The red furry Sesame Street monster, Elmo, turns 10 this year and Mattel designed yet another new on-demand plush toy just in time for Christmas.
His name is Tickle Me Elmo Extreme, or TMX for short. Since his release date on Sept. 19, TMX has flown off the shelves and sold out in most local retail stores across Canada. Going as far back as 1982 when Cabbage Patch Dolls were popular among little girls, there is a new toy almost every year that kids want and there just aren’t enough of them. From Furby to the first Tickle Me Elmo, one particular hot holiday toy makes Santa Claus’s list and TMX was the one for 2006.
“No matter the costs of the doll, I’m determined to find one for my son who’s been asking me for one since he saw it on Good Morning America,” said Lory Lea, a mother of a six-year-old boy.
TMX laughs when tickled, slaps his knee and falls to the ground giggling hysterically. When tickled again, he kicks his feet, rolls around and slaps the floor – a little more extreme than the original Elmo that just laughed and vibrated. Retailing at $49.99, TMX runs $20 more than the original Tickle Me Elmo did, but that doesn’t stop parents from hunting down this holiday treasure.
“I’ve been to Toys R Us every chance I get, and it appears that I catch the shipment on the wrong day,” Lea said.
“And the more difficult aspect of it is that they don’t advertise when they will be getting any more.”
Lea’s son wouldn’t settle for an alternative Elmo — a dancing Hokey Pokey Elmo that fluttered the shelves. Retailers have noticed that Elmo mania won’t go away just yet as the holiday season has just begun.
“We don’t have layaways or reserved lists here just because we know the toy will sell anyway,” said Matt Marcel, a Toys R Us employee. “The best thing to do is to check the wires to see if and when the toy will be released, as it is not even advertised in our flyers.”
The short supply of TMX has caught on to some people who have made significant profits from reselling the plush toy to desperate holiday gift givers.
“I was at the store during the right time and got a few Tickle Me Elmo dolls so I decided to auction two of them off on eBay,” said Shannon Whittaker. “I sold one for $300, and the other for $71, where the price differentiated most likely because there was a new shipment of TMX when the second doll sold for less.”
The measures some parents will go through are tremendous, but some parents draw the line when they can’t deliver a specific toy to their brand-conscious children.
“It may be that every year, my kid is going to ask for something new, and sometimes I can’t get it no matter how hard I try,” Lea said. “Sometimes kids [are] mistaken that Christmas is about the gifts they receive. The pressure to get what our kids so desperately want is hard enough.”