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The Toy Craze of Christmas 2016

Spin Master, the toy company behind Etch-a-Sketch and Build-a-Bear Workshop, has the honor of trying to fulfill orders for this year's hottest toy: the Hatchimal. It's an interactive bird that comes in an egg. You play with it, and eventually it hatches. They retail for $60. You might be able to get on a waiting list for one. Or you might get one for Christmas by paying more to someone who saw the potential earlier.

The Hatchimal was inspired in part by the popularity of online unboxing videos. (Search "unboxing" on YouTube, and you'll get more than 52 million results.) "We thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool instead if you opened it, something itself would come out?' That evolved to the idea of an egg," explained James Martin, the company's senior vice president for marketing.

To keep kids playing with it, his toy development team added three life phases through which the Hatchimal progresses; how quickly depends on how much it's played with. After it's done, it can be reverted to the baby phase—that gurgling, giggly period I witnessed as it zoomed around my desk.

Hatchimals were only introduced in October, and Spin Master is using air freight to get as many of them as possible to American stores before Christmas. Is there $60 worth of fun in this toy? A reviewer at Bloomberg doubts it. The Christmas frenzy might be the Hatchimal's apex of popularity, but only time will tell.

(Image credit: Spin Master Corp.)


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