Shopkins toy craze cresting in Canada as Christmas nears
'Adorable' Shopkins could be this year's must-have toy of the season
"What are Shopkins?"
Donna Lynd says it's the No. 1 question she gets from people coming into the Showcase store she manages at the Devonshire Mall in Windsor, Ont.
Shopkins are the latest toy craze to capture the attention of some of Canada's youngest consumers.
"What are these? Why do my children want these? And all we say is, they are adorable and [kids] want to collect as many as possible."
Shopkins are a line of small plastic toys. Some are the size of your thumb — or smaller — with faces drawn on them, while others are larger and look more like traditional dolls.
They're cute, collectable and even tradable, according to Lynd.
In any case, children want them and are letting their families know about it.
"We pretty much have to restock daily. It sells that fast," said Lynd, while standing alongside a large store shelf filled with Shopkins toys.
"So many children, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles — everyone is coming in to look for all of this."
Lynd believes the toy line is primarily targeted at children aged four to 10.
The toys have become so popular — and distracting — that they've been banned in some elementary school classrooms and daycares.
One line of a particular Shopkins doll sold out in less than three hours at a Windsor toy store.
'It's all I ever see'
The Shopkins have already caught the eye of Tarika Lassaline's daughter Saphira, who turned four last month.
"She randomly started just, like, talking about Shopkins and, of course, a typical mother, I was just like: 'What is that?'" Lassaline told CBC News, shortly after her daughter had latched onto a Shopkins product on a rack at the Showcase store.
Lassaline said Saphira has already acquired "quite a stock of them already."
Saphira also has become a fan of the animated Shopkins web series.
"Yes, yes. It's all I ever see," her mom said.
It was a similar story in Mike Ngo's household. He, too, learned of the existence of the Shopkins from his eight-year-old daughter Thianna about a year and a half ago.
Ngo said he does a lot of travelling to the United States for work. And one thing he does when he is on business is hunt for Shopkins.
"I would stop by Target, I would drop by Toys 'R' Us, wherever they have it," he said in an interview.
He also searched for Shopkins on a recent vacation.
"I know my daughter loves them and I just want to get them for her to see her smiling face," Ngo said.
The Australian-owned Moose Toys is the company behind the Shopkins craze.
So far, Lynd said, the company has released three "seasons" or distinct product runs of Shopkins — the first two of which hit stores in Canada last year.
Lynd said Shopkins has also released limited edition toys, which have caught the eye of some collectors.
"If you were to go online, you would see that they are worth a lot of money," she said, noting that some people are offering to sell them for between $100 and $1,000 in some cases.
Vincent Georgie, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Windsor, said Shopkins has successfully engaged the attention of children with the toy line and its many offshoots.
"Shopkins did a really good job of existing really heavily online, but also offline," he told CBC News in a telephone interview.
"So whether it be a website, whether it be short videos and even their animated series, there's many points of access that kids of all ages can engage with Shopkins and sort of see what they're up to and gain affinity for that universe and that toy, and obviously that drives consumption."
With a report from the CBC's Joana Draghici