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Shopkins, I Used to Love You, But Now I Hate You

Photograph by Twenty20

When Shopkins first came on the toy scene, I was an immediate fan. In fact, I think I even fully froze in my tracks when my then 2-year-old daughter pulled them off the shelf at Toys 'R' Us and revealed those tiny little plastic treasures to me.

Being of Japanese descent, I have the built-in excitable kawaii passion for all things small and cute. And those things appealed to that kawaii gene in me like mad. Little tiny cute food items with big eyes and bright colors? I tremble at the description even now. I gladly marched that package right up to the counter and purchased it. I didn’t know what they did exactly, but I knew that my daughter (and I) needed these in our lives.

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So for the next several months, OK a couple of years, we were collecting Shopkins. It’s not that it ever got to a weird, intense level where we were making special trips to certain stores to try to get our hands on a certain rare figure or anything like that (OK maybe once), but it was definitely known among our family and friends that my daughter was a Shopkins fan. And she continued to get them for Christmas, her birthday, in her Easter basket and as gifts from others. It was easy for us to give them to her because not only were they toothache-level cute, but the price point was right and was well within an acceptable price range to spend on a gift for a toddler.

If you don’t know, Shopkins are the perfect bribe toy.

And with her mother’s weakness for bribing, my daughter was able to score bonus Shopkins regularly. If you don’t know, Shopkins are the perfect bribe toy. The two-pack is cheap enough to give your 3-year-old in exchange for a tantrum-free meal out with friends, an hour of quiet on a long flight, or a trip to the doctor.

Why else did I not mind accumulating these little adorable food friends in our home? They are small, which means them easy to store and transport. You want to take them to a playdate in your bookbag? Your pocket, even? Go for it. It was no big deal to bring them along in the car or on the plane. And my daughter and her friends could sit with them for hours, playing “Shopkins school” or putting them to sleep one by one in their shopping bag homes. They inspired creative play, and what mom doesn’t love that?

Additionally, these collectibles took me back to my childhood, to the days of Garbage Pail Kids, Sylvanian Families or the eraser pencil toppers I used to collect. Having a collection of anything is exciting, and perhaps I was living a bit vicariously through my 3-year old, as sad and weird as that seems now.

But, here we are just two short years after the purchase of her very first Shopkins pack and guess what? I HATE THOSE LITTLE F***ERS NOW!

All the things about those mini plastic devils now seriously chap my hide.

Sure the price point is reasonable, if you only buy a few dozen and not a few hundred. But here’s the thing, no kid wants just a random tiny donut and chocolate bar rolling around their pencil boxes. No, she wants a decent collection to play with and play out an adorable Shopkins scene. And inevitably, the small little family of Shopkins rapidly expands because there is always an incentive to buy more an collect them all!

And then that growing pile of Shopkins becomes regularly scattered about the floor. And you quickly discover that those plastic toys with sweet little faces hurt nearly just as bad to step on as Legos. Every room in your house becomes a potential toy land mine where blood is not necessarily drawn, but your foot meat is seriously violated and you find yourself hopping around, spewing hot words as rage erupts inside you.

Their tiny size you found so favorable in the beginning is just annoying now. Yeah, they’re easy to transport, but they’re even easier to drop down the seat crack of a taxi or under the booth at Macaroni Grill.

Had I really bought a tiny tennis dress with a face on it? WTF.

Even after they started venturing out of foods and dipping into things like makeup and kitchen appliances, I was still on board because OMG a tiny refrigerator? Cute-ifying normal household items will never get old right? But then it did. I think Trisha Tennis Dress was the turning point for me. Had I really bought a tiny tennis dress with a face on it? WTF.

Trisha Tennis Dress led me to the idea that Shopkins are just glorifying and cute-ifying our obsession with consumerism. The characters are all kids see on the shelves at Target or Walmart as they scream at us to Buy! Buy! Buy! Spend! Spend! Spend! Aren’t these adorable little characters just secretly prepping and priming kids to one day blow their money on an unnecessary crepe maker or a hot pink ottoman?

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Sure, perhaps they are genius marketers. But a baby tennis dress? And now we’re six seasons in to this crap so we’ve gotten to weird tiny animal face-themed decorative pillows? Come on, enough is enough!

Yet, I type that with a thought bubble that says, “Those are still pretty ridiculously adorable.” Ugh, Damn YOU Shopkins! I don’t want to give in to you and your weird subliminal messages but I do. Still! Yes, I have given in to all six seasons of your cuteness because “my daughter” loves them so much. Yes, I have even bought her a Shoppie Shopkins doll! Those aren’t even little!

Shopkins, I will no longer be possessed by your corporate marketing efforts to keep us hooked, buying your weird little shrunken treasures until we die, suffocated under a pile of tiny toasters and winking chocolate chip cookies! NO MORE!

At least not until season seven. #facepalm #IsThereAShopkinsRehab

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