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Saturday, May 21, 2016
Disney's Monkey King At Sears: A King Louie Jungle Book Mystery
The jungle is full of mystery. Just like the curiosity that is Disney's Monkey King, a plush version of King Louie that appeared in a late 1980s Sears Catalog Wishbook.
n the 2016 movie version of Disney's The Jungle Book, King Louie is re-imagined as a King-Kong type Gigantopithecus ape---a large creature that used to exist in India. The King Louie character was a Disney creation not featured in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book---orangutans are not native to India.
The introduction to Disney's Monkey King in the Sears catalog stood out to me for a few reasons.
Why did King Louie get a name change for this toy? If you want to get technical, apes are not "monkeys". So that drove me crazy.
Another big question: Why was the Monkey King so off-model? This does not look much like King Louie from the animated movie.
If anything, The Monkey King from Sears looks like a relative of Donkey Kong.
The Monkey King was part of a larger Disney collection of toys sold at Sears during the 1980s.
Of course, there was also a Baloo plush toy as part of this collection.
Baloo's name was not changed to "Bare Necessities Bear" or anything like that for the Sears toy.
The folks responsible for the Sears Jungle Book plush was the TCA Group Inc.
The Sears Baloo plush is really interesting, too.
While a lot of plush Baloo toys tend to stick pretty close to the character design in the movie, this one goes for the cuddle factor instead.
The Sears Baloo actually looks like a sloth bear (what Baloo is).
Sears made a point of making a big deal out of Baloo's tongue, which you don't typically see.
Shere Khan also appeared as part of the Jungle Book plush collection from Sears.
This is among the best plush toys I've seen of Shere Khan.
The Sears Shere Khan has some nice glass tiger eyes. Glass Tiger was big in the 1980s (Google it).
I really like the Sears Jungle Book plush toys. It seems like they predicted the future of the characters for the 2016 version of The Jungle Book.
Maybe Jon Favreau (director of the 2016 Jungle Book) saw or owned these toys at some point and thought of them when he was making his movie.