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  • Heather Hildum

THE LOL DOLL CRAZE THAT RUINED OUR HOUSE


Did I make you cringe reading that title? I cringed writing it. LOL dolls penetrated the toy market a few years ago with fervor, descending upon innocent families with their hidden surprises and 'catch them all' maps. We had this with Hatchimals and Shopkins, though the idea of a singluar, non-accessorized surprise toy gives me less anxiety than the mess of an LOL doll and all its parts.


Here's what I mean:


"Mom can you find so and so's red shoe?" (My oldest would ask about some pea size object meaning to fit the foot of an LOL doll.)


I hesitate to answer, a memory flooding back of me earlier with the vacuum. Thought I nearly destroyed my trusty Shark (the vacuum) who sputtered and clanged until I spotted this little red object spinning around the canister along with all the pet hair and dust.


"I have no idea what you're talking about, you should take better care of your toys." That's what I tell my daughter anyway.


--insert photo of me smacking my face here--

Little pieces of LOL bodies and accessories have since ended up in the trash. No worries! Another birthday or holiday comes along and the kids get another rush of the new series. Quick turnover there at MGA Entertainment. Good for you Issac Larian for coming up with this concept and founding a company that's produced 9 billion dollars of tiny new plastic parts to take millions of years to somehow meld into this Earth.


(Pardon my bitterness...)


Sure, fad toys existed in the 90s, when I lived my blissful childhood years. In case that's an unfamiliar time to you, I'll explain. Most notably Pogs, Tamagotchis, My Little Ponies, Polly Pockets, and worse, Beanie Babies each had moments of fame in my house. Barbie might be another to consider adding, though I can't remember rushing to wait before Toys R Us opened in a long line to purchase the next Barbie that hopped on the shelf.


Not like Beanie Babies. I'd like to know how they marketed them to that level of fame back then. No Facebook ads, algorithms, Amazon, or other various faster-than-lightning marketing tools to boost sales. Another subject for another post.


What I do remember of all these fad toys, is the excess. EXCESS.


Pogs we traded. Tamagotchis kids usually had a few, but not to the point that there were hundreds like Hatchimals or LOL Dolls. All the doll or figurine type toys seemed to have a limit to some degree back in the 90s or not produce 'new' as quick.


With different doll series, sizes and exclusivity, it's no wonder that kids get those hits of dopamine when they see the wrapped package, squeal with delight as they 'unzip' the colorful plastic shrink wrapped surprise perfectly on the first try--a goal for both my kids upon first tear.


Is the excitement endless? No.


Fair to say, coming from other moms in my circle, the happy feels of the first rip begins to wear, especially if the kid opens a duplicate doll. Immediately my kid will say it's no fair and they're hard pressed to exchange the darned thing, which you can't, I've tried. Within minutes my kids say they're bored again and wish they had another LOL surprise to open.


My kids don't recognize that happy hormone leaving their little bodies twenty minutes after they've ripped open the new doll and discovered all its surprises. The sensation of wonder that lures them into the new surprise doll series as it comes out. Each new doll they appreciated less than the last, taking no time at all before boredom set in.

Oh how I tried to explain to my children that it's the surprise of the toy that drove them to want the LOL dolls, not the dolls themselves. To the point of obsession, they continued to grovel for more. Tears shed over countless begging to expand their otherwise large collection. I maintained a hard 'no' when asked, reminding my loves that they have many to play actual imaginative scenarios and games with.


A friend showed my kids unboxing videos to fuel the giddiness of opening up new dolls and looking for them on the map. Then dollmakers, creating their own dolls out of old LOL dolls.


The kids asked if they could paint their dolls, promising they'd keep playing with them after their facelifts and hair weaves were complete. Instead, I found paint everywhere from uncured dolls and constant messes that pained me to scrub with dry cracked hands. Horrendous!


When LOL parts lurked in every nook and cranny of the house, I said enough is enough. There's paint on my kitchen table that I cannot get off, beheaded dolls that no one touches, and it's all too much with Youtube unboxing videos grown-ass adults record to make money. (Kudos to them, but I find it creepy.) Mimicking such behavior, like re-wrapping a doll in paper to pretend unboxing it, while pretend talking to a fake Youtube audience is where I draw the line.


Where's the creative play? Even if it takes a level of imagination to form a fake audience and paint dolls, it felt like a betrayal to childhood play. The kids didn't desire outdoor activity like making forts and playing on the swings. Every suggested active thing we tried to do as a family held little to no appeal to my kids. Nothing compared to the rush of a new toy with surprises.


I'm proud to say we haven't purchased an LOL Doll in more than six months. My children may not love that fact, though I try and reiterate the importance of appreciating the toys you do have--to which the two of them own MANY more than the average kid.


The LOL Doll craze finally rests in peace (for now). As a parent, LOL surprises created this need for constant excitement in our house. Instant glee and happiness. I do not believe this is healthy for my kids. Yes, this is my personal take on the matter.


It ruined the dynamic in our house in so many little ways. We noticed more interest in app games and Youtube watching. Now we limit this to one hour a day. The kids are uninterested in going for hikes, bikes, or simple sports in the backyard. Even though they're getting back to that active life, it will take some time to land where we used to utter the 'I'm bored' rarely instead of commonly.

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