Every Christmas has its "must-have" toy. From Cabbage Patch Dolls, to Buzz Lightyear, to Tickle Me Elmo. Often it's something parents will dismiss as an overpriced pile of rubbish, but which children will be convinced that their lives aren't complete without.
So far, this year's runaway worldwide success comes rodent-sized: GoGo Hamsters. With Christmas still over a month away, parents are reporting that the pets are already proving hard to find. The Money Saving Expert site has a very active discussion running at the moment here, where hundred of posters are reporting their success (or not) in tracking the little critters down. The Los Angeles Times' blog reports that the craze is already sweeping America. Some enterprising punter was advertising them on Amazon last week at £75, and they're starting for £25 each on eBay - this for a toy that is meant to retail at £9.99.
Ian Chaplin, Toys Trading Manager for Argos told ParentDish that more stocks are on their way: "Pets without poop' are one of the hot trends in kids toys and these racing rodents are proving to be one of the 'runaway' favourites in the build up to Christmas. We'd advise people to get hold of theirs sooner rather than later. Go Go Hamsters have proved to be extremely popular with demand at Argos up four-fold in the space of three weeks. As the UK's number one in toys we have managed to secure better stock levels than than any other UK retailer. Tens of thousands of the racing rodents will be arriving into Argos stores in time for Christmas stockings. As with any popular item at this time of year, we would advise customers to Check & Reserve online to make sure their hamster is ready and waiting to be collected at their local store."
Argos very kindly sent me a Chunk GoGo Hamster so I could see what all the fuss is about. Yes, they are cute, with authentic hamster pouchy cheeks and inauthentic sewn-in motif on their backs. The nose, which makes a variety of sounds when you push it, looks weirdly like a nipple. Internally, the toys have enough artificial intelligence to zip around the room like a real hamster. It's not the sort of toy your child will cherish for years, but I can see why little girls especially would go for these. And the appeal to parents is immense, because you can satisfy your child's pleas for a pet without all the related responsibility and work.
So will you be able to get them in time for Christmas? It looks like more stocks are on their way, so hopefully parents can breathe a sigh of relief. But will the demand for GoGo Hamsters really outstrip supply? Or is it a case of clever marketing, building up demand before further stocks are released?
What do you think? Are your kids asking for GoGo Hamsters this year? Have you found any in stock?