In Madrid, a ‘toy hospital’ marks its last Christmas

Antonio Martinez Rivas, 70, fixes a Lion King soft toy at his workshop ‘Hospital del Juguete’ (Toys hospital), in Madrid on December 20 [Oscar Del Pozo/AFP]
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Wearing a white lab coat, a screwdriver in hand, Antonio Martinez Rivas examines a remote-controlled car at his workshop in Madrid, a “toy hospital” that is about to close its doors after 50 years of repairs.

His bespectacled eyes focused on the task in hand, this 70-year-old toy specialist, who will retire on December 31, is hunched over his “operating table” just days before his workshop’s last Christmas.

“Now, it’s me they are going to repair,” he tells a customer in his gravelly voice, alluding to his continuing battle with cancer.

Lit by a neon light and surrounded by tools and spare parts, his workbench is in the corner of a veritable Aladdin’s cave, with thousands of colourful toys packing shelves that reach from floor to ceiling.

Among them are dolls, teddy bears, board games, wooden horses and more, all sent in by customers from Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Portugal and even as far away as Uruguay.

“We are the only ones working on every type of toy” in Spain, said Rivas, a Madrid native who learned from his father how to repair toys.

Source: Aljazeera