Thursday, 22 January 2009

Another Figaro

Another Figaro has arrived in our house. He sits up and is about 7 inches high. He looks really cute. Of course he does: he's a Figaro and we all look really cute. My human Mikki found him on eBay but it looks like he came originally from the Disney Store in the USA.

He hides it well but he is one of those fancy electronic toys. If you squeeze his chest, he meeows. He has two different meeows and he alternates them. He hasn't got an "on/off" switch so he meeowed every time he went over a bump in the Post Office delivery van. Our village postman (who is very nice) wondered what was in the packet. We are lucky our country postman is so sensible. In London these days they might have thought he was a bomb!

We also haven't worked out if his meeow is powered by clever electronics that work from the energy of squeezing him or if he has a battery. We can't find a way into him so if he has a battery, we can't replace it. For the moment, my humans are avoiding squeezing too much. This means they keep on playing with me.

Our family of Figaros has grown over the years. The new one will officially be No. 20 - but the counting has got a little confused at times. Apart from me, my humans give all of them names (I am just "Figaro" because I was first). They haven't thought of one for the new boy yet. We think his face looks a little puzzled so he may be called "Quizical Cat" or "Puzzlepus". He also looks friendy but I've vetoed "Friendly Figaro" because we all are. "Happy" is definitely out because it would upset a toy dwarf downstairs. Lots of the newer ones have been "New Boy" to start with.

It doesn't worry me at all to have other toy Figaros in the house. "Nobody's getting replaced", I tell the rest. Don't be concerned for me either. The picture shows the new Figaro on the bed in the guest room. He is not coming on the bed in the main bedroom - where I live.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Well, what am I supposed to talk about this week? Yes, there has been something happening in Washington and even a toy cat can't ignore it.

Last year, we were in Florida after the election. We have been there at election time in the past. My humans like observing US elections. Things are so different there from in the UK (This is complicated, so I need a little help). In the USA, the President is both Head of State and Head of Government and there is a weird system of election where people vote in each state for something called an "electoral college". Over here, it's much more simple. The two roles are different people - and nobody votes for either. The Head of State (Her Majesty the Queen) is the descendant of someone chosen by Parliament nearly 300 years ago. The head of governmemt (prime minister) is chosen by some sort of secret deal with his predecessor.

Everyone seems to have got very excited about President Obama. He is going to have a lot of trouble living up to all the things people expect him to do. Now that part I can understand. You humans only have to watch "Toy Story" and you expect your toys to do all sort of strange things for you. Mine ask me to do everything from making them coffee in the morning to turning the television off at night. I try to explain that it was Rex, who had small, hard, plastic hands, who could use the tv remote and that even he didn't do it when humans were present - but they won't listen. I suppose I made a problem for myself by claiming I could make the coffee - I delegate by sending Andrew to do it. At least the new Commander in Chief will have lots of people he can call on for that.

While we were in Florida, we did watch some interviews with, as they then were, the President elect and future First Lady. Even a toy cat with a head full of fluff knows these interviews were as carefully managed as more "serious" political ones, but I thought they seemed nice people. They have two small girls and I am sure they will now have all the cute toys they want.

Good luck to us all.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Come to London

My humans had a short trip to London this week. They had events to go to on two evenings so they stayed one night in a central London hotel.

During the day, my humans travelled round by Underground. To get to their second event, they had to go into the City just after 5.00pm (and carrying their overnight bags). They could not get on the first train into the platform. They just got onto the second - Mikki was afraid they would get separated. At the next stop, nobody got off but a couple of people forced their way on! The Central Line had delays for some reason but my humans are not sure if the crush would have been less if there hadn't been. My humans lived for over 20 years in London. They don't miss it at all.

The hotel was lovely and luxurious. It was built within the old, grand offices of an insurance company (sweeping taircases and lots of marble). It was very convenient to the places they were going. There were many friendly, attentive staff. The only problem was the price (or it would have been if they had been paying rather than using the company's reward scheme).

The tariff price for their room was over £300! The restaurant was under the direction of a Head Chef who has appeared on television. It also had a "Taster" menu at £60 a head without drinks! In the morning, my humans went to check out the price of breakfast. Finding no priced menu on display, they crossed the road to have breakfast in "Starbucks". The price in the hotel would have been nearly £25 each. They discovered this when two breakfasts mysteriously appeared on their bill at check-out. They didn't hear what the reception clerk was told when she telephoned someone but the item was removed without hassle.

Oh yes, there was one other problem about this visit. Claiming they wanted to travel light, my humans did not take me! However, Mikki did take my cousin Floppy Cat (who is bigger tham me) so I ragard their excuse as dubious. I am having to rely on his report that the hotel bed was large and confortable.

But the good news is for visitors from the USA and those parts of Europe that use the "Euro". All those luxurious hotel rooms and stylish restaurants are now a lot cheaper in your own money. And the hotel in question is owned by an American company so Americans can think of it as supporting the home economy. Come on over and visit London. My humans will be happy to leave space for you.

Actually, they will be visiting the capital again next week - but only a day trip. They have no more plans for any overnight stays. Now can I please go back to my place on the bed here and have a cuddle?

Friday, 16 January 2009

Sorry to hear it, Mittens

I like having my picture taken with other Disncy characters when I'm in Walt Disney World. Among the new ones I met last trip were the stars of the film "Bolt", including Bolt himself and the black and white cat, Mittens. I haven't seen the film yet but someone explained the cat is the intelligent one (credible characters are always a good start). I thought Mittens was quite nice even if he could have done with a bit more white fur on his face.

I have now heard that Mittens no longer appears at the "character meet" because he is said to have frightened some children. This is sad but it can happen. My humans remember that there used to be a "Chef Mickey's" restaurant (in the Marketplace, where the Rainforest Cafe now is). Mickey appeared in traditional chef's whites including a tall chef's hat. It made him quite big and my humans did see some small children frightened of Mickey Mouse! They think it no conincidence that when you meet "Chef Mickey" now at the Contemporary Resort he is quite short and has a low, soft hat.

And there is the story of Mickey Mouses's tail. It's long before my time, of course, but I was told Mickey originally had a tail in the parks like he does in films. Unfortunately, kids will be kids and sometimes pulled his tail. There were just the odd occasions when the poor mouse's patience was exhausted and he responded. I don't blame him at all but I suppose something had to be done. So now Mickey doesn't have a tail in the parks - although I prefer to think that he just had to curl it up inside his costume. The alternative sounds a little painful!

Contrary to the company's claims, things don't all happen by magic in the Magic Kingdom. There is a lot of planning, hard work and learning from many years of experience. Still, I hope they don't think the lesson of Mittens is that cats are scary. My human researchers remind me that Walt Disney had a cat character in some of his earliest "Alice Comedies" cartoons. I think he was called Julius. That's well before even Mickey made his first appearance. So it seems logical to me that Walt and his animators worked up a really cute little cat by the time of only their second animated feature. He just hasn't appeared in films much recently or (yet) in the parks.

Mittens, I am sorry to hear you are not appearing - but "that's show business" as they say. And there is still a little black and white cat who could dome out with Pinocchio or Minnie Mouse and entertain the guests with his totally adorable cuteness. His name? Modesty forbids me from mentioning it.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


As I am sure everyone knows, the New Year can be a worrying time for toys. It's so easy to forget all those Christmas promises that we will continue to play with the old toys as well as the smart new electronic ones. Come the New Year, mum and dad start complaining about the mess on the floor and saying something has to go. It can be quite worrying.

Not in my house, of course. Here it is the "big kids" whose "children within" look after me. I have no real worries - even if Mikki has been on "ebay" and found a Figaro that is said to talk (you may hear more of that later). I think they just tease me when they come home with stories of all the sales in the shops and all the toys going cheap. I must also tell you that I know the difference between toys (I am really concerned for cuddly toys like me) and ornaments or novelty items - even if they look like characters.

We don't have a Disney store in our local town. In England, the big theme for the last few Christmases in the general stores has been Doctor Who. Even your bubble bath came in bottles shaped like Daleks. So, the biggest news item of the last week has been the announcement of a new actor to play the Doctor. This may be only from next year, 2010, but it means a whole new range of toys and models of the new man and all the poor kids being told that their David Tennant dolls have to be "upgraded".

This is yet another advantage of buying cuddly toys based on toons. Mickey Mouse and the rest of us never grow old; never get into contract disputes; never feel the urge to go off and play Hamlet at the RSC; etc. Yes, I know Mickey often performs live on stage but you know what I mean.

And I know NASA have cuddly toy space shuttles but a cuddly toy Dalek just sounds wrong. "Cudd-le me or be ex-ter-min- ...": no, it just doesn't sound right.

So, remember kids of all ages everywhere. A cuddly toy is not just for Christmas.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Thank Disney It's Christmas

Today is 2nd January (Happy New Year). My humans are watching the end of "Mary Poppins" so I think it is time to get back to my Blog.

It's been a busy Christmas for us here in our little village in Lincolnshire - and an interesting one for a toy like me who is a Disney character. Without Disney films, I don't think the television companies would survive in England. Today the main channel (BBC 1)had 3 movies one after the other. On Christmas Eve, they had 4 -I counted through the day. Oh, and "Mary Poppins" wasn't one of them: that was on ITV 1. The far more intellectual and sophisticated BBC 2 channel showed "Calendar Girls". My human Andrew watched that one because it has such pretty views - of his home county of Yorkshire. I didn't see "Pinocchio" on any of them - so that's something for next Christmas.

Things are so different from Christmasses my humans can remember from long ago. I think their memories may be selective but some things have changed. In those days, you didn't have cable, satelite or DVDs. Today, if you want to see Tinker Bell, you can see her own movie several times on Disney Cinemagic. You could also have bought the DVD. My humans did that. It spoiled some friends plans for a Christmas gift but my humans claim it was essential for our trip to Walt Disney World where we met - and could recognise - all 4 of Tink's friends. It also meant we had seen the movie in November so there was nothing special for Christmas.

It the "Good Old Days", they only had "Disney Time" at Christmas. It's amazing that this programme always aired on the non-commercial BBC although it was nothing more than an extended commercial for Disney animation - often with links from Disneyland or WDW too! The usually had one from "Pinocchio". Most often it was "Honest John" and Gideon singing, "An Actor's Life for Me". As my humans grew up, they learned how clever the animation is in that scene - but my character doesn't appear!

You ended Christmas desperate to see all the movies. The new one would appear in your town for one week something like 18 months in the future. The old ones would come back once in the next 7 years. And if you were on holiday or sick that week - or your parents decided not to take you - then wait another 7 years. My human Andrew never saw the whole of "Pinocchio" until he saw it on video. He had never heard "Wish Upon a Star" as part of that film. He remembers the music and Tinkerbell from the start of the "Disneyland" tv shows and assumed they both came from the same film.

Come on guys: Christmas was't that great in the past - and we have a lot more good stuff to do all year round. We don't need to see tv shows of Disneyland at Christmas because we have all been by now - and if we haven't there are plenty of travel and lifestyle channels who will tell us about it all year round. And we have Pinocchio - and my six "shorts" on DVD to watch whenever I want.

Still the best thing about Christmas is the love of our family and friends. Another little cuddle, please.