From Barbie to Rainbow High
Socio-cultural shifts across decades become apparent when surveyed alongside consumer trends within the toy industry. Staying culturally relevant is key to thriving; generational toys, therefore, provide clues to changing societal expectations till today.
"Toys echo societal voices, and at the same time, facilitate the progressive changes in society," shares the UNBOX curational team led by General Manager Mr Christopher Ho. Barbie is a classic example.
They add, "In the economic boom of postwar years, the pioneering Barbie let little girls break away from the domesticated worldviews of earlier paper dolls. Rapid globalisation in the 20th century required adapting the fashion doll for newer markets, which then gave rise to the queen of Japanese dress-up dolls, Licca Chan. The definition of womanhood further shifted and expanded in the age of the Internet that called upon greater representation with more inclusive toys. Here, the racially-diverse Bratz dolls replaced Barbie's single-tone and sweet personas with edgy personalities that empowered young girls"
The rapid spread of global pop culture when the Internet developed allowed many toymakers to dabble in once-taboo areas, like goth and LGBTQ+, which the team opines, laid the successful paths for Monster High and Rainbow High. The narratives of G.I. Joe, He-Man and the Masters of Universe, and M.A.S.K travelled a similar course, among many others, which the public can delve into at the upcoming exhibition.
Highlighting Significant Chapters of History
These generational movements depicted by toys, the team adds, are vital to understanding the role toy figurines played in impacting childhood experiences within the societal peripheries of each decade, lending it a true lever in the study of history. Housing the largest collection of the most popular vintage toys in Singapore and Southeast Asia, the MINT Museum of Toys reiterates the need for society to look back and understand the journey transpired till today. With nuggets of history embedded in each toy figurine, UNBOX exhibitions such as these reach out to the inner child of the visitor, allowing them to rediscover and reflect on a past once lived. Also a creative ground for up and coming curators to explore alternative narratives, UNBOX helps to bridge the gap between toys, art and history.
About MINT Museum of Toys
MINT Museum of Toys Singapore has an ever-growing collection of 50,000 toys, the largest in Southeast Asia, carefully curated collections ranged between the years of 1840s to 1980s hailing from over 40 different countries are displayed across four levels of the museum, housed in an award-winning designed building on 26 Seah Street, Singapore. The museum also organises programmes for schools including