Over the past few months, bulbous and brightly colored plush toys have increased a beny baby-style craze among children, teenagers, and adults.
Squishmallow, A line of soft, legible toys made in 2017, has exploded in popularity during the epidemic, thanks to social media and specifically Tiktok (or “Squishtok,” as fans call it). Collectors say that the stuffed animals have given them a rest in a painful year, and hunting for them has fueled a much-needed sense of community during an extended period of isolation.
“Even though the craze was coming before the epidemic, it certainly hit the fever pitch in the past year, and this craving for comfort is a big part of it,” said Kelly Dinh, senior vice president of marketing at parent company Jejavares said. Of Kellytoy, who made Squishmallow.
In early March, the judges said it had sold more than 73 million toys. (in) February 2020, The Toy Book, a trade publication, reported that the company had sold 50 million squishmallows.)
Dozens of Avid collectors if not hundreds of them. Melissa Whitaker, a 35-year-old cashier in New Hampshire, has more than 70 squishmallows, each with a tag stating her name and unique traits. “I love their cute little faces,” she said. “They are great for hugs, and you can double them as pillows.”
There are over 800 squishmallow characters, and hunting for rare people has become a popular pastime. Squishmallow hunters post Video from their quests And Remember about mania On TikTok (where the video with the hashtag #squishmallows has garnered millions of views), Instagram and Reddit. They also trade tips on finding highly iconic characters.
46-year-old Ilana Wills, a mom and Instagram influencer in New York City, said that she and her husband often take their 11-year-old daughter Mazi around the city and on Long Island hunting for squishmall scavengers.
“It’s a fun activity, and if you’re buying them at a retail store they’re not so expensive,” Ms. Wills said. “It’s a huge reward for a lot of money.” Most toys The prices are Between $ 10 and $ 40, depending on their size.
Some that have been hard to find are receiving great prices on resale, though. According to Insider, Squishmallow is being redeveloped for hundreds of dollars on sites like Mercury.
“Squishmallow’s success comes from exclusivity, which helps drive collectivity,” said Kelly Kelly, co-president of KellyToy. He said the company is ramping up production to keep up with demand.
“It causes a lot of issues to find them in the store,” said 21-year-old Rebecca Brown, a college student in Hunts, Ala. “Now there are a lot of scalpers who go out and buy the entire store stock.”
Ms. Brown said the epidemic has become popular among students, especially during the epidemic. Some place their squishmalls as a conversation starter during their zoom classes or in a frame to show off their collection. Ms. Brown’s school, the University of Alabama at Huntsville, has its own local Squishmlow instagram page, Where fans can meet and connect with each other online and in person.
18-year-old Gabrielle Marquez has about 70 squishmallows. She lays the big ones on her bed and the smaller ones on the bookshelf or ticks on a toy swing or bedroom chair. She said that stuffed animals are especially popular with youngsters dealing with anxiety or depression. “If you’re feeling down, it helps to cheer yourself up by hugging or going out and buying a new one,” she said.
Ms. Marquez has “enjoyed being able to find a community of other people who share the same interests and talk with them about squishmallow during lockdown when we don’t. I use this hobby as friends. I have friends in other states and Canada now. ”Last Wednesday, his high school declared the day” Squishmallow Wednesday “during a virtual assembly.
“When I’m doing school I can look at my bed and see a fun unicorn or dragon or octopus,” said Isa Armstrong, a high school operator in Westchester, “It just gives me joy and warmth And fuzzy feeling. “
She and other fans said that she liked the inclusion reflected in the creature of the plush doll. At the age of 16, Ms. Armstrong said, “They just released a couple squishmallows, which are gender-neutral and pronounce them.” “I think it’s normalizing it for kids, and I love it.”
Ms Wills said she hopes to have her daughter hunt Squishmalo again soon. “There is something so innocent about it that I fully support it,” she said. “We’ve just spent a full year where the kids are at home on their iPads, so there’s just something that’s tempting them that’s so simple and pure, that’s cool.”