Collecting Articles and Features

Collecting Monchhichi & Chic-A-Boo Monkeys

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In 1974, nestled in the heart of Tokyo, Japan, a small monkey toy came to life that would transcend cultural barriers and fascinate children and adults alike around the world for decades. Originally christened as Monchhichi by its creator Koichi Sekiguchi, the charming toy monkey was a heart-stealer from the get-go. In this Collecting Monchhichi feature, we’ll be taking a look at the history of this cute monkeys, some of the ranges available over the years, and Monchhichi accessories and merchandise.

1974 Original Monchichi Monkey
1974 Original Monchichi Monkey. Sold for $36.00 on ebay, May 2023.

The inception of Monchhichi, later to become Chic a Boo on British shores, was a product of Sekiguchi’s dream to create a toy that would inspire love and compassion in children. Sekiguchi was inspired by the American sense of love and empathy towards fellow beings, and with Monchhichi, he aimed to infuse the same spirit in the Japanese children. Little did he know that this humble monkey toy would not only revolutionize Japanese toy culture, but also make its mark globally.

Monchhichi Means Happiness

1974 Monchhichi Plush Boy & Girl Monkey Toy Dolls Mattel
Vintage 1974 Monchhichi Plush Boy & Girl Monkey Toy Dolls Mattel. Sold for AU $119.99 (£63.58) on ebay, May 2023.

Chic a Boo, a plush monkey toy with a distinctive thumb-sucking feature, is a toy that’s both engaging and comforting. Sekiguchi’s vision resulted in a plaything that encouraged nurturing and companionship among children, fostering their emotional growth. One of the striking aspects of Chic a Boo was its highly engaging design. The toy was charmingly crafted, with delicate plastic hands, feet, and face peeking out from its soft, fluffy brown body, the quintessential monkey tail adding a touch of realism to its appearance. But what truly captivated the young audience and became the toy’s unique selling point was its ability to suck its thumb. This interactive feature offered children an endearing sense of connection with their furry friend, making the toy not just an inanimate object, but a companion they could nurture and interact with.

Vintage The Original Monchhichi 1980 Girl Doll Mattel In Box
Vintage The Original Monchhichi 1980 Girl Doll Mattel In Box. Sold for $60 on ebay, April 2023.

A whole bunch of smiles
A whole bunch of fun
Monchhichi means happiness
for everyone

In addition to the toy itself, the manufacturer introduced a range of accessories in 1977 to add to the fun. An array of adorable outfits were available. with The Original Boutique Monchhichi, for the cuddly, contributing to its popularity and enhancing the play experience. As captured in the jingle: “Chic-a-Chic-a-Chic-a-Boo Furry and cuddly we love you Chic-a-Chic-a-Chic-a-Boo It’s such fun to dress you up too”.

In 1980 the first lines of official licensed merchandise was released.

As Chic a Boo made its voyage from Japan to Europe, it underwent several name changes. Upon its arrival in Italy, the toy was welcomed as Mon Cicci, adopting a familiar and endearing name. In Spain, the toy monkey earned the nickname Virkiki, while in France, it was lovingly called Kiki. Regardless of the name, the essence of the toy remained the same – a lovable companion symbolizing love, empathy, and childhood innocence.

Vintage 70s Sekiguchi Monchichi ChicABoo Thumb Sucking Monkey 1974 Floral Dress
Vintage 70s Sekiguchi Monchichi Chic A Boo Thumb Sucking Monkey 1974 Floral Dress. Sold for £45.00 on ebay, April 2023.

In the 1980s, the toy made its way to the UK, where it underwent a rebranding. Now known as Chic a Boo, the toy retained its distinctive features and continued to charm children. This cheeky little monkey became an icon of 80s childhood, creating countless memories for British children.

The fascination for these toys extended beyond their interactive features, with Chic a Boo and its counterparts finding their way into mainstream media. In Japan, the toy inspired the production of two television series. In 1980, “Monchhichi Twins,” a Japanese anime series was released. This was followed by the American cartoon series “Monchhichis” in 1983, produced by the famous animation studio Hanna-Barbera and aired on ABC. The Monchhichis were depicted as monkey-like creatures residing in the magical forest land of Monchia, located high above the clouds. Their leader, Wizzar, was a magical wizard who protected his tribe from their nemesis, the wicked Grumplins of Grumplor, with his spells and potions.

In 2004 the Bebechhichi  (Monchhichi babies) were released.

Vintage Sekiguchi Bebechhichi Monkey
Vintage Sekiguchi Bebechhichi Monkey. Sold for Vintage Sekiguchi Bebechhichi Monkey on ebay, April 2023.

Embracing the success of Chic a Boo and leveraging its unique thumb-sucking feature, the manufacturers later diversified the toy line to include other animals.  Each of these toys carried the endearing thumb-sucking characteristic, enhancing their appeal and providing children with a variety of cuddly companions to choose from.

For its 40th Anniversary the range became known as Monchhichi worldwide. The range continues to enchant children today.

From Monchhichi to Chic a Boo, from Tokyo to London, this adorable toy monkey has created a legacy of love and affection. It’s a testament to Sekiguchi’s vision that a simple toy could bridge cultural differences and connect generations across the globe. Through changing times and across different cultures, the story of Chic a Boo is a delightful reminder of the universal language of play, love, and friendship.

A new Monchhichi Premium Super Soft L. Premium Monchhichi doll with standard look and features : Body is plush material, face & limbs are made of soft vinyl, right hand pacifier that can be put into the mouth.

Price Guide / Value Guide

The range is available again today and all the new collections are branded Monchhichi. It can be difficult for collectors to differentiate the vintage designs from their more modern counterparts when they are out of the packaging. The modern examples can cost more than the originals. The differing names throughout the world in the past also cause some confusion.

The Monchhichi were created initially as toy in large numbers so most examples are readily available. Good vintage examples are generally estimated at £20-£30 / $30-$45 with outfits generally estimated at £10-£20 / $15-$30.

New Monchhichi  can be viewed at Monchhichi .shop

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