December 1, 2007 Buildabearville.com goes live with an interactive website where kids can register their Build-A-Bear furry friends and interact in a virtual world. The marketing scheme is designed to get kids and collectors to return to Build-A-Bear from their current obsession with Webkinz.
Build-A-Bear is counting on their 10 year history of quality, creativity, and imagination to assure parents that Build-A-Bearville is a safe, fun, and imaginative place for their child to interact online. Any Build-A-Bear friend built after October 2007 can be brought to life in Bearville, and Build-A-Bear is working to accommodate furry friends built prior to October 2007.
Build-A Bearville has worked with industry experts and parents to create a virtual world including chat, to facilitate the development of your child's real world friendships. Build-A-Bear assures parents that safety checks are in place, and parents are in control of the chat option. There are no membership costs or hidden fees; it only requires a Build-A-Bear with a unique birth certificate number to access Bearville.com
What's a bear to do in Bearville? According to Build-A-Bear friends will be faced with educational challenges and activities that reinforce good citizenship and positive real world behaviors. For kids this means signing in with their stuffed friend. Each Build-A-Bear comes with its own adventure and rewards.
Kids can shop for themselves or their furry friend at a virtual Build-A-Bear, go on an adventure in The Forest, or play a game of ball with friends at the Sportsplex. Bearville's virtual world includes a condo for each owner and their Build-A-Bear which they can design and decorate on their own.
Purchases in Bearville are made with “Bear Bills” gained by earning points shopping, playing, and interacting in Bearville.
Sound familiar? Bearville is a head-to-head match-up with Webkinz World at http://www.webkinz.com. Webkinz World has become a virtual boom town as kids obsess over their Webkinz collection and log on daily to care for their Webkinz in Webkinz World.
Webkinz offers parents the same assurances for a safe, fun environment for kids to raise their Webkinz pet in a world of imagination and learning. Webkinz also assures parents and Webkinz owners that despite the recent rumor, there is nothing in Webkinz World that can harm their virtual pet. The rumor has had some young Webkinz lovers upset. Rest assured your Webkinz is safe.
Obviously, Bearville follows the innovative Webkinz World prototype for marketing and immersing young consumers in a virtual world. Webkinz World includes an arcade, clinic, clubhouse, and shops. Webkinz pets earn Webzcash by doing jobs, playing games, answering trivia, and completing a weekly survey.
It remains to be seen whether Build-A-Bear will rise to the level of popularity it once had. Other strategies by Build-A-Bear include recent openings of Build-A-Dino shops in select locations.
A few years ago, Build-A-Bear Workshop was always packed with customers. Recently, I've noticed only a trickle of customers in and out of Build-A-Bear. Webkinz, on the other hand, are current ly an obsession.
Build-A-Bear reminds parents of its ten year history of quality and imagination. Webkinz only has to fall back on its mother company, Ganz. Ganz boasts a fifty year tradition of top quality plush toys.
If only my Webkinz pet could visit my furry friend in Bearville, I'd be all set.
Webkinz are the latest craze among kids — with the Webkinz Tiger being one of the favorites. Launched in 2005, the phenomenon has thrown up some questions that parents seek answers to. In this article I take a look at the issues involved:
Let me give you a quick tour of the world of Webkinz, if you are not already familiar with it. These are plush stuffed animals, for kids. Buy one for your kid, and for a year, that will entitle your child, by use of a special code, to log onto the Webkinz website and own a virtual Webkinz, and do everything with it that one can do with a live pet, such as naming it, designing a room for it, and buying furniture, clothes and toys for it. Your kid will also be able to network with other kids, play online games with them, and so on. In other words, your kid gets introduced to social networking, via the Internet.
For those who cannot afford the toy, the manufacturers, Ganz, have devised Lil’ Kinz, a version of the toys that is not as expensive. They have also introduced a premium version of the toy, in the form of the Signature Collection. Last year, the Webkinz eStore opened, allowing users to indulge their pets with virtual luxuries that include clothing, charms and furniture, apart from online-only pets. Users can use eStore items only if they have an active Webkinz, Jr., or Webkinz. account.
This is a toy custom-made for kids born in a post-internet world. It is devised to make your child familiar with the internet, with several web concepts, such as “Arcade” games, online currency in the form of “Kinzcash”, and a chatline called “Clubhouse”, whereby your child can interact with other children, online.
As a parent, you might be concerned about exposing very young kids to a medium you might perceive as being “unsafe”. The manufacturers of Webkinz claim to have devised safeguards to protect kids from risks relating to language and safety.
Also, while the activities are clearly fun, the commercial element is manifest. Some popular versions of the toy have been “retired” by the company and are sold on the internet by previous owners who demand — and get — as much as $200. Also, the secret code needs to be renewed every year if your kid wants to continue to log onto Webkinz World.
On the positive side, Webkinz toys help initiate children to using a computer and interacting online. On the flip side, they could distract children from schoolwork and outdoor games.
So, is it a boon, or a bane? The answer to this question lies in the role you play as a parent. You can keep things healthy by monitoring your child’s internet activity. Stick to a strict timetable, rationing the time spent online, while insuring that your kid gets sufficient time to spend on homework and any other activity, such as playing with friends offline. That will insure your child’s emotional health, while not denying him or her any exposure that might prove beneficial, in the long run.
Manufacturers, again this Christmas season, are advertising products and then not supplying stores with enough items to meet the demand. The Webkinz Tiger may be one of those items. — To find out how you can get hard-to-find or out-of-stock items at retail at Amazon, click on this link: Webkinz Tiger (Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate)
The virtual images of the pets are listed below, and larger images, along with PSIs and PSFs can be found after the "jump" (click Read More). In order, we have the Webkinz Sharpei, Webkinz Ferret, Webkinz Bubblegum Cheeky Cat, Webkinz Small Signature Beagle and Webkinz Signature Piggy! You may remember that the Sharpei was revealed in November's "Hug a Pug" video, HERE. Retailer reports are that all of these pets will be released as plushies.