Launched less than two years ago, Webkinz have quietly grown into a phenomenon similar to Cabbage Patch Kids and Beanie Babies in years past — the type of toy that a parent will drive across the state to snag, or pay four times the selling price for on a Web site such as eBay.Popular with 7- to 12-year-olds, Webkinz is a sort of amalgamation of tween favorites: a cute plush toy, a virtual pet, a social networking Web site and a place to play online games.
The Webkinz Web site is part of the attraction.Each stuffed animal comes equipped with a special ID that lets kids log on to a Web site and build their own virtual reality for an online version of the pet, complete with its own room.
To coddle their online pets with special room decorations and other treats, kids can earn “KinzCash” by playing games, taking quizzes or doing odd jobs like painting. (No real cash changes hands.) The virtual animals also need nourishment and attention in order to thrive.
Webkinz owners also can interact with one another using a tightly controlled chat program, which offers pre-built phrases to prevent people from seeking out personal information.
The Webkinz drought has left many unhappy youngsters in its wake
First Wii shortages, now webkinz! Is it bad that there is a part of me that smiles at this story? 😛
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