Hatchimals are the latest version in the long line of "must-have" toys like Cabbage Patch Kids, My Buddy dolls or Tickle Me Elmos, and they are the most terrifying ones yet. Furbies are already pretty disgusting, disturbing, weird, bird-like creatures that give you nightmares when their batteries start running out. Their voices get much lower, much slower, and they sound like when you hear tapes of real-life exorcisms, only coming from your closet out of nowhere when you're 25.
Hatchimals flew off the shelves in the 2016 holiday season and would be available in early 2017, yet things aren't going so well for the little creatures who desire (and require) a weirdly human amount of actual love. Part of the reason is that they aren't manufactured very well. Another reason, probably, is that they're incredibly creepy in each and every way you can imagine - from how you have to open them, to how you take care of them, to the fact that they sleep, to the fact that they learn. I'll write the horror movie script right now. Or maybe it could be a thriller: Terminator: Hatchimal Generashyn.
Here are the scariest things about the most popular toys in the world right now: Hatchimals.
They Make Weird Sex Sounds When They Sleep (And Also Swear)
Most kids who own Hatchimals are at least 20 years away from having to deal with this.
But this is probably what you're here for, right? Hearing toys swear is something everyone loves and is often an honest mistake due to a language barrier. But these things are Canadian, so this has to be intentional. Check out the video to see the number one toy in America swear while it sleeps, just like you do.
Lots of Them Don't Hatch, So You Have to Hack Your New Pet Out of Its Egg
After up to five hours of coddling this thing that just came out of a box, which is trapped in an egg, suffering while you do your best to care for it, but nothing you do is good enough, you may have to take matters into your own hands.
You're probably going to have to hack open the egg of this living thing you are going to take care of seemingly forever. This is your new pet and you have to perform careful surgery while it's in its most vulnerable state.
Lots of people kill these things trying to get them out.
And the eggs aren't easy to break, either. Here's a video of a guy who hacked it open with a 1000 degree knife and still had some trouble.
Ideally this is a toy experience that teaches you compassion, patience, and pretty much everything you would need to take care of a real animal or maybe even a child.
This guy shows you how to pry it open and snatching it out of its safety egg using a hunting knife. He then continues to tear it apart so we can see its insides while a woman begs him to "stop" hurting it.
The point is that people just want to start playing with this toy, yet the intention of the toy itself involves patience, "love," and the desire to really take care of something that eventually learns to walk and plays games with you. And you have to violently perform a kind of Hatchimals C-section to get it to work sometimes. Maybe there'll be more surgeons in this generation. Or serial killers, who knows.
The official Hatchimals YouTube video on how to open it alone seems exhausting.
They Mature, Learn to Walk and Play More Advanced Games as They "Grow"
You don't have to be against the advancement of technology to find this at least slightly disconcerting. You're probably signed into at least three different Google accounts right now, and you probably haven't turned off the feature that allows Facebook to listen to your conversations. Were you just arguing with your girlfriend about curtains? Well guess what, you're getting curtain ads for a week from Facebook. This is a real thing.
And so is the A.I. inside of Hatchimals. It has multiple stages:
- Egg: during which you must treat it like the real egg of an actual animal (and then hack it open, like you never should a real animal's, if you get bored)
- Hatching: during which the Hatchimal's eyes glow through the egg, it gets scared, sick, and even laughs sometimes. Then the thing violently pecks itself through the egg by spinning around.
- Baby: Now you have to care for the thing like it's a baby for a while by cuddling it and feeding it.
- Toddler: You now have to teach this thing to walk and even talk. Not joking.
- Kid: You have to play games with it all the time.
The torture this toy puts kids through is no joke, and the time investment alone kind of gets us closer to that point where we're just kind of okay with machines being treated as humans. Blurring the lines between real empathy and playing games and making these kids basically into parents of something they can touch and see (unlike Tomagotchis) may not seem immediately dangerous, but it gets us one more step toward that scene in Terminator 2 where the huge indestructible robot arms are tucking the little girl into bed.
This Is What They Look Like When They're About to Hatch
The eyes glow through the egg, which almost every kid in every YouTube video says is "cute," but it's just the eyes. Eyes glowing have generally been a sign of something that is probably going to kill you.
The Chernabog from Fantasia:
The sneaky Cheshire Cat:
Michael Jackson's eyes going all yellow in the Thriller video
Glowing eyes aren't something that should inspire gratification. Even evolutionarily, we've been conditioned to see a certain spectrum of color that allows us to see glowing animal eyes in the dark to protect ourselves from predators. These things are actually undoing survival skills humans evolved.
Also they just look real scary. Look at 'em. All scary and stuff, who wants that in their bedroom at night?
They've Already Ruined One Person's Life
This is how powerful and coveted Hatchimals already are. They've already ruined a family's life.
New York Times best-selling author Sara Gruen (who wrote Water for Elephants) saw in October of 2016 that Hatchimals were becoming a "thing." So she went and bought a whole bunch of 'em. $25,000 worth of them to be exact. She apparently thought of the get-rich-quick scheme to turn the Hatchimals at a profit, which is why she thought spending that much money on them would be fine. And Gruen wasn't just trying to turn a profit from desperate parents during the holidays. She is trying to fund legal fees and production for a docu-series a-la Making a Murderer and is already $150,000 in debt over it.
The subject is, according to her, “an innocent man who’d run out of options while serving life without parole.”
So she went on a binge, ran up all her credit cards without telling her husband, and 156 Hatchimals later, she was going to have an easy, at least, $150,000 to pay herself back for that innocent man's defense fees.
After she listed her third Hatchimal, she got the following message from eBay:
“Thank you for listing Hatchimals!… This item has limitations on the quantity that may be listed each week. You’ve reached this limit and will not be able to list at this time. You will be able to list another Hatchimals seven days after your LAST Hatchimals listing.”
She was ruined, posted about it on her book's Facebook page, got a huge Internet backlash, she is in financial ruin, and they're currently still up for sale on her Shopify storefront, which is the only place that will let her list that many Hatchimals at once.
This is how powerful these things already are. Sure, this was 99% her fault for making such a rash, un-researched decision, but people only gravitate toward things like that with influence. Like drugs, cigarettes, and over-the-counter medicine that costs people thousands, the price wouldn't be able to get so high if there weren't demand for it.
They Got Started Because of YouTube Unboxings
As if everything YouTube has given us isn't scary enough, they also gave us Hatchimals. The Canadian toy company that makes them, Spin Master, was talking about the popularity of YouTube "unboxing" videos until they got the idea to make the most unboxable toy of all time. Not only does it unbox itself, but the entire reveal of the toy is a huge part of owning it in general. It was brilliant, evil, and it worked.
Every kid in America wants one and they're not something you just kind of buy and play with, then leave alone. They evolve. They learn.
YouTube gave us some of the most obnoxious personalities in pop culture today, Justin Bieber, and now the Furby that learns.
They Cause Kids to Feel Competition, Worry, and Loss Before They Even Hatch
If you scour YouTube for videos of what the hell these things even are, what they look like, what they sound like, and what the entire hatching process looks like, you'll find that it's largely videos of families of two or more kids who all got Hatchimals for Christmas trying to get theirs to hatch. They're incredibly excited, like they have new pets, but most of the videos on YouTube show you a really dark, horrible moment that these toys bring to the table.
Little Girl: "Mine isn't hatching?"
Parent: "Did you break it?"
Little Girl 2: "Mine's hatching!"
The Buzzfeed of 2030 will have an article titled 23 Ways Your Hatchimal Killed Your Self-Esteem as a Little Girl.
The kids in the videos (like the one above) seem genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of this thing they just got (which is good, empathy is good). But the hard part is what that insecurity is going to do to these kids when they're older.
Remember how many times you let your Tomagotchi die, starve to death, or live in their own filth and the guilt attached to that? The embarrassment among peers at not being able to properly care for this thing that everyone has? Hatchimals are worse because you have to hold them, listen to them suffer, and wait for a response. If you've never held anything that you think might die in your hands, you know that waiting for a response is heart-wrenching.
And this is only the beginning of your relationship with your brand new $59.99 Hatchimal.