Zhu Zhu pets were so hot last holiday season, that getting them for national television gigs took more negotiations than you can imagine. Having watched many a hot toy come and go, it’s always interesting to see how toy companies try to keep the craze going. Cabbage Patch dolls, Furby, Elmo- they’ve all been there with varying degrees of success. So this year, the sweet and furry Zhu Zhu pets have gone into battle, literally. The new Kung Zhu Battle Arena is the latest in their line. Here the pets are now ready to enter the battle arena (sold separately) in varying levels of battle armor (sold separately). Interesting most of our testers that were in on the Zhu Zhu pet craze last year really enjoyed making their own settings for their pets. Battle toys are a recurring theme in toyland again (there are a whole host of tops and bugs that battle it out) – so we’ll have to see how the Zhu Zhu pets in their current aggressive form stack up.
If this toy is on your child’s list, know that the battle arena does not come with a pet. This seems unfortunate to us. Also if you want the armor to cover the pets that is different from the tanks that goes over the armor. In other words, there are many layers of defense that you will need to purchase if you’re going into this battle.
Perhaps one of the upsides to our collective focus on toy safety this year–the absence of a hot toy. With the news cycles focusing on the latest recalls, there really hasn’t been room for soft and fuzzier stories about the hot toy. As much as Elmo tried, he couldn’t giggle his way to center stage this season.
While we often have some hot toys on our list, most know that featuring the heavily promoted toy of the season isn’t our function. The reality is that a hot toy is not necessarily a great toy and certainly not a toy for everyone. A few years ago when Furby took off (in large part to a pre-market article in Wired Magazine) we were struck by the number of people trying to hunt Furby down for their kids–even though Furby’s gremlin like character would be frightening to most younger kids. Even though no child had played with the Furby when the article put the creature on the map. Quickly we learned that “hot” often has more to do with adult collectors on Ebay than a truly kid-driven craze. It can happen (Beanie babies, Cabbage Patch, the original Tickle Me Elmo!)– but they are few and far between (as most toy makers will tell you).
Now we’re left to wonder as we look around our homes—not whether we have the hot toy–but whether we have safe toys.