By FARISYA AZWAR RIDZUAN, 16, SMK Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur
IF you were at the Star Wars 40th Anniversary celebration held at Sunway Pyramid from May 15 to 21, you may have noticed a booth showcasing intricate models and dioramas of vehicles and scenes from the Star Wars movies.
These eye-catching replicas were handcrafted by members of Star Wars Modellers Malaysia (SWMM). They comprise local artists who express their profound love for the movie franchise through their creations.
One of them is art director Mohd Abdul Syafiq Zakaria, who is an avid Star Wars vehicle modeller from Shah Alam, Selangor.
“My life is about art and happiness,” he says.
For the 35-year-old, Star Wars has played a prominent part in the creation of that happiness ever since he was a child.
“The movies are special because of the characters, vehicles and actions. Of course, the lightsabre is the most iconic part,” he says, adding that the films are filled to the brim with brilliant ideas.
Unlike other Star Wars fans who take an interest in toy collecting, Mohd Abdul Syafiq set out collecting art pieces inspired by the franchise, especially fan-made ones. His passion grew from there and he went on to building models.
“It happened four years ago when Bandai (a Japanese toy company) produced model kits for Star Wars.
“I was a Gunpla toy builder so that made it more exciting when Bandai released more and more Star Wars kits,” he explains.
After a long day at work, Mohd Abdul Syafiq comes home and takes his place at his modelling workstation, which is well-equipped with craft knives, building materials, airbrushes, paints and other tools.
“My first projects were a 1/12 scale Darth Vader and a 1/72 scale X-wing Starfighter,” he shares.
Building a model is no walk in the park, as Mohd Abdul Syafiq can attest to. One has to invest one’s time, money and above all, effort.
To start off, he assembles all the right bits and pieces. Then, he applies an undercoat to the model in a process called “priming”. Next comes the detailing and weathering.
“This step is all about a modeller’s skill in using an airbrush or hand brush. It has to be detailed and it takes time until the modeller is satisfied,” he elaborates.
When the ensemble is complete – after a top coat is applied, and the finishing touches added – Mohd Abdul Syafiq would whip out his camera and photograph still images of the model to share with his social media followers.
The journey from beginning to end is fulfilling for the art director, who puts his skills to great use, especially when tackling the often challenging technical aspect of the process.
While the Star Wars movies served as a companion for him during his growing up years, making models has helped him through his adulthood, he says.
“I took it as my ‘therapy’ when I’m stressed with my office work.”
Mohd Abdul Syafiq is thankful that he has found a group of like-minded people in SWMM. They share ideas and attend Star Wars-related events.
“This is how we express our passion,” says Mohd Abdul Syafiq. “Every member gives his support to make our booth excellent (at these events).”
He is also grateful for his wife, who is supportive of his hobby. Like a true fan, the father of two has instilled in his children an interest in the Star Wars movies.
“I buy Star Wars toys for my daughter and son and they love them so much! They even know all the characters,” he gushes.
For him, this is just another way to show his deep love for the franchise.
The Star Wars movies have fascinated many for decades ever since A New Hope was released in 1977. As a modeller and lifelong fan, Mohd Abdul Syafiq hopes the younger generation will continue to keep these iconic movies alive.
Levin Low Yun Yi and Farisya Azwar Ridzuan are participants of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme. To read more articles written by BRATs participants, sign up for The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) pullout. It is published on Wednesdays and available only through school subscriptions. To subscribe, call the toll free number 1-300-88-7827 (Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm). For more information on the BRATs programme, go to rage.com.my/brats.