Made in Hong Kong is a zine produced by the Hong Kong artist Chan Hiu. Each issue contains a different toy, such as a plastic gun, a slinky, or a build-it-yourself camera, stirring the childhood recollections of a whole generation. Her idea with this combination is to write the history of Hong Kong’s “knock-off” toys and pay homage to a significant piece of culture that’s gradually disappearing from sight.
“‘Knock-off toys’ is a term for the substitutes for expensive name-brand items made by Hong Kong’s toy industry in the 1950s and 1960s,” Chan explains. “Back then the city’s toy industry was world-famous, but a lot of what it made was for export, with extremely high prices that most locals couldn’t afford. So the factories gave leftover materials to knock-off producers.”
Knock-off producers were an important link in Hong Kong’s toy industry, and you might say they bore witness to its rise and fall. “Yet today, when people talk about knock-off toys, they don’t usually have in mind the old ones from Hong Kong, but the rip-offs made in mainland China, according to my survey results,” says Chan. “So Hong Kong’s knock-off toys have begun to fade from the memories of a generation.”
《山寨玩具》（《Made in Hong Kong》）是一系列由香港艺术家 Chan Hiu 创作的 zine，每一期都搭载了一种怀旧感十足的玩具，如塑胶手枪、弹簧、和组合相机，勾起一代人小时候的记忆。这本玩具书意在书写“香港山寨玩具”的历史，向现在已逐渐消逝在大众视野里的重要文化致上敬意。
“山寨玩具一词来自50至60年代的香港玩具业，指的是高价正版玩具的替代品。” Hiu 解释道。“香港玩具业在当时是世界知名的，但大多是用于出口，价钱十分昂贵，一般巿民都负担不起。所以玩具厂会把剩下的材料分给山寨厂去工作。”
Chan’s been a toy lover ever since she was a kid. She still has memories of playing with all kinds of toys with her brother, competing in games whose rules they made up themselves. Even today, they sometimes look back on the adventures those toys were a part of. Those toys are a unique part of Hong Kong’s collective memory. But over the last few years, Chan has watched as the small shops that sold them—a common sight when she was little—disappear one after another. “Some have been pushed out by big corporations, some of closed up shop because they’re business wasn’t as good as it used to be,” she says.
“Toys bring people together. Whenever I bring up those classic Hong Kong knock-offs, there’s no end to the stories I hear. People here grew up with them, even if they paid them much attention. There’s not much documentation on the history of the city’s knock-offs, and I’m sure that if this irreplaceable part of history isn’t shared, it will quickly be forgotten by the next generation.”
To preserve these cultural memories, Chan has published Made in Hong Kong, a singular and highly unconventional zine. Here’s a short overview of the first three issues:
Vol.1 山寨重塑 / Knock-off Remake
“Knock-off Remake” is a booklet that introduces Hong Kong’s knock-off toys. Its front cover contains a plastic toy gun, and its back cover also evokes packaging design. Flipping through this booklet is like flipping through the history of knock-off toys and seeing their development over time.
Vol.2 山寨时轴 / Knock-off Timeline
The second installment of Made in Hong Kong, “Knock-off Timeline,” gives a chronology of the development of the city’s knock-off toys. The issue’s format evokes the classic slinkies of the 1970s.
Vol.3 山寨留存 / Knock-off Preservation
The latest issue of Made in Hong Kong, “Knock-off Preservation,” uses a toy camera to record the few remaining variety stores, stationer’s, and places that once sold knock-off toys. It aims to document them before they’re gone, and to raise people’s awareness. The zine is designed like a plastic toy camera: after assembling the pieces, which are printed on a 3D printer, the reader can turn a gear to move the film and delight in the photos inside.