Fairy tales: Beloved by children and adults alike, these timeless stories have enchanted generations with their magical worlds and moral lessons. From hearing about Goldilocks’s adventures before bedtime to enjoying updated, ‘grittier’ remakes of “Sleeping Beauty” as an adult, fairy tales continue to have a universal allure that transcends time.
But behind the familiar names we hear today – Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, and Belle – lies a variety of darker, more intriguing histories. Join us as we delve into the original un-sanitised tales of popular fairy tale mainstays, uncovering their hidden depths and surprising origins – and what they can tell us about the power of storytelling itself.
The Original Grimm Fairy Tales
If you’re a fan of “Rapunzel”, “Hansel and Gretel”, “Sleeping Beauty”, or “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, you’ll have the Brothers Grimm to thank for that. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm travelled throughout Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries, documenting folktales from across the country. Their collection grew to over 200 tales by the end of their lives, and their work set the first standards for analysing folklore and local legends in decades to come.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Year of Make: Unknown
Material: Lithographed Tin
Country of Origin: Unknown
However, if you’ve ever come across the original versions of these tales, you might be shocked at some of the gory details that later versions have omitted. For example, the original Snow White’s stepmother is forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she dies – a much more graphic death compared to Disney’s Snow White.
Some of these darker elements were toned down by the Grimms themselves, as well as media companies of the 20th century looking to make more child-friendly adaptations. It’s no wonder that most modern adaptations are based on Disney’s animated feature film rather than the original Grimm tale!
Nevertheless, the original Grimm fairy tales remain a fascinating glimpse into the darker side of storytelling. Intrigued? Check out the Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs tin container above and even more Snow White memorabilia in our museum’s Characters collection.
Hans Christian Andersen’s World of Wonder and Sorrow
Hans Christian Andersen is another legendary figure in the world of fairy tales, known for his poignant and sometimes melancholic stories from across Denmark. His most famous tale, “The Little Mermaid”, ends tragically, with the mermaid choosing to dissolve into sea foam rather than kill the prince to regain her mermaid form. This is in stark contrast to the Disney-fied version, which sees Ariel (the eponymous mermaid) marrying her true love Prince Eric.
Andersen’s fairy tales often grapple with themes of loss, longing, and the complexities of desire. There is speculation that Andersen was bisexual, with the writer having embarked on at least one confirmed relationship with another man, and some modern scholars suggest that the complicated histories of his characters are grounded in his own grappling with his sexuality. Regardless, the depth of human emotion conveyed in Andersen’s tales continues to resonate deeply with readers, and in not always having a happy ending, it conveys the complexity of a regular life, too.
Charles Perrault’s Legacy of Morality and Magic
Charles Perrault’s fairy tales, including “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Cinderella”, are among the most enduring in the genre. Known for their moral lessons and fantastical elements, they have captivated readers for centuries.
Little Red Riding Hood – Children’s Fairy Tales
Year of Make: 1920s
Material: Lithographed Tin
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
However, like the Grimm brothers, Perrault’s original tales were darker and more morally ambiguous than their modern counterparts. In the original “Little Red Riding Hood”, there is no happy ending where the wolf is defeated and captured. Instead, the story ends with the wolf devouring the girl, emphasising the dangers of straying from the path. This not only provided a practical tip for French country folk in the 17the century, but alludes to larger messages of conformity and social stratification within society.
For a peek into how Perrault’s tales have echoed through the generations, take a look at this book-themed money box bearing Little Red’s visage and even more fairy tale memorabilia at our Bedtime Stories stairwell collection.
Adapting Tales for Changing Times
As stories evolve over time, so too do the values they impart. From The Flintstones and The Jetsons to how Disney has changed and evolved in its first 100 years, narratives reflect the cultural norms and values of the societies that produce them, which can then be seen in the toys and memorabilia that accompany them.
At the MINT Museum of Toys, we celebrate the rich history of fairy tales through our unique collection of vintage toys and childhood memorabilia. From Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to Pinocchio, our exhibits showcase the evolution of these beloved tales and the cultural significance they hold.
Join us on a journey through the enchanted world of fairy tales and discover the hidden stories behind your favourite characters. For those looking to truly immerse themselves in the stories and characters of yore, our cheap venue rentals in Singapore are open for booking and perfect as wedding event spaces, pop-up exhibitions, and more.
Experience the magic of visual storytelling at a kid-friendly museum that’s fun for all ages. Book your tickets today and be prepared for an unforgettable adventure!
Comic books: a medium that has the power to stir controversy, evoke memories, and captivate imaginations. From Lian Huan Hua to the Dark Knight, these illustrated narratives have left an indelible mark on popular culture across the world.
Journey with us through the colourful world of comic books, and we’ll explore how this form of visual storytelling has made its presence felt in both thought-provoking and lighthearted ways.
Controversial Comics: Little Rascals
Maker: Tony Wong (黄玉郎）
Year of Make: 1970
Country of Origin: Hong Kong
Little Rascals (龙虎门 in Chinese, later renamed Oriental Heroes) was created by the renowned Tony Wong (黄玉郎, Wong Yuk Long) in 1970s Hong Kong. The comic series garnered intense attention for its graphic illustrations and mature themes, which seemed at odds with its illustrative art style. The stories within the comic, which often depicted violence and complex moral dilemmas, stirred controversy among readers and authorities alike.
In fact, this comic series was so provocative that it played a significant role in the enactment of the 1975 Indecent Publication Law, a watershed moment in Hong Kong’s comics industry. The law sought to regulate and censor content deemed indecent or harmful to young readers and banned explicit violent content in manhua (Chinese-language comics).
The significance of Little Rascals on Hong Kong’s wider cultural scene is so noteworthy that our copy is currently on loan to the Barbican Centre in London for an exhibition on Asian comics! If you’re in London from now till 30 November 2024, be sure to drop by the Barbican for the MANGASIA Wonderlands of Asian Comics exhibition – the largest-ever selection of Asian artworks and comics to date. You’ll be able to spot Little Rascals in the ‘Censorship and Sensibility’ section, a fitting spot given its thorny history!
Memorable Comics: Beano and The Dandy
Maker: D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.
Year of Make: 1950
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
On the lighter side of comic book history, we have the beloved British classics The Beano (formerly The Beano Comic, also known as just Beano) and The Dandy. Published by Scottish publishing company DC Thomson starting in the 1930s, these iconic comics have been a source of joy and laughter for generations and are amongst the UK’s best-selling comic titles of all time.
Both Beano and The Dandy are renowned for their cheeky, anti-authority humour and irreverent characters, seen as a stark contrast to their cartoonish art style. If anything, however, it is this very contrast that made it clear how much of these cartoon’s appeal lay in the childish, nonsensical hijinks that their characters got up to.
These comics offered a different perspective on visual storytelling, one that encouraged readers to question the status quo and embrace the power of laughter. They celebrated the mischievous side of childhood, reminding us that sometimes it’s essential to defy convention and just have fun. No matter the age of the reader, they could get a good laugh out of the sticky situations and outlandish pranks that the characters fell into – making these comics a testament to the enduring power of simple, straightforward humour!
Both series have become cultural touchstones, particularly among teen readers, and their impact is still felt today. Even though The Dandy officially ended its run in June 2013, it continues to publish yearly specials and annual editions thanks to its troupe of unwavering fans.
MINT Museum of Toys: Sharing Treasures, Inspiring Collaboration
Discover the powerful impact of visual storytelling through comic books at the MINT Museum of Toys. We recognise the profound influence of popular culture on social customs and mores, which is why our mission is to celebrate and preserve these artefacts of nostalgia for generations to come.
In addition to our extensive collection of vintage toys and childhood memorabilia spanning from the 1840s to the 1980s, we are thrilled to announce our commitment to collaborative projects with international museums and organisations, like the Barbican exhibition above, as well as toy enthusiasts from all walks of life! Our cheap venue rentals in Singapore are available for all types of occasions, from event spaces for weddings to pop up spaces for collection showcases and more.
If you share our passion for preserving and sharing the magic of collectables, we invite you to connect with us today via email firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp 83398966 to see how we can bring the world of toys, comics, and memorabilia to a broader audience.
When we think of iconic comic book heroes, one name that immediately comes to mind is Batman. The Dark Knight has been a beloved figure in the world of comics for generations, captivating the hearts and minds of both children and adults alike. But what is it about Batman that has made him such a legendary character? Join us on a journey through the history of Batman’s legacy and discover the reasons behind his ever-enduring popularity.
The Birth of Batman
Batman, the alter ego of billionaire Bruce Wayne, first graced the pages of Detective Comics #27 in May 1939. Created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, he was a departure from the superpowered heroes that had dominated the comic book landscape at the time.
While his compatriots were armed with superpowers, enhanced genes, and some sort of camaraderie with law enforcement, Batman bucked the trend as a vigilante detective with no unique physical powers of his own. Instead, he was simply a mortal man who relied on his intelligence, martial arts skills, and an array of gadgets to fight crime in Gotham City and strike terror in the hearts of criminals.
From the very beginning, Batman struck a chord with readers. His tragic origin story – witnessing the murder of his parents – added depth to his character’s motivations. An unwavering commitment to justice, without superhuman abilities as a safety net, made him a symbol of determination and resilience. In Batman, readers have a gritty hero who isn’t afraid to get brutal with crooks while still displaying compassion for those who need it.
The Evolution of Batman in Popular Culture
Batman’s influence soon extended beyond the pages of comic books. In 1966, the Batman TV series starring Adam West brought the character to a wider audience, embracing the campy and humorous elements of the character. This era of Batman became a pop culture phenomenon, complete with the iconic “Bat Dance.”
As the years went by, Batman continued to evolve. His character became more complex in the 1970s and 1980s, grappling with moral dilemmas, personal struggles, and the consequences of franchise-wide storylines like Crisis on Infinite Earths. An ever-expanding rogues’ gallery of villains, including the Joker, Catwoman, and the Riddler, continued to add narrative depth and creativity to each comic book run.
In 1989, Tim Burton’s “Batman” film, featuring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader, redefined the character for the big screen. The film’s darker and more gothic tone set a new standard for superhero movies and transformed Batman into a cinematic force to be reckoned with.
One of the key factors that contributed to Batman’s popularity was his adaptability. Whether it was the dark and brooding Batman comics of the 1980s, the more lighthearted 1960s TV series, or the contemporary complexity of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy in the 2000s, Batman has remained relevant to each generation of fans.
Batman Collectibles at MINT Museum of Toys
Year of Make: c.1960s
Country of Origin: Japan
At the MINT Museum of Toys, we are proud to showcase a selection of the best Batman comics and collectible toys paying tribute to the rich history of this iconic character. One of our prized possessions is the rare Batman with Cape and Sword. It is the only complete set in mint condition in the world, featuring both the cape and sword, along with its original packaging box.
Year of Make: c. 1960s
Material: Fabric, Vinyl and Lithographed Tin
Country of Origin: Japan
Those who join our learning journeys for students in Singapore will also get to be up close with Batman Bandai, a vintage toy showcasing the artistry of mid-century Japanese toy makers. Through experiential learning activities, participants will get a unique opportunity to connect with history and culture through the lens of toys. It’s a fun and educational experience that brings history to life – and one you won’t get anywhere else!
Whether you’re a lifelong Batman fan or simply curious about the world of vintage toys, the MINT Museum of Toys has something special for everyone. Come and join us in celebrating the legend of the Dark Knight and the wonder of toys from days gone by.
Rediscover your favourite films in a whole new light at MINT Lumens, Singapore’s latest private indie cinema experience! It’s time to step out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary as we introduce you to this unique venture, where vintage toys and cinematic masterpieces come together for an unparalleled movie night.
A Cinematic Journey Like No Other
MINT Lumens isn’t your typical cinema; it’s an unconventional screening experience set within the captivating backdrop of the MINT Museum of Toys. Situated within the premises of our vintage toy museum, we’ve reimagined the way you enjoy movies, transforming film screenings into opportunities for conversations and community-building.
Begin with Wine in the Museum & Collection Sharing from 6.30pm onwards, offering you the chance to mingle with fellow moviegoers, enjoy lighthearted conversation over a glass of wine, and take a peek behind the scenes of our vintage toy collections. Amassed from over 40 countries with toys and memorabilia dating between the 1840s to 1980s, our shelves are more than just a display – they’re a peek into times, worlds, and histories that are long gone.
Explore rarely-discussed topics and trends in the world of collecting, cultural and societal movements, as well as controversial themes and stories related to the upcoming flick. It’s a rare chance to hear some of the stories behind our toy collections and discover the hidden treasures within.
Finally, the main event begins with the Screening in the Museum from 7.30pm onwards. Say goodbye to stiff chairs, bothersome armrests, and the occasional seat-kicking neighbour. Our private cinema is set up with blankets, cushions, cosy corners, and life-sized plush teddy bears for the ultimate in movie-watching comfort. Free-seating arrangement ensures you can enjoy your chosen flick just like you would at home or at a friend’s place. No more worries about blocked views or uncomfortable seats!
But wait, there’s more! At MINT Lumens, we’re prepared to take your movie experience to the next level. Our high-powered laser projector is accompanied by a customised 250-inch widescreen display coated in Screen Goo – a specially formulated paint meant for high-performance projection.
The experience is further elevated with a clear distribution audio system, providing cinematic-quality effects. Additional Invisa 650 speakers with folded ribbon tweeters ensure extreme wide dispersion of audio throughout the space, for a truly immersive screening.
You can also elevate your viewing with delectable add-ons to sweeten the deal. Order bar bites and drinks from the basement vinyl-listening bar Vertigo26, or indulge in cocktails and tidbits from the rooftop bar Heaven @ Seah Street as you enjoy your movie. It’s the perfect way to complement your cinematic journey. Every MINT Lumens guest will also receive a complimentary bottle of alkaline water to take into the screening,
Our cinema calendar boasts a diverse selection of curated films, spanning various genres from classics to iconic blockbusters to local hits and even lesser-known indie gems. There’s something for everyone at any age, but here’s a little teaser:
- 27 October 2023: The Conjuring (2013, dir. James Wan, with toy collection discussion on How The Universal Classic Monsters Made Creepy Cool)
- 23 December 2023: Edward Scissorhands (1990, dir. Tim Burton, with toy collection discussion on The Cat That Captured the Nation: A Retrospective of Felix the Cat)
Did we mention you’ll get to choose what movie screens next? Visit the MINT Lumens page and vote in our poll to decide the movie for January 2024 and beyond! Upcoming screenings will be updated on our website, Facebook, and Instagram so stay tuned to our social media channels for the latest news.
Your Exclusive Movie Night Out Awaits
Don’t miss your chance to experience MINT Lumens at the MINT Museum of Toys. Tickets are priced at S$60 per person and include the full experience: Wine in the Museum, Museum Collection Sharing, and the Screening in the Museum. All prices are inclusive of GST and service charges, ensuring you get the most out of your night.
Plus, we’ve got good news for cinephiles: you can rent out our private event space and pop-up spaces for your own events! Imagine having your own private cinema for special occasions, corporate gatherings, or simply a memorable wine and movie night with friends and family.
Book your MINT Lumens tickets today – it’s time to embark on a cinematic adventure you won’t forget.
In the realm of classic horror, one name stands tall, casting a long shadow of spookiness across generations: the Universal Classic Monsters. If the name of this group doesn’t seem familiar to you, fear not, for you’ll definitely know some of the legends under its wing – think Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, the Bride of Frankenstein, and even the Invisible Man.
These iconic creatures of the night have carved their ghoulish niche in the annals of cinema history even though there hasn’t been a new Universal Classic Monster movie since the 1950s! No doubt, this shows how far their impact has stretched beyond the silver screen and into our hearts.
Join the MINT Museum of Toys on a journey through the eerie and enchanting world of these legendary figures and how horror found a new home in pop culture.
Mid-Century Resurgence and Rising Success
While many of the legends featured in Universal Classic Monster movies have deep roots in global literature and folklore, it was their adaptation for the silver screen in the early years of cinema that catapulted them into the modern imagination.
Maker: Ben Cooper Inc.
Year of Make: 1973
Material: Fabric & Celluloid
Country of Origin: United States of America
Take Frankenstein’s Monster, for instance. Mary Shelley’s novel first came to life in 1818, but was it Boris Karloff’s portrayal of the reanimated Monster in 1931’s Frankenstein that truly electrified audiences. Striking a balance between monstrosity and humanity, Karloff’s haunting visage captivated viewers, forever changing how we envision the iconic creation.
Similarly, Universal’s Dracula (1931), starring Bela Lugosi as the titular vampire, further solidified the studio’s hold on the horror genre. Putting a handsome face to Bram Stoker’s original descriptions, Lugosi’s suave and sinister portrayal gave rise to the enduring image of Dracula as a charismatic and deadly seducer of the night. Vampires had existed in folklore for centuries, even before the 1897 publication of Stoker’s novel, but Lugosi transformed the creature into a suave and timeless figure.
These films didn’t just terrify; they captivated, making household names of actors like Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney Jr. (the actor who played the Wolf Man) and their respective characters. Universal’s movies weren’t mere adaptations of longstanding myths; they were contemporary and relevant in a way that previous incarnations hadn’t been.
Even today, many Frankenstein-themed costumes, toys, or merchandise adopt the same features of this version of the monster, such as bolts in the neck, a lumbering gait, and a sickly greenish pallor to boot. As seen in this Monster Costume and Mask – Frankenstein, Karloff’s take on the Monster has gone beyond an individual performance and become an iconic character of its own.
Spillover Popularity and Cultural Recognition
Year of Make: 1964 – 1969
Country of Origin: Spain
The impact of the Universal Classic Monsters didn’t end at the box office. Following in the footsteps of the merchandisation of iconic characters like Mickey Mouse, these creatures quickly seeped into every corner of pop culture. And it wasn’t just movies and tie-in merchandise, either. From Count Chocula cereal to Halloween costumes, these monsters transcended the screen.
They became cultural icons, influencing everything from fashion to music to other characters and franchises. Beyond pure horror and terror, these monsters became something else – cool. Think of the success of ‘The Munsters’, a live-action sitcom that ran between 1964 and 1966 and revolved around a family of monsters, including a Frankenstein’s Monster dad and vampire mum (Lily Munster, as depicted by this toy), or the Addams Family, a franchise that had its most recent incarnation in the 2022 Netflix series ‘Wednesday’.
The Universal Classic Monsters have undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the worlds of horror and pop culture. From the silver screen to your toy collection, these creatures of the night continue to captivate and inspire. They remind us that even in the darkest of tales, there is an enduring fascination and a timeless allure. So, whether you’re a die-hard fan or just discovering these legendary monsters, there’s no denying the creepy-cool charisma that the Universal Classic Monsters bring to our lives.
Visit the MINT Museum of Toys’ Spooky Horror stairwell collection today and embark on a thrilling adventure through monster memorabilia from around the world. Our enchanting museum in Singapore spans five storeys, offering an extensive array of toys and collectables to explore and private event spaces to rent. Plus, we don’t just offer a glimpse into the world of toys; we provide fantastic family bonding activities and pop-up events for all ages, and even a shop where you can pick up vintage toys for sale.
In an era where travel has become as common as a morning commute, it’s easy to forget that not too long ago, journeying to distant lands was a luxury afforded to a select few. While tourists and visitors have been bringing home souvenirs from their travels for millennia, the tourism keepsake industry had a turning point in the 20th century thanks to factors like mass production and the discovery of new materials like plastic.
Join the MINT Museum of Toys as we explore how the souvenir and keepsake industry blossomed after World War II and why these old mementoes still hold such significance today.
The Rise of the Mass-Produced Souvenir
For millennia, travelling for pleasure was an exclusive privilege enjoyed by the elite. Journeys could take weeks, months, or years, and only a fortunate few with the wealth and resources could venture beyond their hometowns or countries. This meant that keepsakes from far-off places were not just tokens but symbols of wealth, adventure, and cultural exposure. Luggage labels and other souvenirs were cherished mementoes of journeys that most people could only dream of taking.
However, the post-World War II era witnessed a remarkable shift in the international tourism industry. Aircraft and rail technology developments drastically cut travel time and cost, and computerised systems made flight and hotel bookings easier than ever before. Coupled with post-war economic booms, this finally made travel a viable option for middle- and working-class people.
Simultaneously, the souvenir, gift, and keepsake industry was receiving a boost from the proliferation of new materials (like plastic) and the globalisation of mass production. Attractions of all sizes could now offer visitors custom merchandise–serving as sentimental keepsakes and promotional material.
Today, you can find travel keepsakes in almost every size and price point. But beyond serving as home decor, there are plenty of reasons why travel keepsakes matter:
1. An eternal memory of a treasured trip
For many, a hotel label or a souvenir is more than just a piece of paper or a trinket. It’s a tangible reminder of a treasured journey, the places you visited, and the experiences you had. Holding such an item can instantly transport you back to a moment when you explored new horizons and made memories that would last a lifetime.
2. A historical artefact of places and times that no longer exist
Some of the most valuable travel keepsakes are those that harken back to places that have faded into history. For instance, Singapore boasts a rich tapestry of hotels with unique stories that are unfortunately no longer in operation, like the Adelphi Hotel, Station Hotel, and Cathay Hotel. Luggage labels, gifts, and trinkets from such establishments are not just souvenirs but relics from another era, offering a glimpse into Singapore’s past.
Interested in stepping into the Singapore of yesteryear? Pay a visit to the MINT Museum of Toys’ Level 2 Collectables exhibition to see even more vintage luggage tags and memorabilia!
Travel memorabilia can also be highly specific to the time and place they come from, serving as a time capsule for the past. Tea tins, spice boxes, and postcards, for example, were popular souvenirs during the British Raj. They were shipped globally due to interest in British India and depicted South Asian landscapes, people, and communities through an Anglicised lens. By looking at such historical toys and memorabilia from the British Raj, we can understand how certain groups of people were viewed and treated back then – and trace the impact of that till today.
3. A reflection of changes through time for places that do still exist
On the flip side, travel keepsakes also serve as fascinating markers of continuity. For example, the iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore has stood the test of time and continues to be a symbol of elegance and luxury. Looking at how souvenirs from Raffles Hotel have changed over the years allows us to trace the evolution of this historic establishment and witness its enduring allure.
Call them kitschy or overrated, but travel souvenirs, including hotel gifts and mementoes, will always hold a unique place in our hearts and history. They are not mere trinkets; they are windows into the past, carriers of memories, and connections to the places and experiences that have shaped our lives. So, the next time you stumble upon an old luggage label or a faded souvenir, take a moment to appreciate the rich history it represents and the countless stories it holds.
P.S. If you’re a collector or toy enthusiast with their own time capsule of memorabilia they want to show off, get in touch with our team about booking our pop-up spaces and bar space for rent to host your own mini exhibition!
As the Singapore F1 Grand Prix draws near, it’s the perfect time to journey through the captivating world of vintage toy cars. Here at the MINT Museum of Toys, we’re steering you down memory lane with a fascinating collection that echoes the roaring engines and sleek designs of iconic Grand Prix racing cars in their heyday. Buckle up because we’re diving into the history of toy cars, from their inception to their modern-day charm.
The Evolution of Toy Cars: From Play to Passion
Toy cars have been a staple in the world of play for decades, captivating the hearts of both children and adults. Post World War II, two distinct trends emerged: die-cast toy cars and plastic toy cars.
Company: Corgi Mettoy Playcraft Ltd
Year of Make: 1960s
Material: Metal, Rubber
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Among the two trends, die-cast toy cars like this British Racing Motors Grand Prix Racing Car held a special place due to their meticulous craftsmanship and lifelike design. Crafted with metal alloys and painstaking attention to detail, these miniature marvels offered an exquisite representation of their real-life counterparts. The die-casting process allowed for intricate features such as working wheels, realistic paint finishes, and even functional components like opening doors. These minute details didn’t merely replicate the appearance of actual vehicles; they encapsulated the essence of automotive artistry.
Collectors and enthusiasts were drawn to die-cast cars for their authenticity, often mirroring the models that raced through history or graced the streets. Every curve, every emblem, and every shade of paint seemed to carry a piece of automotive legacy, bringing forth a tangible connection to the world of automobiles.
Year of Make: 1970s
Materials: Plastic, Rubber
In tandem with die-cast cars, the surge in popularity of plastic toy cars created an accessible avenue for play and exploration. Plastic, a versatile and affordable material, allowed toy manufacturers to experiment with shapes, sizes, and designs like never before. The result was an explosion of creativity, giving birth to an array of cars that spanned eras, genres, and even realms of fantasy like this Astro Boy Ferrari Sigma Grand Prix Show Car. In it, the fictional character Astro Boy sits in a replica of the late 1960s Formula 1 Ferrari Sigma Grand Prix show car, complete with a single-seater open cockpit and a spoiler mounted above the driver. The car was originally designed as a show car rather than for mass production, and introduced then-new and innovative safety features to the racing world.
Company: Trademark Side View Sea Creature
Year of Make: 1970s
Country: Hong Kong
Plastic toy cars like this McLaren M23 Texaco Grand Prix Racing Car weren’t just playthings; they became vessels for storytelling, imagination, and interaction. Children could embark on journeys across imaginary landscapes, their cars navigating uncharted territories of bedroom floors and sandbox terrains. The affordability of plastic cars also democratised play, ensuring that the joy of collecting and racing was accessible to a wider audience.
Enjoy a Timeless Tribute to Grand Prix Racing Cars
Racing enthusiasts, young and old, can now revel in our limited-time guided tour programme, “Grand Prix Racing Cars from 1950s – 1970s Guided Tour.” Taking place from 8th to 17th September 2023, immerse yourself in the glory days of motorsport as we showcase rare and vintage toy cars inspired by legendary Grand Prix racing vehicles. Fuel your passion for vintage toy cars and exhilarating Grand Prix history with a 30-minute guided tour and an ice-cold draft beer – on us with the purchase of a pop-up entry ticket!
As we rev up for the F1 race in Singapore, MINT Museum of Toys celebrates the allure of vintage toy cars, combining nostalgia, education, and excitement on wheels. Join us to explore this unique fusion of craftsmanship, innovation, and timeless charm. Get your engines running, and let the journey begin!
Passionate about a topic or collection and want to share your interest with the world? Get in touch for more information on our private event spaces for pop-ups, private parties, photoshoots, and more!
Between 1934 and 1939, British toy brand Dinky Toys by Meccano produced a range of die-cast miniature vehicles and aircraft modelled on the British military. One such example was the Singapore Flying Boat, which was a realistic die-cast reproduction of the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Short Singapore III. This replica model has a fascinating military history behind it.
At the end of the First World War, 37 Short Singapores were built to serve as vital coastal reconnaissance seaplanes and help patrol and protect the maritime territories of the British Empire. Made with a full-metal exterior capable of landing on water, the biplane flying boat had undergone three modifications since its first incarnation in 1926. With its enhanced specifications, the Short Singapore III weighed an incredible 9,237 kg and cruised at a maximum speed of 190 km/h, while being armed with two 250 kg and eight 11.35 kg bombs. This would have been fairly advanced for the interwar period.
One of the most significant operators of the Short Singapore III was the No. 205 Squadron of the RAF based at Seletar, Singapore. As one of the British colonies with a vital seaport, a total of ten Short Singapores were delivered to the squadron from 1935 to 1941 to carry out maritime reconnaissance along the Straits of Johor.
Before the Japanese advancement into Southeast Asia in 1941, the Short Singapores had become effectively obsolete. With the arrival of the more powerful Catalinas to Seletar Airbase, the use of the Short Singapore III eventually declined. The No. 205 Squadron in Singapore remained the last RAF operator of the Short Singapore III before it was taken over by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) No. 5 Squadron as a stopgap before the arrival of modern aircraft like the Catalinas.
Under the RNZAF in Fiji at the beginning of World War II, the Short Singapores were deployed in anti-submarine patrols and air-sea rescue missions. Although the Short Singapores were obsolete in comparison to other seaplanes of the time, the RNZAF No. 5 Squadron accomplished an astonishing feat by submerging a Japanese submarine in the South Pacific. This proved to be the solitary achievement of the Short Singapore III in World War II.
Pre-war die-cast toys across the Dinky range were made with an unstable impure alloy. These impurities within the alloy made the toys susceptible to corrosion and caused them to flake and disintegrate over time. Hence, pre-war die-cast toys by Dinky that survive corrosion are incredibly rare. Dinky Toys resumed the production of pre-war military models after 1945 with improved alloys. In the case of the Singapore Flying Boat, Dinky Toys produced both a pre-war and a post-war version.
When we think back to our childhood, the familiar toys we grew up with always give us a burst of old school nostalgia. As each generation grows up, the toys that accompany them also change. Nowadays, most Singaporean kids spend their childhoods entertained by electronic gadgets and digital screens – toys that seem worlds away from the simple plastic and wooden toys of the 80’s and 90’s. Vintage toys from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations are even harder to spot, and you might only see some in dedicated exhibits or museums such as Singapore’s MINT Museum Of Toys!
Yet the nostalgia of vintage toys remains strong, and many of us still remember our childhood companions fondly. As times change, teaching our children and grandchildren about old school toys gives us a chance to connect with them through these simple joys. Here are 4 of the best loved Singaporean toys to take you back to your childhood:
Credit: MINT Museum Of Toys
These small plastic tokens might look simple, but fans of Kuti-Kuti will remember how exciting it was to watch a game unfold! Kuti-Kuti was an old school game popular in Singapore around the 1950s and 1960s, and you can still find the tokens in some small shops in Singapore and Malaysia. Players tried to flip their tokens onto their opponents’ tokens. If they succeeded, they could claim that token into their own collection. Interested in picking up Kuti-Kuti again? Head to the MINT Shop to purchase a set of these vintage toys online!
2. Wooden Gasing Tops
Credit: MINT Museum Of Toys
Before there was Beyblade, there were gasing tops. These old school traditional Malay tops are made from wood and are launched with a string or rope. In Singapore today it’s rare to see people playing with gasing anymore, but gasing is actually still a popular game in northern Malaysia. There are even gasing competitions, so it’s clear this vintage toy isn’t going away anytime soon! Look out for this Gasing Spinning Top with Pepsi Bottle Cap in the museum’s upcoming Collectables toy collection on Level 2.
3. Five Stones
Credit: MINT Museum Of Toys
Ask your parents about Five Stones, and watch their eyes light up in excitement. This old school toy consists of a handful of small cloth beanbags, and players have to toss them into the air and catch them, increasing the number of bags caught each time. It’s the kind of game that sounds simple enough, but is actually pretty difficult to complete (fully) without practice. Anyone who’s played Five Stones before can also remember the frustration of dropping a stone and having to start all over again! If you’re particularly crafty, you can look out for seasonal workshops under the MINT Museum of Toy’s Journey of Rediscovery Programme to learn how to make traditional games and toys such as Paratroopers or Five Stones.
4. Aeroplane Chinese Chess
Credit: MINT Museum Of Toys
Though it has ‘chinese chess’ in its name, this vintage toy actually has more in common with the Western game of Ludo. Many Singaporean kids eagerly spent hours engrossed in this board game, battling it out with their friends to see whose airplanes could complete a round around the board first. Find Aeroplane Chinese Chess and other old school toys on the MINT Shop to relive your childhood memories and introduce your kids to a classic game they’ll love!
Rediscover Old School and Vintage Toys at the MINT Museum Of Toys
Reminiscing about our childhood doesn’t just bring us back to those simpler care-free times, but also gives us a chance to teach the younger generation about history in fun ways. Rediscover old school toys and more at the MINT Museum Of Toys once it reopens after renovation, or shop online at the MINT Shop to bring a little piece of the past home.
Queen Elizabeth II has been the queen of Britain and the Commonwealth for almost 70 years, making her the longest reigning British monarch in history. Her coronation in 1953, a year following the death of her father King George VI, was the first widely publicised and televised British Royal event of its time. More than 100,000 people tuned in to view the event, and coronation celebrations were held not just in Britain but in Commonwealth countries worldwide.
To celebrate the Coronation, many toymakers (especially in the United Kingdom) went on to produce toys and collectibles to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event. Many of these vintage collectibles and toys can only be found on online auction sites today, and are widely sought after by collectors and royal enthusiasts worldwide. To get a glimpse of these valuable items in Singapore, look no further than the MINT Museum Of Toys’ own collection of toys from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II:
1. The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – Singapore Celebration Programme
Maker: Public Relations Office
Year of Make: 1953
Country of Origin: Singapore
Made in Singapore in 1953, this original programme from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II is both a historical artefact and a valuable collectible. The cover drawing depicts boats on the Singapore River with notable Civic District buildings in the background including the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, the old Supreme Court, City Hall, and St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Above the drawing is the coats of arms of the Colony of Singapore, and the City of Singapore.
The programme was printed in Singapore – a Crown Colony of the United Kingdom at the time – to mark the Coronation celebrations. The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey in London, followed by the death of her father King George VI the previous year. It was the first British coronation to be televised, and was watched by over 10 million viewers worldwide. Not only is this programme a peek into the festivities of the Coronation itself, but it is also a reminder of Singapore’s colonial past.
Part of the week-long celebrations included islandwide activities, the opening of Queen Elizabeth Walk and the Esplanade Gardens, nightly processions, and even firework displays. The celebrations lasted for one week, and religious venues such as churches, mosques, and temples all held special religious services as well. On the final day of Coronation Week, a parade was held at the Padang to celebrate the Trooping of Colour (also known as the sovereign’s official birthday).
2. Coronation Series – Box D Procession
Year of Make: 1953
Material: Cardboard, Die-Cast, and Paper
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Made by British toy company John Hill & Company (or Johillco) in 1953, this cardboard and paper box set includes die-cast figurines of individuals involved in the Coronation procession of Queen Elizabeth II. The four-wheeled coach is gold, and pulled by eight horses. Figures of both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are visible inside. Accompanying figurines include the Household Cavalry, Guardsmen of the Household Division, Royal Footmen, and other soldiers and officials.
The set comes with an instruction sheet explaining the correct positions to replicate the Coronation procession. Though simple and understated, these vintage figurines would have brought much joy to British children of the time.
Johillco stopped operations in the 1960s, making collectibles such as these even more valuable and hard to find today. Complete sets such as these can now sell for several hundred British pounds at an auction or on sites such as Ebay!
3. Queen Elizabeth II Riding Horse Figurine
Year of Make: 1988
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
The British royal family has continued to capture the attention of people worldwide throughout the years, and they are still one of the biggest drivers of tourism and visitors in the United Kingdom. Even years after the actual coronation had taken place, many British toy and memorabilia companies were still producing collectibles commemorating the event.
This 1988 die-cast figurine from Britains depicts Queen Elizabeth II riding sidesaddle on a black horse, while dressed in the uniform of one of the regiments of the Guards Division. The outfit comprises a red military jacket with a blue sash and medals, long blue skirt, and black hat with a white plume. This small figurine looks simple, but its intricate and hand painted details make it a widely desired item by royal collectors today. Britains has been famous for their die-cast miniatures since the company was first founded in the 19th century, and that craftsmanship is one reason why Britains figurines such as these have become collectibles amongst royal family enthusiasts.
Take a peek into History at the MINT Museum Of Toys
Vintage collectibles give us a glimpse into our past. While they may look simple compared to the toys and collectibles of today, they are still valuable memorabilia that hold immense value and (in some cases) nostalgic memories.
You can look forward to learning about history through toys at Singapore’s MINT Museum of Toys. Sign up for a museum membership to stay in the loop about the museum’s upcoming reopening, or follow us on social media for the latest updates.