Chris Chan Juggles Cosplay, "Star Wars" and Charity
He quit his job a year ago to make 3D-printed props for a living. The 32-year-old is Commanding Officer of Rebel Legion Hong Kong.
So how did you get into prop-making? After graduating from university, I worked in finance for a while before spending five years as a textile merchandiser. I studied economics and I don’t have a background in design, but the beauty of 3D printing is you don’t have to be trained in art and design—you just need to spend time on research. In 2010, I flew to Taiwan to learn how to make a light saber. That’s how I met my sifu, who makes props for celebrities like Jay Chou. It wasn’t until late last year that I decided to quit my full-time job to develop my career in prop-making. I work for both overseas and local clients, but I also make my own props. Right now, I’m working on a full 3D-printed Iron Man suit, which will cost about $50,000 in total. I’ve spent around $100,000 so far on props for my own enjoyment.
Why do you like dressing up in costumes? Nothing is impossible [in cosplay] if you have the heart for it. It makes me happy when people show appreciation for my costumes: For example, when I make appearances with Rebel Legion Hong Kong at Ani-Com and the Chinese New Year parade. I set up Rebel Legion Hong Kong as an outpost of the US-based Rebel Legion in 2011, and we’ve been attending charitable events since then. We also work with toy companies to distribute toys to underprivileged children and orphans. I really enjoy helping children. In fact, my childhood dream was to become an economics teacher. But it just didn’t work out. The best part about my job, as well as my role in Rebel Legion, is meeting like-minded people. We love talking about the details that go into prop-making so we can help each other improve the quality of our props. In addition to dressing as Iron Man, I also dress as Anakin Skywalker and Kylo Ren, because the design and function of their costumes appeal to me.
Have you ever been called a geek? No, because I’m different. I do charity; I know how to make props; I know all sorts of people; I’ve given interviews; I help promote movie enterprises and I’m very active on social media. I don’t just attend events in my costumes and put them away afterwards. Besides, I’ve never been a fanatic. When I was a student, I never dressed up: Instead, I traveled a lot. But the last time I went abroad was three years ago, so I’d like to start traveling again once my business picks up.
If you could only dress as one character for the rest of your life, who would it be? Anakin Skywalker. I can really identify with his experiences: He only had his mom while growing up, and his relationship struggles speak to me. I also feel very strongly about the fact that he’s a very capable person who might not have joined the dark side and become Darth Vader if he hadn’t gone through those things. That said, I don’t know for sure if I’ll ever be lured to the dark side.