I was ogling at the displays encased in glass with even backlighting. It was certainly amusing to see how the Mickey Mouse figures have evolved from those mischievous long nosed mouse to the jolly rounded figure we know now. I squinted through the glass to make sure if the tag price I’m seeing along with the old long nosed Mickey Mouse is right. Yes, it’s priced ridiculously at US$35,000. I heard a voice from behind announce that the figure I’m looking at is one of the rare items in the Mint Museum of Toys.
The Singapore MINT (Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys) Museum of Toys is the brainchild of Chang Yang Fa who started collecting toys at the age of six. But Chang left his toys unopened in its packaging. And by 2008, at his age of 57, he garnered a huge collection enough to open a museum. Now, this five-story building contains more than 50,000 pieces of rare and vintage toys from more than 40 countries.
Our slim guide about his 50s or 60s but still beaming with enthusiasm and armed with better English met the group on the 4th floor. All the toys were encased in a special glass and temperature controlled back lighting not only for even lighting but also to preserve the toy’s conditions. On the fourth floor there were lots of collections from known American comic characters like Batman, Superman and also the evolution of Disney Characters like Mickey Mouse. There were other toys I didn’t recognize there which I also found weird.
We climbed up to the 5th level which is filled with a space age of toys where I came face-to-face with a life-size Darth Maul holding a double-edged light saber in hand. Aside from the popular Star Wars toys, there were other space age toys from different countries that were very interesting like the armed astronauts.
Going down the stairs again, passing through some mezzanine displays as well the third level displays toys from different countries. I think I have seen a number of incarnations of Astroboy here, Felix the Cat, Betty Boop and a nice collection of teddy bears. There were some interesting Chinese Dolls there as well and other not well known toys like Ferdinand the Cow. Among the silly Charley Choplin displays there were disturbing ones too of kids proudly holding guns. I bet Hitler would give these to his kids.
The second level has collectibles and memorabilia like the watches and lots of original and signed Beatles figures. Among them are very interesting board games and old-school toys like Turumpo (Tops) which we play around with here in the Philippines as well. It’s also about toys built by hand on a time they weren’t massively produced.
It was an interesting walk through in this 5-storey building. How I wish I have preserved my toys like that. Now I’m wondering where my old G.I Joes and Transformer toys went. But thinking about it if I kept it in a box how else could I play with them and enjoy it? I guess it’s a matter of seeing how one enjoys this stuff whether in or out of the box. Chang Yang Fa did a good work on this one as toys are part of human culture on how kids built them on necessity to find something to play with or how manufacturers evolve in creating toys for each generation to enjoy.
MINT Museum of Toys
26 Seah Street
Tel: (65) 6339 0660
Child (2 to 12 years old): $7.50
Child below 2 years old: Free
Senior Citizens (60 years old and above): $7.50
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.