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Scrooge would feel right at home at transformed Pacific Place mall

The owner of a shop that sells miniature figurines has helped transform Pacific Place into a scene out of A Christmas Carol

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 December, 2014, 3:35am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 December, 2014, 3:35am

It's beginning to look a lot like a Dickens novel. Pacific Place mall has been decked out in homage to one - featuring a mock-up Victorian village complete with red letter boxes, plastic snow and a life-sized model of a portly man in a top hat.

The idea to decorate the luxury city-centre mall after a scene from A Christmas Carol was first broached by Scottish figurine-shop owner Andy Neilson, a long-time Hongkonger who is delighted to see his vision of tiny ye-olde-English men and women and their quaint thatched homes blown up to human proportions.

"It reminds people a bit of Disneyland, but that's not a bad thing," he said. "Walt Disney wanted to create a memory of the past - and we're doing this here - transporting people back in time. Kids love it, and I wish it could stay like this forever."

Neilson, a 65-year-old graphic designer from Renfrew on the outskirts of Glasgow, first set up King and Country - a shop selling high-end toy soldiers and other miniature collectibles - 24 years ago, after a stint in Hong Kong's police force and as the first bar owner in Lan Kwai Fong.

"My hobby was always collecting toy soldiers, and finally my wife Lauren suggested I start making my own, so I did," he said.

Among his loyal fan base are celebrity Mike Myers, who had to be wrenched away by his assistant while going through his stock, and Chris Patten, who in his time as governor would visit the shop on a monthly basis.

But the shop doesn't only appeal to Western men. Anson Chan Fang On-sang, the former chief secretary, is also said to be a fan, as are many other Asians.

"Ninety-nine per cent of our customers used to be Westerners, but now the majority are Asian - they like it because they value quality, are interested in and more educated on European history and because there is something for everyone," Neilson said, adding that his most loyal customer is a local who is obsessed with Napoleon.

The World of Dickens display in Pacific Place - inspired by Christmas cards and calendars - matches a mini-version that Neilson is now marketing.

"Part of the attraction is that it's like visiting London for the first time," he said, adding that the realistic backdrops created for the mall display "really bring the figurines to life".

Neilson said he had no plans to retire from toy-making any time soon. "Why would I?" he asked, smiling. "Retirement is for people who hate their jobs. I'm going to be doing this till the day I die. I get to play with toys every day, it's fun."