The most lusted-after toy of this Christmas season is an interactive egg-shaped offering that has sold out across online and brick-and-mortar stores, leaving parents scrambling and forcing the toy’s manufacturer to post an online disclaimer to soothe disgruntled holiday shoppers.
With parents desperate to avoid being left with egg on their faces, eagle-eyed online resellers have been quick to take advantage, with seven-pack Hatchimal sets being offered for over $2,500 on eBay Canada. The toys were priced at $59.99 each when they first hit the market on October 7, dubbed “Hatch Day” by Toronto-based manufacturer Spin Master.
WATCH: Hot summer toys from Spin Master
Each Hatchimal comes ensconced inside an egg-shaped capsule that has to be rubbed and patted for anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes before the toy gradually begins to ‘hatch’ its way out, activated by the shell’s touch-sensitive technology. The creature responds to tapping gestures by tapping back with its beak, and also makes a variety of noises, while turning its head, as if taking in its first glimpses of the outside world.
Part of the Hatchimals’ appeal lies with the mystery surrounding each unit. Children can select their favoured ‘species’ of Hatchimal but have no say over the colour, and they only get to see the creature once they go through the hatching process, a ritual loaded with anticipation.
Once the Hatchimal is liberated from its egg case, children can raise and feed the creature and teach it how to walk and talk. Over a period of weeks, it grows from baby to child to adult, at which point it becomes capable of sophisticated interactions such as game-playing. In that sense, it’s a more advanced and tactile version of the Tamagotchi digital pet that captured the imagination of many ’90s children.
The hatching process itself makes for absorbing viewing, as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of YouTube views garnered by hatching videos.
But many children will have to make do with vicarious enjoyment of Hatchimals via YouTube this holiday season, as major retailers have sold out of online and in-store stock. Spin Master even published a pop-up statement on its homepage admitting that Hatchimals may prove difficult to procure until early 2017.
“The consumer response to Hatchimals has been extraordinary, exceeding all expectations. Some of our first shipments have already sold out. While additional product will hit retail shelves in November, we anticipate this inventory will also sell out quickly. We have increased production and a whole new batch of Hatchimals will be ready to hatch in early 2017.”
The statement also said that “we don’t want anyone to be disappointed, nor do we support inflated prices from non-authorized resellers”, and added that the company is working on “creative solutions” to help parents and children enduring exasperating and fruitless searches for the toy.
The disclaimer isn’t easing parents’ frustrations however. One embittered mother’s rant against Hatchimal resellers went viral on Facebook, while many others took to Twitter to plead for help in their quest to bring home a Hatchimal.
But while many lose sleep thinking of creative ways to land the interactive toys for their children, one Edmonton woman is looking to get rid of hers to help raise money for her post-secondary education. Nicole Upshall bought a Hatchimal off Kijiji for $140 on Nov. 10, and is now running a GoFundMe campaign that gives people a chance to win the treasured toy if they contribute $10 toward her education.
“I was going to buy it and just resell it… but then I just got the idea that I would give more people a chance to win it,” Upshall told Global News reporter Sarah Offin. “I’m currently in debt for previous education and I want to go back to school, but because of my previous debt I don’t currently qualify for a student loan.”
Upshall says that she’ll write the names of all her donors on a piece of paper, and pull one out of a jar to select the winner. At the time of writing, she only has one $10 contribution.
“If it doesn’t go anywhere – and I just have the one lady and that does it, that’s great. I’m helping out a little kid for Christmas.”
WATCH: Here’s why Hatchimal’s are the must-have Christmas toy for 2016
With files from Sarah Offin