March 25, 2019

The Strange Phenomenon of L.O.L. Surprise Dolls

“Kids like weird things: Yellow sponge-boys, talking doe-eyed ponies, ruddy-cheeked rodents that say only “pika pika,” and, especially in the past few years, unboxing videos.

Kids’ unboxing videos are YouTube series in which children, or in some cases just disembodied hands, take toys out of their packaging and play with them as uplifting music plays in the background. One particularly popular video shows a small boy unwrapping and then assembling a child-size electric car, using plastic tools that would surely fall apart in less practiced hands. He then drives the car down the sidewalk through an eerily empty neighborhood to a playground that is also completely empty, where he plays by himself, presumably because all the other neighborhood children are busy watching YouTube. The video has 267 million views.

Toy makers, who are experts at capitalizing on children’s weird interests, have now figured out how to make a toy that replicates what kids like about unboxing videos. Enter the L.O.L. Surprise! doll, a sphere the size of a bocce ball that consists of seven layers of packaging. Kids peel away the layers of crinkly plastic, which contain stickers and messages and tiny accessories that are surely crunched under many a parental foot, and find a small, nearly naked plastic doll with giant Bette Davis eyes who measures just a few inches tall.”

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