Why Some Asians Love Cute Toys. And Why Some Of Us Love Stuffed Animals

All around the world, a good number of us are obsessed with stuffed animals and toys. If you’re Asian or have been to Asia, chances are cute, kawaii-looking toys are something you might be familiar with. Maybe even love.

I love stuffed animals, especially stuffed monkeys. In my apartment I have a shelf full of them collected over the years. I’m particularly fond of this one that I call Mr Wobbles: knitted with light brown wool, long skinny arms and legs, fat belly, sans tail. One of the more odd-looking toys around.

A stuffed toy can mean the world to us. All the more reason for us to take good care of it | Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful.

A stuffed toy can mean the world to us. All the more reason for us to take good care of it | Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful.

We might be obsessed with teddy bears. Or obsessed with stuffed lions or penguins. Hello Kitty, Sanrio and Rilakkuma plushes are ever so popular in Asia. But no matter the toys we’re fond of, usually the stories of our past, and our desire to find our place in this world, play a part in why these inanimate objects often matter to us a great deal.

Some of us Asians like cute toys because cute has always been a big part of our culture. Cute in the sense being attractive in a delicate, dainty way, or slightly astutely shrewd in demeanour. The kawaii phenomenon has long flirted with the realms of Asian fashion, food and entertainment, with its popularity gaining traction in the 80s in Japan. These days, Chinese tourists fly thousands of miles to Australia to get their hands on lavender-stuffed fluffy purple teddy bears. Sometimes we are attracted to cute toys because they rub off on our style and personal taste – a natural accessory to the lives we live.

Mr Wobbles was a gift from someone. Meeting the second time a couple of days after my birthday earlier this year, she eagerly pushed the stuffed toy into my hand. I hesitated. Picked it up. Its head wobbled back to front, back to front. Don’t know if monkey-from-a-stranger and I will make a great pair…

Sometimes stuffed toys are a great companion wherever we go.

Sometimes stuffed toys are a great companion wherever we go.

Sometimes stuffed toys remind us of our younger days, times when we felt the world was at our feet. Times when we were kids playing ‘til our heart’s content. Growing up Asian often comes with burdened responsibilities: expectations to climb the career ladder, have a family, take care of the elderly parents, the list goes on. Sometimes holding onto a stuffed animal, symbolic of naïve childhood, is a silent means of escaping and rebelling against society expectations for a moment.

And so toys embody the notion of youth, a trait esteemed in Asian cultures. In line with sexist stereotypical perceptions, when someone of the female sex is seen with a stuffed toy in hand, the more innocent she may come across – which is probably why hardly anyone in patriarchal-structured Asian cities bats an eyelid at girls with a penchant for toys.

Perhaps we lust after toys because in our eyes they are prized possessions. Cute-looking toys, reminiscent of not only innocence but also purity, carry auspicious luck as some might reckon. Or perhaps claiming ownership of a toy is a pride thing. Every now and then it’s no surprise to see queues outside fast-food joints in Asia, queues for limited edition toys that come with fast-food meals. At one point in Singapore, my parents and I queued to collect the “Lucky 8” stuffed monkeys McDonalds gave away during the Chinese New Year season – and more than ten years on today, our collectible monkeys still sit in their plastic cases.

…a frustrating day at work. Finally, 5pm and time to go home. I picked up Mr Wobbles from my desk to put into my bag. Its smiling face looked up at me. Smiling like he means it the whole day…

Stuffed toys can open our eyes to the world around us.

Stuffed toys can open our eyes to the world around us.

Toys make us see the world in more ways than we think. There’s always some mystery about them. Though inanimate objects, toys make us dream, wonder and imagine what could be if they could move and talk. And when we imagine, we play – be spontaneous, feel carefree. The older we get, the more responsibilities we have, but with a toy in our hands, we can learn to dance with the simplicities of life once again. As psychologist Charles E. Schaefer said:

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.”

Play is a form of art. Playing unleashes our creativity, and certain stereotypes we have about ourselves and the world fall away for a moment. When we play with toys, we are a bit more observant; we discover there’s always another perspective, another idea, another culture.

…“Where did you get Mr Wobbles?” I messaged the person who gave me Mr Wobbles over Twitter during one quiet afternoon at work. “I’m not gonna tell you,” she responded for the umpteenth time. I sighed. Gift is a gift. I’ll never find out. Wandering to my colleague’s desk, Mr Wobbles sat there right where I left him – with a scrawl of a giraffe on a yellow Post-It that wasn’t there before, pen lying beside his hand. Monkey had an art class and a great time…

A stuffed toy can bring us the simple joys in life.

A stuffed toy can bring us the simple joys in life.

Perhaps stuffed animals have souls: uncanny life-like resemblance to animals. And to our individual selves, too. Soft to the touch, like how our flesh and our skin are soft to the touch, reminiscent of the fact each and every one of us, every single thing on this planet, is vulnerable. And vulnerability is often what binds us together in this big bad world. More often than not, one stuffed toy has many a fan. We imagine toys as another being, and feel that we’re not alone but all in this together along with everyone else who connects with them, regardless of colour, background and where we’re from. As author J.K. Rowing said on the power of imagination:

“Imagination is…the foundation of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

She messaged me again later at work. “Everybody loves Wobbles. He makes the world happy. I knew you’d like him.” I looked at the monkey now on my desk. Knits fraying along his arms, bits of crumbs stuck between strands of wool on his belly. A bit worse for wear now, but still a smiling stuffed monkey against the odds. How can anyone not like that face… A wonderful gift from a wonderful friend. Everything is so simple once again when we pick up a toy.

One stuffed toy can change a person. One stuffed toy can change the world in more ways than we realise. Even if just for a moment.

Do you have a stuffed toy that you love?

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233 thoughts on “Why Some Asians Love Cute Toys. And Why Some Of Us Love Stuffed Animals

  1. Mabel!!! I love this post as I am honoured to have met the Mr Wobbles himself! As you said, who could not love that smiling face? I loved him the second you pulled him out of the bag and he is a very special friend to us both 🙂 I have always been obsessed with Hello Kitty and Sanrio. I love plushies and of course my ultimate companion is my knitted sloth Fresco! Toys are like pets. They are voiceless friends that are always by our side, never judging us, just comforting us. They may not have a heartbeat, but they can feel as real as a family cat or dog. Fresco doesn’t have any sentimental ties. He was merely an adorable creation I discovered on Etsy that I had to have but now that he is in my life, he is very precious to me. I like that he had a play-date with Mr Wobbles and has travelled with me before. You don’t have to be a child to love stuffed toys. They live in our hearts and on our beds forever! ❤ x

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually thought you looked quite surprised when I placed Mr Wobbles in front of your food for the first time. But he certainly has taken a liking to you and Fresco!

      I had no idea you love Hello Kitty and Sanrio 😀 Growing up, I had three Kerokerokeropis – the green Sanrio frog – and today they are on my shelf. It was such a pleasure meeting Fresco. Like Wobbles, Fresco has a very relaxed face and is not afraid to give out some love to anyone he sees. I love that and so happy he and my monkey get along.

      “They are voiceless friends that are always by our side, never judging us, just comforting us.” So well said, and Mr Wobbles can’t wait to see you again ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I did queue at macdonalds for those monkeys too!! Lol! For all we know, you might be the family that queue in front of mine. I have a Miffy who would travel with me wherever I go but I’m a bit paranoid that one day I may forget to pack her in my suitcase before I leave.

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  3. Can it be? Is Mr. Wobbles of unknown origins the animal of unknown cost, representing the intersection of East & West in gift-giving traditions? I must know.

    Maybe the stuffed animal represents not only a simpler time, but a time in which we ruled our own universe and anything was possible. Including monkey armies taking over the world — until defeated by the cat armies, of course.

    Which is why TOY STORY 3 was the best. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love how you said it: unknown monkey “…representing the intersection of East & West in gift-giving traditions?” He was certainly given to me by a white friend.

      Rumour has it Mr Wobbles was from an op shop (that means thrift store). My friend only saw it a day before we caught up and decided to get it for me. But, like you, I must know and hope to find out one day *sniff* Some months ago, I had a dream I actually walked into that op shop and saw more monkeys like Mr Wobbles.

      TOY STORY 3 was simply amazing. I walked away from the film believing that toys do come to life, as I’ve always believed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Mabel,

    I like the way you have mixed fantasy and reality to feed those childhood memories! I wish I too had such loving memories to share, I wish I had such a stuffed toy but I have some wonderful memories of the cuddly toys that my daughters and nephews shared and snatched from each other! One of the cats always lay neglected till my niece visited us and developed a fancy for this toy. She would always keep it on her left arm and cuddle her so much that my daughters started envying and wanted their cat back! and then she went missing!

    We thought my niece who got so attached to her must have taken her along, without telling us and so everybody reconciled to it, almost forgot about it. One day we found her hidden in one of the lesser used cupboards and we all had a hearty laugh over the attachments! But that cat always reminded us of my niece and was also named after her. We still crack a joke…remember the cat you had hidden!

    I have never tried to understand the love that children develop for stuffed toys and some grow out of it very fast. Your Mr. Wobbles is quite cute and it is interesting that you are still attached to it! I would like to know the emotion behind this attachment.

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    • I’m sure you had something you cherished as a kid. It need not be a stuffed toy. We find attachment and affiliation to different objects.

      Thanks for sharing the cat story, Balroop. That was hilarious! Your niece might have loved how warm the cat was, or perhaps they got along well like best friends. The cat named after her – it really must have a special place in all of your hearts.

      Mr Wobbles is one of a kind. I am sure he was knitted with a lot of love, just like how the cat you came to know seems to take a liking to all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I still have, at my parents’ house, the first stuffed bear I remember having. I got it from my godparents when I was 3 and at that moment it was bigger than me!

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  6. Teehee! What a super cute post. As a child, I had a pillow (I wasn’t big on soft toys, although I do still have a cupboard filled with them), aptly named Pilly. She had many layers, Mom would sew another case each year on my birthday. Pilly was a valued part of my family until I was 21 years old when she passed with my father. We had a funeral for my pillow too. That all sounds a bit weird huh?! There is something comforting about a soft toy, or pillow, or something we have with us growing up. Going home to hug my bears now.
    Hope you are well little sis. Big squishy hugs and love coming at you. xox

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    • Pilly! Such a cute name for a pillow, a name that makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Sounds like those pillowcases were certainly made with love by your mom, which means Pilly was showered with love al lthe time!

      Aside from monkeys, I have this blanket given to me when I was born by my aunt. I still have it today 🙂 Hopefully you have another pillow or cushion to make you feel warm and fuzzy today ❤

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  7. I never knew how much I liked cute things until I moved to Taiwan. I love the fact that young people here, especially girls, are not afraid to embrace ‘cute’ and it seems to be the norm. My like for cute things, though, doesn’t extend beyond admiration and buying the occasional cute thing or two. My style is still very simple, but I veer towards casual chic. With that being said, I plan to go to the Hello Kitty Café the next time we go to Taipei – super cute, all pink, and everything Hello Kitty [I am not sure my husband will love that, but I am sure it will be a great laugh….haha]

    I have a few teddy bears that my husband gave me and I received the cutest sets of wedding bears when we got married. My friend gave me two with traditional Chinese wedding attire and my aunt gave us a bride and groom teddy bear set from a famous teddy bear manufacturer [I just can’t of the name now, but I know they were expensive.]

    Mr. Wobbles seemed to have had quite the adventure – sitting in trees, making happy faces in the sand, and playing in the fallen leaves. I just love how you love this monkey and it reminds me of how we should enjoy the little things, the simple things.

    Hope you are having a great week, Mabel!

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    • It never is too late to join the cute bandwagon, Constance. Some might see this phenomenon childish, but like you I like to see it as another means of self-expression. You have to tell us all about the Hello Kitty Café when you get to visit it in Taipei. Your husband can do all the photo taking as you wander around 😀

      Some teddy bears can certainly be expensive, and I think it usually boils down to what material they are made out of. As for Mr Wobbles, he certainly has been going places. You have not seen the last of him 😉

      Hope your book is going well ❤

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  8. 🙂 I have a number of stuffed toys I love, but I will mention one that is very special to me.

    Her name is Princess. She is a rare, violet coloured beanie baby from America. When I was five,my dad went on a business trip to the US. When he returned he handed me Princess. Not only had Princess always been my dad’s pet name for me, this beautiful bear was rare and one of a kind. Only available in the US. To this day, I still have little Princess, sitting by my bed. She has been a constant companion throughout my childhood and I used to take her with me everywhere.

    I love Mr Wobbles. And I’m so glad he has brought you the joy and companionship that toys, dolls and stuffed bears, can bring.

    ❤ Jessica.

    PS. And no I'm never going to tell you where he came from 😀

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    • Princes the violet beanie bear sounds very cute. She sounds like a very gentle soul and has been a loyal companion to you over the years. Doesn’t sound like she got tired of you at all 🙂

      Mr Wobbles was such a special gift. However, I am sure he has a cheeky side to him, and a nasty one too. After all, there is the saying, “Smile…it confuses people”.

      I am sure I will find out where Mr Wobbles was bought as I had a dream walking into that shop 😀

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      • She certainly hasn’t. She has spent lots of nights with me when I’m sad, scared & sick.

        I think he does have a little cheeky side! He’s a cheeky little monkey. Like the ones in the nursery rhyme!

        maybe…maybe not!

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        • That’s the great things about toys, isn’t it. Always there by our side without question. I will have to prod and poke Mr Wobbles hard to get him to tell me where he was bought. Or made.

          I really hope Wobbles doesn’t get corrupted by all the attention he receives.

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  9. Absolutely love the pictures! 😀 To be honest, I have always been a huge fan of stuffed animals. When I was a child, I was given one of my mom’s old teddies who I named “Mommy’s teddy” lol. I still have him today and he still sits gracefully on a shelf in my room. I won’t forget the look on my boyfriend’s face when he came over to my place for the first time: my bed was neatly made with three stuffed animals on my bed. He just looked at me and began smiling. I personally love snuggling up to my teddies because they remind me of being young and also they have a lot of wonderful memories attached to them. 😀

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    • Awww. Mommy’s teddy. Such a cute name! And the teddy sounds like a cutie patootie! Sounds like you take care of your stuffed animals very well. Often stuffed toys represent a moment in time – a time when we get them and had fun with them. They are like time capsules in some way, connected to our hearts 😀

      You are very neat, arranging all your teddies on your bed. I arrange my stuffed monkeys on my bed 😀

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  10. Hey Mabel, Your cheerful post brings back sweet memories. Yes playfulness unleashes creativity and we are most alive and engrossed when we are at play.
    I had two monkeys similar to Mr Wobbles – one brown and one black, and another one that was hairy brown. In fact I had arranged all soft toys in a wooden showcase when my daughter was small and I had also clicked her sitting on the showcase with the soft toys. That’s one of my favorite pictures till date.
    But is it something specific to Asians. The liking for soft toys, I think, is universal, else we would we find so many of them at Hamleys.

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    • You’re a monkey fan too! So cool. The two monkeys yuo had sound very unique, especially the hairy brown one. I am sure your daughter took a liking to the monkeys on your wooden showcase and that she had a good time playing with them. I hope you have that photo framed. It sounds very cute.

      I too think that a liking for toys is universal. Though I have noticed that certain kinds of toys are more popular among Asians compared to other cultural groups. Interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. No stuffed toys for me! I prefer remote controlled cars and my stinky blanket. I guess the stinky blanket means to me much like stuffed toys mean to you. I was devastated when my mom threw it away when I was away in England! 😦

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    • Fair enough if hard toys are what floats your boat. I too have a stinky blanket that was given to me when I was born. I still have it, albeit it is certainly thinning out and fraying everywhere. Maybe your mum played a joke on you and it’s still somewhere in the place where you grew up. You never know.

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  12. Hi Mabel! Beautiful post. Loved reading it. Couldn’t agree more with your point that some of us are fascinated with cute stuffed toys because they were prized possession during our childhood days. I love stuffed owls 🙂

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  13. What a lovely story Mabel, of toys and stuffed animals and memories surrounding those creatures. Your Wobble has a counterpart in the Tommy of my household. A stuffed dark brown simian picked up from a supermarket in the Middle East, he has been part of our life for the last twenty years, moving with us wherever we were posted. An inanimate object it may be at the time of procurement but it takes a life of its own over a period of time, as a silent witness to events and changing scenarios. Tommy sends his best wishes to Wobble…

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    • Your Tommy sounds like a one of a kind toy. This is the first time I’ve heard of anyone having a simian toy. Don’t think I’ve seen them around much, come to think of it. And to think he was picked up from a supermarket – he has such humble beginnings.

      Twenty years with you and your family. I’m sure he has entertained a few generations and has been a conversation starter at times. Wobbles sends his regards to Tommy and hopes to meet him some day 🙂

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  14. I feel like I’m missing out on something great here,.. I don’t have a stuffed toy that I love… Mr Wobbles is cute, maybe you should include him in your photos once in a while 😉

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    • Surely you played with toys at some point. They need not be stuffed; a non-stuffed toy can bring us joy too 🙂 Maybe you played with dolls, or maybe even cars. Aside from stuffed animals, I enjoyed playing with my brother’s toy cars as a kid.

      Mr Wobbles hasn’t been feeling too good of late. He is falling apart but I”m sure with some rest he will be out and about soon 🙂

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  15. I once posted on FB, “How many stuffed animals can a single grown woman have before a man refuses to step into her apartment?” The responses were quite funny, and I was being totally serious as I was amassing quite a little army of furry friends.

    Stuffed animals are quite special to me and have been since childhood. I have one cherished friend who I brought over from Thailand. (I’ve posted a few pics of him :P) And you would not believe how stressed out I was about bringing him over to Cambodia. I lost sleep over imaging the worst.

    Mr. Wobbles seems alright by my book. I’d like to meet him, shake his hand and have a few words. Great post. Brings out the kid in me and all my love for those plush toys – yup, a lot of Asians are obsessed with them.

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    • That is an interesting question. I believe that no one can have too many stuffed animals as long as he or she takes good care of them. Then again, hoarding is not a great habit but that’s a whole other topic altogether 😀

      It sounds like it’s hard to bring your stuffed animal around. I hope he made it safely to Cambodia, sounds so and it must be keeping you company now. Stuffed toys, especially those bigger than the palm of our hand, tend to take up more room than they think. It’s not that convenient to bring Mr Wobbles around…

      Mr Wobbles would love to meet you, a YouTube star 😀 He has big thumbs obviously, so he will be able to grip your hand with no problem.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, he did. He’s sitting next to me now. I love him so.

        I actually had to give up two in Thailand. I ended up giving them to a couple of friends who just had their first twins! It was hard to do, but I know they are happy in their new home.

        Great post, Mabel. I have so much I could say 🙂

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  16. I didn’t get my first toy (doll or stuffed bear) till I was quite ‘old’. By then, I had lost my ‘interest’ in toys but it was my comfort blanket away from the realities of the world.

    Yes, I will try to adopt the expression you have quoted ‘smile, it confuses people.’ Quite!

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    • It’s never too old to get a toy! I got Mr Wobbles only this year and he makes me so happy. Always smiling but I’m sure the bugger has a cheeky side to him!

      I used to have a senior colleague who smiled all the time. I found it creepy, but at least she wasn’t a scary-looking sour-faced office mate!

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      • I didn’t realise you got Mr Wobbles this year. Does he have his own passport?

        I, too share your feelings i.e creepy when someone smiled all the time. Yes, I have such colleague in my office and others in another department. One has to be gracious. It pays to be mindful.

        The three monkeys……..

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        • Does Mr Wobbles has his own passport? I don’t know, actually. I will need to ask the person who gave him to me…

          Funnily how no one finds Mr Wobbles’ smile creepy. Stuffed toys can get away with anything it seems. The three monkeys? See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkeys.

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  17. I dont have any stuffed animal that I love or toys to speak of. However I am a huge Lego fan which can be seen in another blog post at some not so far point in the future…
    Even though I aint into stuffed animals we have tons of them for Nathan and we are working on his room which will have a certain movie from Hayao Miyazaki as a theme, I just hope the little one will love it!

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    • Mr Wobbles wobbled his head in your direction – he is glad you like his name. Maybe you would like to meet him if us bloggers get a chance to meet up in the future… 🙂

      Penguins are cute. I’m sure one day you will find a stuffed penguin that you will fall in love with.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. My boyfriend (now husband) and I got a teddy bear named Mocha. She’s our travelling bear and we pass our bear to our friends who don’t live close to us. This around the time we were finished with school and everyone dispersed to different parts of the US. We couldn’t afford a plane ticket or a road trip to go visit our friends but we had Mocha visit them and they would take her to places and take photos. She apparently also likes alcohol :-P.

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  19. A very cute write-up with lovely pictures of Mr Wobbles.
    I used to play with dolls a lot and did have stuffed toys but only one or two. Now I do have my son’s toys. Last week, while cleaning the garage I took out his Humphrey Bear look-a-like big teddy and remembered how he used to dance with it whenever he saw Humphrey’s TV show. And then there was a big Elmo and one particular cute penguin that squeaked. I have them all nicely packed but can’t say for how long I can keep them.
    But you are very right. Cute is a part of Asian culture, and by Asian I don’t mean south-Asian or Indian. I have tea cups that are cute and small, and I bought them from a Chinese Mall here. But I drink tea only in huge Aussie mugs. Then there are dainty umbrellas…Japanese, Korean.
    As you pointed out ‘one stuffed toy has many a fan’ thus a simple toy connects us all. If at all we feel something for them it’s tenderness and cute fondness as if they are our harmless little friends.

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    • Humphrey Bear! I used to watch the cartoons all the time as a kid, and like your son, I had a Humphrey Bear too. I hope your son remembers how much he loved this bear. And the Elmo too 😉 It sounds like he had a fun filled childhood.

      I love Chinese and Asian cups. And plates. Always love the intricate design on them and they always tend to be so colourful.

      Interesting you pointed out the phrase, ‘one stuffed toy has many a fan’. I wondered if anyone would relate to that. Mr Wobbles seems to be very popular here 😀

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  20. mr. wobbles does look cute! =) reminds me of the stuffed toy monkey my friend gave me which made monkey sounds when you press his tummy. i named him mickey but i left him in the philippines when i moved here. as cute as it was, there was simply no room for it in my bursting luggage. =(

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    • Awww. What a cute stuffed monkey you have. I am sure he is keeping your house in the Philippines safe and sound, chasing away the bad guys and bugs 🙂 Mr Wobbles greatful for your kind words and sends his best wishes ❤

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    • Jewey, I bought a what sounds like the same toy for my grandson. Sadly, it scared him and my son-in-law gave it away. I guess my grandson was too young for it. He must have been two or three years old.

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      • hahaha. i can just imagine your grandson’s fright over the sound. i showed it to my niece when she was about 3 years old and fortunately, the sound didn’t really bother her. it bothered me more having to listen to it over and over again because she wouldn’t stop pressing the darn button. lol.

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  21. Dear Mabel
    I finally know the origin of stuffed toys, every child, no! Perhaps every adult at some stage have very distinct memories of things, maybe a book or a hat, even if they pass the time become dilapidated, and that representatives of current and past the link.
    I remember a long time ago I had a gold bracelet, that’s my boyfriend gave me, when I get married, I decided to make memories for cutting, I sell the gold bracelet, and then get the money donated to orphanages , you might ask me to regret it? If I answer that no, that’s not true,I read the article about Mabel stuffed toys, I suddenly remembered this secret.
    haha
    Have a nice day! 🙂
    sophia

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    • That is such an interesting personal story. Thank you for sharing, Meihsiu. So generous of your to donate the money received from the bracelet. All in good faith.

      I too think that every adult has some object that they find meaning in. Yes, it could be anything really. For me, it’s Mr Wobbles. I wonder how long I will like him 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! You should get a stuffed animal. Then you can take it on your travels and I’m sure that will be fun. My “little stuffed monkey” isn’t actually so little. The cheeky thing is quite sizable and takes up quite a lot of space in my everyday carry bag 😀

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  22. You have answered the question for me why Asian girls love soft toys. I don’t know if you want the Chinese dating TV show on SBS – You are the one? I watch very little TV, and I might be crazy, but I do like that show! Although I see most of the girls talk about their collection of soft toys! I don’t have many, the few I did hang on to from childhood my kids have inherited, and disposed of. Mr Wombles looks like a great and wise companion!

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    • I have heard of the Chinese dating show and vaguely remember at one point seeing an advertisement for it. Interesting to hear the girl participants talk about stuffed toys – I’m sure they think that it’s a romantic gesture if a guy gives a girl a stuffed toy.

      I hope your kids had fun with your childhood stuffed toys. Sounds like they did. Mr Wobbles is really fraying of late. He sits in my bag when I take him to and fro work each day, and I think the friction between the knit and walls of my bag is making him unwell.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Ok. You’ve enlightened me a lot here, ’cause myself and siblings were never into stuffed toys/animals. But the next generation, have received alot of stuffed toys…which they seem to drift away over time.

    I always wondered why there is a penchant in certain Asian cultural groups in Asia over stuffed toy animals. Maybe something to cuddle….when some people don’t get enough demonstrative love.

    My comment probably clearly indicates how Canadian born-raised I am even if I have an Asian face. We also grew up poor and parents hardly could afford to buy many toys. And their friends were poor and we certainly never got toys from them (vs. food, clothes) as gifts. I think my comments/attitude is probably reflection also of my generation because my Chinese-CAnadian female friends in their 40’s to 50’s aren’t interested in stuffed/cute toys. Not even for their car dashboard. These are women born and raised in Canada like myself.

    I find the cuteness attraction in imagery and a lot of it..to me, is a hook to the Asian community and whoever else like cuteness, for advertising something else…for Asian produced goods, services, etc.

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    • “Maybe something to cuddle….when some people don’t get enough demonstrative love.” Fascinating suggestion on why some Asians are besotted with stuffed toys and cute toys. Stuffed toys are voiceless, and often we can imagine without distraction that they “love us”, to put it loosely.

      I think your comment highlights generational attitudes towards cute toys. Back in the day, I’m sure you took pride in owning more practical objects. Sadly these days, many toys are the product of commodity culture, be it in the Western or Asian parts of the world – often spawned by other mediums of popular culture like TV series and films.

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  24. Hey Mabel, I didn’t read through all of the comments, so I don’t know if anyone else said it already…. but I suspect that your Mr Wobbles is based upon Kay Bojesen’s famous wooden monkey. He is a world famous classic wooden toy in Denmark, and I’ve seen many soft toy crochet versions of it. =) I also have one at home – so Mr Wobbles is part of a big family! http://www.kaybojesen-denmark.dk/shop/webshop/p-438/abe-lille#.VjSXQmSrQy4

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    • No one has mentioned that. Never heard of Kay Bojesen’s famous wooden monkey. Thanks for the link. Looking at the monkey, it does resemble Mr Wobbles! The wooden monkey, cheerful and playful, just like Wobbles.

      And so the mystery of finding out where my monkey is from continues… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Oh Mabel, I love this post and I adore Mr Wobbles, what a handsome fellow and how happy he is to pose for you in your gorgeous photos! I am a sucker for soft toys, still have them on my bed. A big kid who never grew up…says a lot doesn’t it? I’m fascinated with the Chinese craze for those lavendar-stuffed fluffy purple teddy bears! Such a touching story about Mr Wobbles and friendship…thank you so much for this truly deligthful and thoroughly enjoyable post 🙂 ❤

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  26. I enjoy this post, as you would expect. The last photo with a smiling face on the sand … that’s clever and mischievous! It will be fun to do a swinging monkey shot by attaching one of Mr Wobbles’ hands to a tree branch 🙂

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    • Mr Wobbles was given to me by someone who could draw, hence his drawing skills. Now you got me thinking of how to attach the monkey’s arm to a tree branch. Let’s hope if I do his arms don’t fall off or doesn’t fall apart 😀

      Like

  27. Interesting topic, Mabel. We do tend to form a strong attachment with some objects even though those objects don’t quite respond to us. Perhaps it is because of the positive memories associated with those objects..memories we want to hold on to. The same phenomenon can be negative too. Some people can’t look at an item because it invokes bad memories. The love for stuffed animals in adulthood probably stems from our natural need to take care of something.

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    • Thanks, Uday. That is interesting you say that holding on to memories as bad. So true. Sometimes memories not only remind us of unpleasant times but it might hold us back from moving on.

      Agree with you. I too think it’s in our innate nature to care of something, or someone. After all, I think we all want to be loved, and want to love in return. It’s a great feeling.

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  28. I love your photos of Mr Wobbles, he does indeed look very loveable. Such an interesting post too, and thank you for linking to the kawaii article – the whole cuteness thing is something I have found really puzzling. Although, I do love those lavender bears too, they look so plush. I guess in my culture ‘cute’ is seen as an extreme of femininity and childishness that many people would think ‘not suitable for adults’. I agree with what you say about play though, and I think playfulness is important for adults to hold on to, one way or another.

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    • The whole concept of kawaii has always intrigued me too. Kawaii fashion and looks is a whole other topic, and I might write about that some day.

      The lavender bears seem to be quite accessible. I’ve seen a few shops in the city here in Melbourne selling them – but I have no idea if they are the authentic bears or not. We are never too old to play, and play helps us to see the fun side of life and keep positive.

      Mr Wobbles is glad you like the photos of him. He had a fun time being in front of the camera.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. When I was really small, I had a stuffed St. Bernard that I called George. I believe my mother bought if for me when we were still in England. I kept it for years after moving to Canada, I guess it was like a security blanket. Extremely well made, it took quite some time for me to wear it out. It was washed, and re-washed and battered around. Even after I broke and then eventually lost one of its acrylic eyes I refused to part with it until mum convinced me to say goodbye.

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    • Poor George. He seems like he has been places and was a loyal friend and companion by your side for many, many years. It sounds like he has a special place in your heart. I hope he went off to a new home, or at least a better place.

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  30. I must admit, I got a little curious about your cute Mr. Wobbles. Thank God you made this post. I now know where you draw some of those ass-kicking words. What so magnetizing about the way you delivered the story is using the cutie as an analogy to what is happening to our society in general and your world. You have shown me a different degree of appreciation for stuffed toys because of this. I never had one though. So I’m equating that, if you may, to some of my most treasured possessions: toy cars, hot wheels…they are being called differently in some countries I think.

    Looking back at how I envied my playmates who had plenty of toy cars, I can’t help but pity myself for failing to demand the things I wanted as a kid from my struggling parents. The reason was, toys are but nonessential items for families like us who are financially challenged. The wasak-wasak (the Filipino patois for the word “donated”) playthings from our well-off relatives complemented the yearning. At a very young age, I had already digested the struggles visible in our day-to-day life as holding device for my then petty demands. I learned how to bottle up the envy I had for my classmates and playmates who had a good supply of those stuff. Asking for a new toy from my parents was tantamount to insulting them. In spite of this unfortunate situation, I am proud that we were in that position back in the days because I would not have fully comprehended the meanings of contentment and blessing now.

    For me, seeing the little cars gives me unimaginable joy, which subtracted a big part of my childhood. Back then, I couldn’t explain why not having them was that hurting. Now that I’m older and can can buy them, somehow the little boy in me got saved from that plight. I never really felt more complete and happier whenever I look at my collection of itsy bitsy cars. I still feel the same each time I look at them now. TRUST ME WHEN I SAY, THERE’S MORE TO THIS SENTIMENT THAN ANYBODY COULD GRASP.

    Thank you, Mabel, for making me understand the kind of sentiment I have for my precious, little cars more so when you shared this quote from Charles E. Schaefer: “We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.”.

    I won’t get tired of taking care of them because they always heal that wounded part of me. After all, they make feel me more alive and complete. All the more reason for me to keep the little boy in my heart through them no matter what. 🙂

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    • You could have always asked my about cutie Mr Wobbles and I would have been happy to tell you what I know about him. He really doesn’t mind the attention, and happily posed for photos for my post all through the cold winter months – even the beach photo was taken in winter at 10’C in the evening.

      Thank you for sharing your story about your toy car collection. Certainly not everyone is privileged enough to play with toys. I think your parents wanted to instill the trait of hard working within you – if you wanted toys or anything fancy, you had to earn it.

      I too like you find it hard to explain why I liked stuffed toys, stuffed monkeys, but I tried my best in this post. Play not only ignites our carefree younger self, but it also shows us that there’s more to life than simply working round the clock.

      I had a few Hot Wheels cars as a kid. One was a sparkly green with a bit of yellow on it. Perhaps one day I’ll have the privilege of seeing your collection, and maybe Mr Wobbles can have a play with your cars 🙂

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  31. There was a time, not so long back, I’d collect super hero collectibles. My nephews were thrilled to see my collection. And it was always fun to play with them – often imagining mock battle scenes with imaginary dinosaurs, violent crashes, and precarious falls. 🙂 And then, one day my sister-in-law said that my nephew had very innocently told her mum about my ‘secret’ toy collection.
    I think we all have a child trapped within. As children we’re pretty unafraid of what the world thinks of us. As we grow, we become more aware of the culture we’re born in, the colour of our skin, the language we speak, and try to fit into a mould. I remember a conversation that I had had with an elderly Swedish man after the Great Wall Hike. He said, when he saw children in China, he remembered of children back home. They were so similar and they cared little of what others thought of them and played with carefree abandon. Maybe, that’s why when we play with our ‘toys’ we are transported back in time, when life was less complicated and what mattered was what you learned or probably didn’t. Life was more of living, rather than getting through it. 🙂
    P.S. Mr. Wobbles seems to be enjoying his outdoor outing! You should take him out more often.

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    • “super hero collectibles” clashing with your dinosaurs. That is so cute! Pretty sure you’re the only one so far in the comments to say they have a super hero collection. I hear some of the original toys can cost up to a few hundred dollars.

      You are so right. As we grow older, the more we learn that here are certain “rules” we have to live by. Such an interesting yet truthful observation by the Swedish man. As kids, I think what matters to them is living in the moment 🙂

      Mr Wobbles really likes the great outdoors. But he is fraying at the edges, so he needs to be careful.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. I do have cute toys and stuffed animals too. I had addiction to Hello Kitty when I was little then now I just love stuffed animals that remind me of ocean 🙂 Mr. Wobbles is adorable, is he a handmade? Great reflection and photo series of Mr. Wobbles 🙂

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    • Then I suppose you have a soft spot for fish toys, like Finding Nemo 🙂 Pretty sure Mr Wobbles is handmade. After all, he is made of wool, knitted. And he doesn’t have a tail…so either someone forgot to make him a tail or they were cruel and purposely didn’t give him one 😀

      Like

  33. I still have a few stuffed animals from my childhood. Only my favorites, though. I really have no need for them anymore, except for the memories, as you mentioned. I’ve never really understood the Asian fascination with Hello Kitty and similar toy figures, but you’re right — it definitely exists. Kids here — well, Lord knows what they like. Anymore it seems like everyone is playing with iPads and iPhones, and those aren’t really toys, if you ask me.

    My question is (and maybe you already answered this in another post): What’s with the peace sign? Even after living there, I really never understood why Asians always give a peace sign when they take pictures.

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    • So true. These days so many of us seem more content to be absorbed looking at our handphones and tablets. I hope your stuffed animals still have a good home – I know you’d give your favourite a good home anyway 🙂 If we do meet one day, I will bring Mr Wobbles along 🙂

      The peace sign? I’ve long thought about that and I think that question warrants a blog post itself. V for victory, happy to be there…could be anything…

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  34. Mabel, what an elegant explanation for Asian’s love of cute toys! Especially Asian girls, right? I always wondered about it. My three daughters were never into the Hello Kitty craze. Even though they grew up in Asia and had many Asian classmates, they went to an international school, so maybe they were less influenced by the fascination for cute little stuffed animals.

    I don’t remember any favorite stuffed animals from my childhood either. My favorite activities were reading, drawing, paper dolls, dancing, swimming, and bike riding. I do remember some favorite fairy tale books and some of the things I liked to draw.

    I love the way you posed Mr. Wobbles. The lighting and composition are wonderful.

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    • I’m sure your daughters had some stuffed toys they cherished when they were younger. Or perhaps a blanket. Or maybe even a few things that were near and dear to them. As kids, we always have that thing we find comfort it.

      Having paper dolls sounds interesting. Not something that I grew up with, and I suppose if you had the skill you could make them.

      Thanks, Nicki. All of the Mr Wobbles shots were spontaneous. Right moment, right time and Mr Wobbles was an on-point poser.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Mr Wobbles is totally adorable Mabel and such perfect shots of him. I love the one of him sitting by the beach. He must have enjoyed that!

    He is such a cute monkey! I am sure he and the Vervets would have quite a fun time together, though I don’t think he would last long between the lot here. They do play very rough.

    I also love stuffed animals and mine are mostly bears and tigers. The biggest one I have is Pink Panther. 😀

    As always, a very interesting read and gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing. ♥

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    • I am glad you like the shots of Mr Wobbles, Sophia. They aren’t portraits, not anything like yours up close and personal – portraits aren’t my stuffed monkey’s style!

      Oh, the Vervets are rough? I had no idea. They look like a fun-loving bunch. I can imagine them punching Mr Wobbles’ big belly and thinking that he ate all the bananas :O But thank you for being so honest. I like it.

      Pink Panther 😀 I used to have one of that as a kid. But I didn’t play with it a lot and mum gave it away. Hope your stuffed toys enjoy watching animals and insect pass by your place ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think they are gorgeous Mabel and I loved them. That’s all that matters. If I could take great shots like you, I wouldn’t mind at all. 😀

        Oh yeah for sure. You must see how they play with each other. Sometimes I have to tell them not be so rough with the little ones. They can be quite cheeky and they will pull Mr Wobbles apart just so each of them could have something to play with. LOL!

        I can’t remember if I played with my teddies a lot when I was a kid but the photos I have, shows I had a lot of them. I never liked dolls. I do prefer stuffed animals.

        I hope they do too. I have them in my showcase cabinet, where they can be safe from harm. 😀

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        • I really think I have a long way to go with photography, Sophia. I am still not used to carrying around a big mirrorless or DSLR around with me when I go out 😀 I would love to take portraits as good as you, but focusing has never been my strong point.

          The Vervets do sound they like rough fun. Poor Mr Wobbles. It doesn’t sound like he’ll make friends with them. I better tell him not to share his bananas with them.

          I too am not a huge fan of dolls. I did have few Barbie dolls but they tended to make me dizzy when I looked too long at them. Lots of teddies? I’m sure you played with them loads, or at least gave each of them you had a good home ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think it’s something all of us can say Mabel. We all learn something new or interesting every day. That’s what makes it so much fun.

            My nickname around here is ‘Tripod’ because I never go anywhere without my camera. I wish I had a DSLR. Maybe in a next life. 😆

            Focusing gets better with practice and of course the right settings for the right subject. I do think there is nothing wrong with your focusing. Your photos are just perfect! 😀

            They sure are and Mr Wobbles won’t last half an hour. LOL! Awwww, they will be very sad to hear that. They do love bananas.

            Good to hear I am not the only one. I do love Porcelain dolls, but mostly as ornamentals and the ones that are real handmade. I have a friend that makes them and she is so great at it. They are so lifelike and totally gorgeous!

            I never liked Barbie. She reminded me too much of my little stepsister, who was very spoiled. I don’t like brats and Barbie is definitely one. I don’t blame you for getting dizzy when you looked at them. I would have too.

            Lots of teddies for sure. Every month my grandmother and I would pack a few of them in boxes and give them to children charity homes. I grew up with my grandmother and father until I was about 12 and then my mother got remarried.

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            • It is true that we learn something new each day if we let ourselves be free. I think we can “learn” something new about stuffed toys too each day – we imagine what it likes, imagine where it went or where it will go, you get the picture.

              LOL indeed. From the sounds of it, Mr Wobbles might not even last five minutes around the Vervets. He’s the kind of monkey who likes to stand still and take in his surroundings. Mr Wobbles is also the kind to offer bananas, but that might backfire on him 😀

              Barbie and spoilt bratz. There’s also a doll line called Bratz after the cartoon. I really felt eerily uncomfortable looking at their perfectly coifed hair and tight outfits. Certainly not my cup of tea. Your handmade dolls sound lovely. Each to their own with their own individual style 😀

              All your teddies sound like they went to arms that have a lot of love to give ❤

              Liked by 1 person

              • That is a fact Mabel and for sure we can. I do get the picture. 😀

                hahahah. I am sure he won’t. They won’t do it on purpose. It’s just that they are wild little beings and don’t know anything about stuffed toys and that they have to be careful with it. 😀

                I wouldn’t mind if the Vervets could stand still for just a minute so I can get better shots of them. LOL!

                LOL! I think it best if he just throws it at them and run away and hide. hahahah.

                Oh yes, I know about them as well and I don’t blame you. They made me uncomfortable as well. Not the type of dolls I would have given my daughter if I had one. She would have been a tom-boy like me though, playing with spiders and Wild Vervets. 😀

                Oh, they’re not mine. It’s a friend who makes them. I am not that creative. 😀

                I agree and I know they did. Thanks for the lovely chat and have a great weekend. ♥

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                • Mr Wobbles isn’t a careful guy. He sees the best in people and puts himself out there, stretching out his long arms with plenty of love to give. So he really better not play with the Vervets!

                  Such a beautiful post and gallery of photos in your latest post on Vervets. They do look tame… 😀 Hope all is well with you ❤

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Aren’t most of us like that? We tend to see the best in everyone we meet, just to find out that they aren’t as nice as we thought? Love is free, so I tend to give it when and where I can and giving it to the Vervets does have lots of rewards. They are so innocent. 🙂

                    Thank you for the lovely compliment Mabel. They aren’t as tame as they look. They only trust me and a few others here where we live. Most people that come and live here doesn’t like them in their yards. I would like to take those people and move them back where they came from.

                    All is well thank you. Just taking a bit of time off to spend more time with my little man Simba. At 16 years and now totally blind and struggling to walk, we must help him to find his way and take him outside and watch out for him. It breaks my heart to see him like this, but that is life. We all get older, don’t we? It just makes me sad and I don’t like talking about it because then I just start crying, but what can we do? At least he is still eating healthy and everything is working the way it should. It’s just old age.

                    Take care sweetness and thanks for caring. I’ve already said too much.

                    Have a lovely day and see soon. 🙂

                    Like

                    • I am so sorry to hear about Simba. It must be hard for him and all of you around him, I can only imagine. But it sounds like there is a lot of love in your household and that is something to treasure ❤

                      Send my regards to the Vervets. Though they can be much more mischievous than stuffed animals, I am sure they entertain when they are around ❤

                      Liked by 1 person

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