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Cats, gotta love'em, especially if you have a young child who has been obsessed with them for as long as she can remember. Due to her enthusiasm we have an assortment of cat-related objects. This means family and friends have an easy enough time choosing birthday and Christmas gifts and it was for Christmas 2010 that my daughter was given a 'Lanky Cat', probably so named because they are long and skinny. Lanky Cats are soft toys available in a variety of colours and patterns which include; gold, 'White Tiger', and 'Cheetah'. They are made by Manhattan Toy and at the time of writing they retail on Amazon.co.uk for between £7.50 and £17.90.
We have the black 'Ziggy' Lanky Cat. It has a cute and characterful appearance. It was an instant hit with my daughter, she was very excited when it was unwrapped and it became a favourite. 'Floppies', as it was aptly christened, was soon a regular fixture at bedtime, in the car and at the nursery.
So what is it that makes this cat special? Well, there are a few details that make it different from other toy cats. The most obvious are the distinctive large green eyes. These are emphasised by the uncat-like heavy brows, a small grey triangle for a nose and big ears pointing off to the side. The lack of a mouth also adds emphasis to the wide eyed expression, oddly it does seem able to express different emotions, depending on which angle you look from. A soft black coat covers the thin body, while the paws are disproportionately big and heavy with velvety grey pads on the underside, (the paws are good for drumming with). The long thin tail has a kink in the end.
I think it could do with a little more stuffing as it's very limp, especially the upper spine area which has no stuffing at all, but I suppose this contributes to it's general body shape and floppy factor. They are deliberately understuffed which makes them quite poseable. A few months ago some of the stitching came undone from the seam on the lower back, so it has a little hole in, none of the stuffing has escaped but it needs to be sewn up. To be fair it has been played with a lot, and boisterously, but still, other toys have managed to remain unscathed after a lot of play. The body stuffing is polyester fibre with polyethylene pellets packed into the paws.
The big eyes are obviously a part of what gives this toy it's character but their size makes them prone to getting bashed and marked. Poor old Floppies has been dragged all around the place and his eyes are a bit glazed with all the scratches, (admittedly my daughter has bashed out rhythms on wall and table with his head). They make good weapons too; very hard if you get hit with them, for which reason I'd say Lanky Cats are better for slightly older or well behaved children, rather than toddlers, as ideally they should be treated well and not thrown around. ('Do NOT throw cats, especially Floppies!' is a rather more well worn phrase in our house than it should be). I note the Manahttan Toy website recommends them from age three up and I'd agree, maybe even four up.
I'm not sure how long these have been around, I'd guess at about five years judging by the reviews I've read and I don't know if there's been a fashion for them, but I do know that when my daughter took hers into nursery last year it was well liked by other children, at least one of whom started bringing theirs in, so perhaps they are quite popular.
Apart from the hole and the bashed eyes the rest of the coat has kept quite well. The material is still soft and very black. It's surface clean only, but it hasn't needed to be cleaned much. I'd say Floppies the Lanky Cat made a good gift and has been much loved, although he's not as popular now as a year ago, he did enjoy a Halloween revival and is still well liked.