Chinese farmer who makes giant Transformers from car parts cashes in on success of film

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 3:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 12:41pm

A Shandong farmer has capitalised on the popularity of Transformers by making life-sized models from old car parts based on characters in the film series that he sells for as much as 100,000 yuan (HK$125,630) each.

Liu Xianhui, 45, a part-time welder only a year ago, has now opened a workshop where he and 11 other workers assemble robot models inspired by the hit science fiction action movies, according to iqilu.com.

More than 40 models – some higher than 12 metres tall – are stacked in his Zhangqiu workshop. Each figure resembles a character in the film like Bumblebee or Optimus Prime.

“The one-metre-tall models are each sold for 10,000 yuan. Those ones taller than 12 metres are over 100,000 yuan,” Liu said.

Most of the replicas are sold to amusement parks and property developers keen to adopt a mascot. Others are leased to shopping malls to display outside the main entrance in an effort to attract customers. The buyers “rely on them to attract eyeballs and boost their popularity,” Liu said.

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Liu said the replicas are made with disposed car or motorcycle parts. His workshop sits on a pig farm belonging to his sister, with car shock absorbers, petrol tanks, tyres, and doors scattered across the floor.

Liu said he had sold more than 100 replicas since last November, and that he is planning to expand production.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth instalment in director Michael Bay’s series and has been a big hit in China since it was released last month, with ticket sales breaking multiple box office records.

As of Sunday takings had topped US$300 million, surpassing even the US market. That amount also tops takings in all other overseas markets combined.

The film is notable for its considerable nods to Chinese elements, designed to appeal to the fast-growing Chinese market.

Part of the film was shot in Hong Kong and the mainland, with several recognisable landmarks on show. Chinese stars Li Bingbing and boxing champion Zou Shiming make cameos, and an array of Chinese brands paid for product placement.