I have seen them for years, I even had one as a child (and so did my sister) but I always wondered What is a Monchhichi? Obviously, they are a stuffed animal… but where did they come from? And how did they become so popular?
What is a Monchhichi?
A Monchhichi is a “sweet little monkey”with a funny name that comes from combining the word Mon “mine” in French and “Chhichi” which is the Japanese onomatopoeic sound for the noise a pacifier makes when a child sucks on it. These animal babies were developed in Japan by Mr Sekiguchi of the Sekiguchi company after he visited Germany. The story goes, he saw some similar doll babies in German Toy Stores, and brought the idea home, where it was combined with a beloved Monkey Doll that was very popular in Japan. These little “Love Monkeys” were created to inspire love and respect between old and young in Japan.
In 1974 Monchhichi twins were born. They were designed to be soft and cuddly, but with plastic feet and hands with a thumb that fits just perfectly into the mouth. Each wore a bib that said Monchhichi. The first major design change came in 1980, when a pacifier was placed in hand to suck, instead of a thumb.
Monchhichi in Germany
Before long, the dolls were exported to Germany and Austria, where their popularity took off. And when the Monchhichi Boutique opened in 1978… providing hundreds of different styles of clothing, collectors went crazy! More Monchhichi dolls were sold in Germany than in Japan! The merchandise line took off as well, T-shirts, games, school bags and furniture were snapped up by collectors and Monchhichi lovers all over
In the United States, the Little Monkeys were a little slow to take off. Mattel picked up the line in 1980, and Hanna- Barbera even produced a tie-in cartoon to help promote them, but by 1985, Mattel stopped production because of lack of sales. They did, however, reintroduce the toy in 2004 to celebrate the 30th Anniversary.
How to Recognize Vintage Monchhichis
Monchichis is the eyes….from 1974 to 1985 they all had blue eyes. After this they were painted brown.
The earliest Sekiguchi Monchhichis were around 8 inches tall, made with a matt dark brown fur, and had a tail about 3-4 inches long. Their plastic parts are soft, not hard. And they have 5 freckles under each eye… with 3 more across the bridge of the nose.
The first Monchhichis did not have pacifiers, they sucked their thumb. After 1980, a permanent pacifier was added.
Another obvious way to identify modern Monchhichis… look at the foot. The modern ones have the signature embossed in it.
Today, over 40 years after they were introduced in Germany, Monchhichi’s are still popular among collectors and fans in Germany. (My cousin still has one in her car). Fansites are devoted to Collecting Monchhichis, Customized Monchhichis, Monchhichi Artwork, and even designer Monchhichis!
Loads of accessories and collectibles are on the market, so now, a whole new generation are being introduced to these sweet little monkeys.
Did you have a monchichi? Leave your comments
Click here to learn how to make a customized monchichi
Click here to buy a Harrods monchichi
By German Girl in America