Cymbal-banging monkey toy

Cymbal-banging monkey toy
A cymbal-banging monkey toy

A cymbal-banging monkey toy is a mechanical depiction of a monkey holding a cymbal in each hand. When activated it repeatedly bangs its cymbals together and, in some cases, bobs its head, chatters, grins, does flips, and more. There are both traditional wind-up versions as well as updated battery-operated cymbal-banging monkeys.


The Japanese company Daishin manufactured the classic cymbal monkey during the 1950s and 1960s under the name Musical Jolly Chimp. That version of it screeches and shows his teeth when a button is pressed on his head. Later versions from other toy makers copied the facial expressions but changed the toy's outfit and name. In the mid 1960s through the early 1970s a Japanese built Charley Chimp, was sold by street peddlers on the streets of lower Manhattan in NYC. Other brand names include Wind-up Monkey Playing Cymbals from Russ, Pepi Tumbling Monkey with Cymbal from Yano Man Toys, Clockwork Musical Monkey with Clashing Cymbals, Musical Monkey and Magic Monkey.

With many companies manufacturing various versions in the United States, Hong Kong, and Japan, the toy's appearance varies. The monkey has been seen wearing red and white striped pants and a yellow vest with red buttons, or red overalls and a stocking cap. Other outfits include green striped pants, blue striped pants, a red shirt with either green or blue pants, and plaid blue overalls The monkey is sometimes rendered with red rings painted around their wide-open eyes, creating an appearance many find disturbing, perhaps explaining their many appearances in horror/sci-fi/comedy films media. They can also symbolize emptiness and stupidity.

In popular culture

  • In the 1977 film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind one suddenly begins clapping its cymbals as a UFO nears a character's home.
  • The toy is featured in "The Monkey", a Stephen King short story from his 1985 book Skeleton Crew, which use the monkey as its cover image. The story also appears in the story's comic book adaptation by Glenn Chadbourne from The Secretary of Dreams.
  • The Devil's Gift, a 1984 horror film, exhibits similarities to the Stephen King story and was later re-edited as the 1996 film Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders.[1]
  • The 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera features a cymbal-banging monkey as the topper of a music box.
  • The Disney Film Aladdin includes a scene in which the monkey Abu is transformed into one by the evil sorceror Jaffar.
  • The 1988 Film Monkey Shines features a monkey with cymbals both on the promotional poster and in a limited trailer to promote the movie, despite the plot of the movie is not related to a toy monkey but instead an actual rogue monkey trying to kill his guardian.
  • The song "Over and Over" by electropop band Hot Chip features the lyric "over and over and over and over and over like a monkey with a miniature cymbal".
  • In The Powerpuff Girls Movie, one of Mojo Jojo's minions, (Cha-ching Cha-ching) bears a resemblance to a cymbal-banging monkey toy.
  • A cymbal-banging monkey toy also appears in the latest Wallace & Gromit short, A Matter of Loaf and Death. When Gromit goes over to Piella Bakewell's mantion, he sees what looks like his love interest, Fluffles in her box, wimpering with a blanket over her. But when he goes over to take the blanket off, Gromit discovers it's not Fluffles at all, Piella had tricked him by hiding a cymbal-banging monkey toy in Fluffles' bed to sound like her, wimpering.
  • It can be seen in the Roxette music video "Joyride".
  • "Sliver" music video by Nirvana
  • A giant cymbal-banging monkey is used by the Grinch to block out the sound of carolers in the 2000 live action film How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • The toy has been seen a number of times in the works of Matt Groening. It was first seen in the 2000 season 12 Simpsons episode "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes", and then in the 2003 season four Futurama episode "Obsoletely Fabulous" as an obsolete robot. It is then seen in the 2007 film The Simpsons Movie, in which Homer Simpson imagines the toy, who urges him to concentrate instead of letting his mind wander.
  • A rock and roll band from Le Havre in France is called the Monkey Toy Army after Cymbal-banging monkey toys.
  • The 2004 American film comedy Euro Trip features a cymbal-banging monkey toy in club Vandersexxx used as an instrument of pleasure and as part of a Kuleshov effect throughout the sexual encounter at the club.
  • In 2005 the "Supernatural" episode 'Home' (Season 1, Episode 9) paid homage by having a clapping monkey in the scene where the plumber is killed in their original home-house in Kansas.
  • The 2006 book The Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby features sinister mechanical monkeys who steal memories for pennies.
  • It is featured as an explosive weapon in the video game Call of Duty: World at War, in which it is seen in Map Pack 3 as the "Monkey Bomb".
  • It is seen in Doctor Who, (new) series 1, episode 9: "The Empty Child"
  • James Franco portrays a serial killer named "Franco" on the daytime soap opera General Hospital. One of the character's trademarks is a cymbal-playing monkey. He has a large one, and a miniature version of the toy.[episode needed]
  • In the 2010 animated film Toy Story 3, a cymbal-banging monkey watches the security cameras at Sunnyside Daycare and sounds an alarm over its P.A. system if any toys try to escape at night. Chatter Telephone warns Woody about the monkey.
  • In the 2010 video game Call of Duty: Black Ops a variant of the cymbal-banging monkey is occasionally obtained from a mystery box in "Zombie mode". It has an explosive element attached to it and explodes after a few seconds. It is used as a secondary grenade and appears in the zombie maps "Der Riese", "Kino der Toten", "FIVE", and "Shangri-La".
  • In the 2009 video game Wet, the cymbal-banging monkey is a contant symbol in its main menu and loading screens, as a reference to the game's tagline, "Get ready for some monkey business". The collectible elements in the game are also cymbal-banging monkeys, which you localize by hearing their cymbals.


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