Saturday, April 21, 2007

Hello Kitty Airplane Eraser

This Hello Kitty eraser dates from 1976 and originally cost $0.85. The case features my favorite Hello Kitty motif, Kitty flying her airplane. The eraser itself has an intoxicating bubblegum scent still potent after 30 years.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bunny & Matty Stickers

Bunny & Matty were one of Sanrio's earliest character designs. Interestingly, early items are marked "Bunny & Ratty." Sanrio must have realized Ratty would not go over well in the US market.

Bunny & Matty Stickers, 1976

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Welcome to The Character Company. This blog will be devoted to interesting Japanese character items, particularly vintage 70s and 80s items or unusual characters. Everyone is familiar with Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, but there are other more obscure characters from competing companies that also deserve recognition.

I was born a few years before Hello Kitty and was just the right age when she arrived on the scene in 1976. My first contact with Sanrio and other mascot items was at a store in the newly-built Montgomery Mall in North Wales, PA. The tiny store was called The Character Company, and it featured items emblazoned with the familiar Peanuts and Disney faces, but also other characters that were new to me. I immediately gravitated to these Japanese characters. Not only were they so cute, but they also had no stories attached to them in the way cartoon characters did, which left room for imagination.

The Character Company closed suddenly and prematurely, in my opinion. Fortunately, I discovered other sources of stationery products and even new characters at local card and toy stores. There was an abundance and diversity of these types of stores in the late 70s and early 80s that, sadly, no longer exists. Now to find anything beyond the Hello Kitty style-of-the-month one has to visit specialty stores in Asian neighborhoods or shop on-line.

This blog will feature images from my collection along with any known details and personal reflections. Each post will focus on one item, and I welcome any information or reminiscences readers have to share.