Monchhichis have been around since the mid-70s in their native Japan, but the furry little critters didn’t spread around the world until the early 80s.
At that time, Saturday morning television was abuzz with tiny blue Smurfs, and ‘cute’ was big business.
Smurfs producers Hanna-Barbera scrambled to find more wee cuties, and teaming up with toymaker Mattel, they found just what they were looking for in the Monchhichis.
As the cartoon’s story went, the Monchhichis lived “way up in the trees” of Monchia, where they were constantly harassed by the slimy Grumplins.
Among the heroic (adorably heroic) Monchhichis were Moncho, Kyla, Tootoo, Patchitt, the aged wizard Wizzar and the tiny, super-excitable Thumkii.
By the time the US cartoon debuted in 1983, Mattel made sure toy store shelves were well stocked with these precious primates (especially that darling Thumkii).
Their hard plastic thumbs and faces let the thumbs stay in the mouths, but everything else about Monchhichis was as soft and cuddly as could be, making them irresistible to little girls everywhere.
The Monchhichis cartoon only lasted a single season, but that didn’t hurt the toys’ fortunes.
Thumb-sucking monkey dolls don’t need cartoons to be popular, thank you very much.