Who Hatched the Hatchimals - A Story Behind the Creators of This Years #1 Holiday Toy


The Creators and Their Inspiration

Spin Master, the company responsible for the Hatchimals, is already experienced in developing hit toys. The Toronto-based toy company has been in business since 1994. Zoomer electronic animals, Meccano construction kits, and the Bakugan toy line were all previous successes. Unlike those ideas, which came from outside sources, Spin Master’s own inside team developed the new product. 

The popularity of unboxing videos on Youtube involving products like Kinder Eggs and LootCrate inspired Spin Master’s advanced-concept team. With this new project, they created a toy that captures the anticipation and excitement of opening a gift without knowing exactly what’s inside. 

Spin Master’s robotics unit and an engineer based in Hong Kong worked together to design them. Their deceptively simple appearance hides the fact that they make use of modern technology. Special heat sensors let the pet know when it is time to hatch from its egg; it is the first toy to be able to hatch on its own. They decided not to include any phone, tablet, or computer app integration. This decision makes it a great gift choice if you wish to limit your child’s screen time. 

A Toy Which Grows and Learns

The Hatchimals follow in the footsteps of other artificial pets which were popular in the past. From baby dolls to remote-controlled animals to the Tamagotchi craze of the 90s, the appeal of a toy you can care for is timeless. This one combines the cuteness of fantasy virtual pets with the real materials of dolls to create something that can actually be held and touched. Its ability to grow after a certain amount of care is what sets it apart from other robotic playthings.

Pengualas and Draggles, the two varieties of the toy, start out in a hard eggshell. Their light-up eyes glow different colors and can be seen through the shell to let your child know what the pet wants them to do. They come with an eye color chart to make it easy to remember what each color means. For example, blue eyes mean the pet is scared and that it wants the bottom of its egg rubbed for comfort. It only takes between 10 and 40 minutes of playtime with the egg before it hatches. This was a conscious design decision by Spin Master; it’s easy for children to get bored and they wanted it to always offer something new.

When its eyes start flashing colors, your child can rub the bottom of the egg. The toy inside will begin packing at the shell and eventually hatch out. The Pengualas and Draggles go through several growth stages once they hatch: baby, toddler, and kid. Each stage has special activities and games for your children to learn. 

During the baby stage, it will respond with lights and speech when cuddled. It can be fed by tipping its beak against something and burped by petting its head. In the toddler stage, the toy can be trained to repeat words said to it. Your child can also make it walk towards them by clapping their hands. There’s also an option to make it play a tune and dance along with your child. The kid stage is the final level of growth. It gains four different games which you can cycle through, including ones where its head must be tapped at a certain cue or it plays a tune which must be clapped along with. A reset option lets you revert it to being a baby or toddler at any time so that your child can play their favorite stage again.

Where You Can Find Them

Demand for Hatchimals far exceeded Spin Master’s expectations. Finding them in time for the holiday season will take some dedicated searching. They have held top spots on lists of the most-sold items this year. Flying off store shelves as soon as they arrive, they've matched previous must-have holiday toys like Tickle Me Elmo and the Nintendo Wii. The company’s supplies for the year have already been distributed and many retailers have sold out. Additional stock will be sent out to retailers in 2017, but there is still a chance you can get your hands on one in time for this year’s holidays. 

Before you head out to the big box stores like Walmart, Kmart, and Target, call them ahead of time to ask if they still have stock. Apart from the Pengualas and Draggles, Walmart stores received shipments of a special model called Burtles, but it may already be sold out in most locations. Some of these retailers are developing pre-order and rain check programs which allow you to place an order now and receive the toy sometime in January. The availability of these programs differs with each location, so call your local stores to determine what they offer.

You can check back with the stores regularly to see if they receive more shipments, but online retailers may be your only choice if you want the toy before the end of the year. Both Walmart.com and Amazon.com still have very limited supplies available as of the time of this writing. These supplies are mostly sold by third-parties, though, and are significantly more expensive than the retail price of $59.99.