(Before we begin, you should know that we’re currently running a giveaway with a selection of items from Gund’s Studio Ghibli line. You’ve got until March 11 to enter, so don’t miss out.)
If you’re a fan of Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli films in general – or just My Neighbor Totoro specifically – then anything I say from here on out will make little difference.
If you weren’t aware, Gund (the toy company famous for creating extremely huggable stuffed animals) has had a Totoro line for some time now. They have several versions of Totoro available in a few different sizes, from little potato-sized Totoros (both gray and blue) all the way up to a 13-inch behemoth. OK, “behemoth” might be stretching it a little, but it is a very good size … and it’s beyond adorable.
Just take a look:
The four toys pictured up top found their way to our doorstep, and – I gotta tell ya – they brought about a million smiles with them.
The big 13-inch Totoro is by far the superstar here. He’s soft, cute, and round in all the right ways. They’ve even done a stellar job with the likeness. I’ve seen a fair share of creepy knockoff Totoros that aren’t much more than an amorphous gray blob. This guy hits all the right notes and is just fantastic.
Likewise, the Catbus is a difficult likeness to capture in plush, but they’ve knocked this one out of the park. It’s 11 inches long, and it might just be my favorite of the bunch. My only complaints are the sides (the windows), which are made of a crinkly fabric that’s a bit distracting, and the “MEI” sign above the head. The nerd in me wants it to be ??. (In fact, the product image on both the Gund website and on Amazon shows the Hiragana characters. I’m not sure why the actual version I received has English.)
Finally, the two versions of Jiji (from Kiki’s Delivery Service) are new additions to the Gund line. There’s a 6-inch seated Jiji (which is a spitting image of the toy Jiji from the film) and a 6.5-inch Jiji beanbag. Kiki is my daughter’s favorite Ghibli film, and we made sure to grab a stuffed Jiji while we were in Japan a couple years ago (since he was impossible to find here in the States).
The one we picked up in Japan is on the far right. It’s obviously been well loved, but I must admit that the likenesses of the two Gund versions are much more accurate.
If you couldn’t tell, we’re fans of these stuffed toys. There’s been a recent rise in officially licensed Ghibli merchandise in the States, but high-quality toys are still relatively rare. I’m thrilled to see Gund branch out beyond Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service seems to be a natural first step.
Interestingly, these toys are designed by a company called Sun Arrow in Japan. (They’re distributed by Gund in the States.) It’s worth noting that Sun Arrow has an extensive line of Ghibli-related toys available in Japan.
Fingers crossed the Gund versions are successful enough to expand even further in the domestic market. It would be amazing if there were Baron, No-Face, Teto, Soot Sprite, and Kodama plushes in our future.
We can only hope.
And in case you doubted how much my daughter loves Kiki….