Ask many children, “What would you like for your birthday?” Many times the answer will be, “A Webkinz!” The Webkinz by Ganz line of toys is extremely popular, and seems to be holding it’s own in the children’s toy market. On occasion (I believe once a year) Ganz “retires” a few of the Webkinz, which means they stop producing them and create a few new ones in their place.
Children are not the only people who buy Webkinz – many adults are also avid collectors of the furry friends and some buy them just in the hopes that Ganz will retire them. Why? When Webkinz retires one of it’s line, it has the effect of creating a scarcity in the market and naturally, the price begins to rise.
And rise it has!
Many people are paying upward of $1000 for some of the more rare Webkinz, such as Webkinz Cheeky Dog, and $200 – $300 or more for Webkinz Cheeky Cat! If one goes to eBay they can see the prices on the auctions – it’s really something to see!
Alright, so what’s so special about the Webkinz in the first place? Like the Beanie Babies by Ty, each of the Webkinz line have a special tag, but with a secret code. The secret code allows children to enter a place called “Webkinz World” online and create a whole world for their pet. They do various activities to earn “Kinz Cash” including play games, answer trivia questions, do daily posted tasks and other fun activities. Kinz Cash are used for various purposes to help their pet, such as feed it, ensure that it stays healthy, buy clothing, medicine when the pet is ill and even decorate the pet’s home! The Webkinz line and Webkinz World are designed for children ages 6 – 13, but many children younger than six can also have fun online, with some help from the parents.
Webkinz World adds a distinct twist to the idea of collectible plush toys – there are several features that have educational benefits. For example, some of the games that are played for Kinz Cash are math, alphabet or spelling oriented. The child also learns practical, in-life lessons, such as how to care for a pet, how to make and save money and other forms of responsibilities.
What happens to a Webkinz when it retires? Nothing in terms of what can be done with the pet in Webkinz World. As long as the tag that comes with the pet has not yet been entered into the Webkinz World site, the animal remains “new” and the secret code can be fully utilized to access all parts of the website, creating a life and a whole world for the pet.
Okay, so what about this “retired” craze? I’m not sure how to explain it exactly aside from the natural laws of supply and demand. But it’s quite the phenomena: Take one of the world’s most popular toys, create a scarcity of them, mix, stir and voila! We have stuffed animals (although rather special ones) selling for almost $1000 apiece!
Is it worth it? First of all, the answer to that question will always be an opinion, so it depends on who you ask. Also, just as anything else considered to be valuable, it all comes back to an idea of what is important and what isn’t. But to say it without philosophizing – If you like retired Webkinz (or other similar collectibles), and you believe it’s worth it, go for it!