The 1980's was a great time to be a little girl. The selection of girl toys with cartoon tie ins seem to be never ending. You had Strawberry Shortcake, She-Ra, Cabbage Patch Kids, Popples, Dolly Pops, Glamour Girls and Monchichis. The quantity and quality was reaching boy toy levels.
The 1980's was not, however a great time to be a little girl whose parents only seemed to shop at outlets and clearance sales. It also did not help that most toys aimed towards girls seemed to come with a premium price tag. Nor was it advantageous to be the lone girl in class without the must have toy required to fit in the ever changing and ever judgmental girl society of the grade school playground.
Perhaps that is why I readily found kinship amongst the boys. As long as you had a few Hotwheels, a bike, a baseball mitt, and some cheap M.U.S.C.L.E guys, you were accepted without question.
This did not deter me from wanting to fit in with those of my gender, and come Christmas or my birthday I would make sure to include at least one of the must have girl status symbols on my list.
One particular year I was crazy over Monchichis. The commercials had me salivating. What a perfect toy for the Return of the Jedi crowd. A furry little friend you could dress up that was cute, had a tail and could suck his thumb.
Every time I saw the commercial, I'd point it out to my mom. If we were in a store that had them on display, I'd wax poetic about them. On Saturday mornings I'd pester my mom to watch the cartoon with me. I was in full blown parental brainwashing mode. I was going to insure that come January, after winter break, I would join the elite girls of my class and be accepted once I had my Monchhichi
Come Christmas, I was beyond ready for my little Japanese monkey doll. I remember ripping into my presents hoping each one would bring me closer. Of course, it would have to be the last gift I'd open, right?
Upon tearing into the wrapping paper like a child possessed, I gazed upon my prize: my brand new thumb sucking monkey... Gonga.
It wasn't a Monchhichi. It wasn't anything that even closely resembled a Monchhichi. It was a little gorilla who's only kinship to the Monchhichi was that he too could suck his thumb. The tag on his butt said his name was "Gonga". I called him "Disappointment." Gonga couldn't even wear clothes. Nothing would fit him, not even Teddy bear sweaters.
I never let on to my parents, though. I thanked them and told them I loved him.
When Christmas vacation was over, and we returned to school, all the girls in class gathered around to show off their new Monchhichis and accessories. I stood with the boys making fun of them, trading baseball cards, and racing the Hotwheels we'd all snuck into class in our pockets.