Dad with world's largest finger puppet collection was inspired by his kids' laughter

By Aliciamarie Rodriguez
Published
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Salacnib "Sonny" Molina has been making his fingers come to life with finger puppets since 2003. 

With a massive collection of 1,517 puppets, Salacnib holds the record title for the largest collection of finger puppets.

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The puppeteer from Woodstock, Illinois, USA, has been collecting finger puppets since his first child was born. 

“I used my finger puppets to entertain our kids when they were little and they seemed to like it so much,” said Sonny. 

“Whenever I played with them, they laughed so hard and that made our day, seeing them so happy and entertained.”

Sonny loved finger puppets as a kid and would play with them often.

“My first finger puppets were the ZIGGY puppets that my mom always bought for me when I was a kid,” he said. 

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“Then I continued the legacy by buying finger puppets too for our two daughters when they were little.”

When Sonny found out there was a record title for the largest collection of finger puppets, he felt inspired to continue collecting them in an attempt to break the record. 

“I actually broke this record twice,” he said. 

“The first one I broke on 10 November 2021 with 497 unique pieces. Then I broke it again on 23 January 2023 with 1,517 different pieces.”

Sonny says he chose to collect finger puppets because they are easy to collect, inexpensive, and do not take up a lot of storage space. 

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“I also chose finger puppets because I love them so much,” he said. 

“It reminds me of my childhood days when my mom would buy them for me.”

Sonny's finger puppets, which he believes are valued between $5,000 and $10,000, come from many different places. 

“I like going to thrift stores and I make sure I go whenever there are sales so that I can save a lot of money and at the same time enjoy what I do,” he said. 

“I also go to several department stores like Target and Walmart. I found out that they sell them a lot there in sets.”

Sonny has also found finger puppets at bookstores, garage sales, and via online vendors like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy.

“My specific method is finding them online – especially the harder ones to find,” he said. 

“Ebay and Etsy are where I usually find the rare ones.”

At the moment, Sonny’s oldest puppets are from the 1940s to 1970s and are in pristine condition and well preserved.

However, he is currently in search of some of the very earliest finger puppets ever made.

He would like to add puppets from the 1800s or earlier to his collection and is constantly searching for them.

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Although Sonny has built up quite the collection over the past 20 years, there is one finger puppet in particular that sticks out. 

“I have a surgical nurse finger puppet,” he said. 

“I love that because I am a surgical nurse myself.”

Some of Sonny’s other favourites include his Superman, Robin Hood, vintage Santa Claus, and vintage Japanese finger puppets. 

Because there are so many of them, Sonny keeps his finger puppet collection in rigid containers with small dividers in them, which protects them from damage and makes them easier to sort through.

“By doing this I won’t have a hard time doing my inventory. For example, under the animal section, I put the same species of animals together like cats, horses, bears, etc.

“So, the next time I get new finger puppets I just organize them according to their type.”

For those wanting to start their own collection, Salacnib says to be smart and search for good deals. 

“Go to garage sales and thrift stores, and connect with other collectors and trade,” he said. 

“You can also ask your families and friends to help you with your collection. If you have friends around the world, you can contact them and ask them if they can help you find things for your collection.”

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In fact, Sonny says most of his collection comes from friends and family from around the world.

“Most of the time they don’t even let me pay for the things I want them to get for me,” he said. 

“They usually say ‘I got you’.”

Despite his grand achievement, Sonny says his journey as a record-breaking collector has just begun. 

His next record attempt will be for the largest collection of Ty Beanie Babies memorabilia

“I have been collecting Beanie Babies for years and I think it is time to set the record,” he said. 

“I want to break this record because I love collecting Beanie Babies.”

Sonny would like to own as many Guinness World Records titles under the largest collection category as possible.

He is well on his way to achieving his dream, with many collection records already claimed:

  • Largest collection of miniature skateboards - 1,520 
  • Largest collection of Pringles tubes - 256
  • Largest collection of skull drinkware - 307
  • Largest collection of salt and pepper sachets - 395 matching pairs
  • Largest collection of leather postcards - 1,043
  • Most lanyards worn at once - 509

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“My goal is to be the first Filipino American to have the most Guinness World Records titles in the world and to be in the Guinness World Records Hall of Fame someday with the largest collection of any kind,” he said. 

“Breaking and having a Guinness World Records title has changed my life forever.”

Find out more about Sunny's amazing records in Guinness World Records 2024, available from September 2023.

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