Friday, January 6, 2012
Zhu Zhu Pets, formerly Go Go Hamsters in the UK, is an American line of plush robotic hamster toys, created by Cepia LLC in 2009. They were a craze during the 2009 Christmas season holidays.
Zhu Zhu Pets were created by Russ Hornsby for his St. Louis company, Cepia LLC. The name comes from Mandarin zhūzhū, meaning "little pig." In late 2009 Cepia employed only 16 people in the U.S. and 30 in China. The original Zhu Zhu Pets are nine different characters, with names like Chunk, PipSqueak, Mr. Squiggles and Num Nums. There are also various accessories for creating customized hamster habitats. Zhu Zhu Pets can be put in either of two play modes: "nurturing mode," in which they coo and purr, or "adventure mode," in which they explore their habitat and respond to various stimuli. Zhu Zhu Pets were a craze during the 2009 holidays. The toys originally retailed for $9 USD, but for a time they sold for over $60 because of shortages.
In December 2009 testing done by the consumer organisation GoodGuide was initially thought to have found more than the allowed level of the toxic metal antimony in the toy Mr. Squiggles. After doing a review, regulators from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said that the toy was within the "very protective" standard. GoodGuide subsequently issued an apology saying their testing methods (which checked for surface toxins) were different from the federal standards (which check for soluble toxins.)
Cepia encourages collecting of Zhu Zhu Pets. Indeed, there are Zhu Zhu Pet collectors. Exclusive pets have been released in collaboration with Hallmark, Build-A-Bear Workshop and Toys "R" Us. In early 2010 a set of new characters was released, including the Rockstar pets (Roxie, Ryder, Pax and Kingston) which are inspired by the children of celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Gwen Stefani. In mid 2010 the Kung Zhu line of battling hamsters was released, aimed at boys age 8–12. The line features a storyline with a Special Forces army battling Ninja Warriors. In December 2010 the Zhu Zhu Princess series was released. Also released in 2010 were the first edition of Zhu Zhu Babies, which are not electronic or plush, but plastic toys articulated with a small ball under their tummy. The second 2011 edition of Zhu Zhu Babies included motors. Also in 2011, several dog breeds of Zhu Zhu Puppies were introduced. They are plush robotic puppies that move around and bark. In 2010 the first Zhu Zhu Pets video game was released for Nintendo DS, iPhone and PC. The sequel ZhuZhu Pets 2: Featuring The Wild Bunch was also released for Nintendo DS and Wii as well as Zhu Zhu Pets: Kung Zhu for Nintendo DS. In 2011 Zhu Zhu Princesses: Carriages & Castles and Zhu Zhu Puppies were released for Nintendo DS. In 2011, a second edition of Kung Zhu was released: Samurai hamsters. On 27 September 2011, the franchise's first full-length feature film Quest for Zhu was released straight to DVD. A second full-length feature film (titled The Power of Zhu) is being made, likely this DVD's release is sometime in 2012.