This holiday season, Hatchimals are becoming the gift every kid in America wants. Now, retailers including Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us are scrambling to keep the toys in stock.
Hatchimals are small, robotic critters, created by Canadian toy maker Spin Master. When the toys debuted in October, they were sold for roughly $50 to $60. However, as customers have grown increasingly desperate to get their hands on Hatchimals, prices have sky rocked to hundreds of dollars.
While Walmart originally sold its exclusive Spin Master Hatchimal for around $50, on Tuesday the retailer was selling the toy online through a third party for $599.97. On eBay, the average Hatchimal selling price is $132, with a range from $81 to $196.
“For the last four years, there has been nothing comparable to the instant sales success within weeks of launch as Hatchimals,” Juli Lennett, U.S. toys industry analyst at The NPD Group, told CNBC in early November.
Hatchimals’ hatching process plays a major role in setting the toy apart from the competition. Hatchimals are sold still encased in its egg, which could contain one of two possible variations on the toy. Users have to play with and nurture the egg, listening to the cooing Hatchimal inside, for up to an hour as the toy pecks from the inside to break open the shell of the egg.
Here’s what an egg in the process of hatching looks like:
After the Hatchimal hatches, it learns new skills and tricks as it progresses through the infant, toddler, and kid stages.
According to Lennett, Hatchimals could be the “Tickle Me Elmo” of 2016 — a toy that parents are desperate to find, but retailers simply can’t restock quickly enough.
Shoppers have taken to social media to express frustration regarding the difficulties of finding a Hatchimal.
Need to find hatchimals ????????
— Kail Lowry (@KailLowry) November 21, 2016
Remember that movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger is going everywhere to get his son a specific toy for Christmas this is me rn w/ hatchimals
— Tall Elf (@GlintofSilver) November 22, 2016
my little sister wants a god damn Hatchimal for her birthday but they’re like sold out everywhere and are being resold for almost $200 ????????
— kanye asada (@janesa_xo) November 12, 2016
Why is it so hard to get an hatchimal!????Out of stock everywhere????
— ❤️Becky❤️ (@beckysm1th) November 21, 2016
Retail employees are also becoming frustrated with the constant stream of customer questions.
“I work at the Bullseye place, and f – – – hatchimals,” reads an apparent Target employee’s anonymous rant on a blog dedicated to customer service problems. “We don’t know when we’re getting them in. No, we aren’t getting a lot. No, you can’t purchase all five we’re putting out this morning.”
Currently, Hatchimals website’s front page displays a preemptive statement saying, in essence, that the brand realises the toy is sold out at most retailers.
“While additional product will hit retail shelves in November, we anticipate this inventory will also sell out quickly,” the statement reads in part. “We have increased production and a whole new batch of Hatchimals will be ready to hatch in early 2017. This is a special season and we don’t want anyone to be disappointed, nor do we support inflated prices from non-authorised resellers.”
The statement goes on to say that some retailers are developing pre-sale and rain-check programs that allow shoppers to receive Hatchimals immediately when the become available in January.
Hatchimals have featured heavily into retailers’ holiday sales plans, making Target, Toys R Us, and Walmart’s 2016 top toys lists. Due to their popularity, retailers are struggling to find the best way to keep customers happy and ensure the toy stays stocked.
Target told Business Insider that it will flow inventory through stores as soon as they arrive, as opposed to holding onto Hatchimals to release on Black Friday. The company expects Hatchimals to be one of its top toys this holiday, with the Target-exclusive Bearakeet (part bear, part parakeet) as one our best-selling versions of the toy.
Toys R Us is similarly selling Hatchimals as new shipments arrive, as well as implementing a limit of one toy per customer, in an effort to allow more shoppers to get their hands on Hatchimals.
“We put Hatchimals on the shelves as soon as we get them in, and they fly off as quickly as they arrive!” Toys R Us spokesperson Meghan Sowa told Business Insider. “Customers should check their stores early and often for the best chance to grab these magical creatures.”
Walmart has a slightly different strategy, as the retailer has pledged to sell the toy on Black Friday at the discounted price of $48.88. So, if you want to try and get your hands on a reasonably-priced Hatchimal on Black Friday, Walmart is probably your best bet — despite the fact that the batch is expected to sell out quickly.
Hatchimal madness is likely to die down in January, as is typical for holiday toy crazes. However, for the next two months, purchasing a Hatchimal is only going to become more difficult and expensive, as demand builds and resellers increase prices.