The holiday toy of 2009, that kids across America are begging Santa Claus for, is the new Zhu Zhu Pet. Like must-have gifts of years past, such as Tickle Me Elmo, Beanie Babies, Pokemon, and Furby, the robotic hamster is difficult to find since it sells out.
Claims by the consumer group at GoodGuide.com, which recommends green toys for children, alleged that its test of one of the Zhu Zhu Pets, showed harmful heavy metal chemicals exceeding levels allowed. But the US federal safety regulators, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, refuted the claim, stating the toy is safe and did not violate new mandatory standards. The GoodGuide issued an apology.
The scare didn't deter parents from searching for the cute fake critter. The furry "pet" makes up to 40 sounds from squeals and squeaks, when played in "adventure" mode, or coos and purrs, in "nurturing" mode.
So far, sales figures have reached six million, according to Cepia, the toymaker. Priced at $10, the Zhu Zhu is recession-proof. However, there are lots of extra accessories, a funhouse, slide, wheel, blanket, and a surfboard. The smart toy rodent is equipped with sensors, like a Roomba vacuum, that allow it to move as if on their own. Demand for the product means that on eBay and Amazon Marketplace, dealers have inflated prices to $40 - well above the $10 listed retail price.
Known as Go Go Hamsters in the UK, they are available in different colors and five different characters-Patches, Chunk, PipSqueak, Num Nums, and Mr. Squiggles. Zhu Zhu means "little pig" in Chinese.