Who would have imagined in 1996 that Tickle Me Elmo, a newly released plush toy, would become the new hot selling sensation that Christmas? It was “just” a funny little bundle of red fur that laughed hysterically when you tickled it. Yet since that time Tickle Me Elmo and its successors have been topping the sales charts for several Christmas seasons.
This year promises to be another year of hot sales for the Elmo plush doll line with the introduction of Elmo Live! by Fisher Price. Some stores are currently limiting the amount you can purchase in anticipation of hot selling numbers. Here are 19 fun facts about the selling sensation started by the laughing red kid.
1. Tyco introduced Tickle Me Elmo to US markets in 1996. By Christmas Elmo had become a selling phenomenon.
2. Elmo saw an increase in sales after Rosie O’Donnell presented the doll in an episode of her show in October 1996. Whenever a guest said the word “wall,” Rosie threw a doll into the audience. .
3. A similar jump in sales occurred that same year after Bryant Gumbel held a doll during most of an episode of the Today Show.
4. The day after Thanksgiving 1996 Tickle Me Elmo sold out in 2 hours in most stores across the country.
5. Tyco originally planned to sell 400,000 Elmos that first year. They easily sold so many and were unable to meet demand over Christmas despite their continued urgent production of the doll.
6. The shortage of supplies has pushed some parents in North America to extreme measures. The parents actually fought each other in the shops for the doll.
7. Prices went up with classified ads in some newspapers advertising the toy for hundreds of dollars. One report claims the $ 28.99 toy sold for up to $ 1500.
8. There have been several reports of injuries across the nation. For example, on December 14, 1996 at a Wal-mart in Fredericton, New Brunswick, a mob injured an employee when he saw him holding one of the last dolls in stock.
9. The New York Daily News reported an unusual story. John Gotti, Jr., son of the notorious mob boss, bought a box of Tickle Me Elmos at a store in Queens, New York several weeks after the doll was sold out. Store officials said Gotti “was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”
10. Elmo’s vibration feature uses a larger version of the vibration motor found in cell phones and game controllers.
11. In 1997 three new Tickle Me dolls were released: Tickle Me Ernie, Tickle Me Big Bird, and Tickle Me Cookie Monster. None of them matched Elmo’s mysterious success.
12. In 2001 a “surprise edition” of Tickle Me Elmo was released as part of a contest. On January 9, 2002, five of the dolls stopped laughing. They then announced to their owners that the owners had won a prize, the biggest being a staggering $ 200,000.
13. The TMX – meaning Tickle Me Extreme or Tickle Me Ten (where “X” is the Roman numeral 10) – was released as part of the first doll’s 10th anniversary commemoration. TMX Elmo has expanded Elmo’s laughing behaviors to include rolling on the floor and smashing his fist to the ground.
14. In a well-executed marketing promotion, the manufacturer created enthusiasm for the TMX by hiding the TMX Elmo in secrecy prior to its release. People who reviewed the product prior to its release were required to sign confidentiality agreements that prevented them from disclosing details about the doll in advance.
15. TMX Elmo’s marketing promotion included pre-release sales of the doll. Amazon took more pre-sale orders than it could fulfill.
16. The full appearance of the TMX doll was first revealed on ABC’s Good Morning America.
17. The TMX Elmo box hid the doll from view until it was purchased. A “preview flap” on the box showed you only Elmo’s eyes, and he said, “Ha, ha, ha, ha! Don’t peek!”
18. A 2007 version of the doll contained hidden messages that Elmo would only say if I did the right things to the doll. The rhyming clues on the manufacturer’s website helped consumers understand how to activate the special messages.
19. It is called the 2008 version of the doll Live helmet! It features a whole new set of actions and sounds, making it the most advanced version of the famous Elmo dolls. Sales of Live helmet! should be lively for Christmas 2008. With the economic difficulties we are experiencing this year it will be interesting to see how well Elmo Live! sells.
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