A Superhero Story
The PEAK Singapore|October 2021
Ben Ang turned his love for comics into a multimillion-dollar business. However, it wasn’t easy.
FARHAN SHAH

The XM Studios office at Bras Basah Complex is a mecca for toy collectors. The shelves are strewn with collectibles from different universes. There’s a 45kg figurine of Iron Man emerging from a Hulkbuster. Close by, a similarly-sized Hulk stares angrily into the distance. On another shelf, the Ghost Rider is ready to speed off.

In the middle of it all sits Ben Ang, the self-taught entrepreneur and artist who dropped out of school as a teenager, ran a loss-making comic book store in Chinatown and rolled the dice by taking over Xenomorph, which sold collectible toys. Ang and his brother ploughed the latter’s school fees into a month’s rent for the store. Although it was a massive struggle at first, Ang came up with the idea of producing high-quality luxury licensed figurines.

Their big break came in 2013 when Disney granted the newly-renamed XM Studios a one-year licence to build Marvel figurines. A year later, its sixth figurine, the X-men villain Magneto, became an overnight success. It’s considered a holy grail among collectors today.

Ang built on that win. Last year, the premium collectible figurine company made $16.9 million in revenue. The profit after deducting tax and costs was a handsome $4.2 million. The company also currently holds intellectual property licences that include Disney, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Hasbro.

The Peak chats with Ang about the success of his company and the challenges he faced.

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