Sometimes the turn around the corner takes you completely by surprise. Usually it might be not so great, like if you step in something. But sometimes you see “The Tintin Shop”. Guess which one makes news here.
During one last souvenir-shopping trip with a friend, here in Singapore, I travelled to Chinatown. I expected some bargains and some nice red lanterns, but not a store dedicated to the intrepid Belgian reporter. But, by some happy twist I saw this store, which is only a few months old. And I was told it is only the 7th “The Tintin Shop” in the world.
Souvenirs be damned, I jumped in here with utmost glee. And what a lovely shop it is. I am glad they kept the interiors bright, cheery and uncluttered, not like a dungeon (as merchandise shops are prone to be). They have all the titles, of course, and also a lot of groovy merchandise, like small models of the characters and the famous vehicles featured in various stories (a footlong shark submarine from “Red Rackham’s Treasure” with Tintin and Snowy inside). A brief collection of books on Tintin are also available, though unfortunately for me a lot of them were in French only. There’s also stationery, t-shirts and the other usuals. Staff is great, never stopped smiling.
But you have to go prepared with cash, the stuff isn’t cheap, not for people like me, anyway. Medium-sized models will be about S$ 20-30, going up to S$ 400-500. My guess is you should have S$ 100 in hand to leave happy (some small models, a book or two, and a few pieces of stationery).
Now having gushed about my exciting discovery, I will also share a despair I have. It is a feeling I have that Tintin is very, very dear to readers in India. I have seen the “7 to 77” age group (a tag used to describe Tintin readership) lap it up. My father borrowed my brother’s copies and shared Thomson-Thompson jokes with his friends. I’ve heard Satyajit Ray was a huge fan. One of my biggest achievements in my otherwise below-average list of accomplishments was having read all the Tintins by my early teens. So why not have something like this in India? I know there’re market forces that determine these things, but that’s also there. I’m sure we deserve this in India. Especially after the Maharaja of Gaipajama showed such hospitality!
Sure, India is not a very mature comics market compared to many others, but the loyalty shown here for Tintin cannot be short-changed. I hope someday there will be such a store here, and I will buy a small set of models after saving for months. After all, I’ve travelled a lot with him.
The Tintin Shop
56 Pagoda Street
(Chinatown MRT – Exit Pagoda Street)
Ph: +65 81832210