We admit it — we kind of like old wind-up tin toys. We only have one, though. It has ping pong players who go back and forth and it really used to scare our dog. Well, the International Herald Tribune recently published a story (“A trip into China’s past, through its toys”) about a museum filled with such gadgets from the first three quarters of the 20th century. The Museum of Shanghai Toys, naturally, is in Singapore. A snippet:
Possibly the most important development for the Chinese toy making industry was the advent of tin manufacturing around Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s, churning out tin cans for paints, cosmetics, biscuits and sweets. With the opening up of Shanghai to Western influences, Western tin-plate toys became fashionable and a new industry flourished.
By 1935, the China Can Company, which had first produced tin cans, had turned its attention to tin-plate toys and was producing toy planes, wind-up tin monkeys and other animals. The museum presents numerous examples of toys from this era, among which is a windup taxi toy, which was very popular at the time and a clever promotion by the American Ford Hire Service in Shanghai, one of four major taxi companies in Shanghai during the 1930s.
During the Japanese invasion of the 1930s, war-related toys such as fighter planes, tanks and soldiers dominated production,. Later on, toys were often used as a propaganda tool. This was especially true during the Cultural Revolution. …
The museum exhibits are organized by themes, like ethnic dolls, circus and acrobatic toys, coin banks, home appliance toys, science fiction and space toys, animals, and unlicensed Walt Disney items from as early as the 1930s.
The museum’s official site is most.com.sg. We weren’t able to find a date for when it opened, however. There is actually a museumofshanghaitoys tag on Flickr. Users acromatic and Amsk both have sets dedicated to the museum.
Photo from acromatic.