I recently discovered the company Hinstar produced a ton of weird little knockoff toy lines in the 80s or 90s, mostly in the form of 6-inch vinyl soldier toys. Apparently they also dabbled briefly in the mini-playset scene with Small World – Pocket Paradise.
No idea why this series of toys was given the Small World header, unless there were other mini-playsets by Hinstar (EDIT: there indeed were, such as Power Striker Rangers). What’s interesting is that they’re sort of a Polly Pocket / Mighty Max style toy, but with a bootleg Sanrio flavor: all the figures are cartoon animals, which I initially mistook for carnival prizes since all these toys are carnival themed.
They are indeed endearing in their shoddiness. I was sure this one came with a frog, but I was mistaken. The hippo is pretty darn cute though.
I got this one because it had a ton of figures and I liked the design of the collapsing ferris wheel. There is also a train set, an eatery/octopus merry-go-round, and another one I have yet to identify.
There are also two or three mini-playsets with wrist straps, one of which I managed to get carded. The card was partly popped off from age (see yellowed plastic in bubble) and held on with staples, so I removed the staples in order to take it out whenever I want. Despite having nearly a dozen of these little Sanrio knockoff characters now, I still don’t have Bizarro Keroppi!
There’s also this impressive Apple Hotel jumbo playset I’d love to get my hands on.
Thanks for showing my child memories :)
A little story from myself.
In the 80-90s, China is just open up for foreign business, a lot of foreign fast-food restaurants (small brands) all over China, and even in my little village. A lot of these restaurants later in the early 2000s were shut down because they cannot fit-in with local flavor and cannot compete with giant brands like KFC or Mcdonald’s.
As I was a child in the 90s and I was luckily to have an American restaurant called “Tangmailang” in Chinese spelling, ( I don’t know what in English it is, since it was closed in the early 2000s) I can remember clearly this “Apple Hotel” was sold as an extra from the family set (chips, fries & banana salad, can’t remember anything else) for 53 yuan (6 dollars), and My parents bought me one.
I loved it so much and play around with this toy for at least 5-7 years till fourth grade in primary school. For me, it is a precious piece I will store in a clear cabinet. But sadly not for my mom. One day I was coming home with a grade of 80 of 100, she was mad and beat me up then throw this toy against the wall.
That is the end of life for this toy.
It’s been 20 years since, and I always tried searching for this toy up to today.
Thanks for your post that bring back my memories.
hey happy to help you revisit your childhood! that’s why i make these kinds of posts. hope you get your hands on one again in the near future. If I ever find one, I’ll be sure to post it where you can see it.
Hi & oh my, that apple toy really was a real thing and not something I had imagined! I’ve had this vague memory of a toy apple that sliced open to reveal miniature setting, but the couple times I tried searching for info didn’t give any proper results – until now! I can’t say those figures themselves ring any bells though :’D
Anyway these seem to have been a thing in Finland too, though I don’t remember the actual store or perhaps it was a present.
Yeah it’s really hard to find info on this set in particular.