If the word “Hatchimal” sounds like utter nonsense to you, you’ve come to the right place. The toy craze of 2016 has, for many Americans, been released from its temporary, concealed home beneath Christmas trees, and unleashed upon living rooms. It squawks, it waddles, and of course, it hatches. But what is it.
We’ve created a helpful FAQ, so that you better understand these creatures that combine the eerie artificial behavior of a Furby with the biological horror of birth.
What is a Hatchimal?
Created by toymaker Spin Masters, Hatchimals were this year’s holiday it-toy. They were and still are impossible to find on store shelves. So, here’s what one looks like in an empty void of white space.
Each Hatchimal comes inside a plastic egg that it has to literally hatch out of — get it? Hatchimal? Hatchimal? Do you get—
Oh my goodness, you are insufferable.
I know, right? So anyway, it’s a plush, chubby little creature that busts out of an egg. Some are similar looking to penguins, like the one above, while others have horns, antenna, and so on. Each Hatchimal will learn how to walk, talk, and play games as it goes through the five stages of its life: egg, hatching, baby, toddler, and kid.
Is there an adult stage?
There is no adult stage.
Like I was saying, it’s basically a robot pet. Once you’ve gotten it out of its egg, you’ll spend time playing with and caring for the little booger. Its eyes will change color to indicate its feelings (red if it’s mad, purple if it’s hungry, orange if it needs to burp, and so on). You pet it, you feed it, you teach it things to say.
So it’s a Furby.
It’s more like a cross between a Furby and a Tamagotchi. Remember Tamagotchi, the tiny digital pet you hatched out of a virtual egg and took care of? David McDonald, one of the designers who helped create Hatchimal, does. “I had always wanted to do something that hatches,” McDonald told The Verge in a previous interview. “I always thought that Tamagotchi had dropped the ball — they had a neat idea, but never took it any further, into the real world.”
Hatchimals also draw inspiration from kids’ obsession with YouTube unboxings. Or the greater internet’s obsession in general with egg hatching.
How do you hatch a Hatchimal?
Freeing this little fur ball will take “anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes, according to the toy’s website. You have to rub, touch, and tap the egg to coax the creature from its safe, warm shell into a world of unexplainable anxiety. When it’s ready, you’ll see “rainbow eyes,” as in its eyes will start to glow from inside the egg, like some B-movie monster. Then the beast will begin to peck its way out.
If you really want to re-create your own raptor hatching scene, you can peel away parts of the shell. There are some more “creative” ways to get a Hatchimal out, but the hatching process is like, half of the appeal. We certainly don’t recommend the water blasting technique.
Although you may have a general idea of what color it’ll be, Hatchimals are blindbox toys — you really don’t know which toy you’ve got until it’s escaped its birthing chamber.
That seems complicated.
Yeah, it’s a neat idea that doesn’t always work. When some eggs failed to properly hatch on Christmas, angry parents swarmed Spin Master’s social media pages to complain; the company has since vowed to boost their customer service to address problems. Other customers said their newly hatched friends straight up died soon after pecking their way in the world. Or they wouldn’t turn on (read: refused to live).
To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum: “Life finds away. Except sometimes it doesn’t.” As with all electronic purchases, Hatchimal owners should hold on to that receipt in case of a dud.
I hear they say swear words. Why would a kid’s toy do that?
Okay, so there are two parts to this claim. The first includes reports about Hatchimals muttering “fuck me” while snoozing in their eggs. This is stupid. Before the Hatchimal breaks free of its egg, you can sometimes here it snoring loudly in its incubator. It’s a little sigh coupled with a hard “e” sound that, at best, would sound like a bleeped version of the aforementioned vulgar phrase. Some people think it sounds like “hug me.”
But, don’t take my word for it. Just listen to this video:
That said, you you can teach Hatchimals phrases. Here’s another video in which the Hatchimal in question does drop an F-bomb; a quick search around YouTube will also yield you some NSFW phrases.
So, maybe keep your sailor mouth in check around your new friend.
Where can I get one?
Hatchimals start at $59.99 and are sold at Amazon, Kmart, Target, Toys R Us, Walmart, and Spin Master. A few variants are retailer exclusive. If you want Burtles, for example, who has little antenna, you have to go to Walmart.
They’re probably a little easier to find now that Christmas is over, but don’t be surprised if your local stores are still sold out. If you can’t find them through traditional online shopping, there’s always the chaos of eBay.
Am I a monster if I keep this for myself and don’t give it to a child?
If you have a kid who wants one, I mean, yes, probably. I personally don’t have kids, so I’m not going to judge you.