Prop-maker Leon Noel is a regular name at cosplay events. He has been at it for years and has won awards with his costumes, but he still recalls that the very first prop he crafted was a sword from anime series Naruto.
“That was eight years ago. That sword felt kind of like a random choice but it was what eventually got me into cosplaying. I thought, since I was making props, I might as well cosplay too!” says the 26-year-old Sarawak-born cosplayer.
Today, he is a full-time prop-maker and fans can track the progress of some of his creations on social media. Recent projects include Lancelot from Fate Grand Order, title character of Goblin Slayer, and the Ironman Mark 46 figurine from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all of which are occasionally pictured with his pet cat casually strolling into the photo.
Leon Noel, whose real name is Thian Yujia, will be at Star Supa Comic at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur this weekend to conduct a cosplay prop-making workshop.
Suitable even for beginners, the workshop will offer a crash course in basic techniques used in prop-making, such as freehand template-making techniques, gluing techniques and how to get a clean cutting line each time. Leon Noel will be guiding you through the processes using mainly EVA foam.
“I am very excited to be conducting this workshop! I am constantly sharing new knowledge and techniques with my crafter friends, so this is taking it a step further. I will be sharing some tips for better quality outcomes as well,” he says.
Leon Noel sure knows how to make an appearance. He was recently in Kuala Lumpur for an event and swung by Menara Star in Petaling Jaya for a photoshoot with numerous boxes in tow.
These boxes housed different parts of his costume and props. The seasoned cosplayer took only minutes to get into the entire setup and, just like that, we had Legion Commander from Judge Of The Battlefield sauntering around the office on a busy workday morning!
“It is such a rewarding moment when a costume or prop you are working on comes together for the first time. There is a lot of satisfaction in creating something from scratch. The journey might be long and arduous, but it all pays off in the end,” he says.
That long and arduous journey is one reason commissioned work does not come cheap; at least, not when you compare it with store-bought mass-produced costumes. Yet, a lack of awareness has some inexperienced buyers wondering if the price is justified.
“Sometimes people say that crafting is easy and that commissioned work should be cheaper. But there is a lot of time, effort and cost put into perfecting our craft.
“It might not be wrong to say it is sometimes easy to craft something, but there is a lot of work before it gets to that stage,” he says.
Leon Noel is still very much a purist in that he does not pursue his creative vocation half-heartedly. Cosplay prop-making is a passion turned job for him, and he is adamant that the passion part will never die.
“When I find myself feeling down and not able to give it my all, I stop working on whatever I am doing and return to it later.
“I would rather not do something than do it at anything less than 100%. It is important to me that I give it my best, or not at all,” he concludes.
Star Supa Comic will take place on Dec 29 and 30 at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre, Kuala Lumpur. It is organised by i.Star Events (a subsidiary of Star Media Group) with event partner Animangaki and media partners DimSum, 988 and Suria FM. For more information and to register, call i.Star Events at 03-7967 1388 ext 1097 / 1505 / 1541 or visit bit.ly/starsupacomic.