When a shopping mall featuring restaurants and stores selling nostalgic gifts opened at a train station in central Taiwan late last month it was a set of “time traveling robots” that stood out as the retail outlet’s main attraction.
The robots that grace Sinwurih Station, created from more than 1 million old train tickets, were built by collector Ho Yuan-fu (何元富), a train enthusiast and the founder of a store that sells Taiwanese souvenirs.
Ho made two robots, one of which is very large — standing 3.7m tall — and one smaller, to symbolize a father bringing his son to the train station in the hope it would encourage families to visit, he said.
The robots, which cost around NT$10 million (US$335,000) to construct because of the money needed to buy old train tickets, took five people 45 days to put together.
Though the big robot at present cannot move, Ho plans to give it the ability to rotate its arms and light up at a designated time every day.
The shopping mall itself was part of a grander plan to create a center for leisure, tourism and business in an area where Taiwan’s high-speed rail line and its traditional rail systems connect intersect, Taichung Railway Station manager Lin Ching-shan (林景山) said.
The mall is a 6,000m2 corridor that connects Sinwurih Station, operated by the Taiwan Railways Administration, and the high-speed rail’s Wurih Station, which features restaurants and traditionally themed shops.
Lin said, he expected that the robots, alongside a life-size steam locomotive model made entirely of cardboard and which is located in the station along with other creative and traditional displays in the mall, to draw many visitors.