The Dawn of the Bite-Sized Backpacker

Once upon a time in a factory in Almelo a small stuffed leopard opened his eyes for the first time. Joined by a small legion of brothers and sisters he was tagged and boxed, ready to be sent into the world. Sadly, as fortune would have it, the tiny creature was quickly separated from his siblings. Anxious and alone he awaited his destiny from within a dark and crowded box. Shivering, he closed his eyes…

A New Friend

It took days before the darkness came to an end. For the small animal, however, it might as well have been weeks. Once he finally plucked up the courage to open his eyes again, a brand new world presented itself to him: a world filled with colorful toys and stuffed animals in all shapes and sizes. Next to him sat a tall giraffe, a creature so big, the tiny leopard felt a little intimidated. The giraffe noticed the leopard’s trembling limbs and smiled at him. “No worries, my friend,” he spoke in a soft and gentile voice, “here you are save. The darkness will not find you here.” The leopard cocked his ears. He blinked for a moment, staring at the tall yellow beast. “You sure are a fluffy little thing,” the giraffe laughed. “What’s your name?”

The leopard shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said, “nobody ever asked me that before.” The giraffe laughed. “Don’t worry, son. One day somebody will tell you. One day you will – “. Out of nowhere, a large pink claw with five tentacles grabbed the giraffe by its neck and lifted him into the sky effortlessly. Attached to the claw was a huge creature, dressed in funny robes. Scared, the leopard dove into the corner of the shelf that housed him. What was that? What kind of monster had just taken away his new friend?

With big steps the strange creature marched off into a bright, white portal, still holding the giraffe in its grasp. The little leopard shivered and trembled. He didn’t know how fast he had to get out of there. Desperately, he dove into a corner behind a row of bright-eyed black mice, each wearing the same odd red shorts. The leopard closed his eyes and started counting, hoping the dangers of the outside world would not find him.

Fluffy rides a wooden motorcycle in Berlin
Fluffy’s earliest memories place him in a local toy shop in Hengelo, the Netherlands (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

The Feather Beast

Months past. From his hiding place behind the mice the leopard witnessed in fear how, one by one, the other animals on his shelf where taken by the Claw. Luckily, it never seemed to notice him. His ‘mouse cave’ had given him shelter from the beast… but their protection would not last forever.

One day, the Claw returned. Angrier than ever, it wiped all stuffed animals from their places within one big swoop. Some of the mice covering the leopard’s cave fell over. A pink feathery stick started brushing the shelf angrily, as if it wanted to erase the traces of the claw’s horrible deed. For a moment the pink featherbeast disappeared. The little leopard blinked for a moment and raised his head to peek out from behind one of the mice’s backs. He shrieked as the claw came at him in full force. Mice were flying through the air. The featherbeast danced over the shelf. Overcome with fear, the leopard passed out…

The Cage

Slowly, the little leopard regained consciousness. Waking up, he found himself trapped in a small white cage. Several other scared stuffed animals were trapped with him in the iron prison. A red sign on the edge of the cage spelled a word of doom: “bargains”. Desperately, the leopard tried to get out, but he could not escape his narrow prison. A strange figure appeared from the portal of light. It stepped up to the cage, stuck his claw into the white prison and grabbed a small tiger. The leopard closed his eyes, hoping the Claw would take the tiger and let him live… but a soft thud indicated the tiger’s return to his prison.

The tiny leopard opened his eyes, just in time to see the Claw coming straight at him. It grabbed him and lifted him out of the cage. No matter how much the little leopard struggled, he could not escape. The claw creature looked at him for a moment and then walked across the colorful room which the leopard had once looked out over from his shelf. Halting at a large desk, the claw creature handed a small green paper to a second claw creature with long hair and big, round eyes with black edges. The claw creature turned around and started walking towards the bright white portal at the front of the room… The place where no stuffed animal had ever returned from.

The small leopard fought and struggled against the Claw, but there was no way to escape. With the little leopard in his hand, the creature stepped through the portal… changing the leopard’s life.

Fluffy and his human go surfing at the Langkawi 3D Art Museum
The “Claw” turns out to be a human who enjoys ‘surfing on couches’ (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

The Human World

On the other side of the portal the tiny leopard first laid eyes on a whole new world; a world where millions of claw creatures – apparently called “humans” – lived, worked and played together. The human who had taken him out of the cage was named “Pim”, and he was a director. Pim explained to the leopard he had been searching for a stuffed animal brave and confident enough to fulfil a role in his latest feature film “Acht“. Surprised by the human’s motives and eager to see more of the world, the leopard agreed to appear in front of the cameras. The peculiar human allowed him to run around more freely than anyone ever did.

Fluffy travel between Ermelo to Hengelo
A young Fluffy travels by train to start filming his debut feature in Ermelo, the Netherlands (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

A Movie Star

Re-born on June 14th, 2008, the little leopard finally received a name: Fluffy. Fluffy H. Nijdam. The film Fluffy and his human were about to shoot would feature a scene where two of the main characters would be “cuddling” in the kitchen, using pink fluffy handcuffs. Purchased on the same day as Fluffy while prop hunting for the movie, the nickname “Fluffy” was derived from the cuddle tool and written into the film’s script. In “Acht”, Fluffy played a gift for the main character, Maaike Nijdam. Thus, Fluffy went on to play a fictionalized version of himself in the feature film, starring alongside humans Robin and Yvonne…

It was the start of Fluffy’s adventures in the human world. Together with Yvonne, Pim and Robin, he worked on completing the feature film. The team filmed in Hengelo and Ermelo and explored national park De Hoge Veluwe. During the shoot Fluffy received his own bed, bonded with his new human friends and met many other humans along the way.

Fluffy and actress Yvonne behind-the-scenes during the productions of the feature film 'Eight'
Fluffy and his co-star Yvonne having some behind-the-screens fun during the production of the feature film ‘Eight’ (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

A Bite-Sized Backpacker

Fluffy quickly rose to fame. After his stardom settled he decided he wanted to see more of the world. Together with Pim and his friend Martin he travelled by train to Stavanger, Norway, detouring all the way through Italy. In Norway they planned to visit Ola, another human nicknamed “the Giraffe Man”. Ola had gained his nickname due to his love for giraffes. A night out with his best friend Jørgen on the June 6th, 2009 had resulted in a crazy bet which led to the project “One Million Giraffes“: Jørgen had challenged Ola to collect one million hand drawn giraffes through social networking before the start of 2011.

Pim, Martin and Fluffy had helped Ola by drawing a few giraffes and now wanted to meet the giraffe-collecting legend in person. The trio’s trip through Europe marked the beginning of a series of journeys that would lead the tiny leopard throughout the European continent and beyond, earning him the nickname “the bite-sized backpacker“.

Fluffy's first trip leads him to Stavanger, Norway
Fluffy’s first big trip leads him to Stavanger, Norway (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

Welcome to Transylvania

As Fluffy grew accustomed to live on the road, he started longing for a new place to live. He convinced his human to find a job in the mystical region of Transylvania, Romania, where they had traveled not long before. While his human started working for Romanian national television, Fluffy explored their surroundings.

One evening, his human stepped out to meet some friends who apparently “surfed couches”. In the middle of the night, Fluffy was startled by the noise of his human returning from his night out. There was something off about his behavior; he seemed… different, somehow. The next morning, Fluffy noticed two tiny punctures in his human’s neck…

Fluffy encounters a local in the Transylvanian woods in Borsa, Romania
Fluffy meets his human’s new human: a Transylvanian native (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)

One Human, Two Humans

Two days later, his human introduced him to a small, female Transylvanian native. She named herself Rebeka – ‘Beki’ for short – and quickly moved into their apartment. It had only been six days since his human had gone to meet his surf buddies, and already the new human had taken over their lives. Though a bit scared at first, Fluffy quickly realized that having two humans was even better than having just one: together the humans could earn more money for his travels, build a bigger nest and carry all of his luggage while on the road! In addition, his new human was incredibly soft and seemed very keen on cuddling. Judging it a win-win situation, he told his human he approved of the new addition to their household.

Leaving Romania behind to explore new horizons, Fluffy, Pim and Beki went on to travel over 50 countries, meeting many humans and plushies along the way…

Fluffy arrives in Kraimorie, Bulgary
Fluffy continues to explore the human world any way he can (Credit: The Bite-Sized Backpacker)