Star Wars fandom has always been present any friggin’ where. It translates to sneakers, streetwear and of course toys- designer toys in particular has been riding that SW wave: Nigo of Bathing Ape and Hikaru of Bounty Hunter are perfect examples of obsessed fans who translated their fandom into coveted grails, which is total geek/streetwear/designer crossovers.

You see, designer toys are not just manifested in the end products themselves, it’s beyond those. The creations themselves are extensions of the creator’s personality making them even more special. The best thing about this rise in independent toy creators is that we can directly dialogue with them and get the story behind the masterpieces they dish out.

Meet Lawrence Aliwalas of The 501st Legion and Imagine Nation Studios, known for his crazy Star Wars tributes of Star Wars characters, they catapulted him to acclaim and recognition, also giving us Star Wars fans another reason to rejoice.

Coincidentally, this interview with him was done exactly on May 4th. The force is with Lawrence indeed! Enjoy!

B-Boy Trooper Boys with Vader Boy. Give him a mic!

Can you share with me how you drew inspiration from Star Wars characters? What got you to mix them with the urban artform?

Since I am a big fan of Star Wars, I wanted to fuse the idea of kids being portrayed as Star Wars characters. For their get up, I thought it would be a great idea if their look would be inspired by streetwear culture, but still looking like how a kid would dress up at the same time. Since knowing kids, they’d play around and hang out with their friends the whole day if they can. Which I think is what street culture is all about, being silly and creative with your favorite buddies by your side. And by adding the element of Star Wars, I am able to play around with my favorite characters and turn them into artworks.

From left: C-3PBoy, Spray2d3, Fett Boy, Trooper Boy and Vader Boy

Care to give us a rundown on how you got recognized up to the present?

Trooper Boy was launched back in 2013 at Secret Fresh. Aside from the toy launch, we had a custom show as well, wherein we invited artists to customize blank Stormtrooper heads as their canvass. Following that year, we launched Vader Boy as our second character, and we also had a custom show for him. Then Fettboy, C-3PBoy and Spray2d2 were also added to the crew later on. And the family grew from there. Aside from the OG’s, we were fortunate to do a couple of collaborations with Flabslab, and Bait, to name a few; and also launched the Mini Trooper Boy line. 7yrs later, we introduced Trooper Boy in Medium size, and the timing couldn’t have been any better. Designer Toy culture in the Philippines is growing, and we are happy to still be here. Currently, we are doing more colorways, and will be adding more characters to the Trooper Boy line so stay tuned.

The Trooper Boy in B-Boy Tracksuit Regalia

From gangsta culture to B-Boying influences in your creations. Do all of them come from hip-hop?

Hiphop has a huge impact specially the street culture. But as time goes by, you can see the fusion start to build-up and people start to bring in different influences into the mix. But I must say that Hiphop is root of it all.

Can you share with us your artistic influences? Music as well if there are any?

I would say Michael Lau, and Coolrain. Both artists has an influence in my art, and I always find their works very interesting.

For music, the Beastie Boys and RUN DMC has a strong impact on my designs.

The Gummy Trooper Boy, the sweeter side of the force.

What new projects are in store? Got something fresh in the works?

We are currently doing the 7inch version of the whole toy line. We are also doing special colorways such as the Gummy Trooper Boy which is a rainbow colored transparent version, another is the Red Tracksuit, and we will also relaunch the Mini Trooperboy line soon. Aside from the new designs coming up, there’s also an upcoming art show in the works, so watch out for those.

How do you keep creative? Is it a daily test? Or you just keep it spontaneous?

I often look at the current trend and study what people would like to see. I also get influences from pop culture. I like to mash them up and make an art out of it. If i get a new idea or concept, I’d usually just write it down first and let it settle in, until I find the right moment to work on it.

Trooper Boys: RUN DMC and Beastie Boys vibin’ and survivin’

Any words for your fans and followers? Got words for all of us regarding the pandemic?

Keep on doing what you like, and don’t let others dictate what your design should be. Instead, focus on your own craft.

Lastly, with this current pandemic we are experiencing, now’s the perfect time to go ahead and brainstorm projects. Don’t let the current crisis deprive you from your artistic drive. Stay indoors and be creative!

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