Oobi is the title character and protagonist of the Oobi series. He is performed by Tim Lagasse.
Oobi is a curious puppet with an eye for adventure. He explores the world around him in small steps and is always eager to learn something new. Oobi acts as a role model to his younger sister, Uma, who often looks to him for guidance. He has a good-natured demeanor and a keen sense of loyalty to his friends. His favorite color is blue and his favorite toy is a red car.
At the end of every full-length episode, Oobi waves goodbye to the viewers while using his catchphrase: "Oobi, you, friends!" Even when he is not the focus of an episode, Oobi is present at the end to recite this line; for example, "Uma Preschool!" features him greeting Uma at the end simply to say it and wave goodbye to the audience. There are occasionally meta-references within the show about his persistent use of the phrase, including a scene in "Uma Dreams!" that reveals he even says it in his sleep.
A recurring element in the series is Oobi's aspiration to become a piano player. He regularly takes piano lessons from Inka, an elderly woman who is dating Grampu. Being a hand, Oobi must focus all of his energy on the music when he plays the piano; after all, he uses his entire body to touch the keys. He takes great pride in his ability to master simple tunes, but tends to get nervous while performing in front of others.
Being the main character, Oobi was the first puppet created for the show. Series creator Josh Selig said in 2004 that he experimented with many different names while developing the character, but preferred Oobi because the two O's mirror the character's eyes. He wanted "a name that wasn't like any other name" and "didn't want to name Oobi after a real child, since he's kind of his own species." The character was originally named "Pipo" when the show was first pitched to Noggin.
Tim Lagasse was chosen to play Oobi because of his previous work in the field of bare-handed puppetry. Before landing a part on Oobi, Lagasse wrote and directed a series of short films for Nickelodeon titled Show of Hands. These shorts focused on the visual illusions hands can create and did not use them as characters. (YouTube) In an interview with the Newsweek magazine, Josh Selig mentioned that Lagasse had to shave his arm regularly while working on Oobi so that his character would not look like an adult. Tim and the other cast members were paid to visit a manicurist and get their nails touched up every week during production.
Oobi has fair skin and pink fingernails. His eyes are dark brown in the shorts and hazel in the full-length episodes of the show. Four fingers act as Oobi's upper lip while his thumb acts as his lower lip.
Oobi is the only character who appears in every full-length episode.
The acrylic puppet eyes used for Oobi were updated three times throughout the show's run. With each new pair, Oobi's eyes became progressively lighter in color.
"Haircut!" reveals that Oobi's natural hair color is brown.
Although it is never mentioned in an episode, official descriptions of the show state that Oobi is four years old.
Oobi's counterpart in Dasdasi, the Iranian adaptation of the series, is a hand puppet with dark brown eyes who wears a beanie hat and overalls.
Because Oobi and Grampu share the same eye color and skin tone, it is implied that Oobi will look exactly like his grandfather when he grows older.