Like many of you, I grew up reading, loving and damn near worshipping Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson’s famously perfect comic strip spoke to us in so many ways. We all saw a little (or a lot) of ourselves in Calvin, even if we only wished that we could muster enough imagination to turn our dolls into walking, breathing, talking best friends.
I still read the old strips all the time. Even if some of the references have become dated, their humor, cleverness and wonder haven’t lost a step. Without a hint of hyperbole, Calvin and Hobbes was as good as or better than literally anything else that I’ve ever been into, regardless of whether the particular thing’s brow was held high or low. There’s a reason people who love Calvin and Hobbes are so proud about it.
Watterson had a noble stance about licensing his characters. Basically, he never did it. Not in the “normal” ways, at least. No Calvin and Hobbes dolls. No Calvin and Hobbes spiral notebooks. No stickers, no Happy Meals, no Saturday morning cartoons. For him, it was as much about preserving the spirit of his work as retaining complete control. While the strip assuredly left him financially set, Watterson tossed away the chance to multiply his wealth by a factor of a hundred, all so his stories and characters would stay his stories and characters.
Raise your hand if you think you could resist the same temptation. I know I couldn’t.
As such, Calvin and Hobbes merchandise is more or less nonexistent, save for bootleg items. While most fans have always appreciated Watterson’s “stubbornness” on this issue, it’s just as true that we’d KILL for a Hobbes doll. (Need proof? Do an Etsy search for “Hobbes.”)
With that preamble out of the way, I can finally get to the point.
Reader Terry Wilson sent me a hot tip earlier. “Go to Target,” he said. “Bring ten dollars,” he said.
So I did, and that’s what I found. The Circo “Tiger” doll, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Hobbes. It’s not an exact match, but it is CLOSE. Maybe too close to be a coincidence?
The dolls have apparently been around for a while, and there are other animals in the series with the same overall body shape, so it’s probably just a lucky break for Hobbes fans who like their consciences clear.
He was ten bucks, or maybe a few dollars more. I don’t know, I paid no attention to the price. Absolutely positively none. Money was no object. So long as my credit card wasn’t rejected, I was going to go home with Almost Hobbes.
The look seems to combine Hobbes’s “doll tiger” and “real tiger” states, possibly representing the half-second transformation process that Watterson never bothered to illustrate. Whatever. I love this thing so, so much.
Sure, you can sit there and pick it apart. “Ears aren’t black.” “The beard is off.” Okay, yes, but I’m glad for those differences. So long as those differences exist, this isn’t really Hobbes. It’s Almost Hobbes, and I don’t have to feel guilty about buying it and hugging it and making it play Parcheesi with me.
Here’s Almost Hobbes, waiting for a fork.
Here’s Almost Hobbes, investigating Almost Calvin’s Transmogrifier.
Here’s Almost Hobbes, breaking the fourth, fifth and seventeenth walls.
Here’s Almost Hobbes, the bright spot of my week.
Thanks again for the tip, Terry. If I could represent my level of happiness through brightness of color, my pre-Hobbes world was air force blue, and now it’s electric pink lemonade. I shouldn’t be this excited about a tiger doll, but I’m not going to fight it. It’s an unnatural high, but at least it’s a safe one.
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