By: Uma Attreya
Growing up, I had my fair share of toys, including Barbies, American Girl dolls, pillow pets, a LOT of Dora toys (it surely was just a phase….), and the basic stuffed animal or teddy bear. As I grew older, I did not want as many toys as I once did, instead I chose to spend my money on food or clothes. My peers did the same, only keeping some stuffed animals for sentimental or decorational purposes. However, in recent years, plush toys have been making a comeback. Not necessarily the fuzzy teddy bears, but instead, Squishmallows!
Squishmallows were first created and released in 2017 by Kellytoy. They are very squishable and soft (hence the name), making them extremely popular, with over 50 million being sold. Ranging from 3.5 inch clip ons/keychains to 24 inch plushies, the Squishmallows have become known for their marshmallow like texture and overall cuteness. Along with Pillowpets (stuffed animals that can be expanded into a pillow or cuddled with as a “pet”), or Squishables, (stuffed toys with a synthetic fur-like texture), Squishmallows are high up on the list for the most popular plush toys.
Because of how popular the initial Squishmallows were, Kellytoy has come up with different “squads” or sets of Squishmallows, including the “Prehistoric Squad,” “Fantasy Squad,” and my personal favorite, the “Sealife Squad”! There are spin-off brands like Flip-A-Mallows, where you can flip the toy inside out to become another character, and Stackables— flat Squishmallows you can stack. There are hundreds of different Squishmallows, and they each have their own name and backstory on their tag. The character aspect of these toys have made them into collectibles, with people frantically searching their local Walmarts or Five Belows to complete their “squads,” or resell the toys to other people. There are Instagram and TikTok accounts that report when Squishmallows are being restocked, where they can be “spotted,” and which ones are coming out. People have insane collections of Squishmallows of all different sizes, colors, and squads, and the way they are organized, though crazy, is quite aesthetically pleasing. Squishmallows, though simply another variation of plush toys, are more expensive than the average teddy bear. The tiny clip-on ones can start at $2.99, amd the bigger ones reach up to $60. So to think that people have an entire shelf worth of these toys is remarkable, especially considering they take up more space than stamps or baseball cards!
To accomodate this demand, Squishmallows are sold all over. They are at Walgreens, Hallmark, CVS, Walmart,Five Below, Target, Claire’s, Costco, Learning Express, Amazon, and of course, the Squishmallow website. You could also buy them from private retailers or someone reselling on Instagram, though the prices are more likely to be higher than normal. Many creative people have embellished on Squishmallows, embroidering designs into them or cutting them only to piece together parts from different Squishmallows, and they sell their work on websites like Etsy.
Though it seems odd that these toys have grown increasingly popular to the point where some are considered “rare,” the Squishmallow company has gotten its fair share of recognition besides consumers. In 2019, they received the Creative Child “Plush Toy of the Year” award as well as getting a seal of approval from the National Parenting Center. The company won a “Mom’s Choice” Award honoring excellence, as well the “Parent and Teacher’s Choice” award.
Personally, as much as I would like to think I have grown out of a toy phase, something about Squishmallows is eye-catching, and quite literally money-grabbing. Though I try not to be unreasonable, I have acquired a decent amount of Squishmallows myself. I am allergic to the synthetic fur of many stuffed animals, so Squishmallows have been a convenient and fun alternative; they make a great decoration for my bed! If you do not have one already, I suggest getting just one Squishmallow, but after that, I’m not responsible for any addictions that might arise…
Categories: Arts & Reviews