Is it a collectible? Is it a soft toy? No, it’s a tsum tsum! You’ve probably spotted the plush collectible toys around Hong Kong – most recently in Festival Walk. The shopping centre has a massive display of the latest Disney craze, especially considering the toys don’t actually do anything. So Young Post asked some fans to explain what all the fuss is about.
Not a short-term craze
We don’t need to mention the new game that’s taking over the world. But Tsum Tsum fans are adamant that their hobby isn’t a short-term craze. New Tsums are constantly being released to reflect the latest Disney characters. While all the old favourites like Mickey and Lilo are there, players can also choose from Elsa or Baymax.
If you need something for your bestie, consider a Tsum. They’re small and portable, so if either one of you is leaving town, it’s a great friendship token. Boys, though, don’t really like them as much, and Young Post had a hard time finding one who admits he does.
Better than a pet
Coby Lo Tsz-ching was busy buying Tsum Tsum merchandise when we found her. She says her Tsums double as pets. Residents in her estate are not allowed to have animals, so Tsums have become a portable, quiet, no-mess, substitute. Also, owners can have as many Tsums as they like and don’t have to worry about feeding them, walking them or paying expensive vet bills. And with pets that are this quiet, even her dad can’t complain.
A way to connect
Life in Hong Kong is stressful, especially for young people. Some fans, who prefer to remain anonymous, claim Tsums make the world a slightly friendlier place, because they can talk to their Tsum about anything, and their secrets stay safe.
Whether you fail a test, feelunhappy, disappointed or depressed, you can talk about it to your Tsum. Ultimately, talking about it makes you feel better, even if your Tsum can’t reply.
Even adults like Tsum Tsums. Rita Lee Po-yin, who works in finance, uses the squidgies as a way to connect with her daughter. The Tsums become a shared hobby and a bridge between generations. Even though they were only released in 2013, Tsums look set to be a lasting craze, although one parent, Terence Kong Fu-keung, recently admitted he would rather play Pokemon Go.
From the experts
Why do people like to collect Tsum Tsums? Dr Ivy Wang Wong, assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, says: “Children in every culture enjoy playing with toys. Toys are thus loaded with positive memories and are symbolic of the past, and people enjoy the sense of nostalgia that toys bring.”
Wong added that people are attracted to Tsum Tsums because the cost is low compared to the sense of joy and reward that comes with getting one, or five, or 10. It works for other collectible items, too.
Beyond the toys
As every fan knows, there is also a Tsum Tsum game. It’s a bubble popper, and this rewards players with excitement and a sense of achievement. They can compare their stats on Facebook. Beyond that, fans can buy mugs, clothes and even notebook covers, so they are never short of ways to feed their hobby.
It’s clear that Tsum Tsums are more than just a toy. A Tsum is a quiet companion, a thoughtful gift, a collectible item, and a way to relive your childhood. Stackable, huggable and adorable – if you’re going to get addicted to something, there are far worse things to be addicted to than Tsum Tsums.