The current virtual worlds that are accessible to children, such as Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters, are not only massively popular online, the toys are also proving to be a huge hit as new research indicates that over 50% of the children in the UK own at least one toy that is based on one of the virtual worlds, and some are more popular than Dr Who.
Dubit Research , the specialists in youth media have studied the popularity of those toys which are based on the online virtual worlds, and as well as looking at Mind Candy’s Moshi Monsters and Disney’s Club Penguin, they studied Poptropica, Webkinz and Build-a-Bearville.
The study involved 500 children, and a staggering 55% of them were found to own a toy from at least one of the online games. Disney’s Club Penguin proved to be the most popular, with 32% of the kids owning a branded toy from this online world. Club Penguin first launched in 2005 and now has 150m members that are registered globally, and has also spawned a range of video games and books.
Each of the toys sold are connected to their virtual world courtesy of a code they are packaged with which allows different items to be unlocked in the respective virtual world.
Moshi Monsters, whose plush toys and Mini Moshling Treehouse are expected to be among the most popular toys for Christmas this year, was a close second. The study showed that even before Christmas a quarter of UK children already own a Moshi Monster or a Moshling (a Moshi pet). Since launching in 2008 Moshi Monsters has gone on to accumulate 50m registered users, with one in three British children believed to be a member. Even with the publishing industry struggling The Moshi Magazine, launched in February, has accumulated the largest circulation of any UK children’s magazine.
As a comparison with toys related to kid’s TV shows, the research shows that just as many children own Club Penguin toys as they do toys based on Dr Who. Furthermore, Moshi Monster toys are more popular (25%) than toys based on the cartoon Ben 10 (20%), and only marginally less than popular than Spongebob Square Pants (29 per cent).*
Interestingly, toys from virtual worlds are gender-neutral, with equal popularity across boys and girls.
73 per cent of the children questioned had played at least one of these online games, with half having played Club Penguin and 47 per cent stating that they’d played Moshi Monsters.
Dubit’s head of research, Peter Robinson, commented: “Children are spending more time playing in virtual worlds and now those worlds are becoming part of their offline playtime.
“Today’s kids are platform agnostic and don’t care where their favourite stories and characters come from. It used to be the case that books or TV shows launched characters and toys, but now online entertainment is proving just as important.”
*Research into children’s TV shows was carried out in October for Toy News.