Jeffrey Koh is well known in the local toy scene, maybe even in the world, for his extensive collection of toys. His Instagram account is a visual archive of the man’s seemingly endless line-up of figurines, statues and pop culture accoutrements.

Just before COVID hit, Koh had mentioned that he managed to clean up the front space at his office. “I was so happy. But during COVID, when staff couldn’t come into the office, I filled it up with boxes and stocks. It bugs the [crap] out of me every day I come into the office because I really wanted to clear that area and run, like, a little guerrilla pop-up.”

He’s not kidding. In fact, in our humble opinion, it might even be an understatement. Step into his foyer and you’re met with brown cardboard boxes, stacked floor-to-ceiling, to your right. To your left, are a hint of what he has—his toys, all black, arranged like tiny idols. You’ll have to leave your shoes at the front and enter through the narrow path into his main office where more of his toys are kept. Many of them loose from their packaging, some, still in their boxes. It’s a hoarder’s dream and a relative-of-said-hoarder-who-is-crushed-under-felled-boxes’ nightmare.

Almost every bit of nook and cranny of his office is taken up by a figurine or a pop culture artefact. So mountainous is his trove that you’d fail to notice his staff at their desk if it weren’t for the sounds of mouse and keyboard clicks.

1. BOBA FETT (2014)

“In the early ’80s, my dad’s friend from Malaysia bought a 12-inch Boba Fett toy. Boba Fett was this super cool guy, so badass and then he had such a lame death [in Return of the Jedi]. I did this piece with Luke [Chueh], which was based on his artwork. It was a brilliant idea. He knows that I’m crazy about Boba Fett so when he came to Singapore, he asked if I’d be interested in making the toy. I immediately jumped at it. To date, we’ve done seven colourways; all sold out. We could put out different colourways every year but money was never the aim. When we do a colourway, it has to feel right.”

2. ABOVE: STAR WARS “BOBA FETT" CARDBACK PROTOTYPE 47A (1981)

“I was on a lot of the Star Wars bulletin boards and there was this guy who posted pictures of packaging prototypes that he found in a dumpster outside the Kenner offices in Ohio. I had to sell some stuff to buy [this prototype cardback]. Think I paid a lot for it and I believe it to be one of a kind. At least, I haven’t seen any replication of this prototype till now.”

BELOW: STAR WARS “3 NEW ACTION FIGURES” SHELF WOBBLER (1978)

“It was known to be rare in the 90s. One day, I saw it being auctioned on eBay. Nobody really knew what it was during that time. I put in a bid and got it for a steal. To others, it’s just a piece of plastic but this is one of the rarer display pieces from that era and in that condition, it can go for up to USD2,000. It’s not a lot of money but finding this online and getting it for a reasonable price… that’s the thrill.”

Here’s the kicker: despite the cornucopia that we have witnessed here, he still has a storage space where more toys are stored. “I just keep running out of storage space,” Koh says. “I’m considering renting a small warehouse. Maybe about 500 square feet.”

It’s a constant struggle, he tells us. Something that many collectors will contend with. The overflow of material joy and the scarcity of space. This will be Koh’s bugbear but he has always lived for the moment; that’s why he collects.

In a way, Koh opines, collecting for him is most collectors’ raison d’etre: reliving their childhood; buying stuff that they didn’t have back then. Nostalgia: it's a hell of a drug.

“It’s never about having the biggest collection in Singapore. I’m just lucky to have a space and the means to buy these toys.”

While it feels like there’s no rhyme nor reason to his purchases, Koh boils it down to “stuff that catches his fancy”. Regret never comes into play. “It sounds a little snobbish to say but I’ve never cared about the investment value of the toys I get,” Koh says. “People ask what my favourite toy is and I’d answer that it’s the one I haven’t bought. Just buy whatever makes you happy.”

And that joy of acquisition, perhaps is collecting at its purest. He still keeps the boxes the toys come in but not because the packaging has more value if he resells his toys, rather he rotates out the toys that are displayed for the ones in the boxes. “Without the boxes, it’ll be difficult to store them.”

He adds that people, with the intention to resell the toys, often will not make much profit. “Here’s the thing with Star Wars... the toys from the ’70s or ’80s fetch a lot of money on the reseller markers as not many people bought them at the time. When Hasbro [the American toy company] released ‘The Power of the Force’ line, people started hoarding them but now they can’t sell them for five bucks.”

3. PAPA (2013)

“We were making stuff on Lee Kuan Yew’s likeness way before he died. We did one with Budi Nugroho and the idea is that LKY is dispensing advice like candy; each piece has a quote he made over the years. So, we put his head on Pez candy dispensers. All of us like sweets but too many are bad for our health. It’s the idea of taking things in moderation.”

4. FRANK KOZIK’S MECHANANA BRONZE (2009)

“Kozik is a visionary. Way ahead of his time. I wouldn’t put myself at his level but I do see some similarities between the two of us in that we don’t care what other people think. But, I think, he’s actually very kind. I’ve seen his softer side. The idea of a soft fruit being translated into something hard with rivets appealed to me. It’s punk. I bought this piece from Kozik’s wife.”

Koh points to a moment when he had a chance to purchase a rocket-firing Boba Fett prototype. The action figure prototype was shown at the New York Toy Fair in 1979 but it was never mass-produced due to concerns that the missile was a safety hazard to children. There was a chance to buy it for USD7,000. “But I was in my early 20s and that amount at that age was too much for me,” Koh adds, “a graded version went for USD200K.”

He puts out his own toys as well under the arm of FLABSLAB, the acronym for Muhammad Ali’s quote “Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee”. FLABSLAB isn’t about making money. No, that responsibility belongs to his creative agency Nerf Creative. FLABSLAB is a passion project, a platform for Koh to take his ideas and make them real.

The toys created through FLABSLAB are things that Koh would buy for himself. “In a way, it’s a little bit of a dictatorship,” Koh says, “of course, I’ll listen to input—it is a collaboration—but the toys produced are just stuff that I like.

“A lot of people say that I’m an artist. I feel kind of insulted on behalf of actual artists who dedicate their lives to the craft. I just have stupid ideas [and I need artists to help make it a reality].”


5. DEAD KOZIK: THE MAN INSIDE EDITION (2013)
“This was by Kevin Gosselin and it was from his Kickstarter project. He made this in the style of Kozik’s celebrity busts. This one is a custom, showing Kozik in half his human form and the other as a skull. This is the only one in the world.”

Koh is realistic about his toy collection when he dies. He knows that he can’t take it with him. He tells us about images that he reposted on his IG account about a toy collector who passed away two years ago. A man who had so many toys that it took his friends and relatives that long to unpack everything. “It’s a burden, a burden that’s left for the family to deal with. I don’t want that for my own family so the plan is to liquidate everything and have them split the money among themselves.”

Patience isn’t his strongest suit. He bristles at the thought of cataloguing his toys and dealing with—in his own words—”stupid” buyers. “I long for the day when someone would appear at my doorstep and just buy everything. Everything, including the office, and I’ll walk away.”

When that day comes, it’ll feel like an empire has come to an end. But to Jeffrey Koh, the enfant terrible of the toy world, maybe it might feel that he finally has the much-needed space to breathe in.

And who knows, maybe he’ll feel the need to fill it up once again.

Photography by Jaya Khadir

Those filling out their Star Wars crosswords will be delighted to hear that the answer to "another seven-letter word for Padawan" isn't just 23-Across. It's also the name of the next Disney+ series in the Star Wars universe. Titled, The Acolyte, the series will continue to tell smaller stories from the expanded canon. All that while placing popular characters (ahem, the Skywalker family) aside.

The eight-episode limited series will send fans further in the past than ever before. (Even though every Star Wars story technically takes place a long, long time ago.) Prequels are all the rage right now. Think of shows like Rings of PowerHouse of the Dragon, and Lucasfilm's own Andor. So why not get as prequel as Star Wars can get—and enter the era of the High Republic? With a fantastic-looking cast, an intriguing plot, and a new trailer out in the world, here's everything we know about The Acolyte.

What Is The Acolyte About?

The Acolyte will take place approximately 100 years before Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It's entirely new territory for the Star Wars universe. Many of its shows have been set in between the established film trilogies. According to Lucasfilm, the series will be "a mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era." The Acolyte will follow a former Padawan who "reunites with her Jedi Master to investigate a series of crimes, but the forces they confront are more sinister than they ever anticipated."

In the first trailer for the series, young Jedi are training during a golden era of harmony in the galaxy. We see a bit of action from Lee Jung-jae as Jedi Master Sol. As well as the obligatory new Star Wars alien who's so cute that you'd kill anyone to defend him. "The further you go back [in Star Wars history], the better things are," Acolyte showrunner Leslye Headland said in an interview with Vanity Fair. "'A long time ago' actually becomes more futuristic. So while we are creating this type of world, we're trying to carry George's concept that the further you go back, the more exciting and new and sleek and interesting things look."

Amandla Stenberg as Mae

Who Is in The Acolyte's Cast?

The Acolyte's lineup of talent is arguably the most exciting aspect of the series so far. Led by Amandla Stenberg (Bodies Bodies Bodies), the series will also star Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game), Manny Jacinto (The Good Place), Jodie Turner-Smith (After Yang), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix Resurrections), Charlie Barnett (Russian Doll), Rebecca Henderson (Russian Doll), and Dafne Keen (His Dark Materials). Joonas Suotamo, the former Finnish basketball player who took over the role of Chewbacca in the latest Star Wars trilogy, will also return as a Wookiee Jedi Master.

When Will The Acolyte Premiere?

The Acolyte will hit Disney+ on 5 June, 2024. The limited series will run for eight episodes. South Korean filmmaker Kogonada (After Yang) will direct. Frequent Jordan Peele collaborator Michael Abels (Us, Nope) will compose the musical score. The Acolyte is part of a new Star Wars strategy for Disney. The company is currently working on a Mandalorian film, Andor season 2, and a new trilogy starring Daisy Ridley.

Originally published on Esquire US

10-Word Review

All sound and fury but it also signifies something... familiar?

The Skinny

An intergalactic fascist empire rules the galaxy with an iron fist. Its military threatens farmers on the distant moon. A former soldier seeks out a rebel faction to make a stand against the empire. This is Star Wars- I mean, Rebel Moon.


Here Be Spoilers...


What we like:

Watching Rebel Moon: A Child of Fire, you might be immediately clued into director Zack Snyder's film inspiration—Star Wars. To be fair, films about the little guy going up against a group of baddies will follow a narrative thread similar to Star Wars... but then again, even Star Wars took inspiration from Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. So, yes, if we want to pick nits, Snyder took inspiration from Star Wars and Seven Samurai. There will be similarities but Snyder wanted to create something wholly original so you gotta respect the man's hustle.

It's that timeless tale of the Motherworld, who controls the galaxy. They have a military aka the Imperium, that threatens a farming colony on the moon of Veldt. Kora (played by Sofia Boutella) is an ex-Imperium soldier who was trying to get a second chance at a normal life as a farmer, now has to return to a life of violence to protect the colony. She does so by putting together a supergroup to fend off the Imperium before they return to Veldt. You've grand sets and world-building; there's lore and details. This has all the trappings of an epic; a many-chapter saga. A franchise that can spawn toys and merch; spin-offs even! The sky's the limit.

And with Snyder at the helm, you can expect gorgeous slo-mo action sequences that can make John Woo nod in approval. Like that scene with ex-military Kora first facing off with the Imperium in the farmhouse.

What we didn't like:

Everything else.

Look, no one goes out to make a bad movie. Snyder had the idea to make Rebel Moon in 1997. That's 27 years of gestation. He had plenty of time to mull over this.

But it's boring. I don't know how a US166 million dollar movie can be boring but there you go. A bulk of the humdrum stems from the characters; I don't care for them. It's a huge cast and because of the number of personalities, you don't get development or much of a backstory. They are extraneous, which is a pity because they all have potential. You've Tarak (Staz Nair), who is a royal-turned-slave. He talks to animals and looks like he has a cool backstory but no, that's never explored. There's Bae Doona's Nemesis, who is a cyborg swordsperson. That's cool, right? But we don't go in-depth about her motivation.

Maybe all of their origins will be covered in the sequel (Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver coming out on 19 April, 2024) but if I didn't know there was a second instalment, you'd lose me as a viewer on this chapter.

The protagonist Kora has a reasonable amount of history but that's told through clunky exposition. Her stoicism paints her as a reluctant hero but without an emotional anchor, she's just going through the motions. And I, as an audience member, am just going through the motions of waiting until the end credits.

What to look out for:

Anthony Hopkins voicing Jimmy, an android of the Mechanicas Miltarium. He's arguably the best character in the film. Despite not having any human features, Jimmy displays more personality than some of the other actors. It's fascinating what a little voice acting and movements can bring to a character.

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire is now out on Netflix. Watch out for Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver coming out on 19 April, 2024 to see if it can redeem itself.

When Ahsoka takes her final bow in the season finale of her solo outing, it's more of a beginning than an end. Over eight episodes, the latest Star Wars series on Disney+ spent it time boosting bad guys to new heights, forming a team of galactic Avengers, and reconnecting with the Force. If anything, Star Wars fans just watched an eight-hour-long prologue. It's funny, considering Ahsoka was initially touted as a sort of Star Wars: Rebels Season Five—a quasi-sequel that would finally bring the beloved animated series to live-action.

After spending such a long time introducing all of our new characters, there's a big "So… what now?" that hangs over our heroes' heads. Ahsoka, Sabine, and Ezra finally reunite, but there are still more villains than I can count roaming around the galaxy. The only one to fall in Ahsoka's finale is Morgan Elsbeth—who you can tell is nothing more than a mini-boss, because her title is "magistrate." The Nightsisters do grant her a cool sword, but it's not enough to rival the Darksaber. She meets her end in the same episode that she's promoted to Major Villain, which may be the most obvious tell that there's still plenty of Ahsoka left when the credits roll.

Ahsoka is all about introducing Grand Admiral Thrawn to the galaxy far, far away. DISNEY+

Speaking of credits: it was a big surprise when Ray Stevenson's Baylan Skoll survives. This move was the greatest shock for fans, because Stevenson tragically died earlier this summer. A tribute to the actor appears in the final moments of the finale. It'll be interesting to see how the show continues his story without him, especially since his ideas about the galactic power struggle are the most intriguing motivations for a Star Wars character we've seen in years. His apprentice, Shin Hati, may end up taking up a bigger role than initially planned.

Still, like many fans predicted, Ahsoka was about introducing Grand Admiral Thrawn as much as it was built to give Ahsoka her own supporting cast back. Hell, not even the addition of zombie stormtroopers in the finale could distract from Ahsoka's true aim. As much as I love Rosario Dawson and Ray Stevenson's fantastic performances, Ahsoka's main mission was clearly to introduce Thrawn as this franchise's Thanos. Will we see him in a potential Ahsoka Season Two or the Mandalorian movie? Who knows! It's an ending that promises more Ahsoka Tano—there's another major element of story that the finale leaves unanswered—but it remains unknown just how much the fans have bought into the story here.

Either way, Thrawn is ready to rule the galaxy with an iron fist. In the end, we're left with a Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker still looking over Ahsoka, as she tells her friend Sabine that it's "time to move on." But to where? When? How? I have an even more pressing question: Will audiences see it? For the fans' sake, I certainly hope so. Maybe even with Baby Yoda in a mechsuit.

Originally published on Esquire US

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