There’s just something cool about seeing vintage items that are older than you – it existed before I was born, but it’s still in great condition (that’s more than I can say for my body at 30-ish)! It’s even more interesting when those items are toys, just imagine where they’ve been and the sights they’ve seen!
To take a walk through history, but through the perspective of toys, all you need to do is head down to the MINT Museum of Toys, over at 26 Seah Street!
MINT (Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys) is the world’s first purpose-built toy museum, opening in 2007 in our very own Singapore. They’ve amassed a collection of over 50,000 items, with 8,500 of them are on display within the museum; their collection comprises of vintage toys, childhood memorabilia, and original copies of comics and posters.
The hometowns of their collection are located all over the world, from over 40 countries! Their oldest toy was made in 1840 too, and despite their ripeness of age, many of the toys are in mint (get it) condition and are displayed within their original boxes!
Four Levels of Nostalgia-infused History
Their toys are curated and categorised into four main categories: Collectables, Childhood Favourites, Characters, and Outerspace. Each category has a separate level dedicated to them, with more display objects, posters, advertising signs, and comics adorning areas within the floors.
The Collectables level features some pretty amazing pieces of pop-culture memorabilia such as original Beatles items from their era, items remembering the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and a movie prop from a Robin Williams’ movie called Toys.
This level also contains one of the largest collections of Disney toys in Asia, including the rare and expensive 1930s Mickey Mouse Hurdy Gurdy Toy from Germany. Mickey isn’t the only star there – they’ve got Pinocchio, Snow White, Donald Duck, and classic characters like Ferdinand the Bull!
This level of MINT has a wide variety of toys that were the childhoods of different countries, with popular favourites such as Mickey Mouse again, the original Alice in Wonderland doll, and teddy bears from the German brand Steiff.
Their collection of soft toys and teddy bears dates all the way back to 1903! Part of their collection includes a range of vintage collectable teddy bears, all of which are listed in the book ‘Bears’ by Sue Pearson. Aside from the teddy bears, they also house soft toys crafted after well-known and loved characters such as Donald Duck, Bonzo the Dog, Felix the Cat, and more!
They’ve also got an extensive collection of dolls, and within them is the world’s largest collection of Door of Hope dolls (made in China in the 1920s). Comprising of more than 150 dolls, the Door of Hope doll collection highlights the significance of toys as more than just playthings.
These dolls function as a symbol of hope and strength for the underprivileged. The museum’s varied collection seeks to celebrate the diverse histories and functions of toys.
Heroes, adventurers, and characters are the theme of this level! You’ll be able to come face-to-face with favourites such as Batman and Robin, James Bond, Ultraman, and Astroboy – it’s a celebration of pop culture from both the East and West.
Their range of Batman toys was actually featured in a documentary called Tokyo Toy Guy 1, and they’ve got the one remaining Chief O’Hara’s Car toy in the world that still exists with its box!
Giving Batman a run for his tin money is a childhood classic: Popeye! The museum also holds one of the largest Popeye collections in the world, with toys from US and Japan that were made from the 1930s to 1960s. These toys are made from materials that range from celluloid to chalk. Another highlight on this level is a battery-operated Popeye and Olive Oyl Tank toy that still has its box – one of only two known to exist in the world!
The first ever Japanese-produced robot and hand-painted Star Wars movie posters are some of the few items that call this level their home! You can find adventurers such as Buck Rogers and Dan Dare taking a breather from blaster fire here too, but characters aren’t the only ones on display; they’ve got spaceships, ray guns and even prototype space toys!
MINT is home to the largest collection of Dan Dare toys and collectables in the world – with the only known Dan Dare Water Pistol Gun in the world, and a one-of-a-kind papier-mâché Sonder Mekon Mask!
MAKE & PLAY
Where: MINT Museum of Toys, 26 Seah Street, Singapore 188382
When: Every Sunday, 11am-12:30pm
Have fun learning with toys at MINT’s MAKE & PLAY weekly class! It’s a perfect family bonding activity for both parents and children. Participants will go on a tour to learn more about a specific selection of toys at the museum, curated around a theme, then make a toy of their own to bring home and play with.
Where: MINT Museum of Toys, 26 Seah Street, Singapore 188382
When: Every last Saturday of the month, 6:30pm-9:30pm
Visit www.facebook.com/MINTguerrilla for more details.
Guerrilla, as its name says, is a specially curated showcase that pops up after the museum’s usual opening hours. Guerrilla showcases a set of toys from the museum in new and unusual ways, with interesting, little-known stories from their expert guides to accompany them! There might even be a chance to bring home a toy of your own at their event!
For MINT’s August edition of Guerrilla, you’ll be exploring the art and evolution of toy-making and discovering how toys can be used for good causes. Learn about Pebble toys, handmade by a fair trade organisation in Bangladesh, and how they’re improving the lives of rural women. Thereafter, get hands-on with a 90-minute craft workshop with Tiny Rabbit Hole.
For more info on their events and happenings, do visit http://emint.com/whats-on/ !
Recommended read: LEARN TO MAKE, MAKE TO LEARN!
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