The Story Behind How The Fingerling Became 2017’s Hottest Toy

These little monkeys are flying off store shelves!

Every holiday season, there’s precisely one toy parents everywhere are scrambling to get their hands on. If the words ‘Tickle Me Elmo” mean anything to you, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Last year it was Hatchimals and this year, another animal-related toy is making parents crazy because not only do their kids have to have it, but it’s also pretty much impossible to find. And some stores, like Target, are even limiting them to two per customer.

I imagine that rule is going something like this:

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So, what is this must-have gift? The short answer: It’s called a Fingerling and is, pretty much, a tiny monkey that fits on your finger. It sings, blows kisses, blinks and even, ahem, passes gas. It also responds to sound and touch and, I’ll admit, is pretty adorable.

Check them out in this video:

I bet you want one now too, am I right?

But cute or not, what is making them the hottest toy of 2017? Why exactly is a $15 monkey at the top of all the Christmas shopping lists? Well, it’s all thanks their low price, social media and, to the annoyance of parents everywhere, the fact that they’re in short supply.

According to CNBC, the magic $15 price tag is all thanks to Walmart, who insisted the price be dropped from $20. The retailer agreed to buy as many as 10 times more Fingerlings if the manufacturers lowered the price. Walmart then invited hundreds of kids to play with new toys, including the Fingerlings, and based on their feedback, named the toys one of the top 25 toys of 2017. Of course, Walmart then purchased more Fingerlings.

WowWee, the Canadian company that makes Fingerlings then launched a social media campaign when their product began to hit store shelves, focusing their effort on YouTube, where children watch other children play with toys in what is called “unboxing.” All the company had to do was send some Fingerlings to popular YouTubers and let the videos speak for themselves.

A video posted by a father of his daughter buying Fingerlings also went viral in August, no doubt helping spread the word that Fingerlings might just be the next big thing.

And while WowWee says they didn’t intentionally create a shortage, as we all know, the more we can’t have something, the more we want it—think, cookies while on a diet. So, it comes as no surprise that the more popular they are and the harder they are to buy, the more kids want them…and the more parents are willing to do to find them, possibly out of sheer determination.

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Fingerlings are in fact so popular now that because they are selling out, counterfeit monkeys are also showing up. WowWee has even gotten restraining orders against nearly 200 counterfeiters.

“We haven’t given it to one child who didn’t want to play with it,” Sydney Wiseman, a brand manager at WowWee told Time. “I don’t think we could’ve anticipated what’s going on right now. It’s just phenomenal.”

Wiseman came up with the idea for the Fingerling because she had been obsessed with pygmy marmoset, a tiny Amazonian monkey, since she was a little girl, according to the New York Times. She asked a WowWee engineer if he could make a small, robotic version of the monkey.

At the time of this story, all Fingerlings were out of stock on Walmart’s website, but there is a chance—albeit slight—that there are some in stores. So, if you’re looking to buy one in time for Christmas, you better head out now! Good luck!

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