December 10, 2022



(ABC, September 10-December 3, 1983)
Hanna-Barbera Productions


Robert Morse – Moncho
Laurel Page – Kyla
Ellen Gerstell – Tootoo
Frank Welker – Patchitt, various
Frank Nelson – Wizzar
Hank Saroyan – Thumkii
Sidney Miller – Horrg
Bob Arbogast – Snogs
Laurie Faso – Fasit, Yabbot, Scumgor
Peter Cullen – Gonker, Snitchitt, Shreeker


Monchhichi is a doll produced by Sekiguchi Corporation in Japan. Created by Yoshiharu Washino in 1974, the dolls were an update to the already successful Kuta Kuta Monkey (exhausted monkey); combining it with the thumb-sucking Gege fashion doll. The result was a monkey-like plush doll with vinyl faces, hands and feet whose thumbs could be inserted into their mouths and held there. The name was derived from the words “mon”, which means “mine” in Frnech, and “chichi”, which would be the Japanese phonetic pronunciation of the sound suckling on a pacifier would make. As a bonus, the combined name sounded close to “monkey” in English. The creation of the doll was fueled by the desire to “inspire respect and love in the young children and adults.”

The original Monchhichi.

The dolls—a boy and a girl doll with little bibs—hit the market and became a success. By 1977, Sekiguchi expanded the line to include accessories, playsets, outfits and variations of the dolls. Export of the dolls into other countries began in 1975 with Germany and Austria, and gradually picked up steam by 1978 when it reached the rest of Europe. In 1980, the dolls were adapted into the anime Futago no Monchhichi (Monchhichi Twins), further increasing their popularity in Japan.

1980 was also the year that Monchhichis reached North America, with Mattel licensing production of the toyline for the market. To help promote the line, Mattel commissioned Hanna-Barbera Productions to produce an animated series centered around the toys. Hanna-Barbera took on the task seeing it as another cute character series that could potentially help them match the success of The Smurfs over on NBC. Much like The Smurfs, Monchhichis was set at some point in the past with anachronistic technology (such as a catapult-propelled jet plane) made from various plant items (like giant pea pods used as canoes), wood shoots and a few recognizable machinery bits (like metallic gears) with an element of magic included (such as boats that float on air instead of water). The happy-go-lucky creatures lived in harmony with nature and fought against enemies that sought to do them and others harm.

The Monchhichis: Moncho, Patchitt, Tootoo, Kyla, Thumkii and the Wizzar.

The Monchhichis were a race of monkey-like beings that lived in the treetop kingdom of Monchia. Monchia was powered by the magic of happiness, which was generated in a mystical factory called the Happy Works. Monchai was under the leadership of the Wizzar (Frank Nelson), an absent-minded elderly Monchhichi whose magical powers, though diminished with time, could still serve Monchia well. He was typically found in his hut concocting some kind of potion or building some kind of device (all of which often backfired for some reason or other). The primary group of Monchhichis that directly reported to him included Moncho (Robert Morse) and Kyla (Laurel Page), who had an ongoing rivalry over their leadership role in the village and constantly argued over who was more right in various matters; Patchitt (Frank Welker), the village inventor who could whip up any kind of rustic machinery, fix anything, and generally maintained the Happy Works; Tootoo (Ellen Gerstell), who was incredibly sweet and honest to a fault, and constantly described things as being “too, too” of something; and Thumkii, the youngest of the group who was incredibly hyperactive, talked faster than he thought, and was frequently found sucking on his thumb (the only one to emulate the toy’s signature feature). In addition to their respective skills, each Monchhichi’s tail was capable of stretching to great lengths and serving as an additional appendage.

Horrg preparing to use Snogs in his latest scheme.

The primary antagonists were the Grumplins: purple, beastly versions of the Monchhichis whose only goal was to wipe out happiness everywhere and frequently set their sights on disabling the Happy Works. They were led by Horrg (Sidney Miller), the biggest and meanest of them all. Horrg had a magic staff topped with a gem stolen from Wizzar, which fed off the same power as Wizzar’s own staff (and, in turn, was capable of robbing it of all its energy if used to great extent). Horrg’s second-in-command, and the frequent recipient of his wrath when plans went awry, was Snogs (Bob Arbogast), who was the only Grumplin to wear a yellow vest. The main group of Grumplins included Fasit, Yabbot, Scumgor (all Laurie Faso), Gonker, Snitchitt and Shreeker (all Peter Cullen). While loyal to Horrg, their general incompetence tended to allow the Monchhichis to get the best of them every time.

Thumkii traveling through the pipes of the Happy Works.

Monchhichis debuted on ABC on September 10, 1983. Originally it was bundled together in the hour-long package show The Monchhichis/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show with The Little Rascals and Richie Rich, replacing Pac-Man after it was spun out into its own half-hour. However, due to lower-than-expected ratings (against The Smurfs, no less), Monchhichis was broken off into its own half-hour in January of 1984 for the rest of its run on the network. The series was written by Dick Robbins, Bryce Malek, Bob Langhans, Douglas Booth, Donald F. Glut, Evelyn A-R Gabai, and Larry Parr, with Robbins and Malek serving as story editors. The characters were designed by Sandra Berez and Lee Evans, and the music was composed by Hoyt Curtin and Paul DeKorte.

With these working conditions, no wonder they're Grumplins.

Monchhichis didn’t fare as well in North America as they did abroad; particularly in their native Japan and Germany. The cartoon was ended after a single season, and Mattel ended up dropping the toys by 1985 due to low sales. They eventually found their way back to North America in 2004 for the 30th anniversary and have continued to be regularly sold in various stores.  Two more shows followed: a Japanese stop-motion series in 2005 also called Monchhichiproduced by Kids Station, and a French CGI series called Monchhichi Tribe in 2017 by Technicolor Animation Productions.

The DVD set.

As for the Hanna-Barbera show, reruns would air as part of the USA Cartoon Express in the late 80s. The episode “Tickle Pickle” was included on the compilation DVD Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 1980s from Warner Home Video in 2010, later included in the complete Saturday Morning Cartoons collection, and partially uploaded to Boomerang’s official YouTube channel with trivia tidbits in 2019. The complete series would be released to DVD in 2017 as part of the Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection, made available to purchase on Prime Video, and streamable on Boomerang.


“Tickle Pickle” (9/10/83) – The Monchhichis must find a new tickle crystal to repair the Happy Works after the Grumplins attacked.
“Tootoo Trouble” (9/17/83) – Feeling dejected, Tootoo runs away from Monchia and ends up in the hungry arms of the Crocoville.
“Double Play” (9/24/83) – Horrg sends a disguised Snogs to infiltrate the Monchhichis and sabotage the Happy Works.
“Swamp Secret” (10/1/83) – Going to another village for a magical ingredient leads the Monchhichis into helping a rebellion.
“Dueling Wizzars” (10/8/83) – Feeling he’s too old to be of use, Wizzar takes off and his magic staff causes a cookie version of him to come to life and cause mischief.
“Thumkii’s Pet” (10/15/83) – The baby fuzzbeast Thumkii finds begins to become a hassle for the village as he constantly gets bigger and bigger.
“Misfit Grumplin” (10/22/83) – Melmoth the Grumplin goes to Monchia to help the Monchhichis against Horrg.
“Jingle Pods” (10/29/83) – Teamwork is the only thing that will allow the Monchhichis to be able to retrieve a jingle pod from the forest for the Happy Works’ organ.
“Moncho’s Gift” (11/5/83) – Moncho gives Kyla a magical bracelet that belongs to a witch, who disguises herself as one of them to get it back.
“Cloud City” (11/12/83) – The Monchhichis help Wizzar clear his friend’s name for stealing a key that caused rain to fall on Monchia.
“Helpless Hero” (11/19/83) – The Monchhichis discover their people’s greatest hero may actually be more of a zero.
“Grumpstaff Grief” (11/26/83) – While Horrg works on his latest scheme, Snorgs takes his staff and control of his kingdom—which also results in Wizzar’s powers being drained.
“Charm Alarm” (12/3/83) – Enemies abound as the Moncchichis search for a mystical artifact.

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