RMIT Vietnam NewsRMIT lecturer brings Vietnamese folklore to life through toys

RMIT lecturer brings Vietnamese folklore to life through toys

Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 15:37

An Industry Fellow in RMIT Vietnam’s Centre of Communication and Design has harnessed his lifelong passion for toys to create Son Tinh – Thuy Tinh – a set of figurines based on Vietnamese folklore.

A lecturer of toy making and 3D design for more than ten years, Tu Nguyen has been bringing into the classroom expertise and industry experience from his role as CEO of Vinamation, a HCMC-based company that creates movie effects for Hollywood.

Mr Tu’s work is motivated by his interest in toys, as evidenced by office cabinets packed with a toy collection of around 1500 superheroes and other personalities.

RMIT Vietnam lecturer Tu Nguyen (second from right) checks on the Son Tinh – Thuy Tinh manufacturing process.

For the past five years he had been cultivating the idea of designing and producing his own action figures. In December 2016, his planning and his passion paid off when he finally launched Son Tinh – Thuy Tinh – translated as the God of the Mountain and the God of the Water.   

“I wanted to bring to life all Vietnamese folklore and historical figures,” Mr Tu shared.

Son Tinh – Thuy Tinh, his first product line, includes five folklore and historical figures combined with a book and a board game.

One of Son Tinh – Thuy Tinh’s action figures, the nine-mane horse made from safe plastic, was carefully polished.

The product line is part Van Tich, Mr Tu’s larger vision of producing made-in-Vietnam products.

Looking back, Mr Tu said that production of the figurines was challenging.

“It’s hard to find a Vietnamese manufacturer who can make high-quality and detailed action figure toys,” he said.

“It took me two years of going back-and-forth, testing the samples and searching for a capable supplier.”

Son Tinh – Thuy Long’s collection.

As Mr Tu has close ties with RMIT Vietnam, he employs many of the University’s graduates including six alumni involved in the Van Tich project.

A separate group of RMIT Vietnam alumni who work at YOLO, a video production house, have lent their support to the project by telling the story of Van Tich through a short video.


Mr Tu also teaches the toy making class, which he brought to the University in 2016.

Students in the 24-unit course get hands-on experience making toys from PLA plastic, and then sandpapering and painting the toys using skills gained in an airbrushing class.

A group of three students, inspired by attending Mr Tu’s toy making course, recently won first prize at the Senses of Vietnam creative contest with their 3D printed chessboard The Legends.

Story: Hoang Ha