FROM COMICS TO LUXURY COLLECTORS
Ang’s love affair with comics started at a young age. “I used to read manga, English comics and Hong Kong comics,” he said. In 1995, Ang, who had dropped out of school, ran a small comic book store in Chinatown with her older brother Seng. On the side, they also picked up airbrush paint.
Two years later, a friend approached the brothers with an offer to take over a hobby shop in Bras Basah. “But the rent was quite expensive. Bed then said that our mother had just given him 1,000 S $ for his polytechnic tuition. So we used the money to pay the rent, ”laughed Ang.
Eventually, their mother found out after a call from Bed’s school. “But she was very supportive. The worst thing was when my father found out!” said Ang with a laugh.After sitting down for a chat, the brothers finally convinced their father that they could see a viable career in the hobby shop.
But reality told a different story. The brothers plowed their trade into a niche industry and could not rely on sales revenue to make ends meet. They offered airbrush painting courses and undertook external landscape painting projects.
Customers had encouraged the brothers to venture into making their own licensed products, but it was only when they returned from a painting job at VivoCity that Ang seriously considered it. “It was a lot of physical work. We had to set up our own scaffolding, we had to climb. I asked Bed, ‘what are we going to do one day if we can not climb any more?’ He said he wanted to be a taxi driver, ”Ang recalled.
Ang was determined not to let their artistic experience be wasted and started looking for licensors to work with. Their big breakthrough came in 2013, when Disney agreed to offer the company a one-year license to make Marvel characters.
To afford the large license fees, the brothers raised funds from family and friends and began making prototypes. To attract customers, they took a small booth at the Singapore Comic Con, held in Suntec City, and sold each character for $ 900.
“At that time, statues were typically sold for S $ 400. So for a brand that no one has ever heard of selling for S $ 900, people thought we were crazy. But I believed in the quality of our work,” said Ang. .
The brothers ended up selling a total of 900 figurines and quickly went into production. Later, they were licensed by Warner Brothers to create an original Batman Samurai line that recreated Dark Knight in feudal Japan. “The line was very successful when we launched it,” Ang said. “We proved to our licensors that we were capable of producing quality products of their intellectual properties.”