A Bradford man has transformed his childhood passion for WWE action figures into a full-time job as a stop motion filmmaker for toy brands.

When Arfaan Amini, 34, saw action figures of the Undertaker and The Ultimate Warrior on sale at a toy shop, he just had to buy them.

That nostalgia-inspired decision back in 2017 would eventually see him quit his job in finance and start an animation career with some of the world’s biggest brands.

His videos – which capture some of WWE’s most memorable moments and toy fights – have even earned the approval of Bret Hart, regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time.

Arfaan, who lives in BD8, told the Telegraph & Argus: “It’s been a weird and wonderful journey.

“It was my birthday, a walk that day led me to Smyths toy stores on Canal Road. I thought, let me just browse around.

“As a child I used to play with action figures, particularly WWE, Saturday mornings, Sunday mornings, after school, first thing.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Arfaan Amini as a child holding one of his WWE action figuresArfaan Amini as a child holding one of his WWE action figures (Image: UGC)

"I sat down on the floor, got the wrestling ring out and you just start playing these fights. In my head I had this big match in the middle of the sitting room. My parents are walking around. I had a lot of imagination.

“Now going forwards, I’ve seen these action figures and they are so articulated and detailed. They’re done by Mattel, before it was Hasbro’s. I thought, ‘This is amazing, I’m just going to buy these toys’.

“I ripped open the package, they move their arms, their legs. I’m not going to sit playing with them – to look at them makes me feel good. I was in my late 20s.

“In the evening I went on YouTube, I came across a community of toy collectors. They are doing this thing called ‘stop motion’.

“I got my brother’s old DSLR camera, I blew off the dust from my laptop - I hadn't used the laptop since uni. My early work can still be seen on YouTube. I just messed around.

“Everyone has a creative side. To bring that about in any way – drawing, painting, building something in clay – for me it was stop motion. I’ve been like a mad man with an obsession, ‘how do I make it better?’.

Arfaan began posting videos on his Instagram page - @battle_stories__ - and caught the attention of a senior representative at Mattel, which also makes Barbie and Hot Wheels’ toys.

He said: “I remember this was 10.30, 11 at night, I was just making content.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Animator Arfaan Amini at work. Picture: Mike SimmondsAnimator Arfaan Amini at work. Picture: Mike Simmonds (Image: Newsquest)

“I had this firm belief that my content will speak for itself. I got an email, he emailed and said, ‘We like your content, are you interested in doing some work for us?’. I was like, 'is this a joke?'. He goes, ‘No, this is not a joke’.”

The company sent Arfaan some toys from its Masters of the Universe collection in 2019 and he produced a small video which would go on to be shown at San Diego Comicon in California.

Arfaan has since produced stop motion videos and brand ing for exclusive ranges at Walmart, Smyths and now, Universal Studios.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Stop motion animator Arfaan Amini with The Undertaker this SeptemberStop motion animator Arfaan Amini with The Undertaker this September (Image: UGC)

Arfaan’s stop motion has made it to the screens of major premium live events like Wrestlemania and the Survivor Series.

He is also working on some top secret projects while being mentored by one of the animation industry’s biggest names, Justin Rasch.

“It’s just been absolutely amazing,” Arfaan said.

“I never knew this was possible.

“The beginning of this year I was able to create a animation piece for Smyths Toy store’s exclusive Wrekkin’ Rig toy vehicle. This certainly brought my journey back full circle as I had made my very first purchase from Smyths toy store which sparked this new journey.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Behind the scenes of Arfaan Amini's stop motion animation set up in his garageBehind the scenes of Arfaan Amini's stop motion animation set up in his garage (Image: UGC)

In a message to others, the animator said: “I hope my story inspires youngsters especially in the North, in Bradford, to explore creativity. You never know how talented you may be. Things will come to you.

“If you are excited about something in life, pursuit it. Develop it, give yourself creative license and enjoy the process. Enjoy the journey. Don’t get fixated about the end goal because that never really exists, once you achieve one goal you will have new goals. So learn to love the process.”

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