What is the rationale behind retiring items? I’m especially curious about the summer 2007 retiring of certain W Shop clothing. -Meghan
We’re creative; reason doesn’t play into it
. Seriously though, we retire items to stir things up a bit and make the W Shop a little less daunting. There are well over 1500 items in the W Shop right now, and we add new items regularly. For a new member, that is a lot of items to sift through. So from time to time we will retire some of our older items to make room for new items. Watch for more retirements in the future, and while many of these items will be moved to the Curio Shop, not all of them will. When will I be able to use the seeds I’ve collected in the Magical Forest? - Linda
Very, very soon. There will be a brand new activity that uses the seeds, and it will appear in the Magical Forest section. Keep collecting and you’ll have tons of fun on the day it is released. I love going on vacation! Are there going to be any new places to go? - Sarah
There sure are! We designed the vacation office so that it could be expanded with new places to go. As you can guess, a lot of work goes into making a vacation location, but we have some great ideas on the plan. In two of our surveys last year we asked which kind of vacation you wanted to go on the most. Your answers lead to the creation of the Tropical Island, and helped us choose our next two destinations. Look for the first later this year. What was your favorite “furry friend” (stuffed animal) when you were a kid? - Susan
When I was a little boy, I had two favorite stuffed toys. My first was a great British-made bear that I was given when I was born. Unfortunately bears at that time were stuffed with kapok, which at age 4 I discovered I was allergic to. So while I could look at my bear on the shelf, I couldn’t hug him or have him on my pillow. When I was six or seven, I was at the local fair with my parents. A young woman saw me and, out of the blue, gave me a really strange green dog she’d won at a game. As it was stuffed with Styrofoam pellets, I could play with it and carry it around. It was kind of silly looking, but I thought it was awesome. Would Ganz ever consider making a Webkinz (either plushie or an e-store pet) that a member designed? - Sally
For legal reasons Ganz can not take designs for specific Webkinz pets from members. That said, we are constantly listening to our members as to which pets they like, which ones they don’t, and which animals they’d like to see or see more of. A great example is this year’s Dolphin. Believe it or not, the Dolphin (in a slightly different look) was one of the first Webkinz pets ever designed. As it didn’t make sense in our room engine, we decided not to release it. Since we launched, the Dolphin was one of your most requested pets, so we designed our underwater rooms to give the pet a place to call home. You asked for it, you got it.
I’ll also say this: later this year we will be releasing the one unreleased animal that you’ve asked for more than any other. Can you guess what it is? What is the BEST thing you think you’ve done to improve Webkinz World ever since it was created? - Elizabeth
Wow. That’s a tough question. I’m personally most proud of the Curio Shop (which was added March 2006). Arte is a great host with that loveable, gruff voice of his, and he actually learns to like you - that’s really unique. Rare items are fun to hunt for and collect, yet aren’t SO difficult to acquire that anyone gets frustrated. And the Gem Hunt is the cherry on top - a fun daily with a great end prize.
That said, I think that the Clubhouse, and in particular our newly improved KinzChat PLUS, has the potential to be our most important addition to Webkinz World. We have BIG plans for both the KinzChat and KinzChat PLUS areas of the Clubhouse and plans to take the Clubhouse concept in new directions (as we’ve seen with Coral Cove). If I ever wanted to work for Ganz when I grow up, what type of education should I focus on? - Kayleigh
This is a very good question. Unfortunately, there is no single answer. Creating and maintaining an interactive world like Webkinz World requires a lot of people with a whole range of skills and education.
First you have to ask yourself, “What would I like to do at a company like Ganz?” Do you want to program games and activities? Do you want to design new plush toys? Do you think it would be cool to dream up new sections like Woodland Wonders and put those ideas down on paper? Or maybe you’d be happiest managing a group of people to ensure that those new ideas get onto the site in a timely fashion. Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to do, do some research and find out what kind of education is best for that direction.
Second, and in my mind this is just as important, is learn everything you can about the toy and gift industry. The best way to succeed in life is to do something in an industry that you love and know really well. There are lots of creative directors out there. Some enjoy making ads for banks and car companies. Others enjoy designing new cereal boxes, or cool cell phones. Not me. I LOVE toys and games. I visit toy stores just for fun and go up and down every aisle. I love reading about new toys and thinking about new ways to let kids have fun.
So it isn’t just one choice. You need to find both the industry you love, and job you want to do in that industry. I hope that helps! How old was Arte when he started collecting treasures? - James
Arte was just 8 years old when he got taste for adventure. He and his good friend Doug the Dog would dream up the wildest scenarios and would play them out in his backyard. By 12 Arte was fascinated by ancient artifacts and all of the weird and wonderful, rarely seen objects from Webkinz World’s history. At 14, he and Doug went on their first real adventure into the woods beyond Kinzville. They didn’t find anything, but Arte had more fun than he could imagine and he knew he’d found his calling. Two years later, while on a particularly treacherous adventure, Arte came upon his first true treasure - an ancient gold trophy that he still keeps to this day under wraps in the Curio Shop.
Arte and Doug were inseparable in their adventures for the next 12 years, but even the best friendships sometimes fall apart when two friends just can’t agree. The W-Tales “Arte & Doug” told this story earlier in 2008. We’ll be compiling the story into a book form and get it into the W Shop soon. What characteristics do you look for in a good Webkinz PSI (Pet Specific Item) or PSF (pet Specific Food)? Do you choose the ones that are most popular, or do you pick names with a zany twist? I have seen several AWESOME ideas, so I want to know where they come from. - Marissa
Great question. Whenever we come up with a new pet, our great creative staff comes up with three or four ideas for items. I then pick which of those I think is the best and our artists go to work. I like items that get across something special about the pet, or items that are going to look very cool in Webkinz World. The Snowman’s Frosty Fireplace is a perfect example. The idea of a “Frozen Fireplace” was just too fun to pass up. As we already had the Winter Wonderland theme, we also made sure that the Fireplace looked good with that theme.
We want our Pet Specific Items to be ones that will either be the centerpiece of a room, or be fun to play with - and that will be cool if you have just one. This is why you’ll find beds, vehicles and stoves as PSIs, and not coffee tables or dining chairs.
We have a lot of fun making the Pet Specific Foods. We want an item that has a great name, makes sense for the pet, and will look good at a small size. Some foods, like stews, can have a fun name but just look like brown goo, no matter how fancy you try to make it. We want our foods to pop off the screen!
Making our PSIs and PSFs is a lot of fun for both our creative and art teams. We’re really happy that you enjoy them so much! I absolutely love the Webkinz Stadium and I play there every day. I am wondering if there will be any new updates to the stadium, such as new competitions or the opening of the “amateur” category and what qualifications would be needed to enter it. - Jenn
I’m very glad to hear that you are enjoying the Webkinz Stadium so much. There will definitely be updates to the Webkinz Stadium this year. We’ve been watching how much our members are using the Stadium closely and that has definitely helped us come up with some new ideas on how to make the Stadium much better. One new feature we’ll be working on is making it so that you can play in the Stadium any time. Our scheduled events will still give the best prizes, but you’ll be able to test your pet’s skills whenever you want.
We’ll also be adding a new competition for our more athletic Webkinz - Running! Keep taking those Speed classes - your pet will need them if they hope to get that gold trophy!
Amateur events will be for pets with lower Academy stats, just as Pro events are for pets with higher stats. They will have different prizes to keep the Pro event trophies extra special.
The Stadium is one area where I believe we can make some real improvements, so watch for them later in the year. Would you consider creating a Webkinz Jr. site (maybe call it LilKinz), for the 3-6ish crowd? My son loves the plushies, and the “idea” of Webkinz World, but doesn’t like to do much here, as he finds a lot of it too difficult and frustrating. - Anjii
I’m throwing this one in as an 11th answer because it’s so timely. As many of you may already know, the answer is a resounding “Yes”. This spring we will be launching a totally new website designed especially for kids aged 3-6, named “Webkinz Jr.” (good guess!). We’ve had a lot of parents like you tell us that your children love the idea of Webkinz, but do find it too difficult. Webkinz World was designed for kids 6-13+, and requires a lot of reading, so it is understandable that younger children have more of a challenge. Webkinz Jr. was designed from the ground up with your child in mind. Our huge cast of characters is there to help your child play and all of the games and activities were specially designed for the kindergarten crowd. Watch for more information as we get closer to launch this spring.