More than half of UK children own a toy based on a virtual world

Matthew Warneford

Children’s virtual worlds – like Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin – aren’t just popular online; they’re also proving a big hit as toys with new research showing over half of UK children own a toy based on a virtual world with some as  popular as Dr Who.

Dubit’s research department recently studied the popularity of toys based on online worlds, looking at Disney’s Club Penguin, Mind Candy’s Moshi Monsters, as well as Build-a-BearVille, Poptropica and Webkinz.

The study of 500 kids showed that an amazing 55 per cent of children owned a toy from at least one of these games. The most popular was Disney’s Club Penguin, with 32 per cent of children owning a branded toy from the online world. Club Penguin, which has 150 million registered users (globally) launched in 2005 and has spawned a series of books and video games. Each toy is connected to the virtual world as they’re packaged with a code that allows items to be unlocked in the virtual world.

Moshi Monsters, whose plush toys and Mini Moshling Treehouse are expected to be among the most popular toys for Christmas this year, was a close second. The study showed that even before Christmas a quarter of UK children already own a Moshi Monster or a Moshling (a Moshi pet). Since launching in 2008 Moshi Monsters has gone on to accumulate 50m registered users, with one in three British children believed to be a member. Even with the publishing industry struggling The Moshi Magazine, launched in February, has accumulated the largest circulation of any UK children’s magazine.

As a comparison with toys related to kid’s TV shows, the research shows that just as many children own Club Penguin toys as they do toys based on Dr Who. Furthermore, Moshi Monster toys are more popular (25%) than toys based on the cartoon Ben 10 (20%), and only marginally less than popular than Spongebob Square Pants (29 per cent).*

Interestingly, toys from virtual worlds are gender-neutral, with equal popularity across boys and girls.

73 per cent of the children questioned had played at least one of these online games, with half having played Club Penguin and 47 per cent stating that they’d played Moshi Monsters.

Dubit’s head of research, Peter Robinson, commented: “Children are spending more time playing in virtual worlds and now those worlds are becoming part of their offline playtime.

“Today’s kids are platform agnostic and don’t care where their favourite stories and characters come from. It used to be the case that books or TV shows launched characters and toys, but now online entertainment is proving just as important.”

*Research into children’s TV shows was carried out in October for Toy News.

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