The giant Squishmallow popularity has been gaining plenty of momentum lately, and people are taking notice. Over the last few years, with extra fuel from lockdowns, hobby collecting has made a resurgence in the form of baseball cards, toys, and more. But no one expected the rise of plush toys to make a comeback after the declining popularity of the beanie baby. On any account, giant Squishmallows are selling well, and this article will delve into their ongoing history.

The Beginning of the Giant Squishmallow

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Image Source: Jazwares

In 1986, Kelly Toys Holdings LLC launched its company with headquarters in Los Angeles, California. In an interview with Yahoo! Finance,  Jonathan Kelly explains how his idea for creating the Squishmallow came about after he took a trip to Japan and noticed the popularity of all the cute toy products, including plushes.

Upon his return, he worked with his team to create a plush toy that emulated the “kawaii” or cute aesthetic of Japanese toys. The result was a bunch of giant Squishmallows that soon hit the market in 2017, and began to sell well.

Made of soft spandex and filled with polyester fiber, Squishmallows resemble cute cartoony critters.  They are currently manufactured in China and were initially offered in 4 different sizes, but have since expanded into an available giant 12.5″ size and a total of 12 size increments are available starting at 3.5 inches. Prices vary between $5.99 and $39.99 at suggested retail.

Official Squishmallows are identified by their 3 attached tags, and the entire line has expanded into the following spin-off lines:

  • HugMees
  • Flip-A-Mallows
  • Micromallows
  • Squish-Doos
  • Stackables
  • Heroes
  • Mystery Squad

This initial success led to collaborations with other brands, that helped Kelly Toys offer a wider variety of giant Squishmallows. Although they were creating original cute-looking creatures and animals, the brand was ripe for producing their own interpretations of other characters from various properties.

The Squishmallows Boom

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The giant Squishmallows explosion of popularity is traced to a simple formula that many collectibles took advantage of:

  1. The lockdowns caused consumers to find tangible products to spend their money on.
  2. The lockdowns also caused people to look for ways to find comfort and fun while indoors.
  3. Viral sharing on social media, primarily TikTok.

With the lockdown in full effect in 2020, consumers turned to social media and buying things that might help them feel enjoyment, help ease their anxiousness, and provide indoor entertainment. This eventually turned to collecting and renewed interest in past-time hobbies like sports cards and toys, which are tangible products.

The final key to the success of Squishmallows was the effect of social media. CEO Kelly explained how they did not rush and flood social media or the market with Squishmallows to prevent negative repercussions. Regardless, all it took was one or two big social media accounts to take a liking to Squishmallows, and once they began sharing it with their audiences, then word-of-mouth and sharing marketing takes over.

With collaborations boosting their products, Kelly Toys linked up with Jazwares, whose partnership with Hasbro opened up multiple property licenses that could be made into giant Squishmallows.

Jazwares Takes Over Giant Squishmallows

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Just one year after collaborating, Jazwares acquired Kelly Toys in 2018.

Jazwares is a Berkshire Hathaway Company that produces a variety of toys for various well-known and emerging brands all over the world.

Jazwares made a bold move when they acquired Kelly Toys Holdings, the home of founder Jonathan Kelly, who got the idea to make the toys after seeing similar plush toys during his visit to Japan.

These plush toys are made from stretchy soft spandex fabric and filled with polyester fiber, and are manufactured in China. They are sold in many retail stores, including:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Costco
  • Five Below
  • TJ Maxx
  • Hallmark
  • Independent toy stores 
  • and more.

Jazwares success led to an acquisition by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway company.

There is debate about whether or not Squishmallows is just a fad, since it’s yet to fully hit the mainstream yet. Currently, the line is doing very well considering it’s being primarily fueled by dedicated fans.

It’s early in Jazware’s journey and time will tell if a dedicated fan base will hang on, and how long will general consumers will care about the brand after they buy one or two of the plush toys.

And who knows– we’ll see a special edition giant Squishmallow version of Geoffrey the Giraffe with Toys R Us.

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