Have You Seen This Cat? (UPDATE: FOUND!)
Yesterday I was at a thrift store and I came across this little blue cat plushie with a Hitachi shirt on. I thought it was kinda cute and did a quick search for "hitachi cat mascot" on my phone while in the store, but I didn't come across anything. As I was about to leave, I decided to get the toy.
When I got home, I started searching in earnest for who this lil guy might be. A search of "blue cat hitachi" brought up nothing but cables. "Cat plush hitachi" didn't bring anything useful up. I tried Google Lens, but all I got was Doraemon and Buster Bunny. Which is fair, because when I was walking towards the toy pile at the thrift store, I initially thought the Hitachi cat was Buster.
I know Hitachi had a parrot mascot in Japan for a while, and while searching on Ebay I learned at some point they had a bunny mascot (also in Japan), but I can't find any info about a cat. And since I don't speak any Japanese, my internet scouring can only go so far. And in case you were wondering: there's no tag anywhere on this toy, because of course there's not. That would make this too easy.
Years ago, the insurance company I work at sent out a bunch of little plush dogs wearing sweatshirts with our company logo, so I'm well aware it could just be some sort of no-name marketing tchotchke, but I don't know if I believe that. Usually those toys are as generic as possible, so any company can slap their logo on the clothing and send it off to potential vendors or whatever. But this is a sky blue cat, with a microphone in one hand, and the other in a permanent thumbs up pose. The left leg is slightly bent, and the right leg is slanted out. He's clearly striking a pose. It just feels too designed to be something that Jackie in Sales bought in bulk from 4imprint or whatever.
Speaking of, let's talk about that microphone. Maybe it's the mascot of an audio company who was doing business with Hitachi? Or a karaoke company? Or a recording studio??
Also, look. Of the few people I've shown that first photo to, a non-zero number of them have snarked that it looks less like a microphone, and more like a Hitachi Magic Wand. They're not wrong, and there's probably a certain percentage of the world for which the wand is Hitachi's most well-known product. Enough to warrant its own mascot maybe? It doesn't help that the microphone and the arm holding it are very droopy, and the default state of the toy looks like it's pleasuring itself.
Do I think it's a Hitachi Magic Wand our cat friend is holding? No, I think it still looks more like a mic than a vibe, but honestly? If I inadvertently bought a toy of a vibrator mascot, I will be THRILLED. Thumbs up indeed, lil buddy.
So anyway, that's where we are. Do you know who this cat is? Because I sure don't. Maybe it's nothing. I mean, I don't think I stumbled into some sort of ultra rare priceless toy, I just think it's cute, and it feels like it has a story.
I posted this same blog post to Cohost, and I received an answer! To quote zee from Cohost:
They seem to be part of a line of Hitachi recording toys from 1991, and they are a whole family of karaoke cats! Here's a listing for the whole set: https://www.997788.com/pr/detail_813_88167408.html
LOOK AT MY BOY, HE'S GOT A FAMILY AND COOL SHADES
It's amazing that a mascot toy from China can wind up in North Texas. I guess in hindsight it's not entirely strange, in the past two decades the Asian diaspora around here has grown exponentially. Not that I'm complaining, I'm incredibly appreciative of Daiso, Kinokuniya, H-Mart, and all the local shops that have sprung up in the area to accomodate our new neighbors.
I'm genuinely so thrilled to have an answer, and I'm so thankful to not just Zee, but everybody who offered their two cents on who/what this cat might be. I'm a big fan of /r/HelpMeFind and similar stuff where strangers come together to identify and find answers for one another, and as cornball as it might sound, I really am filled with warm fuzzies right now.