If you were a child of the 70s and early 80s, you will recognize these toys. 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? These little Love Monkeys swept across the country, and it seemed like every child needed to have one.
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.
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, bedding and furniture were snapped up by collectors and Monchhichi lovers all over
In 1974, the first 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.
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
The most obvious trait to the early Monchhichis is the eyes… from 1974 until 1985, they all have blue eyes. After this, the eyes were painted brown.
The earliest Sekiguchi editions 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 dolls… look at the foot. The modern ones have the signature embossed in it.
Did you have a Monchhichi??
I wonder if they will be making a huge comeback?
Sekiguchi 255530 – Original Monchhichi Girl, Made of Brown Plush, with Pink bib and Braids with Bows, Approx. 45 cmMonchhichi 20cm Mothercare (Pink)Monchhichi 20cm Classic Boy (Red)Monchhichi Classic Bebichhichi Plush Toy – Girl with DiaperMonchhichi Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Girl Plush Toy – PinkMonchhichi Boy w/ Ladybug Raincoat by SekiguchiMonchhichi 13cm Articulated Talking Figures with 15 Phrases Super Cute – Hanae, Willow & Kauri – Set of All 3
Don’t forget to dress your Monchhichi!
Oh, how I remember this Commercial…I will have the song stuck in my head all day…
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.