Every year there seems to be a must-have toy or gadget that sells out almost everywhere and leads to near hysteria when a fresh (often limited) batch miraculously arrives just before Christmas. This year is no exception.
Ever heard of a Hatchimal? Nope, neither had I until last week when it turned up on my children’s Christmas wish lists.
Turns out it’s an interactive toy that hatches from its egg and learns from you as it goes through three life stages.
Made by Canadian toy company Spin Master, this year’s must-have for under-10s are cute, furry and SOLD OUT.
It seems that I’m late to the party. Launched on 7 October, Hatchimals have been in short supply since mid-November, when more organised Christmas shoppers snapped up the last few on the shelves.
Articles advising Hatchimal hunters where to look for new stock have been appearing with some regularity in the newspapers and there are stock-checker websites you can subscribe to, which will send you alerts when new stock comes in.
You need to be quick, though, when a fresh batch does arrive, it sells out again in seconds.
And now there’s an acknowledged shortage, the secondary market is in full swing,
Hatchimals should retail for around £60, but they are currently changing hands on eBay for over £100.
Now call me a cynic, but I don’t think all those listings are unwanted gifts that are being sold on.
Of course, there’s nothing illegal about people buying up stock to sell it on auction sites; it happens frequently with gig tickets when bots snap them up seconds after they go on sale. Only this time, instead of tickets, the professional on-sellers are getting to these precious toys first.
It’s frustrating, to say the least. What I want to know is why didn’t the manufacturers and stores get their numbers right? Surely outlandish prices on eBay can’t be doing them any favours – they must be missing out, too.
In a report about the shortage in The New York Times, James Martin, Spin Master’s head of global business, said: ‘By all analyses, we thought we had enough [Hatchimals]. It’s been exciting, but it’s also been daunting as we try to catch up and fill that demand.’
Not nearly as daunting as facing a tearful tot on a Hatchimal-free Christmas Day, Mr Martin.
But while I don’t subscribe to the ‘well I was only given a wooden spoon and counted myself lucky’ school of thought, over £100 for a toy is just too much to pay. Santa’s elves might have to create a voucher with a promise of a Hatchimal at a later date instead.
Have you ever tried to buy a gadget or toy that’s been so in demand at Christmas that everywhere seems to have sold out? Or was one on your wish list in a Christmas past? What was the must-have Christmas toy when you were a child?