A Mass Movement, Writ Small: Hobbyists create detailed protest scenes with custom figurines

Enthusiasts create highly detailed dioramas using custom-made figurines at today’s protest at Victoria Park. Photo by Stuart White.
Enthusiasts create highly detailed dioramas using custom-made figurines at today’s protest at Victoria Park. Photo by Stuart White.

As a massive crowd gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park this afternoon to show their continuing support for the city’s months-long protest movement, a much smaller crowd had gathered on a nearby street.

A much, much smaller crowd.

On a patch of asphalt just outside of the park, a group of hobbyists had set up a protest scene in miniature, with detailed custom figurines standing in for protesters, right down to the hard hats, makeshift shields, and plastic wrap-covered arms.

Hong Kong’s immediately identifiable trash cans, police cones, and street barriers also made an appearance, with tufts of cotton standing in for tear gas.

One woman, the wife of one of the people behind the scene — and for the moment, a sort of unofficial spokeswoman — said the scene was meant to show support for the pro-democracy movement that has rocked the city for nearly three months, and to reach a more niche audience of model enthusiasts.

One of the tableaus of protesters created with custom figurines. Photo by Stuart White.
One of the tableaus of protesters created with custom figurines. Photo by Stuart White.

“This is their interest. They have a group, they like to play with these — they call them figures. They like to make use of different situations and different scenarios… so that they can demonstrate what can happen in this [movement],” said the woman, who gave her surname as Lau.

“So they would like to use this to represent what is going on in Hong Kong, and they would like to fight for Hong Kong, for what the protests are looking for.”

Though Lau acknowledged that the hobby might not be very popular, that appears to have mattered little when it came to the level of work that went into the tableau.

“They just tailor made it themselves,” she said.

Protesters adjust their mini-tableaus created with custom-made figurines of protesters. Photo by Stuart White.
Protesters adjust their mini-tableaus created with custom-made figurines of protesters. Photo by Stuart White.

“They made the costumes, because they had some special costumes for this time. You can see the yellow raincoat, and also the masks… the rubbish bins — that kind of thing they make for themselves,” she added, noting that the group has a small production house in the city.

According to Lau, the group hopes that the display can help present the protesters’ cause to the similarly small but enthusiastic community of fellow hobbyists.

“Because they have a special group of people who are interested in this kind of thing, so they want to spread the message to that niche group.”


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