The words 'action figures' would make most people think of super hero toys or dolls of famous sports stars. Local designer Pal Wong challenges our expectations in his solo exhibition Pal Wong's Peace and Love Exhibition by making action heroes of people much closer to home - his friends. Wong, 33, is a versatile designer whose art ranges from comics to action figures. He first started making his 12-inch figures in 1998. 'Action figures are a good means of self-expression. They can be toys or art pieces depending on how you view them,' Wong said. 'A message can be conveyed through their facial expressions, fashion and motion. It's a flexible medium too, both literally and figuratively, because you can change the figures' clothes and postures.' Although Wong held two solo exhibitions in Japan in 2002 and 2003, the show marks his debut solo exhibition in Hong Kong. The exhibition features more than 50 hand-made action figures and drawings created by Wong since 2001. The first letters of the exhibition's theme 'Peace And Love' is an acronym of the artist's first name PAL. Slogans pleading for world peace are almost ubiquitous in the exhibition. Wong's figures, mostly clad in loose trousers and oversized T-shirts, are detailed. Most of them are based on his friends. 'I don't make action figures of celebrities. My works revolve around ordinary people,' he said. Through this exhibition, Wong wishes to highlight the importance of friendship. 'Friends are very important in my life. In this busy city, we usually don't have much time for face-to-face gatherings.' 'But when I make these action figures, I draw sketches of my friends and pay attention to their physical appearance as well as their gestures and characters,' Wong said. 'These action figures bring back my best memories.' Besides his friends, the designer has also created an action figure of Hong Kong windsurfer Ho Chi-ho. 'While it's easy to find action figures of NBA players in the US and sumo wrestlers in Japan, it's hard to find figures of athletes in Hong Kong,' he commented. 'Hong Kong people neglect the significance of athletes, especially those who haven't won any prizes in international competitions.' According to Wong, making action figures requires patience and planning. 'I need to find the right materials for the hair, clothes and accessories. The process can be very time-consuming,' he said. Action figures have become valuable collectables. But Wong emphasises: 'I don't want people to buy my action figures and then sell them quickly just to make money.' Pal Wong's Peace and Love Exhibition runs until December 31 at the Pao Gallery of the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Admission is free. For more information, contact Keith Ho on 9487 2497.