Toy maker strikes gold with Beanie Babies of the online era

From the Globe and Mail:

First came Google. Then came MySpace, Facebook and Second Life — all created by hip young techies from California. But the biggest new Internet innovation comes from an unlikely place: a Toronto-based company best known for cheesy giftware and stuffed toys.

If you have a kid in elementary school, chances are you’ve heard of Webkinz — a line of plush toys made by Ganz Inc. What makes Webkinz possibly the most sought-after toy ever is that each one comes with a secret code that gives its owner access to the vast online Webkinz World. There, users can create an avatar, or online identity, for their pet and “adopt” it.

Ganz’s product is revolutionary: It’s the first real-world toy that’s essentially just a key to an interactive website. And it has likely created panic at toy companies the world over as they try to replicate Ganz’s success.

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