Club Penguin toy is waddling out of stores
At the height of the Webkinz craze I got my then-4-year-old to dress himself head to toe for a full week with the promise that he could have that grey Webkinz kitten he had his eye on. Unbeknownst to me, the rest of the world was going bonkers for Webkinz plush toys and that $8 kitty was now going for $60 on Amazon when I logged on to purchase his
reward. Why do adults always have to ruin this stuff for kids? They did the same thing with the Beanie Babies (earning them an honored place in the Bad Fads Museum pantheon for cut-throat collection frenzy). I fear another stuffed animal could go the way of the Webkinz and Beanies, becoming endangered this holiday season and forcing desperate parents to pay a premium on eBay to crafty adults who have snatched up the reasonably priced toy.
Of course I'm talking about the $9.99 Club Penguin characters. The kids in our neighborhood are suddenly crazy about the club, a free Disney-owned Web site where kids can create and name a penguin that they can waddle around a virtual world. They have virtual play dates with each other, holding sled races down a mountain or dancing at the disco. If you pony up $5.95 a month, membership lets you buy clothes for your penguin, decorate his igloo and go into previously blocked virtual worlds. It's the tot version of a VIP pass.
Disney bought the site for the eye-popping price of $350-million last year and now they have come up with a way to milk money out of the brand. Behold, a plush penguin dressed as a cheerleader, fireman, space alien, rock star. The list goes on and the shelves are bare at Toys R Us and the Disney Store. You don't have to get a toy to play on the site, like you do with Webkinz. But kids want them because they come with a code that lets you buy things for your penguin, like an MP3 player, that non-plush owners can't get.
I haven't seen one for less that $20 on Amazon or eBay. Here we go again.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne