Fahmy and Hafiz were Form 1 schoolmates and dormmates back in 1995, but after leaving school, they lost contact.
One thing that they had bonded over in the past was their shared interest in toys (or figures), and as if by fate, that interest was what brought them together again in 2012.
It was through a toy collectors’ community on Facebook that they reconnected, and it led to them eventually creating their own community group called Imaginary Bot Figures Creation Malaysia (IBFCM) in 2017.
What Fahmy and Hafiz do in IBFCM is create robot action figures out of what many of us would consider essentially junk or rubbish-to-be in our houses.
Intrigued by how they got inspired to start as well as how they create their figures, Vulcan Post reached out to the duo to learn more.
It Starts With Inspiration
Fahmy got his start when he stumbled upon a line of robot action figures created by a famous comic artist, Ashley Wood, that went along with his comic designs.
“I fell in love with the design and simplicity of those robots which used very basic shapes. And the main attraction was the ‘weathering’ techniques that brought out the rusty, weathered battle and post-apocalyptic effect,” he recalled.
Such a figure would have cost a bomb to own, and Fahmy decided to instead spend his earnings wisely. However, the urge to have such a robot was irresistible, so he studied Ashley Woods’ design and tried to replicate it with cans and scrap items.
Like Fahmy, Hafiz knew that finely manufactured toys would have cost him a kidney, so before starting IBFCM and creating toys out of trash from scratch, they used to repaint and customise toys they collected to make them look better.
But Hafiz’s first real build was inspired by a drawing that his 6-year-old son made, which he brought to life as his son watched excitedly.
“His drawing was a very simple retro box styled robot with twin antennas, which was then built and stylised according to the repurposed parts available and then painted to look like an old rusted style robot,” Hafiz told us.
Something That Anyone Can Do
Hafiz and Fahmy soon realised that such a project could be achievable and beneficial for everyone to try because it’s flexible and pocket-friendly.
“You will be able to enjoy the building process more creatively and freely without any restriction, unlike when you assemble expensive plastic scale models manufactured as a kit that comes with strict guided instructions like Gundam figures,” Hafiz said.
Because you’d be working with junk too, you won’t be too wary about things going wrong, since you could always easily find replacement parts.
“And honestly, the satisfaction from completing a creation is truly a priceless sensation that you’ll value differently because it’s your art masterpiece,” Hafiz added.
Besides the positive reactions they got from posting their builds online, they also began receiving invitations to exhibit them, so this was when they had to decide on a name and landed on IBFCM.
They also came up with the motto ‘Make Do Of What You’ve Got’, which Hafiz said represents their self challenging way of acquiring the main parts for their creations.
Defying The Fundamentals Of Art
When it comes to creating the base design, the duo defies the fundamentals of art and design by completely skipping the pre-designing sketches.
The reason why is because sketching would introduce difficulties in finding appropriate parts that could cater to the shape of the sketch design and prolong the completion period, so they simply base the design on items at their disposal.
What can make up the main body of an IBFCM figure are used household items like shampoo bottles, drinking bottles, food containers, cans, cloth pegs, broken electronic parts, hardware parts, stationery, and other broken and unwanted toys, to name a few.
After they’ve assembled the parts, they’ll paint it with a grey surface primer. If they find that the primed model still lacks details, they’ll add in more parts and repeat the priming process.
Once priming is done, they’ll begin painting the model with their desired colours. The model can be a playable one with movable limbs or simply a statue type model for display.
If everything goes as expected, one project should take about 2 weeks to complete. Otherwise, it could take months, like one model that’s been sitting on their desk since mid-2019 because of timing and material sourcing issues.
So far, they’ve managed to create about 30 figures combined.
And It’s Not Even Their Day Job
With so much time and effort being put into figure creation, perhaps you’d be surprised to learn that IBFCM is only a hobby for the duo.
Fahmy’s day job is a graphic designer for Harian Metro while Hafiz is an IT engineer with DXC Technology, and they simply work on their figures from home during their free time.
Furthermore, they don’t actively monetise their figures and have only sold a few to international and local collectors.
The pricing of a figure would vary due to the complexity of the builds, like one of the figures which was sold for over RM150.
According to Fahmy and Hafiz, if they were to sell their figures consistently, they would sell them as art pieces and highlight that they’re not really toys that fall under the usual child safety guidelines, so they’re recommended for ‘old kids’ like them, they joked.
However, IBFCM has brought in some occasional side income through workshops that Fahmy and Hafiz were paid to set up.
These workshops are typically organised by NGOs and local city councils like CTFKL, Rumah Seni Selangor, MBPJ and DBKL.
The duo are always open to working with more organisations to hold more workshops, but what they hope most to do is to promote artistic creativity and environment-friendly values in the community through the hobby of creating figures from repurposed junk.
- You can learn more about or join the IBFCM community on Facebook here.
- You can read more about other artists we’ve written on here.
Featured Image Credit: IBFCM