Everyone remembers the toys they loved as a child, and for some, the fascination continues well into adulthood. Tan Tong Hong and David Chong, co-founders of ActionCity, however, managed to turn this fascination into a business when they set up the first ActionCity store in 2000. Now, they’re marking a new milestone for the company with the opening of a premium pop art collectible gallery, Blaxk by ActionCity, which showcases highly-coveted pop culture treasures at Funan.
Tell us the story of ActionCity — how did a hobby become a business?
Tan Tong Hong (TH): Toys bring a happy energy to collectors, who find joy and excitement in their collections amid the stresses of everyday life. It’s something David and I both share a common passion for, having met in 1998 at a Sunday flea market at Clarke Quay. We really enjoyed the play value and design aesthetic of collectible toys and figurines and wanted to have a space where we could present these figures in custom display shelves for other collectors and customers to appreciate and know exactly what they’re purchasing.
David Chong (DC): Displaying the collectibles in this way drew many customers to the store, and we were able to grow a community of collectors at the same time, given that we’re all passionate about art toys, figurines and collectibles. Today, we have ventured into pop culture art and collectibles with the evolution of toys and designer figures.
You recently launched Blaxk by ActionCity. Can you tell us about that?
TH: We imagined this to be a pop culture gallery for Singapore, weaving the art and design narrative together. We want it to be more than just the play value that general toys offer. When we first started ActionCity, we realised there was a lack of direct accessibility and exposure to pop culture art and collectibles, not just in Singapore but also in the region. As a gallery, Blaxk is the first step to building the space to grow this community; it has attracted international artists like Steven Harrington to showcase their collections and collaborate with us, to co-create content that engages local collectors.
DC: It’s an aspirational space for artists and collectors, with the aim of showcasing pop culture art and collectibles. Ultimately, the vision is to build up Singapore into a hub for pop culture flows and interactions — with Blaxk spearheading interactions between collectors, artists and influencers — and including livestreaming and special events.
How do you see Blaxk impacting the local pop culture scene?
TH: We are working to identify and engage local artists, with Blaxk as an incubation space for them to showcase their creations and gain followers. Blaxk aims to offer every visitor a truly immersive experience in an environment that is led by pop culture, including having a designer lounge to serve artisanal coffee and tea to our customers. The idea here is to facilitate interactions over drinks and light bites, things that pique your senses, while enjoying a curated pop-culture collection over a cup of joe.
DC: Growing Blaxk as a pop culture brand spans various aspects of pop culture, including apparel on top of art and collectibles. This also presents opportunities for expansion beyond Singapore.