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Current Webkinz logo
||type Online |
> Release date
|| targeted age group 5-13
Webkinz are stuffed animals that were originally released by the Ganz company on April 29, 2005. The toys are similar to many other small plush toys. However, each Webkinz toy has an attached tag with a unique "Secret Code" printed on it that allows access to the "Webkinz World" website. On Webkinz World, the Secret Code allows the user to own a virtual version of the pet for virtual interaction.
There are also smaller, less expensive versions of the toys called Lil' Kinz. In June 2008, Webkinz opened its own eStore, where users can buy virtual items such as furniture and virtual pets.
Kinds of Webkinz
There are many types of Webkinz. Some normal pets, some wild animals, some mythical creatures, and some completely made up. See the List of Webkinz stuffed animals
for a complete list of pets.
Each Webkinz stuffed animal and Webkinz accessory comes with an 8-character code. By registering this code on the Webkinz website, you "adopt" this pet in the virtual Webkinz World. Without the Secret Code, the user may not get access to the Webkinz world. Toy animals that are missing tags are not supposed to be sold by retailers, and removal of the tags without purchasing the animal is considered shoplifting. If a user forgets a login name and password, they can always go back to the Secret Code to gain access. Without the Secret Code, a user cannot recover a lost account. Currently, accounts expire within one year, unless another Webkinz animal is purchased, and that animal added to the user account.
The Webkins World is an online play area with its own economy. The user receives money (called KinzCash) by adopting new pets, playing online games, answering general knowledge questions, and through daily activities like clicking "I love my Webkinz!", spinning the Wheel of WOW, playing Wishing Well 2, or completing jobs (minigames) available once every 8 hours. Each day, there is a Game of the Day which can be played for bonus KinzCash, and other bonuses are available each hour, full days on weekends and afternoons only on weekdays. With each Webkinz toy purchased, more money, rooms, and items are added to the user's account.
Users can spend their KinzCash at what is called the W Shop, where they can purchase food and clothing for their pet, items for their pet's room or to build additional rooms onto their house, or outdoors areas etc. Users can decorate a room for their pet with pre-made themes, or mix and match their own furniture.
The online world also contains many rare or exclusive items. Some of these items require developing a friendship with the Curio Shop owner to purchase, while others you get for registering other Webkinz accessories you purchase in the real world. Each type of pet gets a special food available exclusively for them. Also, a Pet of the Month is announced at the beginning of each month. If a person registers the announced pet in that month, they will receive other exclusive items.
Many of the tasks in Webkinz World involve collecting items. For example, recipes are released for the players through cookbooks you can purchase or one of the TV Shows called The Secret Chef. Gems can be mined once a day at the Curio Shop, with a full set of gems being turned into the Webkinz Crown of Wonder and buy exclusive items. A similar feature, called Alyssa's Star Hunt, involves users clicking on colored stars to find valuable stars. You can also go to Dr. Quack for a check up on your Webkinz' health.
Some other features of Webkinz include:
- The ability for players to create their own shows with the Webkinz Studio, and enter to be chosen to appear on the Webkinz television.
- Buying a swimming pool, where you can have your Webkinz swim around. This increases their health.
- Sending gifts or letters to friends on a peer-to-peer network.
- Invite a friend over to your house, where you can chat and interact with some board games and items.
- Participate in the hourly events, which can earn you prizes, KinzCash, and coupons, among other things.
- Play Wacky Bingoz, a form of Bingo where you get one, two, and three ball games every day.
- Brushing your pets teeth, hair, washing paws/feathers/feet etc, bathing.
W-Plus & Trading Cards
Aside from the Webkinz and Lil' Kinz pets, Ganz also has made other toys that can be used on Webkinz World. These are called W-Plus items, and all W-Plus items come with a secret code that can be used in the Code Shop in Webkinz World. These codes unlock items for the Webkinz pets, like new room themes, clothing for pets, kinzcash, and other prizes.
These are all of the W-Plus items Ganz has released:
- Body spray and lip gloss--unlocks a piece of furniture for the Salon theme
- Clothing for the Webkinz stuffed toys--unlocks KinzStyle bag, which can be used to access the KinzStyle shop. The KinzStyle shop contains clothing that can't be found anywhere else.
- Charms--gives access to Charm Forest, an area of Webkinz World. The more charms are collected, the more prizes a user can get from the Charm Forest.
- Bookmarks--unlocks a Book Bag, allowing the user to choose one free book in Webkinz World.
- Mouse pads--unlocks an exclusive Mouse Pad Art Print, a hanging poster of the mousepad.
- School supplies--unlocks exclusive KinzPost stationary.
- Pet carriers--allows user to assemble an exclusive wardrobe from four choices.
- Figurines--unlocks a virtual figurine and a unique prize (varies by figurine); also unlocks a display case that can be used to hold all the figurines.
- Wacky Zingoz plush toy--gives access to Wacky Zingoz Extreme, an exclusive version of the game Wacky Zingoz (see List of Webkinz games)
- Webkinz Trading Card binders--unlocks two exclusive podiums to hold the virtual binders.
There are two series of Webkinz Trading Cards, which are used to play the challenge game. The cards come in booster packs, with 5 playing cards and a code card in each pack. In these packs there are also chances of getting special cards as well, like free pet codes. In series one you can also get Curio Shop Curiosities and Webkinz Doodlez. In series two there is At Paw Level and W-Tales Snapshots instead. These special cards are foil. For series one 80 base cards have been released, 12 challenges, 8 Curio Shop Curiosities and 8 Webkinz Doodlez. In series two there are 85 base cards, 15 challenges, 8 At Paw Levels and 8 W-Tales Snapshots. The cards are also W-Plus items, and they each come with 2-5 codes. 1 code on each card is for a virtual pack of trading cards, while the other 1-4 can unlock prizes like rare and exclusive themes or coupons. Series 3 changed the format, with only ONE feature code per pack, and no code for a virtual pack. The packs also included stickers and a chance to win a previously unheard-of pet, the Magical Retriever. Also, Ganz has said that each Series 3 code gives you an item you cannot find anywhere else in Webkinz World.
Concerns have been raised about children's use and overuse of the toys. Some worry that children will become addicted
to the game. Other parents say that it will only help the kids learn. Some parents have voiced concerns
about the website's online chat
system. The KinzChat
chat system has various safety precautions, with restrictions
on who can send messages. Additionally, users cannot type, but can choose phrases to say from a list. Concerns have also been raised about the toys being a distraction in schools, causing the toys to be banned in some schools. Concerns were also raised when the once advertisement-free site started displaying advertisements, previously only for their own additional game related products, but now also for movies, such as Alvin and the Chipmunks
'' and The Bee Movie Some of the advertisements promote responsibility or healthy living. There is an option that parents can use to block ads that promote sites not sponsored by or affiliated with Webkinz or Ganz. However, if enabled, this option can not be changed until 30 days have passed.
Another area of parental concern is that there are many problems with connecting to the Webkinz World site. These range from technical problems with customer's internet browsers to programming problems at the Webkinz World site.
Changes made to the Webkinz World site have resulted in many disappointed users as newly introduced features often limit access to a small fraction (less than 1%) of users and programming errors often reduce the ability of the remainder of the site to function at prior levels.
Other programming errors have caused many users to lose virtual items, Kinzcash and even pets and entire rooms. Reportedly, Ganz customer service corrects many of these problems within two weeks .
Retail worker complaints
Employees of stores that sell Webkinz products have expressed dismay over various aspects of the Webkinz craze. Many employees have complained about customers who frequently ask about when the new Webkinz styles will arrive, and are concerned by the number of Webkinz some parents purchase. Canadian stores often receive stock later than American stores, so styles which have been announced online are not available for some time, oten resulting in angry customers. One popular Facebook
group named "I used to like that customer... but then they asked about Webkinz" has over 100 members, most of them retail employees, as of August