FRESNO, Calif. (CN) – A federal class action claims that Hatchimals, the nationwide toy craze that hatches from an egg, don’t always hatch, producing unhappiness in families that the filing attorney says can range from “extreme disappointment to tragic.”
Hatchimals are stuffed animals that hatch out of the colored spotted eggs they are sold in. The creature inside is a mystery, making kids excited to see what they may get. The hatching is the toy’s signature attraction, according to the Jan. 19 lawsuit against Spin Master Corp.
Spin Master released the toys in early October 2016, in time for the holidays, and they quickly became the year’s must-have gift. By November they were hard to find. Some parents waited for hours outside toy stores; others paid up to seven times the retail price eBay and other internet sites.
Hatchimals typically sold for $50 to $60. They were advertised Monday morning for $79.99 on the Toys Are U website, and for $59.99 on the Wal-Mart website, which, however, was out of stock.
Spin Master made an estimated $100 million in profits off the toy, attorney Ben Meiselas said in an interview, but investigations indicate that its failure rate is exceptionally high.
“This was an aggressive and brilliant marketing campaign built on a house of cards and lies for a product that was not ready for the market,” Meiselas said. “Spin Master knew it was spinning consumers; they knew the product didn’t hatch.”
He noted the irony of the company’s name: Spin Master. Stories told by families who bought the toy “border on extreme disappointment to tragic, depending on different families’ situations and their ability to purchase these expensive items,” said Meiselas, of Geragos & Geragos in Los Angeles.
“They were playing on the most visceral emotions of a family: a child’s happiness. It exceeds a mere letdown and caused real damages.”
Many consumers who tried to solve the problem by contacting Spin Master hit a brick wall, as customer service never returned their calls or messages, “with some customers reporting being on hold for as long as three hours before having their call disconnected,” the complaint states, citing a Dec. 28 article in Global News.
Lead plaintiff Jodie Hejduk seeks to represent both a California class and a national class, though Meiselas says his office has been getting calls from people around the world.
“We want Spin Master to stop the spin, be a responsible corporate citizen, and redress the damages to consumers, or it’s headed to a jury of moms and dads, husbands and wives, who will decide whether the product was fraudulent. We think they will,” Meiselas said.
He said he hopes the class action sends a message to other corporations “looking to exploit the average consumer saving money to buy their kids a gift not to sell a defective product that hits Americans in the pocketbook.”
Hejduk, who snagged one of the coveted toys for her daughter’s birthday, says her daughter was thrilled to get it, but “dismayed” when it never hatched, though she followed the instructions.
Other parents have written scathing reviews on Amazon.com and on the Toys R Us website.
Spin Master promised to address the issues, but the few remedial measures it took were ineffective, according to the 25-page complaint. Hejduk says the company should have recalled the toys or issued refunds, but it did neither.
Spin Master did not return emailed requests for comment on Friday.
Hejduk seeks class certification, a recall, restitution with interest, and compensatory, statutory and punitive damages for consumer law violations, unfair competition, false advertising, breach of warranty and unjust enrichment.