Play kampung games from yesteryear

You can play kid's games of yesteryear and also buy vintage toys at some places

Five stones, chapteh, congkak. Place these childhood games of yesteryear in front of a bunch of five-year-old children and you are likely to draw blank stares from them.

These games, popular in the early to late 1900s, might evoke warm, fuzzy memories for their parents and grandparents but they are foreign to the children of today.

Mint Museum of Toys curator Richard Tan says: "Today's kids are too busy with their tablets or mobile phones."

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It is for this reason that the private museum in Seah Street will relaunch Kampung Spirit Games during the week-long school holidays that begins tomorrow. The exhibition allows visitors to play with the old-school games on large weaved mats.

The initiative was first launched in 2013 and has gained popularity over the past two years, Mr Tan, 57, says. This time, the exhibition has been extended from the previous two to three days to a week.

"We want to bring back the fun kampung days when kids played together. It's a trip down memory lane for adults while the kids learn what their parents used to play."

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The museum is not alone in revisiting the good old days. Those who wish to get souvenirs from their childhood can find them in a range of places from retail outlets to vintage cafes and even at a rooftop bar.

At cafe-cum-vintage boutique Old Habits in Telok Blangah, which opened in July last year, customers might feel that they have stepped back in time. The walls are adorned with posters and enamel signages from the  early 1930s. Over 200 vintage items such as huge, boxy TV sets, vintage radio sets and Game Boys are displayed in cabinets and the glass cases of some of the dining tables.

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Owners Donovan Goh and Selena Kam, both 33, say 90 per cent of the items are for sale, including a selection of toys that range from viewmasters to wind-up tin toys.

The husband and wife allow customers to play with some of the toys, including the viewmasters and movie viewers. "The toys are interactive and can help build bonds by allowing parents to share childhood memories with their children," says Mr Goh.

Demand for such toys has increased over the years, says Mr R. Ken, 33, owner of Munch Munch, a shop where customers can buy old-school toys and snacks.

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He opened his first outlet at Connexis Tower at Fusionopolis in 2012, a second one at Chinatown Point the next year and launched an online shop last year.

From plane gliders to kuti-kuti to marbles, each priced from 80 cents to $2, Mr Ken wants to "bring back fond memories" for customers.

He says: "Coming to Munch Munch is an experiential journey filled with nostalgia and pleasant surprises. Different customers will have different stories to tell about the old school snacks and toys we offer."

Munch Munch customer Jensen Siaw, 37, a corporate trainer, says the toys do not just serve as blissful memories of his childhood, but they also come in useful at work.

He adds: "I use plane gliders and chapteh as team-building tools during motivational sessions with clients. Participants get excited when they see these toys from their childhood. It's a great way to get them to work together while learning something."

For Ms Tan Li Ling, 29, the owner of local label Wheniwasfour, which was started in June 2009, the games of yesteryear are sources of inspiration for her designs. Her tote bags ($27) and coasters ($5.90) adorned with colourful images of chapteh, and paper balls or plushies fashioned from five stones ($38) are sold online and at various stockists.

She says: "We want to bring back childhood memories, including old places and objects, as they start to disappear in a rapidly growing urban city.

"Things, people and life were much simpler back then. That's why we hope that through Wheniwasfour, people can feel and get the simple happiness that we want to convey."

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gurveenk@sph.com.sg


Where to buy old-school toys


Souvenir shop at Mint Museum of Toys

Where: 26 Seah Street Open: Daily, 9.30am to 6.30pm Admission: $7.50 child (aged two to 12) or senior citizen (aged 60 and above), $15 adult Info: www.emint.com


Old Habits

Where: 01-315, 38 Telok Blangah Rise  Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 9.30pm Info: www.facebook.com/habitssg


Munch Munch

Where: B1-23 Connexis Tower, No. 1 Fusionopolis Way and B2-03 Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Road Open: Monday to Saturday, 11am to 8pm at Connexis Tower outlet; daily, 11am to 9.30pm at Chinatown Point outlet Info: www.munchmunch.sg

Wheniwasfour

Where: Products available at various stockists and online Info: www.wheniwasfour.com


The Mama Shop at Loof rooftop bar

Where: 03-07 Odeon Towers, 331 North Bridge Road Open: Monday to Thursday, 5pm to 1am; Friday and Saturday, 5pm to 3am; closed on Sunday Info: www.loofsg.com