Want. Need. Such a Fine Line.

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” — Anna Lappe

My kids want Hatchimals.  If you don’t know what a Hatchimal is, I am so very happy for you.  I was you once, about 3 weeks ago, and I would like to return to that blissfully ignorant time in my life.  But, chances are, even if you don’t know about the Hatchimal, you understand the concept of the “Ungettable Get.”  Substitute “Hatchimal” with “Tickle Me Elmo” or “Cabbage Patch Kid” and you’re with me.  The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken this year and deemed that the Hatchimal will be the toy that throws adults and children alike into a complete frenzy.

When my kids first described the toy to me, I thought, “Wow, that sounds kind of cool. I’ll have to look into getting one of those.”  Really, I was only half listening, so I can’t even tell you what it does.  From what I can tell, it’s a big egg, and after an indeterminate amount of time, and maybe a few tasks on your part, the egg hatches and there’s a little bird in there.  Cute enough, right?   I mentioned it offhandedly to a friend that my kids wanted “some sort of toy that hatches out of an egg?  I’m not sure what it is?”  My friend stopped what he was doing, looked at me and said, “A Hatchimal?  Do you HAVE one?”  “Ummm, no, not yet,” I responded.  “Why, are they, like, expensive or hard to get or something?”

My Elle Woods Hatchimal Moment

The answer is Yes OR Yes.  Yes, they are hard to get if you want to pay regular price, and Yes, they are expensive, if you don’t want to make it your life’s mission to obtain one.  The age-old conundrum: spend your money or your time.  I heard today that employees at Wal-Mart have admitted that they have Hatchimals in the stockroom RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE, but they can’t release them because they’re saving them for Black Friday.

All this consumer game-playing reminds me of the Jonah Hill “guy in an eBay store” character in the movie “Forty Year Old Virgin.”  This guy wanders into an eBay store and finds a pair of fabulous silvery glittery boots that have goldfish swimming in the clear acrylic heels.  He’s enamored.  He wants these boots, without a shadow of a doubt.  But he can’t get them, because it’s not really a store.  It’s an eBay store, which means he would need to go home, search for them on eBay, bid on them and have them shipped to his house.  He’s confounded, and rightfully so.


‘Tis the season to be a consumer, for sure.  But I’m a consumer all year round, and this sort of game-playing is not my cup of tea.  I don’t mind couponing every now and then.  I’ll sign up for a loyalty card if it’s a store I actually  frequent.  Things like that.  But what I don’t like is being manipulated.  And the “Ungettable Get” is all about manipulation.  It’s building hype in children who don’t understand supply and demand, and it’s playing on the emotions of the people holding the wallets who feel like they have go to great lengths to make the magic happen.

So, if I want a Hatchimal, it seems my choices here are to (a) go on eBay or Wal-Mart.com and pay $300 for a $50 toy (which, let’s be honest, is probably not worth a fraction of the $50 retail price), (b) show up at one of the Black Friday venues and risk taking an elbow to the nose and having the resulting video footage end up on the evening news, (c) try to lay my own damn egg and hope there’s a cute bird inside, or (d) wait until the Spring, when the stores will be using them to make shelves on which to just stack all the overstock of them.

Lots of different options here that all end in one conclusion: my kids will be happy for a relatively short amount of time, after which the toy will sit in a corner, untouched, forgotten and biding its time before it ends up in the trash or the donation pile.

I’m not saying that those who buy into getting the “Ungettable Get” are in the wrong here.  I’m sincerely impressed with their skills.  Those skills aren’t in my toolbox, apparently.  I think what I’m trying to say is that, this year, I won’t let the ungettable get ME.  I’m moving on so I can overspend and overindulge in other places.  It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, dammit, and I have full intentions to spend too much, eat too much, stay up too late and overschedule myself because those things are EASY to do.  I’m not going to overdo overdoing it.

But, seriously, if you see a Hatchimal somewhere, hook a sister up.

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