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Collectors Just Can’t Get Enough of Hello Kitty

Photos Maureen Zambito Collectors just can’t get enough of Hello Kitty. I bought these vintage examples around 1978.

She still sits in a corner of my attic, perky and cute! Just who is this happy friend? Well, none other than Hello Kitty, the plush, stuffed toy of my eldest daughter’s that stayed behind years ago when she grew up and moved out.

This is one toy that is too cute to part with, so I’ve washed her carefully once or twice and hung her in the sunshine to dry. She looks perfect and was purchased at Stone and Thomas toys as I recall, probably after my daughter sat on Santa’s lap and whispered in his ear. Stone’s had a great toy department and every other department back then.

Japanese company, Sanrio, designed the famous character first in 1974 and introduced her on a coin purse a year later, according to the Sanrio website, which goes on to state that she can be found in 130 countries and on more than 50,000 different branded products each year.

Now that offers collectors quite a lot to choose from! All ages love Hello Kitty with her bright hair bow. Fashion often features her image on jewelry, hair accessories and clothing.

Though she is not an antique in the true sense of the word, this pop culture giant is wildly collectible. Even Guinness World Records includes a listing for the largest collection of Hello Kitty memorabilia – and he’s a Japanese man with 5,169 items overflowing from his residence!

First introduced in Japan by Sanrio, Hello Kitty’s cuteness is licensed by over 900 companies internationally and avidly collected by fans young and old.

Some are more common than others but there is plenty to choose from. Gift items, household products, computer accessories, clothing, jewelry, toys and cosmetics all feature this creative character.

Sanrio is a worldwide designer and distributor of character-branded items and is best known for Hello Kitty. There are many other characters like Pochacco, a young pup, the slightly naughty Badtz-Maru and Aggretsuko, which streams on Netflix.

Sanrio was founded in 1960 by Shintaro Tsuji, according to the company website. Mr. Tsuji created a line of character merchandise designed around gift-giving occasions and now he is the chairman of Sanrio Company, Ltd., based in Tokyo.

Also this past March, New Line Cinema, Sanrio and FlynnPictureCo. announced that they are teaming up to develop an English language Hello Kitty film for a worldwide audience for the first time in her 45-year history.

Hello Kitty is easy to love since she enjoys making friends and making cookies, according to her bio. By the way, eBay had over 1.4 million items available in this fabulous feline’s category when I was writing this column.

Collectors have long enjoyed animation art and characters and Hello Kitty was predated by many other stars. Names like Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Donald Duck and so many more.

Most collectors get into this hobby because it makes them smile, which isn’t a bad thing, so if you have an old stuffed toy you just can’t get rid of, you’re not alone!

For comments or suggestions on local treasures to be featured in Antique of the Week, Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at zambitomaureen@hotmail.com or by writing in care of this

newspaper.

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