Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the baseball hero

My visit to Taipei would not have been complete without a trip to Hot Dog Toyz, probably the best bearbrick source in the whole of Taiwan. I dropped by on January 1 – what a exciting way to start the year! As I leaned close to the display shelf, I immediately spotted this bearbrick in baseball uniform (see above).

The saleslady (who remembered me from last year's visit) told me excitedly, "That's supposed to be Chien-Ming Wang. He's a Taiwanese who pitched for the New York Yankees. It comes with a nicely-bound book that contains all his baseball records."

She rummaged through piles of unopened boxes and lifted two boxed sets. "There's two versions – two bearbricks, two different uniforms, see? But both record books are the same."

"So he's a baseball star, huh?" I smiled.

She frowned a bit. "Yes, but since 2008, he's had a series of injuries – now, he's out of the team."

I reached out for the boxes and examined them.

"Those have been marked down," she continued, "Less NT$400!" (That's US$12.50)

Half of me was happy about the discount, although the other half felt sorry for Chien-Ming Wang. Imagine, mementos and memories of his glory days as ace pitcher for the Yankees had just depreciated! :-/

While trying to shrug off my mixed feelings, I placed my Visa card on the counter and said, "I'll take them."

Wang currently lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey with his wife, Chia-Ling Wu, and their 7-month old son named Justin Jesse.

Pics by yours truly. Copyright January 2010. Info from wikipedia / www.nj.com

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 be@rbrick of the year

I've never hit the 'buy-it-now' button on eBay faster than when I first saw the Jimmy Liao bearbrick (above). Released during last year's Taipei Toy Festival, I consider it my favorite bearbrick of 2009 for two reasons.

1. It's simply beautiful. From composition to color. From idea to illustration style.

2. It promotes art, not a brand of jeans nor a department store.

Jimmy Liao is Taiwan's best-known illustrator. A design graduate from the fine arts department of the Chinese Culture University, Liao worked in an ad agency for twelve years. After a bout with leukemia, he quit his advertising job and started to write and draw books for children.

The bearbrick's design is based on an illustration which first appeared in Liao's book, "How To Own A Corner" (below).

According to someone I asked, the Chinese caption at the lower right of the page says, "I wish that in every corner of the world, everyone will find his own happiness." A beautiful wish for the new year, isn't it?

By coincidence, I am now in Taipei, Taiwan, for a short holiday. Instead of a trip to a museum or park, I first opted to visit the Nangang Subway Station because I read somewhere that Jimmy Liao's work decorate the station's walls.

See? I took pictures!

Below is a humongous hare, a recurring figure in Jimmy's work.

The little cat-boy carrying the moon is a character from his book, "The Moon Forgets".

I love this chair collection! Do you see the sitting girl?

The giant drummer boy below is sitting along the main corridor that connects all exits.

Below are the three most arresting images that I found alongside the train tracks.

Taipei's subway stations are generally not remarkable. In fact, I find them rather antiseptic. But at the Nangang Station, Liao's whimsical imagination has delighted many local commuters and tourists like me.

Whenever I chance upon art on the street, whether it's painted graffiti on the side of an old building or a commissioned mural on subway walls, I find instant joy. There's really nothing like beauty to brighten up any corner of the world.

Happy new year, bearbrick lovers! :-)

All pics by yours truly. Copyright January 2010. Info from culture.tw, taipeitimes.com