Cut The Tag Pocket Open And Reveal The Secret Code
If you cut open the plastic pocket that holds the tag of a Webkinz pet, you will reveal a distinctive secret code. You go to the Webkinz Web Site, www.webkinz.com, input the secret code, and you will be prompted by an animated bird, Mrs. Plumpy, to adopt your new Webkinz online. Once this is done, your Webkinz also lives virtually online, in Webkinz World. For the purchase of you Webkinz in the real world (generally prices from $10.99 to $13.99)you get an entire year of play with your Webkinz pet online.
Webkinz World - Combines Several Areas of Traditional Play
The genius behind Webkinz and similar dolls and toys that can be referred to as "Web Play" toys are that they combine several types of traditional play and wrap them up in a fun, interactive and addictive new way that only can be done online. Online, you can build your Webkinz pet quite a fine house and decorate it in a very detailed and customized way (dollhouse and miniature play) you can dress and undress your online pet with endless clothing combinations (paper doll play) you can play online games (board games) and even answer trivia (educational play). Because you earn KinzCash, the virtual currency of Webkinz World, when you successfully play games and answer trivia, the entire play experience can be a bit addicting too, which keeps Webkinz owners happily coming back for more. KinzCash is necessary to build and decorate your Webkinz home, buy articles of clothing, and feed your pet.
Activities in Webkinz World
As mentioned, you can build and decorate your pet's home, play online games, and answer trivia. The games are varied and include favorites like solitaire, minesweeper, tetris-type games and much more. The trivia is done very well...think "Am I Smarter Than A 5th Grader" type questions in science, art, math, history, etc., done in age groups from 5 to 13 and adult. Additionally, there are "Clubhouses" where you can meet other Webkinz owners and safely chat (no personal information can be exchanged" play in game tournaments and even against other players (my son and I love playing the electronic battleship against one another). There is even an on and offline trading card game, employment for your pets through the employment office, and much more.
Nearly All Ages Can Enjoy Webkinz
Although younger children can play some of the games, to get the most out of Webkinz, a child should be able to at least read a bit. Children seem to enjoy Webkinz through the early teen years, and many adults also play (they especially like customizing their pets mansions and playing some of the harder games). Because of the slightly addictive nature of Webkinz, some parents choose to monitor their children's play time. On the plus side, the trivia games are very educational, as are the innate lessons about how economies work, saving your money (KinzCash) to "buy" difficult to get items and the value of work, as taught though the employment office.
Good Value For The Money
For the price of the initial Webkinz pet, you can have a year of play on the site. For only $7.99 to $9.99, you can buy a Lil' Kinz pet (smaller version of Webkinz, both on and offline) and get that same entire year of play online in Webkinz World. At the end of that year, in order to keep playing in Webkinz World, you need to purchase an additional pet. It seems like a good value, when you consider that traditional boxed software for one game or activity could cost as much as $30 to $50 in years past.
Other Web Play Toys
Because of the success of Webkinz as well as converging factors in the toy world, other Web Play dolls and toys are quickly entering the marketplace. Competitors include Barbie Girlz (online virtual Barbie dolls), Ty Girlz (online, virtual dolls by the makers of Beanie Babies), Shining Stars (stuffed toys, play online and also name and register a star with the International Star Registry) and many more. The original "online pet," Neopets, continues strongly, although they've never quite gotten the mix of real-life product to online-product and are in a slightly different space since they are advertiser-supported.
Are Web Play Toys Just a Fad?
It's hard to say if Web Play dolls and toys are just a fad or here to stay. Although I think eventually the craze for Webkinz will die down a bit, I think the overall Web Play concept is here to stay, bringing some today-tech savvy and cachet for kids (and grown ups!) who still love traditional dolls and toys but who also love the never-ending possibilities of those same dolls and toys coming to life online.