It is not strange that I’d been to Malacca countless times. I mean, isn’t traveling to Malaysia a past time for most Singaporeans? In my case, we go there so often that I think I’m already half-Malaysian…. Oh wait… I AM half Malaysian. Oh, probably that is why my dream is to retire in Malaysia. Haha!
If you are visiting Malacca for the first time, do go ahead and visit the traveller-worn places like Jonker Walk and Red Square. But if you have been there a dozen times, then I suggest wandering out more (especially if you have a car) and visit parts of Malacca that are not so Malacca-ish. It is a small city, so actually finding new things to do is rather easy.
Just a stone’s throw away from Jonker Walk (Jalan Hang Jebat) is a little known Toy Museum. I assume it is little known because when I went there, we were the only visitors. Frankly, I would not have thought to visit, having outgrown toys some 10 years already, and if it was not for the fact that we were looking for kid-friendly things to do for our daughter, we would not have gone at all. The entrance fee wasn’t much so we thought, “Heck, why not?”. It was certainly better than going to Super Mega Mall, and Yet Another Mega Mall. Malls kinda all look the same, don’t they? Plus, we have already done all the shopping we could the previous night at Jonker.
So, on first impressions, the Toy Museum isn’t so much as a museum as a “Repurposed House”. If not for a huge menacing Hulk action figure on display and other quirky “Nightmare before Christmas” decorations at the gate, and a welcome sign with opening hours, you would have thought that it was just an eccentric person’s house, and his family’s name was probably Addams. On the street with all the other exceedingly normal residential homes, it simply looks like the odd cousin that every family has one. It took a while for us to decide to park inside, because it felt like we were intruding somebody else’s home. But we got over it and went in. (I happened to have very thick skin.)
When you step into the threshold, you will encounter… absolutely no one. No visitors, and no staff. Doors are closed and the windows shut. Red flag! I stood outside the front door and put on my best “bewildered and lost” face, hoping that there is probably someone watching secretly. True enough, a window slid open, revealing a middle-age man behind an entire shelf of toys. Behind him was yet even more toys!
I was slightly intimidated and thought, “Oh great, I’ve met a weirdo”.
Internally, another red flag shot up. Not saying much, after the general proceedings of paying money, he invited us to step into his toy kingdom… I.e. Pointed us to the door without as much as stepping out and inviting us in. Albeit, it is rather hard to step out if you are surrounded by toys!
So, we gingerly stepped in together was immediately drowning in toys. “Oh, so this is what a Toy museum looks like”, I thought to myself, although I’m very sure my husband was thinking of exactly the same thing too.
There were literally thousands of toys in this place. Initially, we were still trying to come to terms with the strangeness of it all. It was just a house, but with all the rooms filled with display shelves of toys! I’ve never seen anything like this and it was not, in my head, what a museum looks like.
After a while, however, we started becoming very comfortable and all the red flags had disappeared. Afterall, we were not inside a murderer’s home or anything. Grace was the first to start warming up touching and playing with the toys. We were worried at first that they were just for display, but after a while of loud clanging and knocking from Grace, and nobody came to stop us, it was apparently that some of the toys ARE for play.
There were encouraging quotes and signs hung all over the house, as well as newspaper cuttings on hobbyists, crafts and toy collecting.
When you look closely at the shelves, you will start recognizing most of the toys and characters and they bring back a lot of childhood memories. Not all the toys there are “collector’s item” and most are not particularly valuable, but they all have sentimental value. We were excitedly pointing out certain toys that have since been considered passe since the iPhone and iPad era.
Toys do bring back special memories. I could nearly recognize and name everything that I see, and that shows how much we remember of our childhood. We also reflect that children need to play and toys are still better play things for children, than iPad apps. I think Grace had the most fun of all!
Ultimately, it was a pleasurable experience to visit the Toy Museum, with or without children. Don’t keep your expectations too high and you will really start to enjoy your visit to this quirky place! I had wanted to leave within 30 mins, but we ended up spending nearly an hour there. Depending on your disposition towards toys, you will end up with either very little to see, or lots to see. Grace obviously did not want to leave!
P.S. If you go, do make a trip to the bathroom, or as the owner calls it, the “Toy-Let”. You will be pleasantly surprised!