Thursday, August 18, 2005

Changi Chapel & Museum's Revamp

Just spoke to the curator yesterday. Here's the blurb (credits to:

Memorial Weekend
60 years ago...
September 12, 1945

Lord Louis Mountbatten accepts the surrender of 680,000 Japanese soldiers in Southeast Asia with the signing of the Surrender Document by General Seishiro Itagaki, on behalf of Field Marshall Count Terauchi, in Singapore's Municipal Hall (City Hall) Council Chamber, followed by a parade of Allied troops.

September 10
Memorial Service/Launch of new exhibits at Changi Chapel & Museum

A short memorial service, which will be conducted at 11.00am to commemorate
the end of World War II, will precede the launch of never before seen
exhibits at the Changi Museum.

Time : 11.00 am
Admission : Free
Location : Changi Chapel & Museum
Address : 1000 Upper Changi Road North
Phone : (65) 6214 2451
Nearest MRT Station : Tampines
Website :

If you haven't been there, its indeed a sobering experience. I especially liked the murals and the chapel signified the only hope the POWs had in the most harrowing period of their lives. I hear there's going to be a Commemorative Ceremony as well, more info as it comes in.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Toy Museum Opening in Singapore

[Article Start]Source: Straits Times

Toy Land

One man's collection of more than 50,000 toys, lovingly amassed over 25 years, will be opened to the public with the setting up of Singapore's first toy museum

FIFTY-SIX-YEAR-OLD Chang Yang Fa still has his first toy - a Matchbox truck given to him when he was six.

The father of three also has other playthings - more than 50,000 in fact, dating from the 1850s to the 1950s. And they are worth more than $5 million.

Mr Chang, head of his own engineering consulting firm, built the collection over 25 years. He is now preparing to share his toys with the public by moving them to a toy museum, the first in Singapore.

The collection - now split among Mr Chang's home, office, his siblings' homes and rented storage space - will be housed in the $2 million premises in Seah Street, opposite the Raffles Hotel.

'It's every toy collector's dream to open a museum so he can share his passion with other people,' said the publicity-shy Mr Chang, who would not have his picture taken.

The toys can be traced back to toy makers from more than 25 countries. They were bought from auctions, junk stores and dealers by Mr Chang who, incidentally, took his wife of 25 years to a junk store on their second date.

The collection includes a 1903 Steiff bear, a Batman dispatched in Superman packaging by mistake, and a 1930s plush Mickey with creator Walt Disney's signature on its sole.

Many pieces are still in mint condition, said Mr Chang.

The Mint Museum of Toys - for Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys - will sit atop a cafe cum wine bar. It will also have a store selling playthings and museum merchandise.

The five-storey glass facade museum, opening in December, is designed by SCDA Architects, winner of the Royal Institute of British Architects Worldwide Awards last year.

'The Mint is supposed to invite people on a journey of rediscovery. It's meant to appeal to the child in every one of us,' said Mr Chang, seated among golliwogs and bears at his semi-detached house.

He is funding the project with a bank loan and contributions from family members and friends.

He hopes the museum will break even in five to 10 years.

Mr Chang said he and his wife, Siew Kee, scrimped and saved for years to fund the project, and joked that his three children aged 12 to 22 are still sharing a bedroom because of his dream.

His project has received grants from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and support from the National Heritage Board (NHB), which is glad that individuals are getting into the museum act.

Famous toy museums include Pollock's Toy Museum and the Brighton Toy and Model Museum, both in London.

STB's director for sightseeing and cruises, Mr Chang Chee Pey, said Mr Chang's toy museum will be the largest of its kind outside Japan, and will 'add to the variety of attractions and museums' here.

NHB's acting director for corporate communications, Mr Walter Lim, said: 'Toys are also an important part of our cultural identity and heritage. Some toys are actually global cultural icons, such as Disney's and Hello Kitty.'

Mr Chang hopes the museum will draw 500 visitors a day. Ticket prices have yet to be decided but are likely to be under $10 for adults, and half of that for children.

He said the museum must make money to be viable but added that it 'goes beyond that'.

'These toys will outlive me, they have outlived many of their owners. By having them in Singapore, they will become the heritage of Singapore,' he said.

The highlights

Door of Hope

This pair of hand-crafted dolls, each 11 inches high, were made in Shanghai in the early 1900s by girls saved from brothels by the Door of Hope missionary movement. The dolls provided the girls with a small personal income and helped maintain the mission's homes. They made 25 standard types of dolls and no two are the same. Prized dolls have been known to fetch more than US$5,000 (S$8,268) each at auctions.

Mickey Organ Grinder

This 1930s-era piece of pie-eyed Mickey Mouse with a toothy grin did not please creator Walt Disney, so its production was limited. Only five are believed to be still around. Bought in the US over 15 years ago, it is worth more than US$15,000.

Mickey Mouse

A 1930s piece by Steiff. This stuffed Mickey was bought at a Christie's auction in London over 10 years ago. It was restored by famous teddy bear expert Sue Pearson, who discovered Disney's autograph on its left sole.

1903 Steiff Bear

Made just a year after this most prestigious of teddy bear brands introduced its first plush bear. It is valued for its excellent condition. The record for a Steiff bear was set last year, when a 1904/5 bear fetched 51,000 Euros (S$102,969) at the 8th Steiff Festival.

Bonzo Steiff

This is believed to be the only remaining example of the 1930s plush dog Bonzo, a roguish character featured in English comics in the 1920s. It has slits for eyes made of blue glass-marble. Its creator, George Studdy, apparently did not like this version, so only 115 pieces were made.

Information from Mint and the Internet
[Article End]

Man oh man oh man oh man!

Our very own toy museum!

[Quote]STB's director for sightseeing and cruises, Mr Chang Chee Pey, said Mr Chang's toy museum will be the largest of its kind outside Japan, and will 'add to the variety of attractions and museums' here. [Quote]

Could he possibly be making comparisons with the
Bandai Museum in Japan?

The figures speak for themselves really. 50,000 toys, over 25 years, worth more than $5 million.
I just can't wait for it to open. Imagine the wealth of collections from various toylines we'll be able to see!

[Quote] 'It's every toy collector's dream to open a museum so he can share his passion with other people,' [Quote]

Right on the money! Local collectors forums like Katoots and Sgcollect are raving over the opening of this new museum.

See you there in December!

Reflecting at Bukit Chandu

Being Singapore's 40 Birthday, due to a lack of tickets to the Parade, I thought it'd be good to remember those who gave up their lives in the defence of the nation we all hold dear to our hearts.

I dropped by Reflections at Bukit Chandu over the weekend.

Visiting Reflections at Bukit Chandu's gonna be a trek unless you've private transport, but it shouldn't stop you really. Here some
directions that may come in handy.

Upon entering the compound, three statues of heroic Malay Regiment soldiers stand steadfast, readying themselves for a battle which will always be remembered. On the floor is a plaque, with a tribute to their heroic sacrifice.

On the wall of the house is a mural depicting the Battle of Pasir Panjang. The portrait expresses the confusion and disarray of the battle, with a Japanese soldier brutally slashing the face of a Malay Regiment soldier. This sets the scene for things to come.

The facade of the colonial house is one of grandeur. Interesting nugget: Bukit Chandu means Opium Hill in Malay.

Upon entering the house, a solemn mood prevails. The displays lining the walls told the story of the heroic Malay Regiment who stood their ground, including their accounts and artefacts of the weapons used during the time.

Military equipment enthusiasts will marvel at the artefacts which include binoculars, bayonets, field communications headsets, jerry cans and even mess tins.

Part of the displays included bicycles which aided the relentless assault of the Japanese and actual weaponary which was used in the massacre.

Displays of Malay Regiment uniforms and a bust of Lt Adnan, whose story is told throughout the walls of the house. A hero above all, without peer. His tragic end at the hands of the enemy was heartrending to listen to, through accounts from his descendants.

The multi-sensory experience which the Bukit Chandu Theatre provides brings you deep into the heart of battle. The show vividly re-enacted the peace before the battle, the confusion arising from the cacophony of battle sounds, and the actual sacrifice remained etched deeply in you, long after the show.

I found the drawings of the horror inflicted upon by the Japanese, as seen through children's eyes especially chilling. It was sad that children had been subjected to such horror.

The experience at Bukit Chandu promises to be overwhelming. It was unnerving to stand where fellow men had fell in their valiant defence of Singapore. It brings to mind the question, "Would you stand your ground as the Askar Melayu did?"