The Aftermath of a Craze: Tickle Me Elmo Revisited

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 11, 1997 | Go to article overview

The Aftermath of a Craze: Tickle Me Elmo Revisited


Byline: Burt Constable

So, did those poor frenzied parents who shelled out $300 for a Tickle Me Elmo last Christmas Eve find happiness?

"I couldn't tell you," begins Neil Friedman, president of Tyco Preschool, makers of that adorable Muppet who giggles and shakes and retails for less than $30. "I don't know anybody who paid that kind of money."

A year ago, Tickle Me Elmos were like currency. Newspapers were glutted with classified ads and stories of folks wanting to buy TMEs, sell TMEs or auction them for charity.

The Internet still has more than 170 Tickle Me Elmo Web sites left over from last year. Some, such as Punch Me Elmo or Tickle Me Oprah, are just for yucks. But many feature heated debates about love vs. greed, pleas and "blank-yous" and plenty of philosophizing about the morality of it all.

The idea of a consumer cornering the market on a popular kids' toy simply to jack up the price during the vulnerable holiday season offends Friedman.

"I don't think that's a good thing," he says. "But any time you can take a toy and auction it off and raise money for charity, I think that's a wonderful thing."

Enter Sing & Snore Ernie, this year's Muppet successor to the Tickle Me Elmo title.

Sales of Sing & Snore Ernie are double the numbers Tickle Me Ernie racked up by this time last season, Friedman says. The rush is yet to come.

During the final days of last year's shopping season, Tyco Preschool was getting 10,000 Tickle Me Elmo calls a day, Friedman says. Currently, Tyco Preschool is getting 1,000 calls a day on Sing & Snore Ernie.

The company sold its entire supply of 1 million TMEs last year and will sell all 1.2 million S&SEs this year, he predicts.

But tales of Tickle Me Elmo's demise make Friedman laugh.

"Tickle Me Elmo continues to sell at a rate two and three times better than last year," Friedman says, predicting shoppers will buy another 3 million of the dolls this year. …

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