Of the most popular toys this holiday season, only one pecks itself out of a plastic egg after responding to a child's touch.
If you are a parent of a young child, you may very well be aware of the Hatchimal toy. If not, imagine the scene where Richard Attenborough coaxes an infant velociraptor out of its shell in "Jurassic Park." Except in lieu of a dinosaur there is inside a fluffy robot called a Penguala or an Owlicorn; and rather than learning to disembowel, the Furby-like critter discovers it can sing Happy Birthday. Its eyes change color, and it chirps. Otherwise, a Hatchimal springs to life fully-formed as came Athena from Zeus's forehead.
Across the United States, those seeking Hatchimals have encountered empty shelves and depleted stocks. Online, Walmart advertises the Hatchimal for $48.88 (out of stock, as of this writing). Secondary sellers hosted on Walmart's website, The Post reported on Friday, were seeking as much as $329 per toy egg.
Spin Master, the company behind the Hatchimal, unveiled the toy in October after two years in development.
"As far as we know, a toy that's able to hatch on its own hasn't been done before," head of Spin Master's robotics unit James Martin told CNN.
Hatchimals were a smashing success, outstripping Spin Master's expectations. Anton Rabie, Spin Master chief executive, said in a November investor statement that retailers reported "exceptional customer response" to the toys.
Industry experts heralded the toy as a commodity on par with Cabbage Patch Kids, or perhaps as the second coming of Beanie Babies. "They're an act of God," Richard Gottlieb, Global Toy Experts chief executive, told the New York Times.
The toy was so hot that Sara Gruen, author of the New York Times bestseller "Water for Elephants," bought more than 150 of them. The total purchase, the author told the Philly Voice, came to $23,595.31. Gruen hoped to resell the Hatchimals on websites like eBay and Amazon. The goal, she said to the Voice, was not to make a tidy sum but to raise money for the legal defense of "an innocent man who'd run out of options while serving life without parole."
But she hit a stumbling block. Amazon required a manufacturer letter to resell the toys, as Gruen relayed in a Facebook post on Dec. 5, and eBay limits a user's Hatchimal auctions to three per week. "Now there are Hatchimals stacked up around every side of my office," she wrote. "I am having Hatchimal nightmares."
The next crop of Hatchimals will not arrive from the Chinese factories where the toys are manfactured until early 2017, according to the Spin Master website.