It's a toy, website and an internet society all in one. Ganz pioneered this marketing strategy in 2005 by uniting a simple stuffed animal with a code to a cyber world of educational and entertaining games and activities.
The plush pets are well manufactured, safe, delightful and can be played with independently of the computer. Each animal is minimally priced and comes with a numeric code supplied by Ganz. There are new webkinz coming out all the time. Once the URL is accessed, registration by an adult allows entrance into a well conceived, vibrant virtual world of fun and learning. The website is free but may be upgraded with a monthly or quarterly fee. Children three years and up will find the possibilities endless. Parents will delight in the options for their control.
The site not only educates the child in the care for their new pet via virtual exercise, feeding and patient care, but also includes several activities to stimulate the mind and hand-eye coordination. Numbers, letters, simple addition and sentence building is only the beginning to this new world of internet tutoring. Virtual prizes are awarded for excelling in several categories. Many of the games range in difficulty to delight parents as well.
Ganz has gifted many of its proceeds to the Webkinz Foundation where over $210,000 was donated to facilities involved in children's education and health issues. The philanthropy of this company is staggering. As of May 2008, over 17,000 pets and 100 lap tops to children's hospitals in the United States and Canada. Ganz works with established organizations such as: St Jude's Hospital, City of Hope Cancer Research Center, Elizabeth Glazier Pediatric Aid Foundation and many others. Giving back to the community is their mantra.
A parent's area is provided to answer specific inquiries about the site. With the aid of this program, parents can monitor their children's online activities. In an effort to limit the amount of time a child spends at the computer, Ganz also provides parental management programs. The site automatically shuts down at midnight as a courtesy to parents.
These toys are available to children all over the globe. A list of countries where the plush pets are available is located at the site. Translation for corresponding languages is also accessible.
There are many copycat versions of this interactive system, all fail in comparison. Ganz has truly combined the tactile toy, a child's imagination and the virtual reality of the internet into a great product called webkinz.