Tell me more about this red plastic hippo in a suit
February 18, 2021 2:32 PM   Subscribe

I have a plastic hippo(?) figurine of unknown origin and my image search for "red hippo figurine" has not helped. Image album:

I used to work with a fellow named Lloyd. He wore a cowboy hat all the time and liked programming in Haskell. We were new software engineers at a large consulting company, going through the same new-starter onboarding sessions and training for a couple months.

I can't believe I don't remember the exact details, but one day he somehow ended up giving me this small red plastic hippo figurine, with no explanation. I want to say he had a whole bag of 'em. We parted ways within the company soon after. I kept the figurine on my desk until I left the company, and it's in my nostalgia drawer today.

It's almost exactly an inch tall. with no manufacturer markings. It seems similar to Crazy Bones, or some old Soviet figurines, but no pictures of the exact thing have come up in my search. I'm 90% sure it's a hippo but happy to be proven wrong.
posted by enigmango to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I found this ebay lot by googling "vintage red plastic hippo". It appears to be a lot of 50 of your exact same hippo. The seller doesn't seem to know much either unfortunately.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 2:43 PM on February 18, 2021

Response by poster: I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't check ebay! I figured anything relevant would show up in an image search. Knowing that more of them exist is fantastic, thanks.
posted by enigmango at 2:46 PM on February 18, 2021

This is likely not helpful, but as a kid I had a lot of toys similar to this - by which I mean random plastic figurines. Some came from dollar stores, some were party favors - there was also a store my mom would take me to that was an odd mix of industrial products + cheap mass produced toys like this - everything was sold by the pound. I think the ebay sellers' suggestion of "May have been used for counting/mathematics" is a good one - similar products still exist.
posted by coffeecat at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

There were some Hippos in the Babar world, but their ears were a bit different and they wore fancier costumes as I remember. There was an animated series called “Little Hippo” that look a little closer to this. It may be a tie in with one of those characters.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone at 4:18 PM on February 18, 2021

There is a chain restaurant in France named Hippopotamus whose mascot looks similar. Their signature color is that shade of red. It appears they have updated their look in recent years, but an image search for “hippopotamus restaurant France logo” turns up the old hippo. The glasses are the only thing that makes me unsure it’s a match.
posted by Comet Bug at 4:19 PM on February 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I thought maybe this was meant to be a Moomin, but I can't see anything on Google that looks like a red plastic Moominpappa.

There are a startling number of returns on "hippo with glasses" though.
posted by zadcat at 4:54 PM on February 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Definitely not a Moomin, the mouth and nose are all wrong.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:46 AM on February 19, 2021

Best answer: At least one other person on the internet believes that they were made for counting / maths:

WAIT NO there's another:

posted by Too-Ticky at 2:56 AM on February 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Which brings us to an apparently currently available version:
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:04 AM on February 19, 2021

We had similar bears(?) for counting at Montessori preschool in the 80s.
posted by 8603 at 5:44 AM on February 19, 2021

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