A couple of weeks ago, I was flipping though an issue of Life Magazine from 1960 when I saw a semi-familiar face. No, not her....
....although she's what caught my eye first! I mean, how fab is that outfit?! Truly? But no, the face that caught my eye was the little cutey at her ankle. To be fair, it was the skirt that sparked the recognition in me. Didn't I used to have a toy that resembled that???
Yes. YES! I was sure of it! It was a hand-me-down from my mother's own childhood. And it did indeed latch on to your arm...or a lamp...or a bedpost....or anything really. I eagerly read the story about the Dakko-chan.
It seems it was the 'fad of the year' in 1960. Created that year by the Takara toy company (yep, the one who later created Transformers), these clingy little babies were all the rage in Japan and the popularity had spread to America. Their name means 'embraceable' or 'embrace me' and that's just what they did!
Every 'with it' young girl wanted one, from Tokyo to New York...and even to Baileyton, Tennessee it would seem!
The toy went out of production in 1988 because of claims that it was racist....uh, yeah...ya think?! I must admit though, as politically incorrect as the doll is, it's darn cute! And who doesn't love a toy that grabs onto things? Especially if it's your arm or leg? Remember those weird monkey puppets with velcro hands and feet that everyone had in the '80s?
Anyway, the more I read about the Dakko-chan, the more I doubted that my memory was correct. The toy I remembered was sort of a brownish gray. And it was plush, not inflatable. And, while I remembered it wearing a skirt, mine also wore a beret and didn't have a curl in the middle of it's forehead. Perhaps I didn't have a Dakko-chan after all? And just where on earth had that thing...whatever the hell it was...got to anyway???
My questions....well some of them....were answered just the other day! I brought home several bins from my parents' house. They were full of, well, my childhood basically. About mid-way through the first bin, guess who's little eyes peered out and winked at me for the first time in years?.....
Yup. My (well, my MOTHER'S really!) Dakko-chan!! Isn't it the bee's?
I asked mom about his history and how she'd come by him. She said that a boy had won the Dakko-chan for her at the fair when she was in her early teens....around 1960 or '61. She said they were all the rage and were marketed as 'bedpost dolls' and that this little bit of sweetness hung on her bedpost until after high school. She said it was originally an aqua colour...you can kind of see it in the joints at it's head and legs!
I've searched all over and can't find any reference anywhere to a plush, blue version of the Dakko-chan. His only marking is his teeny tiny 'Made in Japan' tag. Surely this isn't the only one out there? Any of you seen one of these little moppets? Do you have any hand-me-down toys from your parents?