Fake, motorized hamsters are quickly becoming one of the most sought-after toys around this Christmas season.
Stores in Northeast Mississippi are selling out of Zhu Zhu Pets as soon as they come in and parents and grandparents are scouring the stores with the hopes of nabbing one of the furry critters.
According to ZhuZhuPets.com, the toys “are the world’s first innovative, realistic, interactive, plush, and artificially intelligent hamsters that talk and move around in their own playsets.”
They sell for about $10 each.
Betty Cowsert of Plantersville is one of the many shoppers on the prowl for Zhu Zhu Pets.
She was going up and down the aisles of Walmart’s toy department last week hoping to find a few of the rodents for her two grandkids. She’d already called around to other stores, only to be told they were out of Zhu Zhu Pets.
“They are out everywhere,” Cowsert said.
Despite the local popularity, the National Retail Federation’s countrywide survey found that Zhu Zhu Pets are the 10th most popular gifts for girls. Barbies took the No. 1 spot for girls and video games took the top spot for boys.
“No. 10? More like No. 1,” said Vickie Shockley, an employee in the toys department at Walmart on North Gloster Street.
Todd Brown, store manager at Toys R Us in Tupelo, said Barbies always do well for Christmas, but the demand this year isn’t anywhere near as much as that for the hamsters.
“Zhu Zhu Pets are the hottest toy,” Brown said. “As soon as they come in, they are gone. We have to limit customers to a max of four each day.”
Mindflex is another popular toy that sells out as soon as it arrives at the store. Mattel says the game features a headset that reads players’ brain waves to move a levitating foam ball through an obstacle course. The price for the game ranges from $60 to $165, depending on the retailer.
Brown said LEGOs have been doing really well this year, along with board games, the Nintendo Wii and Bakugan items. Shockley and Alisha Turner, who also works in the toys department at Walmart, said LEGOs have been good sellers at their store, along with Power Wheels.
At GameStop in Tupelo, store manager James Simmons said the most popular items at his store have been the Nintendo DS and DSi.
The demand for the Wii system hasn’t been as strong as in the last two or three years, he said, but the most recent $50 price drop has helped spur interest.
While the new technologies are popular this year, the traditional toys are still on Christmas lists. Erin Watson of Baldwyn said her three children wanted Easy Bake ovens, a bicycle and CDs from Disney favorites Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez.
Ashtynn, 6, and Aynsleigh, 9, Cade of Tupelo were shopping last week with their mom, Angie, and grandmother. Dolls were at the top of both of the girls’ lists. They said they don’t care about Zhu Zhu Pets, opting for Moxie Girlz and Liv Dolls instead.
“They tell everybody – Santa, mama and grandma – to make sure they are covered,” grandma Sherwin Cade said.
Zettie Johnson, also a grandmother, was hitting the stores last week trying to knock out her Christmas shopping list. She said she bought Dora the Explorer items last year and is looking into educational games for this year. She’s also relying on tried and true winners: trucks, dolls and clothes.
“It’s kind of difficult trying to make decisions because they got a lot of those things last year,” Johnson said.
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal