HE IS no stranger in the local art scene. A character designer by trade, Michael Chuah (left) is the unofficial titleholder for many Malaysian firsts – including that of first designer toy, the first vinyl toy of a prime minister, and now, for the first designer toy made into a CapCara, or Capsule Character.
The design is based on Chuah’s original design, Yuurei Neko Sama. The design first premiered in 2018 during the Taipei Toy Festival, and comes with an intriguing backstory.
“Yuurei Neko Sama is a cat that got turned into a ghost. Together with its frog companion, Yuurei Neko Sama tours the human realm, meeting various different youkai (spirits), whom Yuurei Neko Sama befriends,” explains Chuah.
The Yurei Neko Sama CapCara set consists of five figures: the original White Yuurei Neko Sama, the red Daruma Neko Sama, the pink Piggy Neko Sama, the red and soft yellow Ringo Neko Sama, and the yellow Fortune Neko Sama.
Note that ‘ringo’ means apple in Japanese, which is what the figure resembles, and does not refer to the famous drummer from the Beatles.
The series is the result of a collaboration between Michael Chuah Design and LuYao Design, a toy company in Taiwan. This was LuYao Design’s first capsule toy as well.
The Yuurei Neko Sama CapCara was set to be released during Chinese New Year this year. However, the current pandemic forced Chuah to change his plans.
Instead, the figures were finally unveiled in May.
What makes CapCara special is that these toys are meant to be sold in gashapon machines. ‘Gashopon’ stands for those coin-operated vending machines from Japan that dispense random collectable toys in capsule form.
Michael Chuah current collection is based on his Yuurei Neko Sama character that first premiered in 2018 during the Taipei Toy Festival. - Sunpix by Azizul Rahman Ismail
To conform to the gashapon format, each Yuurei Neko Sama CapCara figure is enclosed within the figure’s head itself. Pop open the figure’s head, and you will find its legs, ears, and a leaflet. Like most gashapon figures, some assembly is required.
Each figure in the series is painted. Because of this, more care is needed when assembling the Yuurei Neko Sama CapCara, to avoid scratches.
Made of ABS plastic, they are built tough to withstand the drop when being dispensed from a gashapon machine.
Enthusiasts could also use these capsule character figures as blanks. By spraying a new coat of primer, and painting or customising them, artists can make the figure their own, based on their individual interpretation. This is a popular form of art among visual artists.
Meanwhile, on June 20, Mothership Toy Gallery, Philadelphia, USA hosted the first Yuurei Neko Sama Gathering.
The organiser, US-based toy retailer Martian Toys, invited artists from all over the world to customise Chuah’s Yuurei Neko Sama figure.
The list of guest artists includes famous names from the industry like MJ Hsu, Ciou in-hell, 2oz works, Aleana Soto, Rato Kim, Duckhead, Fetch for donuts, Mizna Wada, and many more.
In Malaysia, the Yuurei Neko Sama CapCara collection is available from Oh! Gatcha. You can buy them as a set of five from their website for RM120, or – for the more authentic experience – visit one of their physical stores and purchase one via a gashapon machine.
If you want to know more about the man, follow Chuah in his adventures as a character design on Instagram (@michaelchuah) and Facebook (@michaelchuahshihchung).