Meet Andrea + Michelle, Creators of 'Toys Aren't Us'

The line is a re-imaginging of childhood toys that better reflect their Asian values and culture.

+LDNJanuary 25th 2022

Despite growing up in South East Asia, W+K London creatives Andrea Li and Michelle Lim only had access to dolls and toy houses which looked nothing like themselves or the homes they lived in. So they created ‘Toys Aren’t Us’ - a re-imagining of their childhood toys to better reflect their Asian values and culture.

'My Play Kitchen', 'My PóPó’ (my grandma) and 'My Crayons & Colouring Book' with renamed crayons, are made from a combination of wood, plastic, clay and fabric and photographed by collaborator @studiomisch, with illustration by @virginnywinny. See more at of the @liimstudio project at

We sat down with Andrea and Michelle to learn more about them and their project.

To start, can you tell us a little about your roles at W+K? And about liim studio?

Hello! We’re Andrea & Michelle and we’re junior creatives at W+K London! We’re super new to advertising, but we’ve been working together for almost 4 years. We started liim studio as a way to explore our multidisciplinary practice after we graduated from university. Together we’ve made anything and everything from a video game that explores inequalities in the workplace to a diorama that imagines a future where we can make lemon tea from rain.

Coming to W+K has been such a lucky accident for us! We get to continue working together and make cool stuff along the way.

Michelle and Andrea Headshot

We love ‘Toys Aren’t Us’ - can you tell us more about how this project came about?

When we first came to W+K as placements, we were asked “if you could make any project you wanted for £1000, what would you make?” We came up with a ton of ideas, but gravitated towards making a project that would be more personal to us. And that project ultimately became Toys Aren’t Us!

How did you come up with the idea and the name for the project?

It came about after we fell into a nostalgic pinterest rabbit hole of some of our favourite childhood toys from the 90s and 00s. Michelle grew up in Malaysia and Andrea grew up in Hong Kong. But as we were scrolling, we realised all the toys we loved as kids were really westernised. After seeing them spread out so clearly on our screen, we kind of got weirded out by how obsessed we were by these houses, toys and stories that weren’t part of our everyday reality. It made us think about what kind of toys we might’ve wanted to see as kids while we were growing up.

The name for the project then came about after we chatted with our mentors Adam + Will about how toys really impact us as we move into young adulthood. The project just kind of just fell into place.

What was your goal with ‘Toys Aren’t Us’?

Our goal was to have fun reimagining our childhood toys, and to make things our inner child would’ve wanted to play with. Also, we hoped our toys would bring joy and resonate with other East/South East Asian kids too.

toys aren't us popo box
toys aren't us popo
toys aren't us kitchen-web

How did it actually feel to see your reimagined toys come to life?

It was really satisfying seeing it all come together. There were so many tiny details we had planned, from the food on the kitchen counter to all the accessories that came with ‘my popo’. We didn’t know what to 100% expect until the whole thing came together on shoot day! That was the first time the set was fully built, and the toys were put in place.

It was great working with other East Asian creatives on the project too. We worked with Mischelle Moy who photographed the toys, and Virginia Ma who illustrated the colouring book. They helped to add in other nuances to the set which made it feel more authentic. It was also nice to see how universal these experiences and toys felt to them too.

Are the toys or crayons actually available to buy?

Not yet… but if anyone in the network has any contacts or ideas on how to make it happen, please drop us an email! Or if enough people click the ‘I wish it was real button’ on the site, we’ll try really hard to figure something out.

What’s next for you two?

The plan is to just keep on making more work! We also want to continue working on more side projects too. We’re super excited to meet and collaborate with as many creatives across the network as we can. If anyone is up for a chat, message us on slack, we’d love to say hiiiiiiii!


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