January 20, 2020

BBoy Wing Kong Custom Vinyl Figure

Mark Nagata - Man of Many Weapons

Last fall I was invited by Mark Nagata of Max Toy Co to participate in his "Man of Many Weapons" custom figure show. The show featured customized sofui figures designed by Mark of Gerald Okamura of Big Trouble in Little China fame (among other movies).

When Mark sent the blank figure I initially wasn't sure how I wanted to customize it. Then it dawned on me... Wing Kong BBoy! I had designed the character in collaboration with Gerald and Gabe Frimmel, Gerald's son-in-law. It seemed a natural theme for the show.

Bboy Wing Kong
BBoy Wing Kong

Mark Nagata - Man of Many WeaponsMark Nagata - Man of Many Weapons

Never having painted a sofubi figure, I reached out to Mark to get some advice. He provided some great tips. I used a Krylon primer suitable for plastics and then painted it with Vallejo paints.

Mark Nagata - Man of Many Weapons project

Bboy Wing Kong custom figureBboy Wing Kong custom figure

The base was created with a bass wood backing with a dollhouse brick facing and the "asphalt" was made with painted sandpaper.

The finished figures were debuted at Designer Con at Mark's booth. It was fun to work on this project and a great honor to have been asked to be included among so many talented artists.

Man of Many Weapons at DesignerCon 2019

Man of Many Weapons at DesignerCon 2019

Man of Many Weapons at DesignerCon 2019

Man of Many Weapons at DesignerCon 2019

For more amazing work, follow Mark on Instagram at @maxtoyco

June 9, 2019

HipHop Trooper Custom Mini Vinyl Helmet

hiphop trooper mini helmet - nopalart

I decided to finally customize a Star Wars mini vinyl Stormtrooper helmet I bought a while back. When the time came to decide what to do with it, it was a no-brainer. I wanted to make a HipHop Trooper version. With the new vinyl cutter, I figured some of the harder parts (lettering and logos) would be a little easier than trying to hand paint.

I painted the entire helmet gloss red with a rattle can. I decided not to mask off any areas as the majority of the project was red. (This caused a few issues later.)

hiphop trooper mini helmet - nopalart

 hiphop trooper mini helmet - nopalart

I was excited to try out the vinyl letters and stripes so I placed them next. In retrospect, those should have gone last. Although I didn't have any issues with them for the rest of the project, I did have to take extra care not to get them dirty or damage them as I worked on the rest of the areas. If I were to do this again, I'd definitely wait til later in the process to apply.

hiphop trooper mini helmet - nopalart

hiphop trooper mini helmet - nopalart

Once the majority of the vinyl decals were applied, I tackled the black areas. I hand-painted the brow, eye lenses, and mic/breather areas with flat black. I had the intention of clear coating the entire piece, but ended up really liking the contrast with the flat and gloss so I left the matte areas alone. Next came the gold accents. This is where painting on gloss posed some problems. I should have hand primed the areas with a flat yellow to give it more tooth. It still turned out fine, but took more effort than it needed.

I thought I was done, then realized I was missing a stripe on the helmet. HipHop Trooper has a few different sets of armor. I was using the original Adidas set as reference, but used a Champion helmet for one reference photo. That set has only two stripes as opposed to three for the Adidas set (naturally). After adding the third stripe, all that was left was a quick photoshoot before sending it off the People's Cosplay Champ.

hiphop trooper mini helmet - nopalart

HipHop Trooper is one of the nicest people you'll meet. Look for him at your favorite conventions and tell him NOPAL sent you. If you want more info, give him a follow on Instagram or check out his site.

May 10, 2019

The Mexicans in Black are back!

Mexicans in Black tshirt

Looking for that extra-terrestrial gift? Fear no more. New Mexicans in Black gear is now available. Sport an MiB t-shirt exclusively from NOPALart.

Mexicans in Black snapback hat

Looking for something to top off that shirt? Pick up an MiB snapback hat from the NOPAL shop.

Get yours before they are redacted!

May 8, 2019

Big Trouble Maker

Gerald Okamura
Gerald Okamura

I've had the immense pleasure of being able to collaborate with the Legend, Gerald Okamura. I met Gerald at WonderCon many years ago at Jerome Lu's Hyperactive Monkey booth. A soft-spoken gentleman, I was immediately a super-fan. When I started working on my Big Trouble in Little Aztlan piece, Jerome showed Gerald, since I had included him and another legend, Al Leong in their Wing Kong attire.

Gerald and I got to communicating about how a sticker based on the Wing Kong would be a great idea. That kicked off a creative flurry of collaboration between us. Since then, we've worked on his own line of Sriracha sauce, stickers, skate decks, t-shirts, and he's even had custom figures created based on designs we worked on together.

A few of the collaboration projects between NOPAL and Gerald Okamura.

It's always been fun and always been creatively rewarding. I look forward to many, many more collaborations with my friend, Gerald Okamura.

If you want to join the Gerald Okamura fan club, you can do so here.

June 22, 2017

Big Trouble in Little Aztlan

I'm a big fan of Big Trouble in Little China, so I decided to see if I could do it justice in an illustration. I realized very quickly that there was a lot to cover from this awesome  movie. Inevitably, some stuff didn't make the cut. The Pork Chop Express? Nope. Egg Shen's bus? Nope again. But I did try to squeeze as much as possible in.

Initial inked drawing

Final illustration

The piece came out better than I even expected. I had some metallic stickers made that look amazing.

Stickers and prints can be found in the shop.