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For spacekid's third birthday in 2013, I bought her the squinkies aquarium gumball machine playset. It was adorable, she loved it, I thought the little animals were cute. This was 2013, long enough into the squinkies fad that I was no longer seeing totally sold out store displays, they were just part of the collections in the aisles of toys r us and target. The gumball machine was inexpensive - $10-15 if memory serves, and came with these cute squishy figures in round eggs.

Flash forward to 2016. I found one of the little round eggs and one little mermaid squinkie and knew where the machine was so I got it out for Olive to play with it. I got to wondering what happened to these things... so I looked online. Not at Target, not at Toys R Us, scattered amazon sellers, the sets in their entirety were shipping from Ebay from hong kong retailers. The company's twitter account says they're "taking a break" and their "new" website is coming soon.

I feel like there's a great story here, I know there's got to be an expert who was there for the rise and fall. From the 2011 stories about how this was the hottest toy on the shelf to this year's backstock in the storehouses of hong kong.

I tried explaining this to Josie and... ready for this? She just told me, "I like Shopkins better." Why? "Because they're funner to play with." Josie does love shopkins, she asks for them at every holiday, arranges them on her playset, takes pictures of them, makes youtube inspired videos of surprise eggs with shopkins inside.

But looking at squinkies, I feel like I now know the future of shopkins.

I tried to explain to Josie what a fad is. I brought up the Thneed from the Lorax - sudden rise, everyone has to have them, soon to be replaced by the next cool thing. I brought up the "try BLUE!" billboard in the cruise ship from wall-e. She didn't get it. She just said shopkins are obviously cool and therefore different.

Although - I have to give some kudos to Littlest Pet Shop, a franchise that has somehow stayed around and relevant since the mid-90s.

When I was little cabbage patch kids were the toy of the season one Christmas. Then decades later, Tickle Me Elmo... right when ebay and the internet were getting big. Oh and beanie babies! I had a gorilla beanie baby in college, I cut the tags off just to spite people because good god who would really think these are an "investment"? Even today articles will come out about someone finding a limited edition princess diana beanie baby worth $100,000 and sure enough you go to ebay and find people listing their purple bears for $250,000 but nobody is buying. People don't understand how "worth" is defined. When you look for ones that are actually selling, they are $15.

I don't think anyone ever bought squinkies as an investment, I just wonder what's the defining line that gives some toy fads the ability to live in the public eye for more than five years. Is there a lesson to be learned here about making your toy too much of a "because it's cool" and not thinking about how to make it really fun to play with? Or was there some political/supply chain issue that messed up the squinkies?

I ordered a 16-pack from the hong kong ebay seller, partially because I want some to go with our gumball machine, Olive really likes it now. I also figured I'd reward the seller for not dumpstering the whole lot. I paid $11.99. They ship for free.


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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 17th, 2016 03:42 pm (UTC)
Broad City mentioned the whole beenie baby thing and it cracked me up. So many toys phase out fast these days for kids. LPS has stayed though your right. Also the revival of My little pony. Sounds like you got a deal though on your package.
Apr. 17th, 2016 04:22 pm (UTC)
I have six aardvark beanie babies, bought well after the fad, from yard sales. Because aardvarks make me laugh. I let the cats play with them. That's how influenced by fads I am!
Apr. 17th, 2016 10:44 pm (UTC)
I read an article about the decline of baseball cards a few months back which pointed out that once you have two generations of kids treating those things like investments rather than "things mom and dad took out of cigarette packages and let us play with", the actual value of each card went way, way down.
Apr. 18th, 2016 12:05 am (UTC)
One of my flatmates got into beenie babies as an investment, he even bought little plastic label protectors for their heart shaped cardboard labels so that any potential future purchaser could be sure that the benie babies were unloved.
Apr. 18th, 2016 12:59 am (UTC)
The Beanie Babies craze was so NUTS! It's funny how fads have recycled though, always less intense than their original glory. Pound Puppies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony... It's weird.
Apr. 18th, 2016 03:07 am (UTC)
I saw CareBears in Target the other day. O.o
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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