Designer of the Year 2007
Ban Yinh Jheow

Stikfas Pte Ltd, Singapore

Contact:
[email protected]

Biography

Toys had always been a life-long passion and obsession for Ban Yinh Jheow. Even as a child, he would spend his free time poring over scores of books and magazines on toys and memorabilia to look for his favourite action heroes.

His eyes would sparkle with excitement whenever he spoke of his newest discovery at a toy or hobby store. "I've been searching high and low, and all over Singapore for this little guy," he smiles with a bright glint and reveals a vintage collectible toy.

It is a little wonder that he chose to take the road less travelled to pursue his dream of becoming a toy creator. At a time when nobody paid any attention to the already saturated toy market, Ban forged on with zeal, vigour and enthusiasm, only armed with his sketchbook of ideas. "At times, some people thought I got too carried away with this pursuit, but I knew I had to press on."

Today, Ban Yinh Jheow is the Chairman and Founder of Stikfas Pte Ltd. He is also the creator and inventor of STIKFAS™ (US Patent 6692332), an articulated action figure that has revolutionised the global toy industry.

STIKFAS™ first entry into the toy market was a co-branding effort with Electronic Arts and Westwood Studio on their game 'Emperor, Battle for Dune'. Stikfas Pte Ltd is also the first Singaporean company to have their patent licensed to a US multi-national corporation (MNC), Hasbro Inc. The brand has won many awards in the US, like 'Best Original Concept of the Year' in 2002 (ToyFare), 'Most Fun and Innovative Toy of the Year' in 2002 (ToyShop), 'Top 100 Greatest Toys of the Decade' in 2007 (ToyFare) and even has a comprehensive Fan Book published by Japan's biggest hobby publisher, Hobby Japan in 2004. Stikfas Pte Ltd currently manages all aspects of the brand, from manufacturing and distribution channels to the design and marketing.

STIKFAS™ is a 3-D physical expression of the philosophy underlying 'Web 2.0', where the producer provides platforms, libraries of parts and scripts and puts the act of content creation directly into the hands of the user. Not surprisingly, STIKFAS™ is now moving fully into 3-D software called Constructor, where every single available part will be on-line. This allows the user to build a figure, change the colour palette, paste on stickers and articulate it - all with a simple click of the mouse. The user can then purchase what he has created, use the software as an animation tool or send his figures into an online game called Stikworld.

As an active member in the design community, Ban has been invited by various government agencies and private institutions, like the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Media Development Authority of Singapore, National Heritage Board, Monetary Authority of Singapore, Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, Intellectual Property Office of Japan, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University, Singapore Technologies, Leo Burnett, BMW and many others to speak at their events. He also sits on the Boards of ACE (Action for the Communities of Entrepreneurs), DesignSingapore Council, Nanyang Polytechnic School of Industrial Design and acts as a consultant to other companies on design and branding.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Ban strongly believes that design is about being in tune with the market's ever-changing needs and responding to those constant changes, by creating fresh and innovative ideas that are revolutionary and defies convention. His fellow colleague, Tey Beng Huan, also notes Ban’s sharp business acumen and creative ingenuity in this field, "Today, Ban's idea of an original toy is a 'Designed in Singapore' international brand with an international fan base and distribution network. Still, it does not end here. Ban is constantly working on new 'Designed in Singapore' brands for the toy industry and he is also expanding his creative skills into other areas of creative media through collaborations with other organisations."

Advice for emerging designers:
"Have a good sense of reality in your field. Understand the entire process from design to market. This enables you to cut down on wastage of time and resources. Check all pride and ego at the doorstep. Be your own biggest critic. Break the rules and take risk. Lastly, do your homework!"

JURY CITATION

Since their debut in 2001, STIKFAS™ modular figures have become a cult phenomenon in the international toy market. The 8-cm high figures are assembled from libraries of plastic parts sold individually, or together with accessories, stickers and additional models in specially themed kits. The ball-and-socket joints, which plug together with a satisfying 'pop' sound, allow the creation of limitless poses, interchangeability and articulation. This has led to wide adoption of STIKFAS™ figures by digital and stop motion animation filmmakers and web comic artists.

Stikfas is the first Singapore design company to co-brand and outward-license its products to major international companies, including Electronic Arts, Hasbro and Tomy.

STIKFAS™ is a 3-D physical expression of the philosophy underlying 'Web 2.0', where the producer provides platforms, libraries of parts and scripts and puts the act of content creation directly into the hands of the user. Not surprisingly, STIKFAS™ is now moving fully into 3-D software called Constructor, where every single available part will be online. This allows the user to build a figure, change the colour palette, paste on stickers and articulate it - all with a simple click of the mouse. The user can then purchase what he has created, use the software as an animation tool or send his figures into an online game called Stikworld.

A particularly elegant application of STIKFAS™ is its line of dinosaur kits. It is hard to imagine why nobody thought of them before.

The jury has enthusiastically cited STIKFAS™ as an inspirational exemplar of design entrepreneurship, combining a bit of whimsy with humour, delight and surprise. It is also an impressive model for design innovation, technology and business development.

NOMINATOR CITATION

TEY BENG HUAN
MANAGER
STIKFAS™

Ban is a creative individual who's chosennot to walk the beaten path from a very early age in life. He doesn't conform to institutionalisation but manages to achieve a great balance between his passion as a creator and his position as a business person. At a time when there was hardly any recognition of the toy and entertainment industry, Ban stuck to his passion, his beliefs and a strong desire to create a product or brand that can truly be called Singaporean. His efforts paid off with his original idea – STIKFAS™.

In a short span of six years, this simple yet innovative action figure kit concept not only became iconic in the global toy industry, winning numerous awards from the industry media, it also became an example of original intellectual property from Singapore. STIKFAS™ was licensed to a US-based multi-national corporation (MNC), the first from this country, and it was also awarded a US patent (worldwide patent currently pending).

Today, Ban's idea of an original toy is a 'Designed in Singapore' international brand with an international fan base and distribution network. Still, it does not end here. Ban is constantly working on new “Designed in Singapore' brands for the toy industry and he is also expanding his creative skills into other areas of creative media through collaborations with other organisations.


ELIM CHEW
PRESIDENT
77th STREET

Ban has forged a very strong and unique product in the vastly competitive toy industry with his creation of STIKFAS™. His ingenuity, enthusiasm, passion and commitment to his work has expanded the brand to an international market which very few toy designers can ever dream of doing. STIKFAS™ is a much loved, much sought after action figure that has gained an international cult following and put Singapore on the global design map. He has done Singapore proud and is a worthy candidate for the President’s Design Award 2007.