Monday, October 29, 2012

The Singapore MINT Museum Of Toys (Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys)

Almost a year ago, I showed this picture from the Singapore MINT (Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys) Museum of Toys. My wife and I stumbled quite accidentally on this signage that we also featured a mere month before that read: "Whoever has the most toys when he dies wins."

We had no idea that it was in the MINT museum so it was pure coincidence that we found it.

A year later, I realized that I never featured the museum. And that would be a shame considering that visiting a toy museum may not rank that high when visiting Singapore, but as toy collectors, it is important for us to know and recognize our heritage, our history, the toys that paved the way to what we have today.

So here's a glimpse of the Singapore MINT Museum and hopefully it'll help you drop by the next time you're in the Merlion city. Excuse the photos, no flash photography is allowed in the museum

Let's start off with the incredible collection of tin lunchboxes that they have - most of which are mint still wrapped in plastic. I'm pretty sure I had that Lone Ranger Lunch Box:

These are followed by a wonderful collection of Astro Boy books, toys and tins:

Not your thing? How about Popeye?

Did this! I actually had two of those Popeye Water guns:

Have you noticed their estimated US$ values? The really expensive stuff is actually the Mint Museum's Tin-toy collection:

Hey look! A coffee blender!

Note the fine paint detailing of the tin works - yes, that's a US$5,000 tin Classic Indian Motorcycle.

Not your thing? Perhaps an army of creepy Cupie dolls is your thing:

Yes, that doll pees. I honestly could not spend that much time in the "Doll" room:

In fact, while browsing through the guest book of the MINT museum, we found someone who echoed our sentiments for the "Doll Room"
Davy has a point. I would not want to spend a night in the "Doll room"

Something tamer from Disney:

How about something a little bit more controversial - these toys do not refer to the Jackson 5 mind you, they refer to what it says they refer to. These toys are fine examples of what the culture was like in a time when people still believed in the superiority of skin color:

Moving on to my favorite floor: Science Fiction. The MINT Museum actually does have a wonderful Starwars collection:

The MINT museum also has a wonderful collection of movie posters:

Speaking of Batman:

Speaking of cultural icons, the Beatles and also in the MINT Museum:

But if you're looking for something really, really simple, how about a simple bag of marbles, a game of snakes-and-ladders or a lifesize remote controlled Peacock:

And of course, how can we forget the Matchboxes - which apparently were once packed in actual Matchboxes.

But the most touching toy collection we saw in the MINT Museum were the Door of Hope Dolls. These are Chinese dolls dating back from 1920 to 1930. They are named after the Door of Hope mission that "was established in 1901 by five Western women who decided to do something about the dismal plight of Chinese women in a society rife with prejudice and abuse. 

In the alleyways of old Shangai, it was common to find little girls plying their trade under the watchful eye of a brothel amah. Often kidnapped from rural areas, the girls would be brought to the cities and sold as slaves. In those times, prostitution was legal and their bondage was absolute. 

Escape from the brothels was difficult and often the girls would flee in desperation towards the missions, pursued by the amah and her henchmen. Once inside, they were under the protection of the mission and the police. The five Door of Hope missions provided a sanctuary for these forsaken women and children, as well as a chance to start a new life.

As well as learning to read and write, the girls were taught how to sew. Using their new skills they would work on the Doll Project. The sale of the dolls gave them a modest personal income and helped with the upkeep of the mission.

Every Door of Hope doll is individually handcrafted - no two are the same. The heads and limbs are delicately carved from wood, often with unnervingly lifelike faces. With a vast array of intricately embroidered clothes, the girls would painstakingly recreate miniature versions of people they saw in everyday life. Today, the dolls represent a rare glimpse of Chinese society back then, as well as the hope for a better tomorrow."

Production actually continued for years past 1930. In 1949 with the rise of Communist China, the Door of Hope missions were forced to relocate to Taipei and production declined.

The Mint Museum's address is 26 Seah Street, Singapore. It's definitely worth the visit. While you're there - or at their website - ask about the architecture and history of the building as well as how the museum actually started. Their website is HERE.

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