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
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?
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