Bringing on the inner child becomes a special Hong Kong obsession
Two past and present lawmakers as well as a radio presenter explain why they collect Lego sets, ceramic figurines and various action figures
While lots of toy fanatics queue up outside the Hong Kong Museum of History to view the exhibits at a three-month toy exhibition, some local celebrities prefer to keep their collections private.
Inside the chamber of barrister and Civic Party chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit, more than 30 ceramic figurines portraying young children are displayed next to piles of law books.
“One thing I like about these particular figurines is they managed to capture young children in a very cute, happy and peaceful mood,” he said.
The figurines are produced by German brand M.I. Hummel. They are based on the drawings of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel.
Leong said he started collecting the figurines in 1997, when Hummel launched a special edition to mark Hong Kong’s handover from British rule. The most expensive one in his collection is worth about HK$40,000.
“I think toys play a very important and significance part in everybody’s life,” he said.
And that was something on which Commercial Radio presenter Sit Chun-ning, also known as “Ah Ning”, agreed .
“Toys are part of my life,” said the 28-year-old, whose collection ranges from the Japanese manga star Sailor Moon to Star Wars collectibles.
Sit has been collecting action figures since he was three. “I’ve already lost count,” he said, estimating he owns over 100.
Watch: Radio presenter collects figures from Japanese manga to Star Wars
As an art graduate himself, Sit said he was attracted by the different colours of the action figures. He recalled his craziest moment. “I was on a seven-day vacation in Japan with my girlfriend, and I decided to be alone a whole day just to shop for toys.”
“Luckily, we didn’t break up during the trip,” he laughed.
Sit said the city’s high rent had forced many toy shops to close. “I would love to see more malls such as Sino Centre in Mong Kok that mainly sell toys. Because eventually you can create a niche community by gathering together toy lovers.”
The Legend of Hong Kong Toys exhibition in the Museum of History runs until May 15, showcasing over 2,000 locally made toys. It is one of many events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong special administrative region.
The world’s second largest toy exporter currently has no permanent official toy museum.
Watch: Lego relieves the stress on lawmaker Alvin Yeung
“Hong Kong used to be a toy manufacturing hub. In that sense we exported a lot of fun to people around the world, so we do have an adequate reason to build a permanent museum here,” Lego lover Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said.
Yeung, who like Leong is a barrister and the leader of the Civic Party, was speaking next to dozens of Lego models in his chamber in Central. “There is a common saying that ‘in every real man a child is hidden that wants to play’. I think it’s my inner child. Deep down I’m also very playful,” he said.
Yeung said he had been a Lego fan since he was six. “My parents bought me my first Lego set. I remember it was a model of a police station.
“The toy industry has declined over the past few years. I think it’s an important part of the Hong Kong story, something that’s worth preserving and for that reason we deserve to have a toy museum,” he said.
Echoing Yeung’s view, Leong said: “With a permanent museum in place, people will then have the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane whenever they want. And I think being allowed to go back to childhood days even just for a brief moment is something very precious. I certainly would support the idea of a permanent toy museum.”