produced various replicas of Marvel Comics' Iron Man, including a newer design of the character's trademark red and gold helmet.

The Transformers statues will travel to Thailand and Taiwan later this year before heading to two large-scale toy and comic conventions in the United States - MegaCon (short for Mega Convention) and New York Comic Con - and the fan-run Transformers convention TFCon in Canada next year.


A close-up of Ultra Magnus. ST PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Based on the franchise's very first line that ran from 1984 to 1991, the two pieces are boxier in design compared to the slicker look of the newer-generation Transformers as seen in the film series.

A Transformers fan, Mr Lim, 41, wanted to relive the nostalgia of the franchise's early days.

He went with Ultra Magnus, the second-in-command of the Autobot army (the Autobots are the protagonists) as there are already "too much of Autobot leader Optimus Prime in the market".

Naturally, he had to pick a character from the antagonists, the Decepticons, for the other replica, and he chose a personal favourite Soundwave, a communicator who can transform into a microcassette recorder.

"It's always exciting to see Soundwave deploy his little cassette minions from his chest," says Mr Lim.

He teamed up with Argentinian sculptor Pablo Viggiano to provide the art direction for the statues. Viggiano, 44, was adamant that they look as authentic as possible.

"Fans don't want someone else's version of the characters. They want a statue that has the same lovely feeling from when they were kids," he says.

The statues are made out of resin, acrylic and polyurethane, and have minute details specific to each character. Take Ultra Magnus, which comes with two grey cannon barrels made of diecast metal. As for Soundwave, three of his cassette troops - Ravage, Laserbeak and Frenzy - stand at the foot of the statue in ready-to-attack poses.

Long-time Transformers fans are thrilled that Imaginarium Art has created classic replicas.

Mr Sathish Pillai, 39, who runs a car wash business, says it is the most accurate replication of the vintage series he has seen. He has submitted a pre-order for Soundwave.

"It's about time someone produces statues from the Generation One era. Nowadays, many of the figurines on the market are of the newer, more modern designs similar to what you see in the films," he adds.

Project manager Chew Liong Hong, 40, has pre-ordered a Soundwave figurine, despite being slightly disappointed that it cannot transform. "I used to rush home from school years ago just to catch each episode of the Transformers Generation One cartoons. The statues bring back those childhood memories," he says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore's Transformers take on the world'. Print Edition | Subscribe