Geek

This Man Is Caricature Artist By Day, Singapore's Pokéball Master By Night

This article originally appeared on Vulcan Post

How much do you love Pokémon? Enough to make it a reality? Well, that seems to be the case for Ramzul, a Pokémon fan who decided to take one of the greatest technological innovations in the Pokémon world — the Pokéball — and bring it to the real world.

Ramzul, a primary school dropout, discovered his love for electrical engineering during his time in a vocational institute, spending a total of 6 years in the field.

“Initially, it was just because I had no choice but to do electrical and electronics engineering, but I soon found myself completely in love with it.”

Ramzul has been a Pokémon fan from his early teens, when he played the first generation games on an old fat green classic GameBoy (“my best friend”).  But it was only when he and a few old school mates started discussing the topic in a WhatsApp group chat that the idea started taking shape. What was initially a fun conversation quickly turned into action, as Ramzul and his friends started sourcing for components and prototyping.

After a few failed attempts, the first working prototype was born: a clear orb with the distinct glowing button, a messy splatter of glue and a mass of wiring — a fraction of the components that made up Pokéballs that existed at the time.

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“There was already someone creating similar Pokéballs back then,” said Ramzul. “The ones he made was with the LED lighting up in front. We just decided to push it further with more functions added, weight reduced. Why? We found that the available Pokéballs out there were missing something, so we made them ourselves. It proved to be a hit with the fans worldwide!”

The Pokéball Project

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Thus, the Pokéball Project was born. Ramzul, armed with his Pokéball prototypes, wanted to see “if my marketing ideas and theories to promote and expand a business through social media would work.” The response was much better than he anticipated, and in just 10 months, the Pokéball Project has grown to having 6.3K likes on Facebook and over 17K followers on Instagram.

Each Pokéball is sold at a collector’s price — from as low as $54.94 to as high as $97.62. If that is out of your price range, you can opt for other collector’s items, like an impressive collection of gym badges.

“(I’m) truly grateful to those who have been supporting us since day one,” said Ramzul, who now runs the business with his girlfriend. His brother and a friend help to moderate the Facebook page, where he often holds giveaways to generate hype and publicity for his work.

How To Make A Pokéball

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True, the Pokéballs won’t actually work like the actual ones from the Pokémon franchise, but the Pokéballs created by the 28-year-old are convincing enough. The models on sale on his Etsy page each have a range of different features: all of them light up, some vibrate upon ‘capturing’ a Pokemon, and the M4 — Ramzul’s newest offering — even makes the iconic sound of a Pokémon being captured, helping you fulfill your Pokémon master dreams in the most authentic way possible.

“The craziest (thing I’ve done) for this project has got to be the M4, with months of planning to make it work,” said Ramzul. “We kept getting requests for the Pokéballs to have the sounds, and with little to no memory space left in the microprocessor, we had to think of other ways to make it happen, and with a solution that doesn’t cost us too much to make and sell.”

The Pokéball Project M Series

M1 — LED lights up when button is clicked.

M2 — LED fades in, and off. Loops.

M3 — LED fades in, ball vibrates several times, LED fades back off. Loops.

M4 (just released) — LED fades in, blinks, ball opens up, shell’s insides glow and blink red as Pokéball sound plays. Ball closes, light blinks and fades off.

The glossy orbs are gorgeous, on display on the official Instagram and Facebook pages for fans and friends to admire and share.

The first step to making his Pokéballs, Ramzul shares, is to find “the perfect shell”. His latest range of Pokéballs, the M Series, are made from Pokéball toys that fit their electronics perfectly — a better alternative to spray-painting clear shells as he did for their earlier offerings.

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The next step is to drill a hole into the shell-halves, a long and risky process that could potentially damage the shells. The electronics come next, as a visible microprocessor is stuck to the switch with a lump of hot glue to protect the components from getting damaged through shipping.

“We try to minimise space consumption as much as we can by just sticking everything to the microprocessor. Unsightly? Maybe. Works? Flawlessly haha.”

“Something to take note of is that our Pokéballs are made from easily found items, and you can do it yourself too if you know what to look for. We do not mass-manufacture them in factories. Now you know why it takes us 6 to 8 weeks before we ship off the orders.”

Full-Time Pokéball Master

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Equipped with his trusty soldering iron, a hot glue gun, a bench drilling machine, and a rotary tool, Ramzul is looking forward to spending more time on the project. Though a Pokémon Master by night, he is a caricature artist by day, drawing the faces of visitors to Universal Studios — for now. He shared with us his plans to commit to The Pokéball Project full time, though the current earnings that he’s gained from the project is mostly used to cover the cost of production.

On top of that, he will also be working with a company supplying electronic components that he founded, along with another secret project that will be released in the 3rd quarter of this year.

So if you’re in the market for a Pokéball or two, or are just beginning on your quest to Catch ‘em all, Ramzul’s the guy to look for. You can find him on the corner of Pallet Town, working on each Pokéball by hand — or you can just find him on:

Facebook
Instagram
ETSY

 

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