12,000 and counting: This Singaporean toy enthusiast is not your typical Barbie collector


A 43-year-old toy enthusiast from Singapore is defying traditional definitions of a typical Barbie collector.

Childlike wonder: Jian Yang currently has over 12,000 Barbie dolls and an assortment of other toys, ranging from a Kylie Minogue doll to BTS members, as well as the new collectibles from the recent “Barbie” movie. According to Yang, he started collecting in the early '80s after receiving a doll for Christmas. While he outgrew other childhood playthings over the years, his affinity for Barbie dolls endured.

Yang's collection is now just a few thousand dolls shy of the 18,500 owned by Bettina Dorfmann from Düsseldorf, Germany, as verified by the Guinness World Records Kids on Dec. 22, 2022. Dorfmann began her collection in 1993, which by 2005 had reached 2,500 items.

Meant to be played: Yang resists the label of a traditional "collector" as he believes that placing a monetary value on toys undermines their true essence.

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“A collector is actually someone that keeps things in boxes, in pristine condition,” Yang told Vice. “I take sh*t out of the box. I will change the hairstyle. I’ll re-dress it. I’ll drop it into the sea. I will bring it to the pool. I will do whatever I want with it.”

Newsmaker: Yang made international headlines in 2013 following an interview with The New Paper and a succeeding piece on the Reuters Global Newswire. “The next day, my Facebook was full (of people tagging me on Facebook) and they were all the same pictures,” told Danamic in 2019. “I was like ‘Oh shit…Newswire,’ and that was it.”

In 2018, Yang went viral for creating several Barbie dresses out of tissue paper.

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Behind the camera: Yang has turned his passion into a thriving career as a toy photographer, chronicling his dolls' playful adventures on Instagram account.

"When I take photos of dolls; when I cast which doll comes with me to my fabulous pretentious (sometimes pretend) life - like going to balls, going rollerblading, going on holidays - that's play to me," Yang told Femail. Explaining the unique allure of Barbie, he said that he had always been "drawn to a world of perfection. Unrealistic, unnecessary perfection. "

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