Remember back in the '90s when the Disney Store was at B1 of Takashimaya and the Warner Store was at Wisma Atria? The atmosphere of those stores were as close to the ones that I had visited in the States.
They were well-stocked with up to-the- date products in the Disney and Warner catalogues. Sadly, those stores closed down after a couple of years with the promise that they would reopen, but sadly they never did.
So I was expecting a lot when I heard that Hamley's was opening right here in Singapore at Plaza Singapura. When I was a child growing up in London, trips to Hamley's flagship store was a magical experience. I had a set of toy soldiers from the queen's cavalry like the ones pictured below.
And as an adult my trips to the stores have been no less magical.
Being a royal fan, my mum got me a limited edition Princess Diana paper doll back in 1995. I should have kept it in the box, but I couldn't resist opening it for my niece. On subsequent visits I found Will & Kate royal wedding dolls and Dr Who action figures.
So to say I had high expectations of Singapore's store would be an understatement. As I stepped through the entrance, my giddy head was pounding with anticipation of what would be on offer.
The ground floor had signature Hamley's products like drones, and an assortment of stuffed teddy bears and other animals, toy cars, cabs and busses and paper airplanes.
But there were no toy soldiers. The only toy soldier was a Playmobil soldier which was most definitely not what I was looking for.
For the boys there was a huge wall of lego sets but most of these you would be able to find in the lego store at Takashimaya or any Toys R' Us stores in town. There were a selection of toy cars, Nerf guns.
The selection of action figures is limited to Dinosaurs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Transformers and the Avengers. DC would have something to say about the lack of availability of their action figures. There were no Dr Who, Action Man or GI Joe figures either!
In addition the fashion dolls there was a cosmetic section for the little ladies to practice their make-up skills well in advance of when they'll actually have to use any.
With teddies dangling from parachutes from the ceiling, and demo stations, the store does boast more character than the clinical and sterile environment of Toys 'R' Us or any department store toy section.
I didn't pay much attention to the baby to toddler section, but from what I saw there were puzzles and blocks and a lot of educational toys.
Hamleys Singapore boasts a range of 10,000 toys, including toy soldiers. Most of the toys I saw there were the Hamley's stuffed toys and magic tricks. The irony is that the trip to the store was far less magical than I anticipated. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely more character than our other toy stores in town, but it's got a long way to go before it comes anywhere close to matching the magic of Hamleys' flagship store in London.
I sincerely hope they add a wider range of toys to their inventory, toys that you can't find anywhere else in town. Then and just then, they might manage to avoid the same unfortunate fates of the Singapore Disney and Warner Brothers stores. If they don't, I think Hamleys Singapore will just be a passing fad.