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Ang Thong metal workshop transforms scrap into superheroes

Towering Transformers, life-sized Marvel superheroes and extraterrestrial lifeforms — a “House of Steel Robots” in Thailand has made a name for itself by transforming scrap metal into dazzling sculptures inspired by Hollywood blockbusters.

Ban Hun Lek, an hour’s drive north of Bangkok, has become a popular weekend spot for families eager for Instagram selfies against a backdrop that looks plucked from the silver screen.

Visitors to Phairote Thanomwong’s welding workshop gaze up at eight-meter-high sculptures modeled after the robots of the Transformers franchise and a jet-black King Kong hewn together from old car parts.

Mr Phairote opened his welding workshop 20 years ago and eventually converted its front section into a gallery for curious tourists.

“It was just a hobby at first,” he tells AFP. “When I was a child, I liked mechanics a lot… so I made what I liked into my work.”

Every sculpture is built using scrap metal and recyclables, which makes each creation unique, he said.

A one-meter-high piece sells for up to 30,000 baht, and the majority of his customers are overseas buyers.

Since the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world and sent the global economy into a tailspin, Mr Phairote says his art exports have been put on pause.

Still, the towering metal brontosaurus at Ban Hun Lek, which can be seen from the main freeway, draws dozens of Thai visitors each weekend.

“If they want to see something amazing, they should come here,” Mr Phairote says with a laugh.

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