The Real Skinny on One of Christmas’ Most Coveted Toys: The Zhu Zhu Pet

Christmas is on its way. For a child, this means singing hymns under the Christmas tree, eating Christmas dinner, or receiving gifts. For you as a parent, it means shelling out money during the recession to buy a gift that will make your child's eyes widen and sparkle in excitement. If you're like many parents, you've heard your child say, 'Hey mom, dad, can you get me a zhu zhu pet? And can you get me his little play ball? And can you get me all of his friends too? The other Zhu Zhu pets?' You become a little relieved because it spares you the trouble of guessing what your child might want. And on the plus side, it must be a winner because kids everywhere are asking for it, and it is selling out pretty quickly at most locations. But finding a Zhu Zhu pet at the respectable price of €8-€10 has now become as hard as kayaking down a raging river atop a sheet of cardboard. However, if you do decide to purchase a Zhu Zhu pet, you should know what to expect.

The Good:

For your young child, a Zhu Zhu pet will be absolutely adorable. Watching the little hamster make clucking, honking, cooing and mooing noises as it zooms around will definitely bring a smile to your child's face and cause a lot of laughter. If you purchase some of the accessories, like the funhouse, adventure ball, or hamster wheel, you'll get even more enjoyment as you watch these little critters move about and interact with their homes.

The Bad:

Indeed, a Zhu Zhu pet is absolutely adorable . . . for five minutes or so. If you intend to give your child maybe a good hour of actual interested toy play, then this might be for you. Kids can get bored pretty fast with this, as the Zhu Zhu pet really is quite limited in its interactivity. Sure, it makes farm animal noises and might coo when you pet it, but past toy obsession Furby did a hundred more things than that. There is just not a lot of play-value. A recent demonstration of a Zhu Zhu pet on Fox news fell quite flat when the demonstrator let the toy run. All it did was knock into whatever obstructed its path, and yes, make a couple noises that may make an older person's upper lip tilt to the side in menial amusement. One must also note that these toys may come with small parts not intended for kids under the age of three.

The Really Ugly:

Because of many factors like marketing and new pricing, the toys are flying off the shelves. Sadly, many parents would like to place them right back where they found them. With the craze over this toy still in full effect, people are charging outrageous inflated prices. You can expect to see one Zhu Zhu pet hamster online for €50. If you include shipping from online retailers, you've got some people having to pay over €80 for one hamster. For its play value, such inflated prices are certainly not worth it. You're better off finding a store that sells it for the reasonable price of €8-€10, like maybe a Toys-R-Us.

The Zhu Zhu pet can also be a little risky for tiny kids. A few parents have complained that the fast-moving, strong wheels can get a child's hair easily wound up in it, or pinch the flesh if placed against skin.

The Conclusion: The Zhu Zhu pet is a cute and amusing toy, but only for the price of €8 and a little up. Don't pay the inflated prices, and ensure that you have a back-up gift for your child. After five minutes, they'll probably be asking, 'So, what else did you get me?'

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