Kids demanding cute, cuddly, collectible Webkinz - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Kids demanding cute, cuddly, collectible Webkinz

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Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 2:51 pm | Updated: 7:42 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

They’re cute, furry and raking in wads of cash. The ubiquitous Webkinz claimed coveted “it” toy status late last year, and sales remain brisk at East Valley retailers. Most parents say they’re OK with plunking down cash for the cuddly plush toys because, unlike Beanie Babies, there’s more than meets the eye with Webkinz.

They’re cute, furry and raking in wads of cash.

The ubiquitous Webkinz claimed coveted “it” toy status late last year, and sales remain brisk at East Valley retailers.

Most parents say they’re OK with plunking down cash for the cuddly plush toys because, unlike Beanie Babies, there’s more than meets the eye with Webkinz.

“It’s something I can do with my son,” says Kristie Barone of Gilbert, who says she’s bought 35 of them for 7-year-old Tyler. “We play the online Webkinz games together.” The plush animals, which typically sell for $11.95 to $12.99, come with a code that gives the buyer a one-year membership to a Web site with a “virtual” version of the toy to care for.

Jodi Veite of Gilbert, who picked up a pink Webkinz poodle at Candy Bouquet and Unique Gifts in Gilbert with her 8-year-old daughter, Lyndsie, says she likes the toys’ educational component.

The online world, Veite says, features online games and quizzes, and even teaches kids how to manage money. With each toy purchase, kids get $2,000 in virtual Webkinz cash, which they have to learn to budget on food, clothing and accessories for their online pets.

The requests for the animals, which come in more than 50 varieties, have retailers scrambling to keep their shelves stocked.

“We’re filling back orders from February,” says Joy Hamel at April’s Hallmark at Chandler Fashion Center.

“It’s definitely a best-seller on the scale of a Beanie Baby,” says Lisa Rigler, owner of Candy Bouquet and Unique Gifts. And like Beanie Babies, Webkinz have the potential to become collectibles; certain releases, such as the unicorn, come out in limited numbers before being retired. The hot sellers lately have been huskies, koalas and chocolate Labs, says Denise Murphy, operations manager of Scottsdale Kids Co.

“Kids have us on speed-dial,” says Rigler’s husband, Dow.

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