Sculpting respect for Malaysia’s towering figure

  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 12 Oct 2019

Chuah with his Tun M 2.0 figurine at the Tun M Custom Show exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. — Photos: LOW LAY PHON/The Star

WHEN Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed returned as the Prime Minister for the second time, many were surprised that the 92-year-old grandfather looked nothing like his age during the historic 14th General Election last year.

“We don’t get to witness this sort of comeback all the time, especially for someone his age, ” said comic artist Michael Chuah, more popularly known as C2V in the comic industry.

He said it was not often that a country is led by a nonagenarian and thus, it needs to be recognised and remembered in a special way.

“Growing up, we all know who Dr Mahathir was.

“When his name came up again last year, it felt like we were witnessing something all over again in him, like a childhood hero, ” said Chuah, who then decided to produce a figurine of the leader.

He asked renowned street artist Kenji Chai if the latter was interested in collaborating for the effort and Chai agreed right away.

The duo formed Hebatoys and that was the beginning of the Tun M toy figurines.

“We started planning in 2018 for the 3D prototypes of the figurine and in February this year, we introduced our first Tun M toy figurine during Chinese New Year, ” said the 41-year-old known widely for his Gengkey comic series.

Chuah is not a newcomer to the toy figurine scene as he had previously created other figurines based on his Gengkey characters.

The Tun M 1.0 toy sees the vinyl figurine donning a casual look with his slippers paired with a light green shirt and pants.

After a successful run, Chuah decided it was time to introduce the Tun M 2.0 version for the four-inch tall figurine which he says has a more “serious” look where he ditches the slipper for a pair of black shoes and a grey mandarin-collared suit.

To spice things up, he invited 40 other local artists from different industries to create their own versions for the Tun M Custom Show.

“We gave each artist two months to customise a blank figurine of Tun M in whatever way they want.

“There were no rules but only a deadline which they needed to follow, that’s all, ” Chuah said, adding that the list of artists included painters, YouTubers, tattoo artists, fashion designers and art students.

When the time came for Chuah to collect the figurines, he was shocked at how much the original toy has been transformed.

“They all looked so different and I did not expect that at all, ” he said when met at the TitikMerah Collective in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

Chuah and Chai also came up with their own custom pieces for the show which is currently exhibited at the gallery until Oct 20.

At the exhibition, guests can view, touch and feel all 40 custom pieces and even take photos with them.

“It is rare to have this kind of art exhibition in Malaysia and I hope to do more shows like this, ” said Chuah who hinted that his next toy figurine could be Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali as most of his figurines come in pairs.

Other artists in the lineup are Donald Abraham, Abstrax Jingga, Edmond Looi, Messy Desk Studio, Thinker Studios, Jacquelyn Wong, Shafiq Nordin, Vomit Thunder, Blank Malaysia, Abdul Rashade, Uncle Liang, Haris Rashid, Zamzammee, Keith Chong, Bone Alfie, Ren, Apoh, Lansi, Cloak, Bryzoid, Raja Serra, Xiao Pi Hai, Ajim Juxta, Aizat Amir, Art:Tech, Sean Lee, CZ Blank, Double A, Aleff Art, Katun, Orkibal, Square Option, Little Good Thing, Nicole Ngan, Brendon Pang, Abby Wong, Wei Sheng and Grace Yee.

The public can also purchase limited pieces of the Tun M 1.0 at RM300 or the Tun M 2.0 at RM360 at the gallery.

The gallery is open from noon to 6pm (Tuesday to Saturday).

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