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Looking for something different to do in Bangkok? Or are you a hopeless fanatic of the ‘Dark Knight’ and other superheroes? If so, check out the Batcat Toy Museum. “Holy 50,000 toys Batman!”
What started as a hobby for 40-year-old owner, Somchay Nitimongkolchai, became an obsession that blossomed into one of the biggest collections of its kind in the world. Opened in 2012, the east Bangkok museum has become a pilgrimage site for superhero and vintage toy enthusiasts from Thailand and beyond. Though the name crosses Batman and Catwoman, the mural out front seems to depict a truly original ‘Batcat’ character.
A maze of dark and cavernous display rooms feel a bit like the Batcave itself — if Batman were to invite all his super friends over for a party. Visitors venture into the “cave” through spaceship-style sliding doors that open with a swoosh. Old episodes of “Batman and Robin” play on TV screens. Life-size heroes and villains sneak up behind every corner.
About half of the museum is dedicated to the owner’s favourite hero: the perpetually popular alter-ego of a certain billionaire named Bruce. Displays are lined with literally thousands of Batman figures from the endearingly cheesy 1960s TV series, the SuperFriends of the ’70s, the shadowy ’89 big screen revival and straight up to the Dark Knight of recent fame.
The museum doesn’t skimp on the many items in Batman’s own toy collection. Shelves are dotted with various Batmobiles, Batcycles, Batcopters, Batplanes, Batboats and even a quirky old “BatRV” that we can’t recall from any of the TV shows or films. Perhaps Batman and Robin used to take it on holiday?
And what of Batman’s trusted green-tight-wearing sidekick? Despite falling out of fashion in the more recent movies, the one-and-only Robin occupies a special place in the museum.
Or course, no Batman story would be complete without a charismatic, criminally-minded antagonist. The museum isn’t short on depictions of the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and the newest nemesis to join the anti-bat ranks, Bane. The sometimes-good-but-usually-bad Catwoman also makes several appearances.
A separate room is dedicated to countless other superheroes, including Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, Green Lantern, Captain America, Wolverine, Ironman and many, many more.
This is also where you’ll find some of the greatest characters of 20th century sci-fi. GIJoe, Alien, Godzilla, Transformers, Predator, RoboCop and a whole battalion of Star Wars action figures and vehicles battle it out for your attention.
Then there are the classic children’s favourites like Toy Story, The Simpsons, Looney Toons, Shrek, Super Mario, Doraemon, and even a rare Tickle Me Elmo.
Just when you think you’ve reached the showroom’s end, another stuffed display case seems to materialise out of thin air (blame it on Professor X).
The Batcat Museum is an especially worthwhile attraction for kids, although being able to look-but-not-touch is perhaps a bit torturous for children and child-like adults (like us). Yet there is some hope for those who simply must have these toys; if you can save up some serious cash over the next 19 years, Somchay apparently has plans to auction the entire collection off in 2032. In the short-term, you’ll have to settle for a trip to Bang Kapi wet market and/or Kwam Riam floating market, both easily combined with Batcat as part of a day-long excursion.
How to get there
Batcat is located relatively far out in the Bang Kapi area of east Bangkok, so you'll need some dedication to get here. You can come by taxi, or catch the San Saeb khlong boat to The Mall at Bang Kapi pier. To reach the museum from here, walk along the footpath directly beside the mall (to your right with your back turned to the canal), then take a right onto Lat Phrao Road. After a few hundred metres, hang another right onto Srinagarindra Road (usually shortened to Srinakarin) and the museum will be on the right, just after the canal bridge. (Note: the map link on Batcat's Facebook page pinpoints a location that's nowhere near the museum.)
By David Luekens
Last updated on 12th May, 2014.