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Hatchimal

The picture in the Target ad was small, probably because they knew it would be valid for about two seconds.

“There’s no way they have Hatchimals,” I told my husband. “Or at least, they don’t anymore,” four hours after the store opened.

“What’s a Hatchimal?” he asked, blissfully unaware of the craze that has hooked its furry fingers into this holiday shopping season.

Like Cabbage Patch dolls and Tickle-Me-Elmo before them, Hatchimals are this year’s gotta-have-it toy, the scarcity of which has driven up prices and parents’ blood pressure. The description actually sounds pretty cool: They start as an egg, which “hatches” after you play with it long enough, producing a wide-eyed, birdlike creature. The Hatchimal “evolves” several times and can learn to walk, talk, dance and sing. (At one point, you can ask your Hatchimal questions to determine if it is psychic. Seriously.) For $60, seems like a solid investment into many hours of entertainment.

Except they’re not $60 anymore. Third-party sellers on Amazon are charging more than $200, and most eBay auctions are up over $100. And people are paying it.

Anticipating the frenzy after seeing the creatures on Black Friday, “Water for Elephants” author Sara Gruen decided to use them as a fundraiser. She bought $23,000 worth of Hatchimals, many at a markup, and then was dismayed to discover that she couldn’t sell all of them on auction sites like she wanted, the Philly Voice reported.

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So Gruen took to Facebook in a now-deleted post, asking people to bail her out by buying the creatures at a markup on a website she set up. She was, she said, not trying to make a profit, but to pay legal bills for a man serving life without parole whom she said was wrongfully convicted.

Desperate parents blasted her, even issuing death threats. (All negative posts appear to now have been deleted from her Facebook page, too.) “They don’t hate me – I don’t think, that doesn’t make any sense – but they hate whatever it is they think I represent,” she again told the Voice.

Well, when “what you represent” is a person who made it harder for them to get the one toy that is going to keep their child believing in Santa Claus, thus preserving the magical innocence of youth for another year, I can see how they would hate that, yeah.

The entitlement! The shameless opportunism! And yet, this is the world we live in: The website Gruen set up sold out of its stock.

And as for Target? As I saw Sunday afternoon, I was right about them too.

Hatchimals sign

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