Pardon Me While I Step up on My Soapbox

It all seemed so harmless when it began.  A cute little animal.  A few games on the computer.  Such a cute little craze!  I am speaking of Webkinz.  A little over a year ago when they entered our life, it seemed so innocent.  The boys were given one for Christmas last year and just went crazy.  A few months later they each got one for a birthday gift (including Dancer).  That is when things started going South.  You see, Dancer wanted to buy things for her beloved “Pink” but was unable to make much money playing the games.  So I began having to play the games at night after the kids went to bed in order to get her points to redecorate her house and dress her computerized pet in the appropriate fashions of the day.

Then, what seemed like childish fun became an obsession!  Children began getting not one or two but ten or twelve of these little stuffed creatures.  Why?  I mean how many can you really play with on the computer anyway.  But it was the beanie baby craze all over again.  Students at the tutorial would give me daily updates about how many they have.  Numbers started skyrocketing with kids having 20 and even 30.  The newspaper came out with a story about a local boy with 60.  The little critters were arranged all the way up a flight of stairs.

We even gave a couple as gifts.  On our home-front, however, we remained sane.  We explained to the children that they really did not need to spend their college funds on stuffed pets.  The few that they had were plenty.  And they were satisfied.  Up until today, the count had held steady.  The boys had three apiece and Dancer had two.  All of them, except one had been gifts and we had not wasted hard earned money on them.  I must say, I felt a little parental pride knowing we had not been sucked into the mayhem, especially after talking to some of our Sunday School girls last week.  They were all bragging about how many they had.  Most of the counts were around 30.  I asked what they did with them and the answer was nothing.  They played with one or two on the computer and most of the rest were kept in boxes or suitcases.  What was the point of having so many just to throw them in a box, I wisely questioned.  The answer, of course, bragging rights–the ability to say you have 20, 30, etc.  What a world we live in!

Well, today we awakened to tragedy.  Baseball boy logged on to his account to find that it had expired!  I guess I trudged too naively through this tangled “web” of Webkinz.  Apparently after a year or so, you can no longer play with the animal that has become your friend.  You have fed and clothed it for a year, named it, loved it only to log on and find that you can no longer play with it:  UNLESS YOU BUY A NEW WEBKINZ AND ADD IT TO YOUR ACCOUNT!  My child was devastated.  I know many parents would probably just go get another one.  They are just $12.99.  But this is a depressed economy, people!  And the point is that while it is a marketing genius for the Ganz company it is just plain cruel to the children.  We ourselves have perpetuated it by giving them as gifts.  What happens in a year when they no longer can play with their animals and do not have the money to just throw away on an unneeded toy.  The devastating thing to B.B. was not that he wanted another animal, but that he was going to lose his “friend”.  I felt horrible but felt that I had to stick to my guns not to just go out and waste money on something so fleeting.  In the end, Dancer and he pooled their own money and each bought a new Webkinz to add to their accounts and keep the cycle going.  They are thrilled to death to have a new “pet” and that they didn’t have to lose the old one.  But in a year, we will be in this place again.  Is it just me, or does anyone else feel just a little taken advantage of by the toy company?  I tell you, it has just done me in for the day.  I know there is nothing I can do about it but at least I have a place to come and vent.  If you are still with me, thanks for letting me get this off my chest.  And, please, at your next birthday party DO Not give the gift that keeps on taking!

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Scott Loewen said,

    Yeah. That’s the bummer about Webkinz. You should have your kids try http://www.buildabearville.com. It’s the new online world from Build-A-Bear Workshop that gives you lifetime access for free with the purchase of any furry friend. It’s much better than Webkinz and it never expires.

  2. 2

    Sue said,

    all that may be true, but kids will be kids! they have to keep up with the latest thing!! so just get them only 1 every year. it shouldnt take very long. itll be just like the beanie babies! cool 1 day, forgotten the next. so you should only have to buy about 2 more before they grow tired of it!


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