In a neighborhood drugstore I once found a stuffed animal — allegedly a panther or cougar — whose face was alarmingly lifelike. What gave it life? Big (and I mean huge) clear plastic eyes of deep color. The synthetic beast had a button that, when pushed, activated a recorded approximation of a roar. My significant other, Daphne, and I bought it primarily because we knew it would freak the bejesus out of our tuxie Norwegian Forest Cat, Cleo. We knew she would mistake it for a real feline. So we put the scary cat-puppet thing on the bed near her, and I moved its head in a slow, side-to-side exploratory fashion as if it were inspecting its new home.
Cleo’s green eyes dilated to pure black. She sniffed the artificial sibling. Within a few seconds she went all “airplane ears” and smacked it on the head. She continued to believe the cougar-panther was real for a while, at least when I made it move.
The handbags I found on the web today could do the same thing to a cat (or a human, for that matter, at least for a few seconds). Look at these things:
Yeah. Creepy cute, ay? As with Cleo’s artificial wildcat, the eyes give this one an otherworldly something. Have another look:
They’re made, apparently, by a Japanese artist called Pico. The only site I could find for Pico is that hyperlinked Twitter account, which is in Japanese (can’t read a word of it) so I’ll rely on other reports I’ve seen to describe what Pico does.
Laughing Squid (obviously multilingual) reports that the bags are made individually by hand and are available periodically only through Yahoo Auctions.
Which brings us to the price.
I’d envisioned giving this post a headline something like, “Hey, Fellow Cat Guys, Here’s Your Chance to Be Fabulously Weird.” I’d planned get one of these bags and carry it around with me in public to gauge people’s reactions. I would then advocate that other cat guys do the same and report back their experience.
Then I read on The Dodo that bags have recently sold for $500 and $700.
I don’t fault any fellow artist for getting as much as possible for creative work, but:
While you think about that price, let’s look at some more images from Pico. The dilated pupils supply that about-to-pounce look:
Here’s the full view of this model:
It’s smaller than the backpack I usually tote, but if someone presented me with one I’d surely work it into my daily ensemble.
Here’s a smaller model that’s like a horror movie mutant cat (I’m talking to you, John Carpenter) — the head of a giant orange tabby that’s sprouting a tail on one side. (Do you think the mutant ones cost less?)
Apparently some of the bags start with all white fur and are airbrushed to take on different looks. The white looks pretty fab on its own.
So. If you can read Japanese, if you can track down one of these on the Japanese version of Yahoo Auctions, and if you can pay $500 to $700, then have a ball freaking out your cat or fellow bus passengers on the way to work.
Seriously — if any of you get one of these, let me know how it goes. I love little sociological ruh-rohs like taking a live cat on a commuter bus except oh wait it’s not really a live cat where the heck did you get that thing, man?
Oh, and if any of you wants to buy one for me, I’ll eagerly send you my mailing address.
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About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is senior editor at Catster.