Pets can be a real pain. You have to feed them, clean up after them, play with them — why, they’re almost as bad as kids. At least you don’t have to pay for college for your collie. This year, it seems that the hot gift for the holidays is a hamster. Don’t worry about having to clean out any cages, though — these rodents are robotic.
The Zhu Zhu Pets have a lot going for them. The have a lot of fun accessories and they’re relatively inexpensive — the critters themselves retail for around $10. On eBay or Craigslist, however, they go for as much as $40. The toys are made by Cepia, Inc. of St. Louis, where they have only 16 employees. There are another 30 workers in China. A small company means small production numbers which means the toys are fairly hard to find in stores.
Lori Fowlkes saw the toys in September and her kids immediately wanted them. She decided to wait, however, since there were plenty on the shelf. That was “before I knew that the hamsters would soon be off the shelves and more scarce than an H1N1 vaccine,” she said. Now, like Cabbage Patch Dolls, Furbies, and Tickle Me Elmo in years past, Zhu Zhu pets may be hotter than the manufacturer can handle.
Still, it’s a problem every manufacturer would like to have, especially these days. The company expects to sell $100 million dollars worth by the end of the year and is projecting sales of $350 to $400 million dollars next year as the company increases production. So, if you can find one of these at your local store, I’d say grab it — even if it’s not exactly what your kid wants, chances are they’ll know someone who would really appreciate it.