Chic-A-Boo, as you can clearly see, was a cute brown furry monkey toy. It’s face, hands and feet were made from plastic, and being a monkey, it had opposable thumbs which could be inserted into its mouth, which made it even cuter to look at.
The toy was originally developed in Japan in the mid to late 1970’s, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s that it became more popular in the UK. The original Japanese name for the toy was Monchhichi, but since the (intentional) double ‘H’ in the middle was a bit confusing for us Brits, the name was changed to Chic-A-Boo. Similarly, in Italy it became Mon Cicci, and in France the even simpler Kiki.
They were created by Koichi Sekiguchi as a way of teaching both children and adults to be loving and respectful, although I dare say he also realised a bit of a money spinner when he saw one. Originally the toys were sold in pairs, with one male and one female doll – quite how you told which was which I’m not sure – probably something as simple as the girl had a bow in her hair. Before long though the toys were sold individually, and a whole range of additional clothing was also launched.
The toys were incredibly popular in Japan, but perhaps less so in the rest of the world. I remember though that my sister always wanted one, and I think one day she did get an imitation one. At least, I think it was an imitation one as you could insert the thumbs and toes into both the mouth and, rather more disgustingly, the nostrils. Original Monchhichi dolls don’t have nostril holes, instead having a little brown elliptical nose instead.
One thing that does stick in my mind for these dolls though was the jingle used on the TV advert. I’m not sure quite why it lodged in my brain so much (these things do for some reason – obviously a misspent youth watching too much TV) but it went something like this.
Furry and cuddly we love you
It’s such fun to dress you up too
The range of available Monchhichi was also expanded with the introduction of different animals given a similar design treatment, including gorillas and rabbits, and in Japan they continue to be popular to this day.