*Warning* – Cuteness Overload
Kids like collecting things, which is why toy manufacturers keep reinventing the collectables craze. Shopkins is one of these – and over the last 12 months they have definitely made their mark in the UK.
Shopkins are aimed at children aged 5+ and were launched in the US by Moose Toys in 2013. You can tell they’re from America as they are released in ‘Seasons’ (like a US TV drama series) and Season 4 has just launched here. The tiny, sweet, rubbery characters started out in Season 1 as grocery items but now encompass 9 different categories, including dairy, health/beauty, bakery, household and shoes.
My eldest daughter, currently 8, first caught sight of the miniature merchandise in late 2014 whilst watching YouTube videos of American kids ‘unboxing’ and reviewing their playsets and was determined to find them over here. Shopkins made their UK debut in the autumn of that year at industry event, ‘Brand Licensing Europe’, where, according to toynewsonline.biz, they were met with a “phenomenal reaction.”
Each season, over 100 characters are released, encouraging fans to collect and trade them with their friends. They are are classed from common to rare, to ultra rare through to special and limited edition. The rarer they get, the more glittery and blingy they become, ensuring that kids will turn into their own version of a cute little Shopkin, fluttering their eyelashes and saying plllleeeeaaaasssseee – to get you to buy them ‘just one more’.
Shopkins can be bought individually or in multipacks, along with plastic shopping bags and baskets. With most sets, you can see straight away which characters are inside but some packs also contain ‘blind bags’, giving your little shopper’s retail therapy an added element of surprise.
A variety of themed playsets bring the retail rascals to life. From vending machines to ice cream vans to supermarkets, providing fun backdrops to engage kids in playing with their new friends and also places to store or display them. Each set also contains that season’s collector’s guide, in the form of a shopping list, for owners to tick off their purchases as they go.
Shopkins are making their mark across the globe, with fans able to access further content online via the official website and watch Shopkins ‘webisodes’ on YouTube. And, of course, there is a Shopkins app featuring games and activities. Additional merchandising has now gone into overdrive, with partner brands launching games, arts and crafts, books, pyjamas and plushies among many offerings. Proving their huge diversity, Shopkins were even warranted their own version of ‘Top Trumps’.
My advice to parents – make room for Shopkins, because as their tagline states – “Once you shop, you can’t stop” and they don’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.