A hobby full of surprises

Wong Yat-hei

A chance flea market buy led a father and daughter to a love of collecting Kinder egg toys

Wong Yat-hei |

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Thore Bjureus and his daughter Nicolina pose with their toy figures on display at Telford Plaza.
When Thore Bjureus bought his seven-year-old daughter a set of plastic turtles from a flea market in Finland, he never thought he'd be the one who would fall in love with the toys.

"This is how Nicolina and I started out with our K-toy collection in 1993. Now we have more than 7,000 toys displayed in a toy room in my home," says the Swede.

Now, for the first time, Bjureus has taken the figures from his home in Stockholm and brought them to Hong Kong for the "Surprise" exhibition at Telford Plaza.

K-toys are those found inside Kinder Surprise eggs, a popular chocolate sweet. You might imagine that Bjureus and Nicolina must have eaten thousands of eggs to build such a large collection, but there is a well-developed network for fans of the toys. It is common to find duplicate toys in the eggs, so K-toy collectors often swap figures on the internet.

Nicolina started a website in 2004 to display the figures they had and to look for opportunities to exchange items with other collectors. "My father and I visit flea markets often to look for the toys, but most of our collection comes from exchanges. We trade duplicates for other items we don't have," she says.

K-toy collecting is something of a craze in Europe. Every year a K-toy catalogue comes out and shows collectors the current market value of the different toys. But it does not necessarily mean those items are available.

"Many rare items are valued at thousands of Hong Kong dollars, but that does not mean you can buy them," says Bjureus. "Those items are owned by a handful of collectors who are not willing to give them up. The K-toy catalogue is very much like a stamp catalogue - you can see all the items, but not all are up for sale."

Bjureus expects his collection to continue to grow.

"Every year I get two to three hundred new toys. I look at them every day and will reorganise them once in a while. This is what I like to do for pleasure," he says.

The sheer variety of the K-toy range makes them fascinating. There are cars, boats, aeroplanes, cartoon characters, animals and people. "I have a set of Hong Kong-themed figures with a man pulling a rickshaw and a hawker selling fish. The diversity of K-toys is beyond one's imagination," says Bjureus.

Bjureus' K-toy collection is on show at Telford Plaza, Kowloon Bay from now until April 7.

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