Hatchimals — the furry, robotic toys produced by Canada’s Spin Master — are one of this year’s most sought-after toys for Christmas shoppers. The toy’s popularity is due in large part to a series of amateur YouTube videos that promote the self-hatching Hatchimals, according to a report by Dianne Buckner of CBC News.
In a way, that’s rather fitting when considering that the toy itself was inspired, at least in part, by the “unboxing” videos that are popular on YouTube. In unboxing videos, children and sometimes adults will open or unbox toys while giving a description or review of the toys or while walking viewers through the toys’ features.
“We have an advance concept team, and they had the idea that wouldn’t it be amazing if you could actually do an unboxing like you see on YouTube, but in real life?” Spin Master co-founder and co-CEO Ronnen Harary told Buckner. “And what would be more magical than a character that actually comes out of an egg and comes to life?”
— Billy Madison (@BMS_Billy) December 3, 2016
In a Mental Floss article on unboxing videos, Tanya Basu notes that some YouTube unboxing videos garner tens of millions of views.
Basu focuses on Melissa Lima, who goes by the YouTube names DisneyCollector or FunToyzCollector. Basu describes Lima as “an allegedly 20-something Brazilian native who now lives in Westchester, New York, and may be worth millions thanks to ad revenue and endorsement deals from her videos.”
“One of her most popular videos, ‘Angry Birds Toy Surprise Jake and the Never Land Pirates Disney Pixar Cars 2 Easter Egg SpongeBob’ (unboxing videos rely on keyword searches and often feature dense titles that may not be poetic but are efficient in driving traffic), has garnered more than 106 million views,” Basu writes.
Lima’s success is not an outlier.
“mental_floss spoke to unboxing star Melissa Hunter, a 48-year-old mother who, with her now 12-year-old daughter Gracie, launched the YouTube channel Mommy and Gracie in June 2012,” Basu continues. “The series features the slapstick, often klutzy duo unboxing toys—predominantly dolls—and reviewing them. The Hunters started the series on a whim and have become quite successful, garnering 587,000 subscribers and 295 million views (and about 17 million per month).”
Basu claims the Hunters have become household names among many kids and their mothers.
Unboxing videos featuring Hatchimals have helped catapult the toy to the top of many parents’ Christmas shopping lists, according to the CBC News report.
“As it turns out, the product and its popularity can be linked to YouTube. Amateur reviews of the toy uploaded to the video-sharing website boosted demand worldwide,” Buckner writes, based on her interview with Harary. “Now parents from London, England, to Fayetteville, Ga., to Corner Brook, N.L., are scouring stores, desperate to find one.”
— London Free Press (@LFPress) November 28, 2016
The increased demand has led to a shortage of the toys, and some people are buying them up just to resell them on eBay and elsewhere for a substantial markup. The $50 toys are now being sold for up to $400 each by some individual sellers.
“Our goal is to ship in as much product as possible so everybody can get one for Christmas at the regular retail price,” Harary insists.
While high demand is good, there is, of course, a downside if a company is not able to keep up with it.
Financial analyst David McFadgen told CBC News that he estimates the shortage of Hatchimals will cost Spin Masters between $3 million and $9 million in lost sales this holiday season.
There are worse problems a company could have.
Spin Masters has made their own YouTube unboxing video for Hatchimals. You can watch it below.
[Featured Image by Gunnar Rathbun/AP Images]