Zhu Zhu Pet Hamster toys are poised to take over the holiday market (and could save some real hamsters from grabby kids while they're at it)
We've seen countless animal-themed toys come and go -- remember the Tamagotchi "digital pet"? My Little Pony, anyone? Furby? Our personal favorite, Pound Puppies? Well, there's a new faux animal in town and, partly due to its modest price, it's expected to be one of the most-purchased toys this holiday season. Oh, and did we mention it's a battery-powered hamster?
The pocket-pet toys, called Zhu Zhu Pet Hamsters, retail for $8 to $10, with a number of accessories available for an extra $10 and up. They squeak and move around like real hamsters, but unlike real hamsters, they require no unpleasant cleanup and -- though we're not sure why -- drive around in tiny cars. Zhu Zhu Pets figure prominently on several lists viewed as predictors for success on the holiday market; both Toys R Us' 2009 Hot Holiday Toy List and TimeToPlayMag.com's Most Wanted List give accolades, with the latter describing the little guys as "creative, engaging and appealing" and surprisingly high-tech.
And, the Associated Press reports, they're being snapped up at stores like Toys R Us and Wal-Mart faster than they can be restocked. "As soon as we're getting them in, they're literally selling from boxes," said Laura Phillips, Wal-Mart vice president of toys. "It's hard to get them on shelves."
Sure, Zhu Zhu hamsters aren't as high-tech as, say, a patented Japanese robotic therapy seal, but they're also about 500 times less expensive, and that's a trade-off we're willing to make. Bonus for animal lovers: Their popularity is sure to keep real, fragile pocket pets out of the hands of overzealous kids while indulging a healthy love of animals. Video (warning: with annoying, easy-to-get-stuck-in-your-head theme song) after the jump!
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press