The toy collector

3 min


The toy collector

MEET 33-year-old Daryl Tan Yi Zheng, a finance manager. At work, Tan may have to face a difficult task or a challenging situation when it comes to finance, but little do people know, that away from work, he has a profound passion for cute little things that he has collected for years.

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Beloved characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Elsa, Anna or any of the Disney Princesses – you name it, he has it!

It may sound unusual for a grown man to collect soft toys, because we are so used to seeing them in the possession of small children or young women.

Realising this, Tan explained: “It is definitely an odd combination for most people, but I see it as a part of my different personalities and sides. On one hand, I am very meticulous, structured and data and numbers-focused, and on the other, I have a fun, creative and youthful side.

“I do not shy away from my love for all things Disney, so, my colleagues got used to it.

“Recently, I started a @Daryl.tanyz Instagram page, and some of my colleagues are following my posts while others have visited my house. Their first reaction is that it looked like a Disney museum with a touch of coziness.”

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What attracted you to Disney?

“As a child growing up, I watched a lot of cartoons. The first Disney movie that I could remember watching was The Little Mermaid. It was when Disney found the ‘perfect formula’ of storytelling by incorporating musicals, similar to that of Broadway.

“I was fascinated by the music and characters. It’s always a happy ending or something to feel good, at the end of the day. Over the years, Disney has become a ‘safe haven’ that I can look forward to or go to, and be in a happy place.”

How does collecting the toys make you feel?

“I am a completist by nature. I would try to hunt down a particular item I’m interested in, [as well as] the whole collection. I can be very resourceful and determined when I set my eyes on something. I get a sense of satisfaction of being able to put everything together and just appreciating the beauty of displaying it.”

Which particular cartoon character do you like most, and why?

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“My favourite character would be Winnie-the-Pooh, so much so, my friends used to (some still do) call me by that nickname. Winnie is good-natured and has the purest heart, and values friendship. The things he says sometimes sound simple and obvious, but have a very deep meaning to them and provide valuable life lessons. He is very cuddly and cute, as well.

“Apart from that, Mickey Mouse, and my favourite Disney Princess, Ariel from The Little Mermaid.”

What type of toys do you collect?

“When I was growing up, I started off with Disney toys, which came with McDonald’s Happy Meals. Once, I started working, I bought Tsum Tsum plushies as a keepsake when visiting Disney Parks overseas. The Tsum Tsum craze was big then, and I have slowly added more to my collection over time. I [probably] have more than 1,000 pieces of Tsum Tsum.

“I am also an avid fan of Lego as I love building or putting things together. My pride and joy is the Lego Disney Castle, to which I have added lighting and adorned with characters to recreate the famous night-time fireworks and light show that you would find at Disney parks around the world. I also collect seasonal or special occasion items which I find interesting, but mostly plushies.”

How do you store them in your house?

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“Recently, I moved back to Kuala Lumpur, after working overseas for eight years. Currently, I am staying at home temporarily until my new place is ready. I have the smallest room in the house so it was a challenge to figure out where everything goes. I started building display shelves and cabinets vertically, and made DIY (Do-it-Yourself) display boxes with lighting, stacked one on top of the other.”

What is your dream-come-true moment?

“To visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and spend at least two weeks there, or to attend D23, which is a bi-annual Disney Conference about anything and everything Disney.

“Any Disney experience, be it a new movie release or visiting one of the parks or just getting a package with something inside is a magical and dream-come-true moment.”


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