|TOY MUSEUM -- Yexel Sebastian (center) poses with 'The Incredibles,' some of the famous life-size cartoon and anime characters on display at Yexel's Toy Museum in Pilar Village, Las Pinas City. (Photo by Michael Varcas)|
Cartoons and animé characters are an integral part of practically every popular cul ture around the world influencing kids and “kids-at-heart“ alike. Many toys are and continue to be inspired by famous cartoon and animé characters, making childhood more enjoyable every day.
Toy collector Yexel Sebastian’s childhood is no exception.
“I’ve been collecting [toys] since I was an eight-year-old kid. I started with the kiddie meals, action figures, tamiyas, pogs, [and] texts,” Sebastian said as he opened the door of Yexel’s Toy Museum in Pilar Village, Las Piñas City to MB Research for an exclusive weekday tour.
Just like other kids, 28-year-old Sebastian also played other childhood games before he proceeded to collecting toys.
“I think my collection back then only occupies one room until its number grew. So, we converted this house into a ‘houseum’ – a house museum,” he said.
He added that the cost of the whole building, located at 52 Sampaguita Road, Pilar Village, totaled
to P20 million. That includes their house and his collections.
Originally, the three-story kids’ paradise primarily targeted children, accompanied by adults. However, Sebastian was amazed to see grown-ups visit the museum without any child companion.
“They just like coming here, maybe because they simply love toys like I do,” he observed.
So his “houseum” now also houses “toys for the big boys.” For more than 15 years, the house where Sebastian’s museum is located has been his home.
His family also resides with him in some sections of the house.
The toy museum boasts of an impressive collection of thousands of action figures, around a hundred of them as big as or even larger than life.
“We have 12 rooms here, some
are still under renovation and from it, 10 different rooms are available to the public,“ said Sebastian.
He added that he acquired most of the toys and action figures in his collection from Singapore, China, Hong Kong, and Japan; some of the other life-size toys, they assembled personally.
“No particular design was copied by the amusement place,“ Sebastian noted when asked about the inspiration of his museum's design.
“My only plan was to have different themes for different rooms... We have Disney; Anime; Super Mario; Street Fighter; Movies, like `Star Wars', `Lord of the Rings' and `Terminator'; Lightning McQueen; Optimus Prime; and others,“ he added.
He also wanted everything to be “properly sorted (out).“
Sebastian shared that Super Mario is the most appealing and most adored among those on display because age is not a requisite in order to recognize him. “We all know Mario ever since.” But the gigantic Optimus Prime head bust, he stressed, is the pride – and the main attraction –of his toy museum.
Hundreds of people from all over the country, including some foreigners, visit the toy museum to find out more about playthings popular among youngsters as months go by.
Although the Yexel’s Toy Museum is open to the public only every weekend (Saturdays and Sundays), it hosts up to more than 200 visitors every week.
The place has also been visited by well-known celebrities, like Michael V, German Moreno, Dingdong Dantes, Venus Raj, Drew Arellano, and Niño Muhlach.
Above all, Sebastian stressed that coming up with the museum is not purely business, but is a way of sharing the blessings God has given him. “For me, this is just a hobby. I just want to thank God because, inch by inch, He is helping me achieve my dreams,” he said.
“I am not expecting anything right now; I will just do my best.
Whatever the Lord gives me, that I will receive,“ said Sebastian. “But of course, I am hoping that we can transfer the museum into a better place.“
He is eyeing a place somewhere near the Manila Ocean Park, Museo Pambata, or Mall of Asia, “where people can have easy access,“ to relocate his houseum.
In the spirit of the Christmas season, Sebastian will open his toy museum every day from December 20 to January 6 next year. The entrance fee is P300 per head.