Teddies, dolls, Star Wars action figures and board games are all covered in our list of some of the greatest toy museums on the planet. Some are educational, some are a little weird and one is bloody terrifying, but, in no particular order, here is our list of 10 amazing toy museums.
1. Jeju Teddy Bear Museum
This museum in South Korea is a teddy bear paradise. As well as guiding visitors through the history of the teddy bear, this venue has decided to put teddy bears in some of the most iconic moments in history. We have teddy bear Beatles, teddy bear Berlin Wall, teddy bear Last Supper and a teddy bear version of Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam. Although, a personal favourite has to be the teddy Psy (of Gangnam Style fame). Take a look at the bear brilliance below:
2. Pollock's Toy Museum
In London's Fitzrovia, Pollock's takes up two house, with small rooms connected by narrow winding staircases. The museum has different floors for different toys with English tin toys, puppets, wax dolls, teddy bears, china dolls and toy theatres all gracing dedicated rooms. There is even a toy shop on the ground floor.
3. Banned Toy Museum
One of the more unorthadox museums on this list, the California-based Banned Toy Museum showcases products that, at one time or another, gained notoriety. Toys featured include the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids, banned due to its troublesome mechanical jaw, and the 1951 Atomic Energy Labratory, rightly taken off the shelves as a result of it containing genuine radioactive materials.
4. The Strong National Museum of Play
The Strong in New York explores play and the ways in which it encourages learning, creativity and discovery. The museum houses the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play as well as the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, board games, video games, other electronic games, books, photographs, documents, and other historical materials related to play. The Strong also holds some of the collection online, which can be accessed here.
5. House on the Hill Toy Museum
Based in Stanstead Mountfitchet, Essex, the House on the Hill Museum features toys up to the 1980’s, WWI and WWII military items and relics, Rock ‘n’ Roll, film, TV and Theatre memorabilia and props. But what helps the House on the Hill stand out is the 'Haunted Manor' located within the museum, and if you’re feeling brave, you can visit the spooky tunnels and chambers for a small extra entrance fee. Check out the museum in the video below:
6. Star Wars Museum
In a galaxy far, far away (Linthicum Heights, Maryland), one house is a heaven on Earth for Star Wars fans. The Star Wars Museum features more than 13,000 items, ranging from boxer shorts to Ewok rubbers and lots and lots of toys. And if that wasn't enough, the house also boasts the world's largest hamster habitat, with a habitrail system flowing around the house between floors and through walls. Watch owner Thomas G. Atkinson show cameras around the museum below:
7. V&A Museum of Childhood
The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green features exhibitions and displays exploring a broad range of subjects relating to childhood, spanning design, photography, play and fashion. The Museum boasts over 3,000 board games, card games, indoor and outdoor games and puzzles as well as a cabinet containing dissected map puzzles used to teach geography to King George III’s children. The Museum is free to enter and current exhibitions include War Games and the Confiscation Cabinets.
8. Island of the Dolls, Mexico
Okay, it's not strictly a 'museum' but fans of vintage dolls could do a lot worse than to visit the Isla de las Munecas (Island of the dolls) in Mexico. Situated just south of Mexico City between the canals of Xochimico, the Island of the Dolls is home to hundreds of abandoned dolls, supposedly hiding a dark secret. Legend has it that a girl was found drowned in mysterious circumstances many years ago on the island and that the dolls are now possessed by her spirit. Locals have seen the eyes, arms and heads of the dolls move, and some claim to have heard the dolls whispering to each other. So, if you're ever in the area and fancy a lifetime of nightmares, check it out. Or if you'd rather take a look from the safety of a computer screen, images are below:
9. Art of the Brick exhibition
Again, not strictly a museum, but still amazing, this travelling exhibition hosts a range of LEGO creations by artist Nathan Sawaya, whose most famous piece is a LEGO man ripping his chest open called 'Yellow'. Sawaya uses more than 2.5 million coloured bricks in his art studio, and his works have appeared on The Today Show and Late Night with David Letterman. The exhibition is in Brussels until April 2014, and organisers of the exhibition told ToyNews last year that they hope the tour lands in the UK soon. So watch this space.
10. The Warren's Occult Museum
For anyone who saw the horror movie The Conjuring last year and wanted to see the creepy Annabell doll up close, now you can. The Warren's Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut features a range of items, including many toys, collected from 'dangerous occult activities' investigated by famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. There is the Shadow Doll that haunted people in their dreams and stopped their hearts, a range of possessed toys, a haunted wooden toy found deep in the woods of Connecticut and the Annabell Doll. Annabell is believed to be responsible for the death of an individual who came in to contact with it and she wreaked havoc on a family for months until the Warrens and an Episcopal priest were called in and an exorcism was performed. According to Lorraine Warren, the doll is still possessed by dark energy. Take a look at the Museum, and Annabel (in the box marked 'Warning: Positively do not remove'), below: