"OMG it's Tamiya!? Gosh, it's really Tamiya!" I ran towards the familiar red and blue squares, surrounding the stars. Waves of nostalgia surge over me as my brain brings up mostly pleasant memories of how we would proudly bring out toolboxes and our cars to malls, where there are tracks placed in the atrium for geeks like us. It was probably the best way to have kids bring their parents there, us racing our mini 4-wheel drive while they do their grocery runs without us little devils throwing snacks into the trolley whenever they're not watching. And God, these sure are some good times before the screen became a kid's distraction.
I walked by the track, marveling at the familiar standard course that runs laps around the concrete floor. How part of them would intercept and twist so it's a never-ending loop across the different lanes. I used to be impressed with how over 10-20 of us kids could share a huge track by the atrium, the ones with loops. You'd see our eyes darting around, trying to follow our cars, funny car crashes, and at times flying vehicles across the skies as someone's Tamiya Car flew off track.
We head up to the 2nd floor where they are proud to present an upcoming store, in the midst of their grand opening. Boxes are piled up everywhere as we see the fatigue-driven staff unpacking and tidying up the space, too tired to attend to us. The counters with the merchandise look really sleek as if not for the lack of time I would love to spend the day over here.
Inside the store, we see boxes of Tamiya models lined up neatly, according to model, anime appearance, and some more obscure and out-of-the-world vehicles that we'll never imagine. Vehicles that look like animals, to that of the fantasy realm, cyberspace, and of course, majestically-scaled tanks, planes, and locomotives that one could dream. I felt like a kid in the candy store as I marveled at all of them, pointing out my favorite Magnum Sabre.
This one comes with an amazing origin story because I got into Tamiya Cars way before they started to get famous in Singapore. The reason? Just because right at the front of the car is a kanji character that is the same as the last character of my name. You'd say it felt like the car belongs (or is made for me) before I even know what it is. I remember how I used to drag my mum to the glass cabinet, pointing enthusiastically as a child, telling her that I'm smart enough to recognize my name on the toy so I deserve a prize.
The store is so huge, unlike anything I'd seen, or perhaps unlike anything I'd seen... in a while, as over the years, the toys got phased out. Battle tops like Beyblade come in, competition from undying titans like Hot Wheels, Lego, and Tomica makes it difficult. Soon we have lesser and lesser tracks in the malls around Singapore, and slowly, Tamiya Cars disappeared.
So you can imagine my happiness and my surprise to see them in Hong Kong. Thoughts race in my mind, if they are making a comeback, or if this is a pop cultural effort to keep this nostalgic toy alive. I noticed that 2 levels of PMQ by one of the blocks are set aside for Tamiya, so it really looks promising. I may have spent the longest time in here, snapping photos and videos of the different models, ever so tempted to buy something home, but the lack of a track makes it redundant as the cars only run in a straight line (hence they have to be run along the track). And I left the store making a wish that it could always be kept alive, and it'll definitely be something that I will definitely pop by/set time for during the next time when I'm here.
Name: Tamiya Plamodel Factory Pop-up Store
Address: S614, Block A, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong. Hollywood / 1F / H110-112, H119-H120
Opening Hours: 12:00nn – 7:00pm
Period: 20 July 2023 (Thursday) – 14 January 2024 (Sunday)
(Link for Popup Store)