Hatchimals is a line of robotic toys produced by Spin Master. The flagship toys feature a robotic creature—representing one of various species—that "hatch" themselves from an egg.
After their initial release in October 2016, the toys faced an unexpectedly high demand. Media outlets expected them to be the top seller of the holiday season, leading to raffles and waiting lists over the limited stock, and comparisons to other major toy phenomenon such as Cabbage Patch Kids and Tickle Me Elmo.
In 2014, Spin Master's head of robotics James Martin explained that his team hated the popularity of unboxing videos on YouTube, and envisioned a concept for a toy that could "unbox" itself. This idea evolved into a concept for a robotic creature that would hatch itself from an egg, necessitating the design of a mechanism for the hatching, and a material for the egg itself. Hatchimals was officially launched on October 7, 2016, backed by advertising on television and digital platforms, such as social networking services. On launch, five possible species were available: Bearakeet, Burtle, Draggle, Penguala, and Owlicorn.
In 2017, Spin Master introduced Hatchimals Colleggtibles, a line of miniature, collectible figures in a blind bag form.
On launch, demand for Hatchimals was extremely high, which led to them being designated as the "hottest" toy of the 2016 Christmas shopping season. By late-October, Hatchimals occupied multiple spots on NPD Group's top ten list of best-selling toys in the United States, including first, second, sixth, and ninth place. The firm compared the phenomenon to those surrounding Cabbage Patch Kids and Tickle Me Elmo. The New York Times and The Globe and Mail documented the organisation of raffles and waiting lists for the toys, and sellers on websites such as Amazon.com and eBay selling Hatchimals at over three times their suggested retail price of US$60, if not higher.
The high demand made defects with some of the toys more prominent, with some customers complaining that they had issues initiating the hatching process (which involves interacting with the egg over a period of time), or that the batteries in the toy within did not have enough capacity left to complete it (necessitating manual extraction). The company did acknowledge that some customers had difficulty with the hatching, stating that it had increased the capacity and business hours of its customer care call centres, and had posted tips and tutorials online to assist in the process. Martin Prominent lawyer Mark Geragos backed a lawsuit over Hatchimals, alleging that Spin Master purposely intended the toy to not operate successfully all the time, causing disappointment and frustration among the parents who made great lengths to purchase it for the holidays.
Spin Master was caught off-guard by the unexpected demand; the company originally stated that the toy would appeal primarily to girls aged 6 to 8, but Hatchimals ultimately became popular among boys and older youth audiences as well. The company attempted to address the supply issues by having its remaining stock from China delivered via air freight instead of by ship, but stated that there may not be new stock of Hatchimals until 2017. However, Martin added that the company planned to introduce new species and features to the Hatchimals line, and asked customers to be patient.
- "How a Toronto company invented this year's hottest toy: Hatchimals". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "The Hunt for Hatchimals, the Elusive Toy of the Holiday Season". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "In a 'bait-and-switch' scheme, Hatchimals don't hatch, lawsuit claims". Washington Post. January 24, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
- "Hatchimals creator gets in on collectible toy trend with Colleggtibles". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
- "Bad Egg? Parents Complain About Hatchimal Defects". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 2019-04-10.