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Hatchimals is a controversial line of robotic toys produced by Spin Master.
Development of Hatchimals began in 2014. Spin Master's head of robotics James Martin explained that his team was influenced by 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 animal 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.
Demand for Hatchimals has been extremely high, which have led to them being designated as the "hottest" toy of the 2016 Christmas shopping season; in late-October 2016, 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 organization 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.
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. A California mother sued Spin Master for the egg not hatching.
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