For a toy collector, Asia is the place to be. No other continent compares for access to cool toys, Japanese monster models, fun gadgets, and highly detailed action figures. Within Asia, the cities with the largest selection of toy shows and stores, at the best prices, are Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. It helps if you know where to look, as certain shopping areas excel in toy selling. Here is a traveler’s guide to finding toys and toy collectibles in Asia.
Bangkok, Thailand Toy Fair
Undoubtedly the best of all the cities in Asia for shopping, Bangkok also offers some of the best toy venues. The first thing to look for is the roaming Thailand Toy Fair, which travels to event halls in the many giant malls in Bangkok and Pattaya. Check in local newspapers, such as the Bangkok Post, and with the Malls themselves to find out where the show will be next. The fair has irregular travel dates, and runs for a few months each year. You’ll find everything from Asian-only releases of action figures to very cool remote control gadgets and video games. Admission is always free.
Also known as the Weekend Market, or even the JJ Market, Bangkok’s Chatuchak is the world’s largest outdoor market. Situated on the north side of Bangkok at the Mo Chit Sky-train station, it’s easy to access from any hotel in Bangkok. It gets crowded and hot, so dress accordingly. Here you’ll find small clusters of toy sellers, so walk around until you find them. They often change location within the market, so if you find what you want – but it now! You might not find this same dealer tomorrow, as he may have moved to the other side of the market. They rotate often to cover all areas, as the market is too large to see in one day. The Chatuchak market is only open Saturday and Sunday, and some Friday afternoons.
Chinatown in Bangkok
Bangkok’s Chinatown has loads of fun and unique toys and collectibles. You can only access this area by taxi, but it’s not far from most hotels. Chinatown is only about 10 minutes from the Victory Monument sky-train station, so it will be an easy $3 taxi ride. Find unusual Chinese toys and replicas of ancient Chinese puzzle games, as well as a few modern gadgets. Plastic toys are everywhere, and a lot of costumes fill these stores, too.
Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur
Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a good place to start in KL. Berjaya is one of the world’s largest malls, and the toy stores are located in the upper floors. I remember many being at about the 9th floor. Look for the remote control helicopters, as these are sold in multiple locations on the toy floor. You’ll find a few stores specializing in specific types of toys or models, and a couple large general collectible stores on the corners. Don’t be afraid to explore, and have fun. There is also a roller coaster that winds through this mall. It seems this place was made for kids and adult kids, like me.
In the general area near this mall, find the Bukit Bintang Walk. Here you can also find small toy outlets and cool gadgets. I also found a space shuttle ride. It was a large egg that seated up to 6 people and took you on a virtual 3D ride into space for half an hour. Very cool, only $7.
The Toy Museum, Penang
Penang, Malaysia has the world’s largest Toy Museum. There isn’t much you can buy here, but it’s a great site for any serious toy collector. You’ll enjoy seeing over 10,000 toys on display from many decades. The Toy Museum is easy to find, as Penang is not large. It’s close to the beachfront on the main island, and any taxi can take you there for about $8.
There is a cool toy and collectible section in the basement of the Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road in Singapore. Lucky Plaza is impossible to miss, as it’s right in the heart of town on the main shopping road: Orchard. Find I-Toys and other stores at the basement level.
So whether you’re looking for rare Star Wars collectibles, Godzilla & Gamera items, or nifty remote control gadgets, you’ll enjoy shopping and traveling in Southeast Asia. Just be prepared for lots of walking and lots of spending.