When I was a kid, my grandmother got several catalogs and magazines that truly had big influences on me and my tastes and hobbies. One was the Walter Drake catalog, which, in my opinion, is a shadow of its former self, or perhaps as a kid everything in it held so much wonder for me. Now it just seems like stuff you’d find at WalMart.
But oh, what it held for a ten-year-old back then! See, it was a paper catalog in those days, and in the middle folds of the book were the 88-Cent Pages!!
The above image is from an 80s Walter Drake catalog on ebay. On the glorious 88-Cent Pages, you chose six items from those pages and they were each 88 cents! There were all sorts of little things from miniatures and craft items to knickknacks small toys. But I will get to that in another post.
One such item from the 88-Cent Pages was my beloved Chibunkey.
I still remember his description: Cute as a chipmunk, furry as a bunny, mischievious as a monkey–that’s Chibunkey!
Grandmother asked me what I would like for Christmas that year and if I wanted anything from the 88-Cent Pages. I marked Chibunkey and some other items that, again, I will get to later.
I flipped over my stocking contents that Christmas. There was Chibunkey, peeping out of the top, just as if he had stepped out of the catalog.
Looking back on what he was, I now realize that he was most likely a cheaply-made knockoff of a Nyamy Kitten, a Japanese-made cat resembling Monchichi. Both of these toys were stuffed animals with humanish baby faces in flesh-toned hard plastic.
Chibunkey was small, about the size of your hand if you’re a ten-year-old kid. He had grayish-blue fur and did look mostly like a cat–he had a long tail and small pointed ears. He had the hard plastic babyface I described and little stubby-fingered hands to match. His arms were moveable but not his legs. But at the end of those legs were something I have not seen in all my research trying to find out what Chibunkey was…he had BRIGHT ORANGE SHOES. That’s how I will know it’s a Chibunkey if I ever find one online–those shoes!
I never gave him a new name as I’ve always done with my toys ever since I can remember. I loved the name “Chibunkey”—-let’s face it, it’s fun to say—so it stayed. He became a constant companion and went everywhere in my purse until he was stolen at school. I got him back, but it cost me embarrassment for being a crybaby or tattletale(I forgot which) and that was the end of his schoolday hijinks. In fifth grade that was suicide, bringing in a toy that other kids coveted. Chibunkey then stayed at home, hanging out with my tiniest teddy bears on my bookshelf, trading adventure stories.
Somehow Chibunkey got stuck in a box of flea market or Goodwill stuff, I think, because he disappeared. I have done numerous online searches to find another,but to no avail. The orignial had no tags, so even if he did show up, I doubt anyone would know his real name and would probably just call him exactly what he looks like—-a cheaply-made knockoff of a Nyamy Kitten.
In my searches and learning about Nyamys, however, I found this one in the below pic–it’s a small one, and it looks like its limbs don’t move, like it’s a still figure. Except for no shoes, it is so similar to Chibunkey I just wonder if perhaps the company that made it got their mitts on the Nyamy plastic mold, made the toy and designed new legs for it with shoes.
I really like this little guy. He would be a pretty decent replacement especially if he were the blue-gray color like this larger, cuddly one seen below.
This one looks a bit like he’s about to get hit with a pie and he’s bracing himself,but he’s got the Chibunkey color, perfectly.
The best Nyamys I’ve seen in my searchings now are the black ones. I think I may have to find one of those. They seem to be rare, but I really like them. They look less “human baby” and more pixieish.
The red ones look downright devilishly awesome!
So that’s the story of Chibunkey. Will I ever find another one? It doesn’t look too likely, as the only references you’ll find to him in all of the internet are on my blog. 😦 But I’ll continue to look or perhaps just find a similar substitute in the Nyamys. They are in the same family, after all.