A boy and his dog
The Tintin Shop has all the merch a true collector needs: hardcover books ($29), limited edition resin figurines and box scenes (from $40) and even large standing statues (from $7,000) should you want Captain Haddock to greet guests entering your home. There are touristy trinkets, too: book cover postcards go for $2.50 and t-shirts start from $38. A display cabinet at the back holds the shop owner’s personal collections that are, unfortunately, not for sale.
Board games warriors
If your idea of a chill Friday night consists of a round (or five) of either Bang! or Saboteur with a bunch of friends over beer, Battle Bunker is where you should stock up on your ‘ammunition’, so to speak. This games shop is hard to miss with its shopfront display of beautifully assembled Warhammer 40K and X-Wing figurines.
The retail section of the shop is stocked with shelves of well-known titles such as the popular Exploding Kittens ($39.90) and niche ones like Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne ($84.90). The other half of the shop is filled with tables, not unlike those you see in board game cafés, where you can gather your mates and rent an unlimited number of games for $10 a person, along with a purchase of a drink. And if you’ve got a Dungeons and Dragons campaign underway, Battle Bunker lets you use their space for as long as you want – all you need is to buy a beverage.
Childhood building blocks
Whether it’s the starter kit of plain blocks for the kid or parts for your epic diorama, Bricks World has something for everyone. Five of the six Bricks World outlets are authorised LEGO stores, with the exception of the Plaza Singapura outlet (it’s aiming to get converted in 2017), which means that exclusive LEGO sets are available at the same time as their release in the US and Europe. Some of the collectors’ sets Bricks World carries in stores are the Star Wars Death Star ($899.90) and the Disney Castle ($599.90).
The stores are as family-friendly as they come: there are interactive play areas for parents to tinker with bricks with their children. There are also pick-a-brick walls and a custom-built fixture lined with cylindrical canisters – they’re filled with LEGO bricks and other elements shoppers can use to bring life to their designs and imaginations.
Gear up for war... games
Even if you weren’t too thrilled about National Service, you’d be intrigued by the sheer amount of military-approved gear found in Black Tactical. From plastic knives and strobing torchlights to waterproof boots and even lightsabres, Black Tactical has everything you’ll need to pretend to be in SEAL Team Six.
For the more patriotic among us, there are highly detailed, rifle-bearing Singapore Armed Forces miniature figurines ($59) in high kneeling and proning positions. You can even recreate a battleground scene if you place them on their accompanying bases (from $25) – pretty much like how you used to do it as a kid. There are plenty of cool weapons to play with, too, including the crowd-favourite Bug-a-Salt rifle ($50). You load up its arm with table salt and shoot a strong jet of the sodium at any household insect you want dead – yes, it’s a bug swatter upgraded.
For robots in disguiseHidden on the sleepy second floor of China Square Central is a treasure trove of collectible toy shops – there were at least eight on our last count. If you’re a Transformers fan, head straight to Fat Toys Corner (FTC), a small but well-organised shop beckoning passers-by with shelves of zhng-edversions of Optimus Prime, Megatron and their fleet of ‘bots.
Basic Transformers toys for newbies or kids start at $15 but long-time regulars go for die-cast masterpieces that cost upwards of $60 a unit. Hot Toys’ products are quite popular among regulars, with prices ranging from around $100 to $400. FTC also accepts consignment items from customers, so dig out all your vintage collectibles if they're collecting dust in your storeroom.
There's a vintage market at China Square Central
Every Sunday sees vendors hawking their toy collectibles, antique pieces, crafts and more at China Square Central. The Weekend Flea Market has more than 60 vendors, and occurs across the first and second floors of the mall.