The enduring appeal of toys that need to be fed, changed, and rocked like human babies may be rooted in children’s desire to act like grown-ups.
Credits to HATCHIBABIES
Two years ago around this time, on Black Friday 2016, the hunt for the Hatchimals was escalating rapidly. Hatchimals, the $60 battery-operated, interactive toys made by Spin Master and introduced in October 2016, had quickly become a craze—the late-2010s iteration of the Cabbage Patch Kid doll or the Tickle-Me Elmo. They went on to dominate that year’s holiday gift-toy market—and this year, Spin Master looks poised to repeat its success with its new product, the Hatchibaby.
Like Hatchimals, Hatchibabies initially come in the form of big plastic eggs, and after the proper amount of care and encouragement in the form of rubbing, rocking, warmth, and movement, a tiny Furby-esque creature grunts and coos its way out of the eggshell packaging. Some prior generations of Hatchimals quickly matured from “baby” to “toddler” to “kid” mode once they’d hatched out of their eggs, but Hatchibabies, once hatched, seem to stay babies permanently. Each one comes with accessories, including a bottle, a high chair, a tiny hairbrush, a rattle, and a “cuddle buddy”—which itself looks like an even more diminutive Hatchibaby, and helps calm the Hatchibaby when its eyes glow white (sleepy) or red (upset). The Hatchibaby invites more looking-after than previous generations of the Hatchimal.