This year’s toy craze: Hatchi­mals (sold out)

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Ben Guar­ino

Of the most pop­u­lar toys this hol­i­day sea­son, only one pecks it­self out of a plas­tic egg af­ter re­spond­ing to a child’s touch.

If you are a par­ent of a young child, you may very well be aware of the Hatchi­mal toy. If not, imag­ine the scene where Richard At­ten­bor­ough coaxes an in­fant ve­loci­rap­tor out of its shell in “Juras­sic Park.” Ex­cept in lieu of a di­nosaur there is in­side a fluffy ro­bot called a Pen­guala or an Owlicorn; and rather than learn­ing to dis­em­bowel, the Furby-like crit­ter dis­cov­ers it can sing “Happy Birth­day.” Its eyes change color, and it chirps. Oth­er­wise, a Hatchi­mal springs to life fully-formed as came Athena from Zeus’ fore­head.

Across the United States, those seek­ing Hatchi­mals have en­coun­tered empty shelves and de­pleted stocks. On­line, Walmart ad­ver­tises the Hatchi­mal for $48.88 (out of stock, as of this writ­ing). Sec­ondary sell­ers hosted on Walmart’s web­site, The Post re­ported on Fri­day, were seek­ing as much as $329 per toy egg.

Spin Mas­ter, the com­pany be­hind the Hatchi­mal, un­veiled the toy in Oc­to­ber af­ter two years in de­vel­op­ment.

“As far as we know, a toy that’s able to hatch on its own hasn’t been done be­fore,” head of Spin Mas­ter’s ro­bot­ics unit James Martin told CNN.

Hatchi­mals were a smash­ing suc­cess, out­strip­ping Spin Mas­ter’s ex­pec­ta­tions. In­dus­try ex­perts her­alded the toy as a com­mod­ity on par with Cab­bage Patch Kids, or per­haps as the sec­ond com­ing of Beanie Ba­bies. “They’re an act of God,” Richard Got­tlieb, Global Toy Ex­perts chief ex­ec­u­tive, told The New York Times.

The toy was so hot that Sara Gruen, au­thor of the best­seller “Wa­ter for Ele­phants,” bought more than 150 of them. The to­tal pur­chase, the au­thor told the Philly Voice, came to $23,595.31. Gruen hoped to re­sell them to raise money for the le­gal de­fense of “an in­no­cent man.”

But Ama­zon re­quired a man­u­fac­turer let­ter to re­sell the toys, as Gruen re­layed in a Face­book post on Dec. 5, and eBay lim­its a user’s Hatchi­mal auc­tions to three per week.

The next crop of Hatchi­mals will not ar­rive from Chi­nese fac­to­ries un­til early 2017, ac­cord­ing to the Spin Mas­ter web­site.

Kelly In­gram re­ceives a Hatchi­mal at Walmart’s Black Fri­day event in Ben­tonville, Ark. Gun­nar Rath­bun, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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