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World’s 1st Museum Built For Toys
Toy fans of all ages will love the Mint Museum of Toys (26 Seah Street).
Owned by Singaporean Chang Yang Fa, the 10-year-old private museum houses more than 8,000 toys and childhood memorabilia – many rare and one-of-a-kind – from over 40 countries including Germany, Japan, India, US, UK and even Bulgaria. What’s on display makes up less than 10 percent of Chang’s personal collection which was amassed over three decades.
The museum’s name not only refers to the toys’ mint condition, complete with their original boxes; it also stands for “Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys” which represents its aim of giving visitors a happy, emotional link to their childhood through its toy collection.
The museum’s impressive array of toys is valued at over S$5 million and dates back to the 1840s, with the most expensive item on display valued at US$35,000.
Housed in a five-storey award-winning building that was specially designed to keep out the sun’s ultraviolet light, the toys and collectibles are spread over six levels. Items are arranged according to themes like Outerspace, Characters, Childhood Favourites and Collectables, as well as the five elements of feng shui – wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
Don’t leave without browsing the Mint Shop which carries educational toys; traditional games such as goli (marbles), batu serembat (five stones) and chaptek (shuttlecock); and replicas of exhibits including the Space Walk Man robot, Ultraman Japan 1990s figurine and a limited edition Winnie the Pooh bear.
EXHIBITIONS & SPECIAL PROGRAMMES 2017
• Monthly Featured Exhibit
Every month, the museum spotlights a toy collection to highlight the uniqueness of the selected toys.
– April: 67 Years Of Dan Dare
– May: Robot Lilliput
– June: Leap Into Space
Every last Saturday of the month (29 April, 27 May, 24 June), the museum opens its doors till 9.30pm for evening exhibitions and activities. Admission is free from 6.30pm till 9.30pm.
• Singapore Heritage Festival 2017
The museum will be celebrating Singapore's heritage through toys via a specially curated programme entitled "Through Toys – Our Nostalgic Singapore" from 28 May to 14 May.
• Children Season 2017
From 27 May to 26 June, parents and children can participate in a series of fun, hands-on activities such as assembling paper robots and learning how to create local vintage toys. Throughout the month of June, the activities will be accompanied by a curated tour.
Basement – Enamel Sign Gallery
Located at the basement is the museum’s gastropub, Mr Punch Public House, which is inspired by the popular Punch & Judy puppet show. Check out the vintage advertising enamel signs on the walls and the mural art by Norwegian cartoonist Øistein Kristiansen on the ceiling.
Rooftop – Enamel Sign Gallery
More enamel signs from the early 1900s to 1960s can be found on the walls of rooftop bar Mr Punch Winebar. Standouts pieces include Raleigh, Van Houten, Tiger Beer, Lipton, Campbell’s Tomato Soup and Ovaltine.
Level 2 – Collectables
Themed according to the earth element, this gallery houses the museum’s oldest toy – the 1840s Tumbling Toy from Germany – and its most expensive toy – the 1930s Mickey Mouse Hurdy Gurdy from Germany which costs US$35,000.
1840s Tumbling Toy from Germany, the oldest toy in the Museum
Check out the original picture postcard autographed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr; German penny toys that were once sold for a penny but bear such intricate designs; and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Set from 1953 which is said to be one of five known complete sets to exist in the world.
Level 3 – Childhood Favourites
This gallery, which features the wood element, houses familiar toy characters such as Mickey Mouse (bearing teeth and five fingers), Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Strawberry Shortcake and Kewpie.
It is also home to Southeast Asia’s largest teddy bear collection which includes a 1903 Steiff teddy bear.
Other highlights include the world’s only 1930’s Steiff Musical Bonzo; the largest Black Memorabilia Collection in Southeast Asia; the largest Michael Lee doll collection in Asia including the first and second doll made by him in 1946 and 1948, respectively; and the world’s largest Door of Hope doll collection (which comprises over 150 dolls) including the Manchurian Lady.
Level 4 – Characters
Featuring the water element, this floor houses the largest Batman and Popeye toy and collectable collection in Southeast Asia.
Feast your eyes on rare and prized items like the Batmobile; a blue Green Hornet Car; the Batman Magic Slate Printing Plate which is said to be the only one in the world; and the Batman Robot which has one of two boxes in the world.
Other highlights include a 1960s battery-operated Popeye Rollover tank, valued at US$14,000 and is one of four known to exist in the world; a 1930s Popeye Riding Rocket carousel figure made in France; the 1906 Steiff Peter Rabbit stuff toy which is believed to be the oldest Peter Rabbit stuffed toy in Southeast Asia; and a 1970s King Kong poster where King Kong stands on the World Trade Centre instead of the Empire State Building.
Level 5 – Outerspace
Robots rule on this gallery which is themed according to the fire element.
Meet the yellow, boxy Lilliput, the first toy robot produced in Japan in 1939 and Hook Robot, named after its oddly shaped antenna, valued at US$15,000 and made in Japan in the 1950s.
Look out also for the tin, wind-up Sparky Robot, 11 different versions of Robby The Robot and an uncut Forbidden Planet poster valued at US$15,000.
9.30am – 6.30pm daily (last admission at 6pm)
A guided tour of the museum's collection is conducted every Wednesday at 3.30pm
$15 adult, $7.50 child (aged 2 to 12) or senior (aged 60 and above)
Photos courtesy of Mint Museum of Toys