Vintage Toys for Old Boys
Troops of perfect condition Tetsujin 28 robots line the walls as original Japanese versions of Power Rangers sit in corners — some caught in a permanent state of mid-transformation, just like the cartoons. This bizarre shop is the only place in Chiang Mai that both collectors and toy enthusiasts can now come and experience some of the region’s rarest toys. Shelves upon shelves are packed to the brim with figurines, toy cars, Japanese baseball cards, soft plushies and table-top games passed down by children and collectors long grown old. The owner, Trinniphat ‘Bird’ Phasidthapon, is only in his twenties but his collection is vast and mature. From wartime Japan to early nineties video games, Bird has them all, and they are all (well…almost all) just waiting to be played with.
“I started collecting my toys as a kid rather than throwing them away after use,” said Bird about how he ended up with such a vast collection. “I wasn’t spoilt when I was younger, I just made an effort to keep things — I guess I am a collector at heart. When I grew old enough to ‘outgrow’ toys, I simply didn’t. I knew then that this was a passion of mine and I wanted to pursue it.”
Bird is now married and has a daughter who is lucky enough to be the first play-tester for many of the toys he adds to his collection. “Unlike other vintage toy shops, I try my best to encourage people to touch and play my toys — whether they are buyers or not. If the toys can survive my daughter’s hands, then I am sure they will make it though a few playtimes with collectors or the curious.” For Bird, old toys are far superior to anything available on the shelves today. “Old toys are strong and are made to endure,” he said as he folded a transforming Power Ranger into a lorry. “New toys are weak and made to break so you buy more. Older toys come with stories, emotions, and are full of character. There were so well made even the first TV cartoons used their own toys when filming scenes!”
It was no surprise to learn that Bird’s favourite toy is the Tetsujin 28, given the sheer number of this robot found on almost every shelf. Tetsujin 28 is the Japanese Iron Man, a character produced post-WWII during the peacetime economic boom. “There’s something about his appearance that is both strong but friendly, massive but cute — he pleases all types of people when played with,” smiled Bird as he pointed out some of his most valuable items.
For collectors looking to get their hands on a 1953 Tetsujin 28 Go Flashlight still in working condition with the original bulb (worth around 85,000 baht) or a 1982 Porsche 911 Turbo Racing Cockpit (worth over 4,000 baht) or even an original metal DX Tetsujin Robot (now priced at around 150,000 baht), Bird’s toy shop is where to look. But for those who can’t face parting with so much cash, fear not. Bird’s philosophy is that if you like toys then just come in and have a play. The main table is full of games from the sixties and seventies which you can enjoy along with a nice cup of coffee — or if you’re like me and enjoy playing games on a screen, you can wire up an old Famicom or Sega Megadrive and play some of your childhood favourites on an old vintage TV.
With Christmas fast approaching, this shop maybe a place worth checking out — even if to get nostalgic over some great childhood memories. Grab a coffee or crack open a beer and just start playing! Bird often travels to Japan to seek out toys to add to his collection, some to sell and some to keep. “My wife is surprisingly patient,” Bird laughed. “I usually end up buying myself more toys than I do for the store! I usually just pretend they are for our daughter…but she sees right through me.”
The Toys Club
Open 9am – Late
46/1 San Pa Koi Road, Near the Kaew Nawarat Bridge