My Toy Collection Road – Episode 3



(Continue from My Toy Collection Road – Episode 2)… Before I carry on my story, may be let me describe the BUBBLE BLOWING POPEYE TIN TOY first.

BUBBLE BLOWING POPEYE TIN TOY was made by Linemar Co. of Japan. It is a highly collectible battery operated toy which has five interesting actions:

(If you want to see the pic. of the BUBBLE BLOWING POPEYE TIN TOY, pls check My Toy Collection Road – Episode 2)

1) When Popeye’s pipe is raised, it lights up red.
2) Popeye opens his mouth.
3) Lifting the bubble wand out of the solution in his mouth.
4) Popeye blows air that creates bubbles.
5) His left arm raises, so Popeye can get his spinach.

According to one of the sales advertisment at TOY SHOP magazine in early 90s, this toy has been sold for about US$2500.00 (C10 condition). But you can get a C7 condition/with box (C5 condition) for less than US$1000 on eBay now.

May be you are curious about what’s “C10” and what’s “MIB”.

C10 means condition 10, perfect condition, but not mint and “MIB” means MINT IN BOX.

In the antique toy world, there is a condition rate from C1 to C10 to judge the toys, as it is easy for toy collectors to communicate when someone wants to sell toys to them and yet they can’t see the picutures of the toy clearly. Just imagine if you are in 1990, no ebay, no internet, you want to purchase a 50s tin toy or a 70s Star War figure, but the picture of the toy which send by the overseas dealers is not sharp enough, so how?

The dealer will normally tell you the condition rate of the toy, so you can judge whether you are willing to pay for the toy or not in that condition.

Ok, now, let’s continue my story.

One afternoon in 1990, as usual, I went to visit Ah Chun. When I stepped in the shop, on my left hand, I saw some items which wraped by some newspapers inside a paper box on the floor. Based on my experience, these are OLD TOYS.

So, I asked Ah Chun.

” 阿春, 新貨?” ( Ah Chun, new stock? )
” 是的, 剛到。” ( Yes, just arrived. )
” 能看嗎?” ( Can I see? )
” 對不起,我不賣!“( Sorry, I won’t sell.)

So, as usual, I am asking Ah Chun whether I can see the toys? Again, Ah Chun refused and informed me that the “Big Buyer” is coming in the evening to collect the toys, he doesn’t want to let him know he has been shown the toys to other potential buyers as the “Big Buyer” won’t feel happy.

I promised Ah Chun that it was a quick look, will pack all the toys back to the box after seeing the toys.

“Wow, how nice!”

I really shocked when I opened the 1st newspaper wrap, I never saw such a beautiful tin toy before, it was a Popeye tin toy about 12 inches. Battery operated. Not sure wether it can work or not, but I like the toy very much as Popeye was one of my favourite catoon characters when young and I hope to purchase it.

So, I asked Ah Chun. May I purchase it?

“CANNOT!” replied Ah Chun.

“Please, I really liked the toy. How much will it cost me? Just say a number, I will purchase it.”


“How selfish is this Big Buyer, why don’t this big buyer let more people enjoy the fun of toys and want to purchase them all?” is the 1st thing in my mind at that period.

“Why not?” I asked An Chun again.

“Just tell you the truth, this Big Buyer wants to open a toy museum in Singapore, that’s why he bought all the toys.” replied An Chun.

“The idea of this toy museum is trying to reserve “ALL” the toys which played by the South East Asia children. This is a very meaningful job. I am supporting him.” said Ah Chun continously.

(I was shocked when I know someone who wants to open a museum like me, but really feel happy as Singapore has a toy museum in near future. Although I have a dream to open a museum, I know I never has this chance.)

(Even though, I still don’t feel happy this so called “BIG BUYER” buy all the toys and I can’t even buy a piece which I like.)

JEALOUS, ya?? 🙂

So, I said.

“That’s not fair, he is so rich? Can he buy all the toys in Singapore? I don’t believe!!!!”

“I have $ too, give me an amount and I will take it.”

“Are you sure?” said Ah Chun

“OK, Marvin, if you have S$700 in your pocket now, you can take it.” replied Ah Chun


I never expected he wanted to sell me S$700.00 for such a tin toy. I stepped out his shop sadly…

I have an idea suddenly when I was on the way to office. If Ah Chun can find these old toys, why not I try too?

Next day, I took out the Yellow pages, flipped to the page where is the list of toy shops. Call the shop one by one and finally let me find one at People’s Park area.


THONG HUAT & Co. is the 1st toy shop which build up my 1st collection. I have bought many many old toys there which included the Batman Board Game (above). It only cost me S$18.00. I have also purchased many type of model kits, battery operated tin toy planes, wind up tin cock, battery operated tumbling monkey…etc. Most of them were made in 60s.

To be continued…..


Excursion: Metropolitan YMCA (Bishan)


This is our first time to visit toy museum and we like here very much. 🙂


We are all five years old.






Say cheese!


Hehe, my name is BOND…


Teacher, do you want some coffee or tea?


Uncle Marvin, do you like McDonald?


I want to eat french fries.


The McNugget is very nice 🙂

Visitors: Two little “COOL” Japanese kids


My Toy Collection Road – Episode 2



(Continue from My Toy Collection Road – Episode 1) ….I can’t contain the growth of a dream to expand my toy collection after I bought the 50s Japan made tin toy typewriter from Ah Choon, I went crazy about it. I went to visit Ah Choon’s antique shop almost every week and I even visited his shop everyday sometimes.

I was so suprised that Ah Choon had so many good tin toys in his shop when I visited him everytime. He always disappointed me when I wanted to purchase the old toy from him. “Sorry, I can’t sell to you as these toys were reserved for a BIG BUYER”, replied Ah Choon. This was not the 1st time which I heard about the words of BIG BUYER.


I never give up and as usual I pursuaded him to sell one of the toy cars to me. Ah Choon couldn’t stand me and finally agreed the deal after much pestering from me. 🙂

That was a 50s Germany made tin toy car, battery operated. It cost me S$70.00. Wow wow wow! This toy cost me 2 days of my salary.

The more I read about YESTERDAY OF TOYS, the more I am crazy about old toys. Then one day a wild idea suddenly surfaced, to have a museum like Mr Kitahara. When I shared this idea to my friends, they all laughed at me and said ” ARE YOU SOMETHING WRONG?” 🙂

Yes, I might be too naive to own a museum but what’s wrong to have a dream. I DON’T UNDERSTAND????

I was 25 years old at that time.

In fact, I NEVER NEVER expected to own a museum today, as DREAMs to many people is not practical but a passing whim. So, I just hope to have a so called “BIG TOY HOUSE” when I retire. But LIFE IS SPECIAL, you never believed that the TRIGGERING POINT that propelled me to my dream further was a tin toy which called POPEYE BUBBLE BLOWING ….. (to be continued)

My Toy Collection Road – Episode 1






After I opened my museum, many visitors are very interested to know how and when did I start collecting toys, which toy is rare, and of course the most interesting question is, WHY I WANT TO OPEN A MUSEUM. So I thought it is better for me to share my passion and my thoughts on the blog. (Hope this can create more awareness and attract more people to visit this museum blog 🙂 )

I came from HK in 1982 after my secondary education. Because of my mother, I liked to collect stamps, old coins when I were young and I continued my hobby after I migrated to Singapore.

In mid 80s, almost every of my generation started to crazy about retro items and comic books. And as a graphic designer (I graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1986), I also influenced by this trend. I stopped collecting stamps, started to collect vintage watches, old magazines, old comic books and most of the time I looked for them from dust bin. Yes, from dust bin, just like “Kalang Guni” but I enjoyed to do it. And you won’t know, I can find plenty of old comic books, vinatge magazines, “Kuti Kuti, old photos, old electric fans etc during that time. The reason is many old houses, buildings were demolished in 80s and many people were moved from old houses to new HDB flats, so they kept on throwing things.

One day in late 80s, I went to Page One at Marina Square to look for the latest graphic book (The 1st Page One book shop was opened in Marina Square) and I saw one book named YESTERDAY OF TOYS accidently. This book was written by a very popular Japanese tin toy collector, Mr Kitahara. (Mr Kitahara owns a tin toy museum in Yokohama). I attracted by this book a lot after I flipped through and I told myself I “HOPE” TO COLLECT TOYS. In fact, this decision is building up my way to MoST (Museum of Shanghai Toys) in 20 yrs later.

I started to hunt toys beside old comic books and vintage watches, but it seems no luck for me. In 1989, while visiting Kota Tinggi, Malaysia with my friends, I came across a toy shop. I found few China made tin toys that I played with when young on the showcase. I were really really happy and decided to bring them back to home. This was my 1st time to own tin toys although they were not old but this decision brought me to my dream further. These toys included rocket, bus, jeep and truck.



After I returned to Singapore, my enthusiasm for toys grew. But as usual, I don’t know where to buy old toys and yet I still dreamed to have many many old toys at home everyday just like the museum of Mr Kitahara in Japan. (There are no such shops selling old toys in 80s, even early 90s, not like you can buy toys from eBay or China Square in Singapore today.)

My 1st vinatge toy was bought from a HK antique shop in late 80s. This was a very old toy, made of celluloid (celluloid is a very popular material used to make toys, containers before the invention of plastic) and made in Occupied Japan (1940s). If I am not wrong, the toy cost me HK$250.00 (About S$45 in 80s). Not cheap for me during that time.


My 2nd vintage toy but so called my 1st vintage TIN toy was bought from a very polular antique shop located at Neil Road (Opposite Singapore General Hospital) in early 90s. The owner is An Choon.

This antique shop was recommend by one of my friends, I went to visit the shop in one of the afternoon. When I stepped in, I was so excited, not because of all the old old things, but because I saw plenty of old tin toys which I only could view them from the book, YESTERDAY OF TOYS. There were UK made wind-up tin toy bear, Japan made battery operated robots, Germany made tin toy car, UK made tin toy trains. I can’t believe I had the chance to see them outside the book.

I asked the owner, how much will it cost me for one of the tin toys, but the owner told me that all these tin toys were reserved for one customer. (If you want to know who is this customer, pls visit my blog often 🙂 ).

I said what? I felt disappointed but I still kept on asking him to sell one of them to me. So, the owner had no choice and finally agreed. It was a 50s made tin toy typewriter. Quiet common on ebay today but it was rare to me in early 90s. This toy cost me S$30.00, again, not cheap for me as I only earn S$900 per month during that time… ( to be continued )



Interview: 地球の歩き方(Japanese Tourist Guide Book) interview @ MoST




Thank you Miss Yumiko Suzuki and Miss Miki Tampo interest in Museum of Shanghai Toys and willing to let the Japanese know about us. The guide book will be out in December 2007. Hope more Japanese will enjoy to viist MoST when they are in Singapore. 🙂

Chinese wedding @ Museum of Shanghai Toys


These dolls named Door of Hope dolls which were manfactured in Shanghai in 20s to 30s. Door of Hope is a non profit organisation and a receiving home for girls. Girls were taught skills to make the dolls which enable to help DOH to raise funds. The Bride doll was sold for US$6.00 and the Groom doll was sold for US$3.75 seventy to eighty years ago, but today this pair of dolls is valued at around US$3000 – US$4000.