What’s the deal with Squishmallows?

The stuffed animals are more than a toy: they’re a lifestyle

These toys have become a trendy collectable.

In 2017, Squishmallows, a new line of soft toys by Kellytoy, hit the shelves. Only four years later, you’d be hard pressed to find a young person without one somewhere in their bedroom.

The stuffed toys are best described as both adorable and unbelievably soft. They come in a multitude of sizes, shapes, and colours. With their small, wideset eyes and tiny, rounded smiles, basically anything looks cute as a Squishmallow. Animals, food, objects, and even characters like Baby Yoda are available in Squishmallow form.

In just three years, more than 50 million Squishmallows have been sold worldwide. For comparison, Webkinz stuffed toys hit their 1 million sold mark in a similar time frame.

The reason for this remarkably swift success isn’t complicated: Squishmallows aren’t just toys-of-the-year for kids to put on their birthday wish lists, but collectables that have attracted people from all walks of life.

Although Kellytoy has marketed the toys with children in mind, it’s been teenagers and young adults who have defined the brand. Squishmallows have—seemingly accidentally—cornered a market full of people old enough to have spending money of their own.

Stuffed animals can help people of any age cope with stress and anxiety, comfort that’s welcoming during the uncertainty of a pandemic. An adorable stuffed companion might be just what you need to help make it through.

Squishmallows are more than just cute—they’re bursting with personality. On the tag of each stuffed animal is not only a name, but an in-depth look at the toy’s personality. For example, Leonard the lion is passionate about vegetarianism, and Tristan is a dinosaur, but also a personal trainer. Bobby the bunny even goes by they/them pronouns, and the official Squishmallow Twitter has confirmed there’s more non-binary plushies to come.

Maybe you don’t care all that much for strawberries, but after reading Scarlett’s tag and discovering she’s a devoted theatre kid like you, you just can’t leave the store without her. At only $10, how can you be expected to leave her behind?

Naturally, many people have acquired sizable collections of Squishmallows. The toy’s popularity has exploded on social media in the last year—so much that it’s inspired Instagram and TikTok accounts dedicated to showing off peoples’ collections. If you’re lucky, a picture of yours could be reposted to the official Squishmallow Instagram account, which boasts well over 200,000 followers.

If there’s something eerily familiar about the Squishmallow phenomenon, you might be recalling the Beanie Baby craze that defined the 1990s toy market.

Thirty years ago, the bean-filled stuffed animals boomed big and crashed hard. Like Squishmallows, they also came with a tag telling you the name of your new friend. They, too, were popular across kids and adults alike, though perhaps for a different purpose. Famously, Beanie Babies were “retired” to create scarcity in the market, causing the worth of the toys to skyrocket. An investment bubble was created, and people invested thousands into Beanie Babies. For most collectors, the return was nonexistent—unless you’re in possession of one of the rare few Beanie Babies that can go for thousands on eBay, your stuffed toy likely isn’t worth much more than it was at the toy store in 1995.

Squishmallows don’t appear to be suffering the same fate. Despite their popularity, the toys aren’t seen by their collectors as financial investments. Of course, there are some who have tried to turn a profit by buying hard-to-find or out-of-stock Squishmallows and selling them for high prices, but that behavior is largely shamed by the Squishmallow community. For most, Squishmallows are a source of comfort and pride, not something to be kept away in a box, but to be displayed on their bed and cuddled at night.

Squishmallows aren’t going away anytime soon. With new Squishmallows being released every month, there are always new plushies for fans to add to their collection. Whether you’re a child begging their parents to borrow $10 to purchase their first Squishmallow or a college student who needs a friend to get through another week of Zoom lectures, this stuffed animal trend might be the perfect antidote to the pandemic blues. 


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