How Walmart helped a robotic monkey become the hottest toy this holiday season

  • Fingerlings are the hot toy this holiday season, and they're selling out faster than retailers can keep them in stock.
  • The head of toys for Walmart convinced the Fingerlings' creator, Wowwee, to sell them for a lower price.
  • Wowwee advertised them on YouTube, sensing that commercials on kids' TV networks wouldn't cut it.

Fingerlings are the hottest toy this holiday season.

The robotic monkey that can interact with children, sing, and fart has become the must-have item. It's on every holiday toy list and is selling out faster than retailers can restock it. Wowwee is now shipping them from China into the US by air because boats were taking too long, according to a New York Times report.

25 hottest toys of 2017, according to Walmart:

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The 25 hottest toys of 2017, according to Walmart
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The 25 hottest toys of 2017, according to Walmart

Real Workin’ Buddies Mr. Dusty

Price: $40

Walmart

Disney Frozen 12-Volt Ride-On Sleigh

Price: $298

Walmart exclusive

Monster Jam Grave Digger 24-Volt Battery Powered Ride-On

Price: $398

Walmart exclusive

Fisher-Price Zoom 'N Crawl Monster

Price: $35

Imaginext DC Super Friends Batman Batbot Xtreme

Price: $94

Nerf Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K

Price: $88

FurReal Roarin Tyler, the Playful Tiger

Price: $117

Huffy Electric Green Machine 24 Volt Battery-Powered Ride On

Price: $199

Disney Junior Doc McStuffins Baby All in One Nursery

Price: $80

LittleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

Price: $99

Mattel Barbie DreamHorse

Price: $90

Mattel Cars Florida Speedway 2

Price: $100

MGAEntertainment LOL Surprise Fizz Factory

Price: $33

Num Noms Nail Polish Maker

Price: $45

New Bright 1:14 RC Dash Cam Rock Crawler

Price: $60

Walmart exclusive

New Bright 10 Inch Rc Tumblebee

Price: $25

Adventure Force Light Command Light-up Motorized Blaster

Price: $25

Walmart exclusive

Recoil Starter Set by Skyrocket

Price: $118

Soggy Doggy Board Game

Price: $19

Paw Patrol – My Size Lookout Tower

Price: $100

"Hatchimals Surprise"

Price: TBA

Details for this year's Hatchimals toy have not been released yet, but Walmart still expects it to be a big seller.

Pop-a-Balls Drop & Pop Ball Pit

Price: $50

Walmart exclusive

WowWee Fingerlings

Price: $15

Mayka Toy Block Tape

Price: $17 for a four-pack

Mickey's Transforming Roadster Racer RC

Price: $50

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How did the toy, which was only released this past August, rocket to the to the top of the holiday food chain? Its creator employed two important strategies, both old and new.

When Wowwee first approached retailers to sell the toy, they originally wanted to set the price at $20 a monkey, according to The Times.  Walmart's VP of toys, Anne Marie Kehoe, said that was a little too high, and if Wowwee set the price at $15, the retailer would buy more of them — ten times more, in fact.

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Wowwee relented, and Fingerlings went on to grace Walmart's top-toys list after being chosen by kids at the retailer's annual showcase.

But no one would buy the toys without getting the chance to learn about them. For that, Wowwee turned not to the kid-friendly TV networks, but to YouTube and Facebook.

In an unexpected marketing coup, a video a father took of his seven-year-old daughter sobbing after finding a Fingerling in a Target store went viral soon after launch. Wowwee then sent the toys to influential YouTube stars who are popular among the toy's targeted demographic, according to The Times.

From there, the toy's popularity ballooned, and Wowwee was able to reduce its marketing and focus on getting the toys to stores.

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