HK Magazine: How long have you been painting figurines? William Luk: Around eight years. I played with Gundam robot models since Form 2. I was a layman back then and was satisfied with just making it up and seeing it there. I then switched to anime and thought the characters were really cool, but the painted figurines in the shops were so ugly. They didn’t file down the protrusions from the mould and the colors often bled. So I bought some blank resin kits and paint, but at that time I was still obsessed with painting Warhammer soldiers, so I left the anime models in their boxes until two or three years ago. HK: How did you afford it? WL: When I switched to painting figurines, I bought a spray gun and pump for $2,000. I really wanted to do it so I saved up my lunch money and reduced myself to buns for every meal. At the time it was quite a big investment, but now I’ve made more than enough to cover that several times over. I was selling from the get go, but at first, it was too cheap - $300 – because I didn’t know how much they’d go for. I was selling figures for $500 back then that could have gone for $1,000. HK: How did you bring the price up? WL: I started selling my work on the Yahoo auction site and pushed the prices up bit by bit. Then an agent got in contact with me through the site, and his contacts in Japan paid much more for my work. Now I have two agents, I earn as I go along and sell each figure for $1,500. It takes about 10 hours to make one, so it works out at around $150 an hour. It’s an OK deal. I could be spending money traveling out to tutor some kid and not enjoy it. But this is 10 hours of playtime. HK: Doesn’t it eat into your social life? WL: Yes and no. I can toy with a figurine for a while, leave it, go out and then pick it back up any time I want - in the middle of the night perhaps. It’s not like I have to stick to my appointments. My family hated it at first but changed their mind when they saw me making money out of it. HK: How often do you keep yourself in your room? WL: Depends on how busy I am. Now that I’m studying in halls, I’ll spend about ten hours a week in there, not including sleep time. Over the holidays, I spent at least ten hours in my room from morning to night. I can’t answer phone calls when I’m working because if the ink stays in the spray gun for too long, it gets blocked. It’s hard work when they have an urgent batch so I sometimes have to work through the night. It happens whenever a new character comes out – they command a high price and I earn more. HK: How do you make the figurines? WL: I make what they call “Hong Kong fakes.” The original limited edition Japanese kits are expensive and unattainable, but since they can’t be copyrighted, Hong Kong re-releases them for about $300 a pop. I pick them up from Mongkok’s Sino center, soak the resin parts, drill holes and insert supporting rods to the limbs. Then I spray them, using masking tape for special effects, and put the whole thing together.