Bina Tetap Tiara Sdn Bhd Executive Director William Wong is a massive Star Wars fan who has a collection that spans across the classic to modern era of the massive science-fiction franchise.
Not one to keep his collection to himself, Wong entertained the idea of exhibiting his collection at Pop! in Jaya One for all to see.
I grew up with Star Wars since I was a young boy. Return of the Jedi was the first movie I saw of the series in the cinema and I was 12 years old then. It resonated deeply within me. As a collector, Iron Man is what kickstarted my collection to what it is today as I only began collecting Star Wars memorabilia after that.
My first piece from the series was a statue of Darth Vader, actually. I was quite reluctant to get into Star Wars at the time, because I knew if I did, I would get into trouble. Once I bought the piece, I really came to love it, and wondered what harm it could do to just get it. It did a lot of harm. I brought it back, opened it and put it up, and was in awe. That was how it all began.
I started to add to my collection up by getting the new pieces that were being released before hunting for the older ones that I had missed out on. I also did not know at the time that they made lightsaber replicas until I watched a Youtube video of a collector who had filmed his own collection. When I saw all the props within his collection, I was shocked and wanted to know where he got them from. It was all done online on websites like eBay, so I took to it.
I was very fortunate when I started hunting that Episode VII (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) was not out yet. So, at that time, the price was still manageable. I have a budget, so when I shop, I patiently wait for pieces that are close to my budget to come along. With things like autographs, I tend to not trust the buyer. I go on Google and search for authentic signatures from those actors myself, then I compare them to the photos the buyer has posted up online and check for similarities. Once I am satisfied, I will take the risk. I have autographs from both the old and newer casts, but the pride and joy of my collection are the AT-AT Studio scale model replica, my lightsaber replicas and my 5ft long Jabba the Hutt sail barge, a scaled model and built from scratch.
How my current exhibition at Pop! came to be was that a friend, who knew about my collection, asked me to exhibit it during the Star Wars: Force Awakens premiere. They needed a collector to display his pieces, so the organiser visited me to examine my collection.
After the premiere exhibition, my brother, Charles, asked me if I would be interested in displaying my Star Wars collection in Pop!, a pop-up retail space in Jaya One. He was thinking of opening up a merchandise corner focusing more on toys and memorabilia related to Marvel, DC and Star Wars. He knew a lot of my collection was unopened, so he wanted to provide me with a space to exhibit my collection. Instead of just creating a display, I decided to provide each piece with a plaque describing the background of the character or prop, and fleshing out the Star Wars universe even more. As it was not a very big place, it heightened the experience.
I had to design a shelf space in a way that Pop! could also sell things, so there is a space in the middle where people can rent the space and sell their merchandise while my collection is displayed around it. The display was a pilot project, in collaboration with me and Pop! to see if it worked, so we are happy with where it is now. The good thing is I get to see my collection every day.
TEXT NEDA AL-ASEDI & SWAROOPINI UDHAYA NAIR
ART DIRECTION AUDREY LIM & MON KAI-SIONG
PHOTOGRAPHY PATRICK CHAN