Blizzard surprises 69-year-old paper mache artist by painting his Diablo IV work

The Diablo IV publisher borrowed the models after an earlier video shoot with him, and then commissioned artists to enhance his work.

Uncle Simon with his creations.
Uncle Simon with his painted creations. (Photo: Blizzard)

Like many others across the globe, 69-year-old gamer and paper mache artist Simon Tan is all set to take part in the upcoming Diablo IV open beta, which is taking place this weekend from 25 to 28 March.

But before he could do so, publisher Activision Blizzard decided to surprise Uncle Simon – as he's fondly called – with painted versions of his work, in particular, Diablo IV's upcoming big bad, Lilith

Tan has been creating models ranging from Star Wars to Marvel out of cardboard, styrofoam and glue, and recently crafted a bust of the aforesaid Lilith, as well as a Necromancer shield.

Blizzard borrowed the models after an earlier video shoot with the Singapore artist, and then commissioned artists to enhance his work.

Tan's models are usually just in plain white, and he was definitely surprised to see his art come to life, thanks to an impressive paint job.

Simon Tan's painted works are shown to him.
Tan's models are usually just in plain white, but Blizzard borrowed them after an earlier shoot for a surprise paint job. (Photo: Blizzard)

"The first time I saw them, I went 'oh my god!'," said Tan to Yahoo Gaming SEA. "I was completely shocked."

"It looked so real to me, it looked alive!" said Tan, who games on the Playstation 5, and started adventuring into the world of video games only in 2015.

He particularly enjoyed playing Warcraft III, before getting hooked on Diablo 2 and III.

"I enjoy it, I take it as a hobby, " said Tan, who painstakingly crafts his work.

Simon Tan admiring the paint job on his work
Tan said the paint job made his work look 'alive'. (Photo: Blizzard)

Tan said he plans to play as a Barbarian in the upcoming Diablo IV, though he loved playing as a Wizard in Diablo III.

While the Wizard isn't a class in Diablo IV, there is the Sorcerer (a class from the original Diablo) with similar skills. Also, if Uncle Simon decides to play as a Barbarian in this weekend's open, let's hope Blizzard has tweaked the Barbarian a little after early access players found the character class a little 'weak'.

Interestingly, while he spends quite a bit of time gaming, Tan is mostly in it for the storyline. He hasn't really tried the endgame stuff.

With Diablo IV boasting quite a bit of story content, it looks like Uncle Simon will have plenty of fun with the game.

And if you're curious as to whether Uncle Simon has plans in the future to paint his artwork on his own, Tan said he wasn't really keen because of the paint.

After all, that's a lot of effort just for one piece.

And as for what he's going to make next, Tan isn't sure…yet.

"I haven't thought about it yet," said Tan. "I'm still planning to make another one of necromancer shields."

The Diablo IV open beta runs from 25 to 28 March. The fourth instalment of Blizzard's popular Diablo franchise is scheduled for a full release on 6 June.

The early access for the beta last weekend saw more than a million players across the globe reach level 20 for an in-game cosmetic, and garnered positive reviews from those who have tried it.

Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at

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