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NeopetWith everybody imaginable jumping in to follow Webkinz’s successful model of selling plush pets as tokens to enter an online community, Neopets has announced they will be creating a plush pet entry path to their virtual community as well.

Is this the first case of digital reverse evolution? (Going from a virtual community to an plush pet instead of from a plush pet to a virtual community).

A 26 September 2007 Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP owns Neopets) press release announced they signed a licensing agreement with JAKKS to create a plush line of toys based on Neopets. They call it a collectable roll out strategy and say JAKKS will create new ways to interact with the site in the months ahead (maybe they will use some of the concepts we have mentioned in the past to better integrate the plush toys?) .

Neopets began with an online virtual community. As they began to add merchandise, they started selling traditional plush pets. Now that everybody else is launching virtual communities based on plush pets you purchase for the secret codes (tokens) to enter their virtual community, it sounds like Neopets is going to back up another step and follow suit.

The new plush Neopets are expected to hit the stores in early spring 2008. The plush toys will contain codes that allow players to unlock virtual extensions of the toys to use as part of their Neopets Key Quest experience. (sound familiar?). They say the plush pets are part of their “multplatform strategy”.

Sounds a little more like they (or their major stockholders) think they may have left some money on the table and are coming back to get it.

An example of one of the current (non token containing) Neopet plush pets is shown above. It is currently available from Amazon. The press release does not specifically say a plush pet will be required for entry, but points out they will be required to unlock virtual extensions of their plush pets. You may still be able to enter without one?

With the continued rash of entries into the plush pet virtual community category, Neopets may be able to bring some real innovation to the category through JAKKS who has also been involved in several interactive toys. We hope so. In their haste to hit the streets in a hurry, they may just copy everybody else and sell standard plush pets with a code on them as Generation I. Maybe Gen II will open some new doors. Time will tell.

JAKKS recent list of signed licenses is very impressive. It can’t help but make us think of the history of Dream Pets and the companies involved. We sure hope JAKKS comes out better than Applause did. We also hope all the new signings don’t detract too much from the time they have available to work on truly interactive Neopet plush pet designs.

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