What's Hot

What’s Hot: Squinkies

Last year it was Zhu Zhu Pets – this year it’s Squinkies!

What’s a Squinkie?

Made by Blip Toys, Squinkies are small, soft and squishy plastic toys that come in a variety of characters, including miniature animals and people (kitties, puppies, babies, ponies, and friends) and themed accessories like birthday cakes and princess.  Cute and fun, each Squinkie comes in a small, hinged plastic bubble ball – sort of like a gumball machine toy.  Squinkies can be used as a pencil topper, and are portable, collectible, and tradeable,.  There are also a number of Squinkie playsets that are bubble dispensers, like a gumball machine, along with a tote case to carry your collection in.

There is also a Squinkies Surprize Inside website, where you can track your collection online, and find fun activities including coloring sheets, mazes, and dot to dots.

Reviews for Squinkies are very positive, most saying kids love to play with and collect them; some say due to Squinkies squishy nature, they can be delicate and parts can break off.  Also, for the bracelet and ring sets, the Squinkie figures don’t always mount securely, and can easily fall off and get lost.

Recommended for ages 4 and up.  Due to their small size, Squinkies are a choking hazard, and not recommended for kids under 3.  So, if your child still likes to put everything in their mouth, this is not the toy for you.

Sold out!

Squinkies are the likely to be the #1 toy for Christmas 2010.  Already selling out in stores, Squinkies are on the CNN Money Top 10 Toys for 2010 list, and on the Amazon bestselling list.  Hottest selling Squinkie sets are:  Bubble pack Series 1, Cupcake Surprise Bakeshop, Gumball Surprise Playhouse, Bubble pack Series 2, and Bubble pack Series 3.  

According to a recent article on Reuters:

“The hottest toy of the 2010 holiday season could be a cheap, small, squishy character packaged in a plastic bubble reminiscent of grocery store toy machines, said toy experts Jim Silver and Christopher Byrne.  ‘Never underestimate the power of cute,’ Byrne said, in explaining why he thinks “Squinkies,” the $7 collectible capsule toys which double as pencil-toppers, can emulate the success of last year’s runaway hit Zhu-Zhu pets.”

Also, according to CNBC:

“Time to Play magazine has taken a crack at what it suspects will be the hottest toys of the 2010 Christmas holiday season, and already, for at least two of them, we are hearing reports that supplies are scarce.   The two are: Squinkies from Blip and Zoobles from Spin Master. Both toys, which have made other hot toy lists, begin selling at extremely low prices. Sets of Squinkies start at as low as $6.99, while some Zoobles cost as little as $4.99. They are made to be collectible, which is great for parents on a budget, who can buy as many—or as little—as they see fit. Both companies said they were already looking for new ways to ramp up manufacturing and increase supply, but it looks like the hunt will be on for these items.”

Yes, I’ve gotten my Squinkies

My daughter has wanted Squinkies since her birthday in July, but they’re constantly sold out at our local Target.  When I read in CNN Money that Squinkies is predicted to be “the standout toy of the year and possible successor to last year’s Zhu Zhu pets craze”, I knew I wanted to get her some.  And, I wasn’t going to wait until the last minute, like I did last year with Zhu Zhu Pets.

I started looking for Squinkies online, and found they are entirely sold out at Toys R Us, and are sold out except for 1 bubble pack at Target.  All the different sets are available on Amazon, but for higher than retail – for example, the 6 bubble packs retail for $9.99 each, but on Amazon are priced from $15.96 – $19.98 each (although they are eligible for Super Saver free shipping).

Next I checked out eBay.  And found 22 piece lots going for almost $500!  Bubble pack series 1 – 6 lots were selling for around $100.  I was able to find a Buy It Now for $78, with free shipping, which I quickly purchased.  The funny thing was, I made a very early morning trip to Target the next day, and they actually had Squinkies in stock!  Ironic, I know!  I got a couple additional small sets for gifts, and another set of the 6 bubble packs to sell on eBay myself.  The lesson here being – keep checking the retail stores in your neighborhood, particularly just after opening, after restocking, and you might  just find yourself a set at retail price.  If you get tired of continually checking and coming up empty handed, your next best bet is eBay – but look carefully, as there is a wide variety of price ranges.  Good Luck!

PS:  Just FYI – according to the Squinkie website, new Squinkies are coming November 2010.

Toy reviews What's Hot

What’s Hot: Furreal Friends Furry Frenzies or Zhu Zhu Pets?

Christmas is only a little more than 3 months away.  I know – scary, isn’t it?  Pretty soon it will be Halloween, and then *BAM*, it’ll be Christmas in every store.  It gets a bit overwhelming.  Since every dollar counts in this economy, each year I try to be sure to get a few select toys that my kids really want.

Last year, around November, I found myself desperately seeking Zhu Zhu Pets, with none to be found.  After searching every store in town, one night I went on eBay, and around 1 a.m., found myself bidding $160 for 4 pets.  $160!  For 4 small, furry toys, that I knew would make my kid smile on Christmas morning.  And then, I panicked.  What in heaven was I doing bidding that much for some cheap, little toys that retailed for only $9 each?  Was I insane?  Amazingly, during the middle of my panic attack, I was outbid (by some other sleep-deprived crazed parent, no doubt).  In the end, no Zhu Zhu pets came for Christmas.

I just did a review of Furry Frenzies Cruisin’ Carrier, and I’m trying to guess ahead of time, which will be more popular this Christmas – Furry Frenzies or Zhu Zhu Pets?

Furry Frenzies:

Furry Frenzies are essentially Zhu Zhu Pet clones, but come in a wider variety of animal types – dog, cat, rabbit, hedgehog, raccoon, and chipmunk.  Other differences include:

  • Shorter, thicker bodies, and slightly taller (3.9 x 5.4 x 5.1 inches)
  • Nose button is bigger, and looks more like a normal nose
  • Have ears, and tails
  • Fur is tight fitting on body
  • Stuffed animal type eyes (colored with black center)
  • Recommended for ages 4 and  up
  • More cuddly and cute*

Best selling Furry Frenzies include:  City Center Play Set, Buster Bow Wow (dog), Senorita Scamps (cat), Whirl Around Playground, and Flurry in a Hurry (rabbit).  Pets are typically between $7.99 and $11.99.

Zhu Zhu Pets

It’ll be hard for Furry Frenzies to catch up to and compete with Zhu Zhu Pets.  Zhu Zhu Pets has released many different pets and building sets, including a new line of girl-targeted pets (hamsters and rabbits) in girly colors, plus a new line of Kung Zhu to appeal to boys, with warriors, ninjas, armors and a battle arena.  With Zhu Zhu Pets, not only can you collect all the different pets released (like Beanie Babies), but you can build your Hamster City and continually add different items to your metropolis.  Another notable difference – Zhu Zhu Pets have a website, and hamster blog, and Furry Frenzies have nothing.  Differences include:

  • Pets are primarily hamsters
  • Longer, thinner bodies (2.4 x 5.9 x 2.2 inches)
  • Smaller button on the nose
  • Fur is looser fitting on body
  • Black dot eyes
  • Recommended for ages 5 – 10 years

Best selling Zhu Zhu Pets include:  Jilly, Mr. Squiggles, Funhouse, Kung Zhu Special Forces Hamster set of 4, Nugget, Adventure Ball, Add On hamster wheel, Hamster House Starter Set, Pipsqueak, Wild Bunch set of 4, Sweetie, Scoodles, Kung Zhu Battle Arena, Add On ramp and slide, Carrier and blanket, Funhouse set with hamster, Blanket and bed, Convertible sports car, Rocky, Fluffy, Tex, Carly, Moo, and Justice.  Pets are typically between $8.99 and $11.99, but can be as high as $20 or more depending on popularity and scarcity.

Although there doesn’t appear to be any of last year’s Zhu Zhu Pet craziness yet, on eBay several items – the Giant Hamster City Playset, a Kung Zhu Battle Arena lot (along with Ninja and Warrior hamsters and armor), an Airport, Pizza Parlor, and Beauty Salon set lot, and a set of the girlie pets (Jilly, Pinkie, Sweetie, Roxie, Carly, and Peaches) are in high demand and going for $100-$180.

Similarities between Furry Frenzies and Zhu Zhu Pets include:

  • Both are activated by pressing on pet’s back or nose
  • Both make a variety of sounds
  • Both are on rubberized wheels
  • Both – have to watch don’t get caught in hair

In summary, Furry Frenzies are a relatively new toy, and at this point, they are not even close to Zhu Zhu Pets in sales or popularity.  There is only a very limited selection currently available – 3 playsets, 6 pets – and they are barely offered anywhere; Target online only has the Cruisin’ Carrier and City Center, although in-store they also have the individual pets.  Even though Furry Frenzies are well designed, and *my daughter prefers them over her Zhu Zhu pets, I imagine they will not sell as well as Zhu Zhu Pets, but will probably continue to be in short supply anyway this holiday season.

For Christmas, I’m planning to get my daughter the Furry Frenzies City Center Play Set, and will NOT be waiting until November to order it this year.

What about you?  We only have a small number of Zhu Zhu Pets – I’m interested to hear from people that have the whole hamster habitat-city-metroplis set up.  What do you like best?  Do you feel it was worth the money you spent on it?

Toy reviews

Review: Furreal Friends Furry Frenzies Cruisin’ / Pet Carrier

Furry Frenzies are “fast, furry, and full of funny sounds”.  Basically, they are a new Zhu Zhu Pet clone.  My daughter received the Friends Furry Frenzies Cruisin’ / Pet Carrier for her birthday.  (This toy is SO new, they can’t seem to agree on a name, as on some sites it’s listed as Pet Carrier, and others as Cruisin’ Carrier.)

The Cruisin’ Carrier comes with 1 Furry Frenzy pet – Bumper McBones (a dog).  The take-along carrier case is easy to snap together, and we had fun putting all the colorful stickers on.  It’s a nice little thing to carry 1 or 2 pets in, and the little extra pieces were fun for imaginative play.

The carrier has a handle, and see-through sides, and several openings (none big enough so that your pet will fall out, though) so you can check on your pet.  Inside is a circular area for your pet to run around on.  Doors on 3 sides of the carrier open – one automatically closes when your pet runs in.  The side door opens and has spots to attach the include food and water dishes; you can let your pet run round and round, then open that door and it’ll come out and “eat”.  Comes with 9 accessories (mini plastic teddy bear, hairbrush, pillow, small blanket, can of snacks, water bowl, food bowl, collar, an attachable leash) a mailbox, with moveable door and flag, and “real” letters to put inside, and a large sheet of stickers to customize your carrier.

We also played with the pet on the hardwood floor (no carpets – bad for the wheels) and had races, but then put it to bed with its pillow, blanket, and teddy.

The Cruisin’ Carrier is a fun and engaging toy, perfectly priced for a birthday gift for your child’s friends.  My daughter loves it!  Furry Frenzies are cuddly, cute, zip around on wheels, and make not-too-annoying noises.  Interestingly, my daughter says she likes her Furry Frenzy pets MORE than her Zhu Zhu pets, because they are “more cute and cuddly”.

Recommended age is 4 and up; there are small parts, so you’d want to be careful of that with younger kids.  With any age, it’s important you don’t get the wheels going near your child’s hair (just like with Zhu Zhu Pets) as hair will get tangled in the spinning wheels.  If your child plans to sleep with it, just take the batteries out.  Requires 2 AAA batteries (not included).

A quick price check shows you can get the Cruisin’ Carrier online at Amazon for $17.99, Target for $14.89, or HasbroToyShop for $14.99.