ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
MINT Museum of Toys is delighted to launch its latest UNBOX exhibition – UNBOX Presents: Popeye & Vintage-Inspired Timepieces. a collaboration with local artist and watch maker Ivan, founder of Vario, a vintage-inspired watch and accessory brand. Accompanied by vintage pieces from the museum’s Popeye toy collection such as Popeye & Olive Oyl Tank (1 of the only known 5 pieces left in the world) from the 1950s, the exhibition also showcases the Navi x POPEYE Nautical (Automatic).
Popeye has made a lasting impression on the consciousness of popular culture. This well-loved sailor first entertained the general population in the 1930s and immediately gained popularity. He is always pictured with a pipe in his mouth, which explains why he often mumbled. Although he appeared tough on the exterior, the humorous sailor who was ever loyal to his girlfriend Olive Oyl was also gentle and loving, adopting the lovable baby Swee’Pea as his own. Popeye had his own super power – when he ate spinach, he became incredibly strong. Together with the british Captain Bluto and the local sponge Wimpy, these characters made their lives in the town of SweetHaven.
Today these endearing animated cartoons are still available through streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video. Popeye has also made an appearance not only in comic books and television, but also in advertisements, video games, toys, and food products. In 1980, Robert Altman directed Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, as Popeye and Olive Oyl respectively, in the movie version of Popeye.
the enduring appeal OF POPEYE THE SAILOR MAN
When Popeye was originally created by American cartoonist Elzie Segar, he was conceived as a rough but good guy, helping the less fortunate. As his abilities were limited, Segar later gave him a secret weapon – super strength, but only when he ate his spinach. Cultural historians have noted that this makes him a good role model and also impressed on young children, that they had to eat their vegetables. Among Segar’s peers, the late creator of the Peanuts comic series Charles Schulz was known to hold a high opinion of Popeye, who enjoyed the drawings and the humour.
As part of the collaboration for this exhibition, the MINT Museum of Toys has curated 2 of the most rare and valuable vintage Popeye toys within its collection for show – one of which is the Popeye & Olive Oyl Tank. Known to be one of the only known 5 pieces in the world till date, this toy from the 1950s is made from Japan by toy manufacturer Linemar and when battery operated, features Popeye appearing to lift the tank and moving it forward. The hatch on the turret of the tank also opens up to allow Olive Oyl’s head to emerge! In April 2022, a Popeye and Olive Oyl Tank hit a world-record value of $105,000 USD at Milestone Auctions, a new world auction record for a Popeye toy.
This toy is also an Augmented Reality touchpoint as part of the museum’s AR Museum experience, simply download the free MINT Museum of Toys app and scan the AR touchpoint below to watch it come alive in AR!
The navi x popeye jump hour watch
One notable design to look out for – The NAVI x Popeye Jump Hour Watch, a rare complication that have an hour hand that does not sweep between the hours but ‘jumps’ to the next hour when the minute hand reaches 60 minutes, this complication makes it rare to find in an affordable watch.
The Navi x Popeye Jump Hour Watch retails at $557 SGD per piece here.
The creation of The Navi x Popeye Jump Hour watch began as an idea of wanting to create a modern timepiece based on a vintage childhood character – Popeye and since Popeye is a Sailorman, the inspiration of the watch was by the many nautical elements present in the story and character. The watch features immaculate details such Popeye’s iconic huge forearms and skinny upper arms with one acting as the long minute hand, making revolutions around the watch. On top of that, look out for another nautical touch – an optical lens sits as a water droplet, magnifying the ‘jumping hour’. Inspired by the motion of the ocean and swooshing sounds of the waters Popeye lived closely by, this watch truly celebrates the universal love for Popeye as a timeless hero.
one of the earliest popeye toy created in the 1930s
One of the earliest Popeye toys made in the early 1930s, this Popeye Heavy Hitter toy is a wind-up tin toy of Popeye playing a ‘high striker’ strength test carnival game. The sides of the base are decorated with a comic strip featuring Popeye as a boxer, on one occasion winning and knocking out a much bigger sized boxer representing his great super strength. The comic cartoon is signed by E.C Segar, the creator of Popeye. When wound up, Popeye lifts the hammer then drops it onto the base of the toy, causing a metal ball to fly up the stand and ring the bell at the top. This toy was recently valued at $11,400 USD in April 2022 against an initial estimate of $5000 – $6000 USD.
other timepieces reflecting world war and post war era
A collection of 1918 Trench Watches that pays homage to the World War I era and a series of Empire Art Deco watches inspired by elegant typography and bold designs of the 1930s is also on display at the exhibition, acting as a lens to part of history during eras long past.
Home-grown designer Ivan, who also collects vintage watches, wanted to create a timepiece based on his childhood character, and after a quick poll among his customers, decided to base it on Popeye. He chose to work on a nautical watch since Popeye is a sailorman.
But there are many Popeye watches in the market, and he wanted to differentiate his creation from the rest in the field. He felt he had achieved this moment when he hit – or was hit in a dream – upon the idea of incorporating the iconic can of spinach into the watch design.
Be one of the few lucky ones to RSVP and receive this limited edition Popeye x Vario Keychain.
Please note that you will be contacted via email if you have successfully reserved a piece with instructions on how to redeem upon arrival at the museum.
Call for COllaboration
Calling out to all toy enthusiasts and collectors, UNBOX offers you a unique place to showcase your collection, with help from our curator, which mean so much. This is a chance to show the world what makes you passionate about what you do.
A collectors-club like no other, expand your collectors’ circle with us as we hold uniquely collectors networking sessions, offering access to resources, new experiences and participation in your favorite aspect of collection!