In 1974, mr. Sekiguchi creates the very first Monchhichi combining his already existing product inventions, the Kuta Kuta monkey plush with vinyl face and GeGe, the thumb-sucking fashion doll. The twins quickly became a big hit in Japan. Three years later the range expands with the addition of separately sold accessories, playsets, clothes and outfits, as wel as bigger models. A TV commercial was also made. Before going to the US, the brand quickly conquers Europe after 1978, mainly in Germany and France. The character really starts becoming a cute global icon in the 1980s. Its difficult name leads some market to localize it: Kiki in France, Moncicchi in Italy and Chic-a-Boo in the UK.
Monchichi is a line of Japanese stuffed toy monkeys from the Sekiguchi Corporation, and first released in 1974. The original dolls were licensed by Mattel in the USA until 1985, and later distributed worldwide directly by Sekiguchi. Three television series were produced based on the characters.
Monchhichi was created by Yoshiharu Washino on January 25, 1974, as an improvement to the already successful "Kuta Kuta Monkey" (Exhausted monkey). Sekiguchi claims they created these characters in order to inspire respect and love in the young (Japanese) children and adults, their name is derived from the words "Mon" which translates to "Mine" in French and "Chhichi" which closely resembles the sound a child's pacifier would produce according to Japanese phonetics, also the resulting word has a similar sound to the word "Monkey" in English.
Exportation of the doll line started in 1975, towards West Germany and Austria. The following years would see the Monchhichi line marketed in all of Western Europe. The original name was changed to "Chicaboo" in the United Kingdom, to "Mon Cicci" in Italy, to "Kiki" in France and to "Bølle" in Denmark. The height of the Monchichi dolls' popularity was in Germany during the 1980s, surpassing even the Japanese figure sales during this period. As of 2015, Monchchichi is still popular in Germany and finds a full rack space across toy shops. Many variants of Monchhichi as well as sizes have emerged. For example, the original Monchhichi is still available under the Classic variant in 10 cm, 20 cm, 24 cm, 45 cm and even 80 cm sizes. Also other variants like Boutique (Monchhichi in various dress styles), Mother Care (Monchhichi with a young one in her front pocket), 40th Anniversary edition are available. Now even dollhouses for Monchhichi are available.
The monkey dolls reached the North American shores in 1980. Mattel bought the license for the toy line. The American cartoon series "Monchhichis" was produced by Hanna-Barbera in 1983 and aired on ABC in an effort to promote the dolls. The line was dropped by Mattel due to poor sales in 1985, but was reintroduced during Monchhichi's 30 anniversary in 2004 by Sekiguchi. As of 2013, Monchhichi dolls are still available in the United States from retailers such as Target.
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