Every holiday season brands one toy as the ‘Hot Toy’ of the season. The recent holidays did that for Fingerlings, a popular line of 12-cm long animatronic plastic monkeys, unicorns and sloths from Montreal-based toymaker WowWee.
The toys respond to touch and sound by blinking, chirping and blowing kisses. The line was released earlier last year. The toys were quickly sold out and the various colors of Fingerlings were described as one of the hottest toys of the year by Forbes.com, Toys R Us and Target.
Fingerlings began with a simple idea from brand manager Sydney Wiseman, who’d been watching videos of a South American breed of monkeys called pygmy marmosets. These monkeys are small enough to wrap their arms and legs around a human finger.
Benny Dongarra, WowWee’s creative director said the team always wanted the toy to be the same size as the marmoset, so that it could cling to the finger and to respond through emotion, sound and touch. “We were sure pretty early on that we had a winner on our hands — well, on our fingers,” he said.
The prototyping was done in the company’s lab in Montreal, while production and assembly was done at the Hongkong office. It took nine months for entire process from conceptualization to delivery. Dongarra credits this in part to a small team of 80 employees.
The toys are interactive, cute and affordable – all at the same time. “Now that kids are so used to technology, when you can embed technology into a traditional toy it seems to add another layer,” said Liem, NPD Group’s toys director.