'Father of Trojan Horses' Zhu Hongen calls Shanghai's toy production design 'discontinued'

by:Ennas      2021-12-01

Zhu Hongen took a picture of the Trojan horse toy and another panda train toy of his own design to tell reporters about the selling situation of wooden toys that year. Said that the industry has already shifted. “Twenty or thirty years ago, Shanghai’s toy production and design has been leading the country, how can it be “off the file” now?” Zhu Hongen, an old man who has been engaged in toy design all his life, is 88 years old this year. The opportunity to sign up for her daughter to participate in the 'Shanghai LADY Old Photo Collection Contest' sponsored by this newspaper, tells a 'time story' about Shanghai toys.  Because of his handwork, Zhu Hongen was born in 1926 and has been engaged in toy design for 60 years. Why did you become involved with toy design? The old man attributed it to his handicraft, good at drawing, and also repairing alarm clocks.   Zhu Hongen is best at designing wooden toys. Which work is Zhu Hongen most proud of? To count 'Trojan Horseman'. Zhu Hongen took out a few yellowed old photos from a well-preserved bag. An exquisitely crafted Trojan horse, together with the puppet on the horse's back, was vividly displayed in front of the reporter. The words of the tribal section under the photo show that the work 'Wooden Horse Man' won the 'Hundred Flowers Award' for arts and crafts of the Ministry of Light Industry in 1982.   Zhu Hongen tells that the 'Trojan Horseman' was put into production in 1963, mainly for export. At that time, the ex-factory price was US$3.5/unit. At the Canton Fair that year, we received 800 dozen (note: a dozen of 12) foreign trade orders. 'There are so many orders that the factory can’t make it!' What's so special about the 'Trojan Horseman'? Zhu Hongen recalled that it was still a treasure—   First of all, it was a drag toy. Generally, children have to walk before they can't walk, but after they can walk, they don't want to go. 'Trojan Horseman' can inspire and attract children to walk more. Secondly, the horse's head will move when the 'trojan man' is dragging, and the puppet on the horse's back will follow it up and down and make a ticking sound, which is really fun. Thirdly, the wooden models of the Trojan horses were all made by hand and semi-mechanically sawn, which required considerable craftsmanship. Finally, after the samples come out, they are provided to the kindergarten children to try out, modify them based on the children's feedback, and then produce the authentic products.   In 2007, Mr. Chen Guotai, the curator of the 'Shanghai Toy Museum' in Singapore, came here to visit the 'Trojan Horseman' and its designer Zhu Hongen, and presented the 'Golden Lion Award' to commemorate him. Although he has been engaged in toy design all his life, Zhu Hongen said frankly that even his daughter had never played with toys of his own design. “The toys in the factory were all exported at the time and could not be brought home, otherwise it would be corruption!”    Wooden toys are getting more and more. From time to time, Zhu Hongen is getting older. The old man said that the wholesale toys on the market are mostly plastic and electric toys. There are too many plush toys and relatively few wooden toys. 'The toy business is'small toys, big business.' There is still a lot to do in making children's toys.' From the conversation, it can be seen that Zhu Hongen is most concerned about wooden toys. The elderly always believe that there are more changes in wooden toys, mainly for preschool education. However, as the times have evolved to the present, various electronic devices have emerged one after another, and children are addicted to electronic games such as iPads.   What made this eighty-year-old man a little sad is that the toy design industry in Shanghai 'disintegrated.' Before the 1980s, Shanghai had been leading the country in toy production and design, but at present there has been a “disruption” in talents, and it is said that toy design is “not up to the standard”. Zhu Hongen takes LEGO toys that are popular at home and abroad as an example. Like wooden toys in the past, Lego is also a good toy with many changes. It depends on the pieces of Lego to build together to fully cultivate children’s hands-on skills. ability.   'Behind the toys of dozens or hundreds of dollars, it is not to buy materials, but to buy ideas. In fact, this (toy design and production industry) can also be a high value-added industry.' Zhu Hongen said.  Design power is aging  After hearing this 'time story' of the elderly Zhu Hongen, Wang Jiping, secretary general of the Shanghai Toy Industry Association, responded positively through this newspaper. 'Shanghai's toy manufacturing industry, especially the production of wooden toys, has been relocated and relocated as early as 20-30 years ago. At present, there are basically no toys made in Shanghai or local toy brands on the market.' Wang Jiping It was revealed that the current domestic toy production bases are mostly concentrated in Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Zhejiang Yunhe is one of the main domestic production bases of domestic wooden toys, and Shanghai only focuses on sales.  Wang Jiping said, as Zhu Hongen said, there is indeed a 'fault' in Shanghai toy design talents, and most of the only design power is the re-employment of retired employees.   'Toy industry and creative production cannot be equated.' Wang Jiping believes that there are not many people engaged in creative industries in Shanghai, but not many people engaged in pure toy design. The cultural and creative industries are more based on animation as the prototype, which derives many kinds of by-products. Although they contain toys, this is very different from the development trajectory of the toy industry in the past. 'It can be said that the creative industry and the toy industry are not clearly demarcated, and there is no obvious integration.'
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