Singapore gripped by Hello Kitty craze

Updated 28 June 2013

Singapore gripped by Hello Kitty craze

SINGAPORE: Tempers flared and police had to be called in yesterday as anxious Singaporeans rushed to McDonald’s outlets to buy Hello Kitty plush toys being sold by the fast-food chain as a promotion.
Hundreds had begun queuing from Wednesday night to get their hands on a kitten in a skeleton outfit, depicting a character from the German fairy tale “The Singing Bone.” It was the last of a series of six limited-edition Hello Kitty characters dressed in different outfits from popular fairy tales which were being sold by McDonald’s this month.
In some outlets, chaos broke out amid rampant queue jumping as supplies of the toys ran out soon after the stores opened for business yesterday. One video uploaded on YouTube showed police officers mediating between two customers in front of a McDonald’s counter.
Another showed an irate man asking an agitated crowd “Is he Singaporean? Is he educated?,” apparently in reference to someone who had gotten a queue ticket ahead of others.
Some customers took to Facebook to register their anger after they went home empty-handed, while others immediately put the toys — sold for Sg$ 4.60 ($ 3.62) with set meals — up for sale online at far higher prices. Some Singaporeans are obsessed with completing the entire collection.
“This is absolutely ruining the Singapore reputation. Poor management and irresponsible,” wrote Catherine Ong on McDonald’s Singapore’s Facebook page.
Others voiced their annoyance at compatriots who had let their Hello Kitty mania run out of control.
Singapore last went into a Hello Kitty frenzy in 2000, when McDonald’s sold a series of the toys in wedding outfits to usher in the new millennium.
Hello Kitty, which started in 1974 in Japan as a moon-faced cartoon cat on a coin purse, has developed into a global cultural phenomenon.
Sanrio, the Tokyo-based company behind the Hello Kitty industry, says it now has around 50,000 different products on sale in 109 nations and territories.
Kitty mania is also well established in Hong Kong where both men and women line up for hours outside McDonald’s outlets during promotional schemes.
In 2008, Japan appointed the character as its goodwill tourism ambassador to China and Hong Kong.


Buzz off! Angry bees delay Air India flight

Updated 16 September 2019

Buzz off! Angry bees delay Air India flight

  • The insects landed on the window just before the plane was due to leave the eastern city of Kolkata on Sunday

NEW DELHI: An Air India flight was delayed by several hours after a swarm of bees landed on the cockpit window, attacking ground staff when they tried to remove them, officials said.
The insects landed on the window just before the plane was due to leave the eastern city of Kolkata on Sunday with 136 passengers, including Bangladesh’s information minister.
Ground staff tried to shoo the insects off, angering them, and when attempts to use the windscreen wipers failed officials switched to ‘plan b’ and blasted them off with water.
“Fire tenders were deployed to spray water to dislodge the honey bees and they could be driven away after nearly an hour-long operation,” airport official Kaushik Bhattcharya said.
The flight to Agartala in north-eastern India eventually took off more than three and a half hours late.
Bees swarm when a queen bee leaves an existing colony to found a new home together with thousands of worker bees.