Originally from Maracay, Venezuela, Rafael Rengel’s talent for art began to express itself back in the 1970s. He builds and colors collectable figurines, particularly superheroes.

“I stopped for a few years because in Venezuela you cannot find the figures,” said Rengel. “I came to the U.S.A. 16 years ago; I saw the figures and was like ‘whoa, this is a good time to do it again.’ I started buying figures through the internet and hobby shops.”

Many of Rengel’s figurines have won figurine contests. In Greensboro’s HobbyTown U.S.A., his Ghost Rider figurine got first place while others have won best in class and more.

“I’m giving them life,” said Rengel. “You will see the figures, how I get them and after I finish. They are alive. They are my babies. That is the most rewarding part.

“I like all superheroes. It’s really nice when I can find different kinds of figures and models to all the superheroes.”

The challenges of Rengel’s art form are the detail of the small faces and getting the right colors to match with the real superhero, making them as realistic as possible.

Rengel’s believes his talent is rooted in his family ties. Both his mother and sister are artists and a family member taught him the basics that fed his talent through the years.

“I have that in my veins,” he said. The first figure Rengel built was a 1916 model of Frankenstein.

“A month ago, I wondered if I could find the same figure. I went through the internet for several hours and finally found it.

So I have it over there. I’m going to build the same figure that I built when I was 13-14 years old.”

Rengel’s goals are to possibly make a business out of his art and to sell his work. He also thinks about teaching children. With the Greensboro hobby shop closed, he now purchases most of his figures from the internet.

“It’s a really nice hobby. I forget about everything and focus on that.” !

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