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Breathing color into a childhood passion

By He Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-06 09:15

Transformer models painted by Li's team at the studio.[Photo provided to China Daily]

He might have majored in fashion design at Donghua University, but Li Yunfeng's current career involves dressing a subject that isn't a human model.

Rather, he dollies up Transformer toy models with a fresh coat of paint.

"After the first Transformers toy model kit was launched in 2007, many peripheral products such as models and garage kits started appearing on the market. Many of these products were plastic and without coating, so the feel and quality were poor," says the 34-yearold, who has been a fan of the robots and DIY model kits since he was a child.

"That was when I started to rely on previous experiences and what I learned from books to paint the models. When some of the pieces that I posted on a web forum were well-received, I realized that I might actually be able to do this as a career."

In 2009, following his graduation from university, Li abandoned his internship opportunities at fashion companies and set up Sang Zhong Studio on the balcony of his home to pursue this passion.

Sang Zhong Studio purchases 'raw' model kits from suppliers, then paints and assembles the toys before putting them up for sale on internet platforms, such as Taobao, Weibo and WeChat. While painting toy robots might sound like an easy money-making endeavor to some people, Li points out that this is hardly the case. The typical model comes with hundreds of tiny parts, each of which need to be painstakingly painted according to a detailed color plan.

"Some parts need more than two colors. This means we must cover different segments with tape in order to spray the first color. Sometimes, we need to wait for one color to dry before we can spray another. It's a long process," he says.

When the coloring process is completed, Li then introduces darker paint to specific areas to achieve a shadow effect that makes the toy stand out. When this is done, the team proceeds to assemble the toy. It typically takes a month to complete one toy model.

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