Check out what your grandparents used to play with at Hong Kong Museum of History’s toy exhibition

Eunice Yip

Remember Dragon Ball figurine and Barbie dolls? The Hong Kong Museum of History's toy exhibition brings back countless blasts from the past

Eunice Yip |

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Dragon Ball series collection.

Hong Kong was once the world’s biggest toy exporter. You can see all the popular creations of the last century at the Hong Kong Museum of History’s exhibition “The Legend of Hong Kong Toys”, which runs until May 15. From picture cards to toy cookery sets, and from Barbie dolls to modern anime, the exhibition gives you the chance to explore some childhood memories. Young Post Junior Reporters Eunice Yip and Valerie Yip certainly did!

Matchbox Car Series

This carriage will bring back nostalgic memories for many people
Photo: Hong Kong Museum of History

Matchbox’s Toy Car Series first appeared when inventor Jack Odell made a tiny brass version of a road roller and put it in a matchbox. He gave it to his daughter to take to school and it became a huge hit. You can buy all sorts of Matchbox models like Mercedes or Ferraris, and there are special editions of Hong Kong public transport, too, including taxis and buses.

Matchbox also released a beautiful carriage in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. 

The carriage, along with Hong Kong vehicles of a bygone era, will no doubt bring back nostalgic memories for many people.

WCF Dragon Ball Series

The Dragon Ball series, a very popular Japanese comic, was published between 1984 and 1995. Seven star dragon balls were spread out across the world, and if all were collected, they’d have enough power to summon a green, wish-granting dragon named Shenron.

This series was a huge hit in Hong Kong during the 1980s. Primary school students would rush home to watch it on TV and later collect all the memorabilia.

Bandai Namco Asia is exhibiting a full set of Dragon Ball figurines, which includes all the characters that ever appeared in the series. It’s a Dragon Ball fan’s dream! An encounter with these notorious heroes and villains will surely put a sparkle in your eye.

Eunice Yip


The Barbie doll is part of the childhood of almost every girl.
Photo: Hong Kong Museum of History

Barbie dolls were launched by the American toy company Mattel in 1959. Ruth Handler, the doll’s creator, often saw her daughter play with paper dolls. She noted the limitations of those dolls, and decided to create a plastic version with an adult body.

Barbie — her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts – used to have red lips, a pony tail, and a slim waist and legs. She only had one black striped swimsuit in her clothing collection. The recent versions are very different. Now, Barbie owns countless pairs of shoes and some 100 different outfits in her wardrobe.

The Barbie doll is part of the childhood of almost every girl, regardless of age and nationality.

Cap guns

Cap guns appeared at the end of the American civil war during the mid-1860s. They produced a loud, gunshot-like sound and sometimes a small puff of smoke, but were of course perfectly safe.

Cap guns were originally made of cast iron, before briefly switching to zinc alloy after the second world war. The present-day models are mostly plastic.

You may not see many cap guns today, but they were especially sought after when Westerns were very popular in the cinema and on television. Children would play with cap guns copying their heroes like Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers.

Valerie Yip

Edited by Andrew McNicol