As promised, here’s Part 2 of my feature on the Singapore HeritageFest 2007 flagship exhibition, which I title “Childhood Memories”. (And here’s Part 1: Household Things!) This exhibition takes place at Suntec City Mall.

For me personally, the highlight of the exhibition was seeing all the various items and toys from my childhood. I know many of you would find these things familiar, especially if you grew up in the 1980s or 1990s. This list should interest you too.

Firstly, my most favourite…


The colourful kuti-kuti! This is one of my favourite childhood toys, not because it is so darn fun to play with (it isn’t really), but the colourful transparent pieces in various animal shapes simply look so adorable!

This is how you play with kuti-kuti. From the Singapore Museum Shops website:

Two players, or two groups of players, would take their turn in flicking with one finger (known in Malay as “kuti”) these colourful little animal-shaped tokens, aiming to land their piece on top of the opponent player’s to win the game.

Five stones game

More childhood games such as the five stones which are made from cloth and sand. My Mom played with these in HER childhood!


Colourful plastic puzzles! I had both of these! The empty slot is there so that you can slide the letters or numbers to rearrange them in the correct order.

Western Bar, handheld game from Casio

This handheld game from casio was a total classic! It’s called Western Bar. Your cowboy character enters the bar to shoot and break the plates and dishes while avoiding any that may drop onto his head. It was a very fun and highly addictive game (with an ending music that I dreaded hearing each time I lost the game).

Board game

The red, blue, green and yellow board game above was pretty common when I was a kid, although I never did find out how it was played. A friend tried to explain the rules and objectives to me recently, and made it seem like the most pointless game ever (too pointless to be true)!

Would someone please tell me the name of this game and how it’s meant to be played?

Old playing cards such as Old Maid and Happy Family

Ahh… Who can forget the simple playing cards like Old Maid, Donkey, Happy Family and Snap? They bring back fond memories indeed.

Chapteh, an Asian shuttlecock game

The colourful chapteh (an Asian shuttlecock game)! The boys in my school used to play with it.

Toothbrush, toothpaste and rinsing mugs

Do you remember brushing your teeth alongside your classmates during recess breaks back in primary school? We used to rinse out of these colourful plastic mugs! Mine was the yellow one, complete with the words “clean teeth never decay” in gold!

By the way, do you notice something interesting about the toothpaste?

Darkie toothpaste, known as "Darlie" today

Instead of the current Darlie toothpaste that we’re all familiar with, there was a time when it was called Darkie! A friend told me that this name and the logo of the smiling dark-skinned man were deemed racist back then. Hence the name was changed and logo modified to make it more racially sensitive!

This is a more detailed backstory on the Darkie/Darlie saga for those of you who are interested.

Moving on…

Condensed milk label

I found these condensed milk labels very interesting. They were printed on reused paper; the back of these labels had a whole bunch of other text and pictures on them.

What’s the story behind the condensed milk? Did schools order it for school children in the past? For me there had always been chocolate and strawberry milk packets, or even Milo. But never condensed milk.

Pencil case and stationery

Oh! I remember those colourful pencil cases very well. They had all kinds of interesting buttons and different compartments in them. The more there were, the more bragging rights the owner had!

The blue ink erasers would frequently rub holes onto the thin pages of the brown exercise books! Those cheap made-in-china wooden pencils were the norm back then. I think they cost just 10 or 20 cents apiece.

Here’s a timeline on how writing media has evolved over the years, from the graphite pencils in mid 1600 to the iPhone of today!

While we’re at it, here’s another timeline for the evolution of music media.

Game and sports items used in physical education classes

These are things used during the physical education classes in school.

Little girl drawing a picture

At the exhibition, there was a large table with crayons and paper. Kids could draw freely with their creative juices!

Memory Wall, filled with children's drawings

The drawings would then be pinned up on the Memory Wall, just like a classroom wall!


Before I forget, there is also a barber on hand giving cheap haircuts to men and boys, reminiscent of the street barbers in the past. An adult haircut costs just $3 while a kid’s haircut costs $1! He gives only ten haircuts a day though.

Singapore HeritageFest 2007

So, are you intrigued yet? Head down to the heritage exhibition at Suntec City Mall then! It runs ’til this Sunday! There are also a whole slew of other activities taking place at various venues across the island.

Event: Singapore HeritageFest 2007
Date: July 18-29, 2007
Venue: Anchor exhibition at Suntec City Mall and outreach events at various places

More information

I cannot wait to check out those other activities! Time is running out though, so do hurry!