Have you heard of Webkinz? If you're totally unfamiliar with the name, don't feel bad because there are a lot of people who scratch their heads when you ask them what they are. Webkinz are stuffed animals that were first introduced for sale to the public in 2005 by the Ganz company. They're plush toys that have a little something extra that the others do not.
They come with a special code that allows the owner to go online and use the code in the "Webkinz World." Whichever pet you purchase is the one that you get to adopt in the online fantasy world. Now that we've cleared that up, here are 20 interesting facts that you probably didn't know about Webkinz
1. You only get to spend so much time online with your code
While the Webkinz code that lets kids get online and have fun in the fantasy world is cool, the code is only good for so long. The code only allows the user to do so many things, before the amount of things that you can do becomes limited. The only way to continue enjoying use of the website is to purchase another toy and get another code. This is how the site makes money and it's not a bad marketing strategy. There are still some things that kids can do if they can't get another pet right away, but on the other hand, it can become frustrating.
2. Webkinz go up in value when they're retired
Webkinz works a lot like the Ty Beanie Babies. After a certain amount of time has passed, the model of toy is retired or they are o longer offered for sale through normal retail outlets. This increases the value of the retired Webkinz. If you happen to have a retired Webkinz lying around it could be worth a lot of money. They have been know to increase in their value for anywhere between $20 to $100.
3. Webkinz were immensely popular
When Webkinz first came out they were a big hit with kids. They were able to experience the joy of owning a plush animal, plus the included code allowed them to get online and have great fun on the website. The popularity of the toys exploded in the US in 2006, the year after the line was launched. The statistics that the company gathered for 2006 showed that there were a million users on the Webkinz website and that over two million of the toys had been sold to retailers.
4. The website taught kids valuable skills
In addition to keeping kids entertained on the Webkinz site, it also taught them some very important life skills. In the online environment, kids got to play with their pets, but they also learned the importance of exercising them, feeding them, playing games and much more. They were also given the opportunity to play games an earn KinzCash which could be used through the website to purchase items for their pets. In essence the kids were learning how to care for their pets and they were also learning about the value of money and that if you're going to have a pet it's going to cost you. Perhaps this was a rudimentary introduction to pet care but it's a start.
5. The Ganz company that makes Webkinz was established in 1950
Ganz had been around for a long time before they started their production of the Webkinz toys and website. They are a company that is based out of Toronto, Canada. The founder of the company was Samuel Ganz. They are a family run operation and today, the third generation is in charge of the company. They expanded from the United States to open operations throughout Atlanta Los Angeles and also in Hong Kong and in Shanghai. They're an international operation.
6. They make a variety of different products
Ganze specializes in the Webkinz toys which are loved and enjoyed by kids from all over the world. They also make other things to go along with them. Ganz produces giftware, fragrant candles, fashion accessories and home interiors items, but the Webkinz are by far the most popular thing that they have ever produced.
7. Ganz has made dozens of animals in their Webkinz collections
The total number of animals in the plush pets collection is 68. There are enough Webkinz to keep your kids playing with full access to all of the features on the website for years, perhaps even until the age that they outgrow them. This represents a lot of learning. The games that they play are educational, plus they are getting used to taking the responsibility for the care of their pets at the same time. You might be interested in knowing that Webkinz has only retired three of the pets in their collection as of this time. If you have a Cheeky cat, a Love Puppy or a Cheeky Dog, they may well be worth a lot more than you paid for them initially as they do go up in value after retirement.
8. The Webkinz site doesn't get boring
Webkinz has taken the initiative to constantly update and change their website. This ensures that kids will always have fun when they visit the sit and that they won't become bored with the same old thing every time. They make improvements and offer more challenges with the games so there will always be something new for the kids to learn.
9. The website success has been through word of mouth
Here is an interesting fact about Webkinz that we just learned. They don't pay for expensive advertising just to get people to visit their website. Instead they have relied on the information that is supplied with the Webkinz toys when they sell them and by word of mouth. So far, their strategy has been a tremendous success because as of 2006, they surpassed the million user mark. This speaks to the quality of the entertainment and enjoyment that kids are getting out of the site. Both kids and parents are so impressed with it that they tell others all about it.
10. Parents are fans of Webkins as well
Kids definitely approve of the Webkins toys and the website fun, but even more importantly, parents also approve. It gives their children the opportunity to explore the online world, but in a very safe way. They're learning by playing the games, and they're also having a great time while they're doing it. There are so many fads that come and go and not all of them are as educational, as positive and as wholesome as Webkinz. It's one of the most ideal web resources for children's entertainment and education because of how safe it is.
11. Webkinz introduced a new layout everyone hated
Here is another bit of trivia that we learned about Webkinz. They are all about keeping things fresh and new to keep kids interested on the site, but one of their attempts didn't go off as well as they had hoped. Th older members of the game who were more experienced with browsing didn't have such a tough time but those who were less experienced didn't enjoy it at all. This is the danger in updating and upgrading. If it's done in accordance with what users demand, it's a good thing, but if it's undertaken without the input from the people who are on the using end, you're taking a gamble on a big disappointing failure.
12. Their new game Tulip Troubles 2 was the same flash file of the original
One savvy player pointed out that the second rendition of Tulip Troubles was really just an edited version of the original. They presented it as a new game but it really wasn't all that new. This is one thing that the Webkinz folks were caught at. Kids are pretty brilliant and they have ways of figuring things out. While there's nothing unethical about doing things this way, it's a little embarrassing, but the second version is still a good game to play. It was disclosed that the file is the same.
13. The manufacturer isn't quick to respond to phone calls
One of the negative comments that we came across on several occasions is the customer complaint that they needed to call the Ganz company. If you send them a message online and then call them, first, it takes a long time for them to get to you and you could be on hold for a very long time. When you do get to talk to them, users have commented that the workers do not have access to the message that you sent them. They don't have access to some important information and it sounds like they need to do something to improve their customer service.
14. Webkinz gives out Fun Facts about the pet of the month
The Webkins World website offers a really cool service. They choose a pet every month and share detailed information about that pet. For example, they highlighted Grey Langurs for one month. The news feed included everything that a kid could possibly want to know about the animal including the fact that they are herbivores, with a complete explanation of what that means, followed by a few examples of their favorite foods. I don't know about you, but I didn't even know what a Grey Langur was so when I was reading through it, as an adult I got a good education on the topic.
15. The News feed offers a forum for kids
After your child has read through the fun facts about the animal of the month, there is plenty of room below for them to respond. Kids are encourage to leave their comments about what they have learned. This is a great way to get kids to begin interacting with one another, and in addition, it gives them a place where they can express their opinions and their feelings about what they just read. This is just one more way that the webkinz website is helping to prepare the for life in a technology driven world when they become young adults. They're gaining some really valuable skills.
16. Older kids look back fondly on their Webkinz days
We ran across a site that included a list of things that older kids used to do on the site when they were younger. Each of these young adults played from the 2006 through 2009 era and let the world know that they were once Webkinz fanatics. The experience left them with some very fond memories as they shared what they liked best about playing.
17. Kids also learn about interior decorating
Certain games in the site have rooms that the pets live in. This also gives kids good experience with designing the rooms that the pets live in. They learn about different themes and decors. It's something that they just seem to absorb very quickly.
18. It also taught competitiveness
A little bit of competitiveness can be a healthy thing as long as it doesn't go too far. Webkinz has a total of 68 pets in all to collect. Among some kids this turns into a competition to see who can collect the most pets. This is a good thing and it can serve the child well when they become a business owner as an adult. If you can't keep up with the competition your business might fold up.
19. Webkinz were used by parents for bribes
We learned from reading through the fond reflections of older kids that they would receive Webkinz from their parents in exchange for completing chores. Webkinz pets were the rage at that time and a new pet was a highly prized possession. It has inspired many a clean room.
20. Parents also dreaded going into stores that sold them
While most parents approved of their kids owning Webkinz and getting on the website for a good dose of learning and fun, they also dreaded shopping. They knew that the first question that their kids were going to ask them would be if they could have a new pet. This became a big thing and the wise parents got on top of it right away while the others just lived in dread.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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