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Reaching for the sky

Crazy about model planes and cars even a child, entrepreneur Athisan Suphalerdhiranchai has turned them into a career with Toy Studio

As a child, Athisan Suphalerdhiranchai remembers being fascinated by aeroplanes. Born and raised in a family of tailors, he decided early on that he wouldn't be entering the family business and instead opened his own shop, offering die-cast aeroplane and car models from around the world. He signed agreements with foreign firms and before long Toy Studio was the official distributor for several of the world's best-known models.

His collection is impressive, running into hundreds of commercial aircraft. Toy Studio's first branch, which opened back in 1995, was at Siam Square. Two years later, Athisan relocated to a larger space at Mah Boonkrong shopping centre.

In November, he expanded yet again, opening a second and larger branch at Mega Bangna to serve as a hangout for collectors who live in the eastern suburbs. His new space is designed to resemble a garage, with a crane installed on the upper deck and the walls fitted out with spares and accessories.

"I've been amassing model planes since I was young. One day, I'd saved up enough to buy one I really wanted but it had already sold out. That's when I decided to open my own shop. I invested Bt350,000 in opening my first store and in offering imported die-cast plane and super car models as a distributor for Germany's Herpa Wings, Hong Kong's Dragon Wing and Gemini Jet from the US," says Athisan. "The political protests in 2010 really hurt my business and convinced me to open a second branch to the east of Bangkok,"

Looking rather like an international airport, a huge glass showcase on the left side is full of colourful die-cast aircraft miniatures in scales of 1:200, 1:400 and 1:500, all of them created by Phoenix Model from Hong Kong, Herpa Wings and Gemini Jet.

Collectors can buy everything from an Airbus 380 and Boeing 777-300ER to the smaller A330-300. The craft bear the insignia of Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, Eva Air, Air Canada, Air France, Lufthansa, British Airway and Qantas, among others.

"The best seller is the Thai Airways 747-400 Suphanahong, which has a special pattern. Many foreigners buy them as a souvenir," says Athisan.

On the right are his die-cast super car and classic automobile models produced by Auto Art and Mini Champ from Germany

The highlight is a 1960 Ferrari 250 California miniature that comes with leather seats, a hood and back that can be opened to reveal its engine. The collection also includes such luxury vehicles as the Lamborghini, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Citron, Porsche, Nissan, Jaguar, Mansory, Maybach and Mini Cooper.

The die-cast motorbike miniatures come in 1:18 scale and include Ducati, Kawasaki and Honda models. Those looking for gifts for car-mad friends will find a good collection of key rings, wall clocks and paperweights in the shape of spare parts.

Toy Studio's other branch is on the second floor of MBK Centre

Revving up to go

Toy Studio is located on the second floor of Mega Bangna, Room 2264. It's open daily from 10am to 10pm. Call (02) 105 1860 or visit www.ToyStudioBKK.com




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