Unearthing My Hello Kitty Collection From The 80s, 90s, and Beyond

Another result of my quarantine cleaning: I realized I have a lot of Hello Kitty items. From the ’80s-90s Sanrio stationery I unearthed during closet cleanup to the Hello Kitty souvenirs and toys I purchased through the years, this Hello Kitty collection is bigger than I thought.

Or maybe not! Unlike other extreme collectors, my bedroom isn’t overrun by Hello Kitty stuff (yet). I’m not even going to make it to the Guinness World Records, which is currently held by retired Japanese police officer Masao Gunji who has 5,169 Hello Kitty items and a pink-painted Hello Kitty house in Yotsukaido. That’s a lot of Hello Kitties! My collection is hardly an obsession. But I admit, I am jealous of his loot.

What’s left of my authentic Sanrio items from the ’80s-90s. There are so many knock-off Hello Kitty products in the likes of Divisoria, but no thanks!

Authentic Sanrio stationery and stickers from the 80s-90s. I got sad when Gift Gate closed in 2017. The local Sanrio stores are also getting smaller with limited choices. Sad kitty!

Hello Kitty debuted as a member of the Sanrio gang in Japan in 1974, and first appeared in the US in 1976. Hello Kitty has gone through a lot of wardrobe makeovers, color schemes, and even a little “scandal.” Remember the “Hello Kitty is Not A Cat” hullabaloo in 2014?

You can tell which generation a Sanrio lover comes from if you ask for their favorite characters aside from Hello Kitty. Gen X is all about My Melody and Little Twin Stars. Millennials and millexials like myself will mention Keroppi, Ahiruno Peckle, Tuxedo Sam, and Badtz-Maru. My Gen Z cousin and her friends don’t even know who Keroppi is (gasp!), but they love their Gudetama and Pompompurin.

Is it just me or did they stop making sticker albums? I tried looking for sticker albums for my godchildren, but I couldn’t find any in the bookstores or Sanrio stores in Manila. Not even the Sticker Con had any.
School bus lunchbox from Puroland, Japan

As an ’80s-90s kid, my Hello Kitty collection is mostly from that era, with some from the noughties to the present, sprinkled with a few items from the late ’70s. I didn’t post photos of all the products here, because I want you to watch my vlog if you want to see my complete collection.

While I got a kick out of the nostalgia, there were many items that I lost or were given away. I was hoping to find my giant Hello Kitty and Keroppi plushies and my A La Mode magazines, but nada.

A La Mode was the official magazine of Sanrio back in the early ’90s. It was published in the US, but distributed around the globe. They had stories, puzzles, comics, contests, and a fan club page where Sanrio lovers like myself could send photos of themselves with their collection. I remember joining a contest and receiving an envelope of Sanrio stickers as a consolation prize in the mail.

Do you also enter Daiso and Japan Home stores and tell yourself, “I’m not going to buy anything; I’m just going to look.” Ah, the lies we tell ourselves!

The best part of A La Mode was the Sanrio Pen Pals Club. You’d get matched with a pen pal from another country, and you’d start writing letters to each other. I had pen pals from the US and Hong Kong, and we’d write to each other using our Sanrio stationery and stickers. Good times!

What are your best childhood memories of Sanrio?