Because the Internet
Maybe â€śweirdâ€ť is a bit of an understatement to describe the kids who brought a homemade crossbow to their first day of summer school.
â€śWeirdâ€ť fails to embody their handcrafted collection of reed pipes made out of plastic straws, scythes bound together with masking tape and replicas of weaponry from the â€śLegend of Zeldaâ€ť video game series. But thatâ€™s only the tip of the iceberg for freshmen twins Ethan and Keane Wong. Their vast assortment of replicas and unorthodox creations serves as a platform to advance into more technologically challenging inventions.
â€śWhen I see something online and I think itâ€™s cool, I build it. And itâ€™s a lot more satisfying to build it yourself,â€ť Keane said. â€śIf you just buy it and use it, it gets old really quick. The building process is a lot more fun than actually playing with it. Almost all the toys we play with get old really fast. While building them, thereâ€™s multiple parts to it. Itâ€™s pretty quick to do it, but to make it completely functional and aesthetically pleasing, it takes multiple tries.â€ť
They say creativity breeds creativity.
From the car ride home to their frequent bathroom conversations/brainstorming sessions, the twins constantly babbled on and on about their plans for new, state-of-the-art technology — schematics for a makeshift molotov cocktail, designs for One Dimensional Maneuver gear, a few laser cannons here and there.
Their â€śprojects,â€ť as they like to call them, never worked out on such a grand, ambitious scale. But they started small, and worked their way up. Their plastic straw creations gradually evolved into life-sized, fully functional crossbows; a couple hours per project dragged on to full days dedicated to meticulously measuring and carving out machine parts.
Eventually, they set up a workbench, where all the magic happens: a makeshift desk on the balcony where they champion their trusty, old wooden saw and their rusting screwdrivers to sculpt rigid, right-angled pieces of wood into replica sword hilts, crossbow frames and even a life-sized Hylian shield, which featured an old, beat up leather belt on the back as the arm support.
â€śI think that a lot of it is from kind of the same projects you would do as a kid, but I kept that momentum going into my high school years. For me, I found everything else boring, so it was something else to do,â€ť Ethan said.
For Ethan, slow and steady wins the race. He has a flair for taking each project step by step, and refused to begin constructing that new longbow until he perfected his pair of tonfas, a martial arts weapon native to the Asian island of Okinawa.
Conversely, Keaneâ€™s mind jumps to and from a dozen subjects at once. While he sculpted away at his blue and gray Hylian shield, his mind had already shifted to another place altogether. He began working on another crossbow the same week.
To any onlookers, it seems ludicrous to dedicate so much time and effort on what appears to be a fruitless hobby. Why spend over 60 cumulative hours assembling a collection of fictional armament? The answer is simple: because the Internet.
â€śWe find our inspiration through the Internet. Definitely the Internet. Popculture, fighting videogames, anime shows. We definitely enjoy a lot of Nintendo stuff,â€ť Keane said. â€śWe started building together out of boredom. Itâ€™s easier to do with two people. We thought our creations were pretty cool. Weâ€™d either not want to pay for the real stuff, or we thought itâ€™d be more fun to do it ourselves.â€ť
Together, the brothers pursue their creative interests as a hobby to express their creativity, rather than as a platform for future professions. They embed themselves in the world of mythical kingdoms, fairy elves and magical swords to produce their own renditions of those fictional components.
Call them weird, call them childish, call them innovative — maybe itâ€™s futile to label such a one-of-a-kind pair of individuals at all.
â€śWe have a good sense of wonder,â€ť Keane said.
By Bryan Wong, Feature editor