Anyone tasked with buying a gift for a girl this holiday season has likely been on a quest (probably since October) for the elusive L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls. The three-inch plastic dolls have replaced last year’s Hatchimals as the must-have toy. Apparently, every girl from age 4 to 14 got the memo. And by "memo" I mean saw the unboxing video on YouTube.
L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls retail for $14.99 and have an exterior packaging that doesn’t reveal which doll is inside, making the unwrapping (or unboxing) part of the thrill. Each doll is encased in a colorful, rigid plastic ball that doubles as a purse. All seven (yes, seven!) layers of film packaging reveal a "surprise" clue in the form of messages, stickers or miniature accessories as to which doll is at the center. Think of them as Russian nesting dolls for the iGeneration.
The original Surprise! Dolls are now part of the L.O.L. Surprise! Tots franchise. Additional SKUs include Surprise! Pets and Surprise! Lil Sisters along with the holy grail of L.O.L. Surprise toys: the Big Surprise!—an impossible to find glittery gold ball containing 50 surprises.
L.O.L. Surprise! Tots are the first toys created specifically designed to be unboxed, the term used to describe a video of a child (or adult) opening gifts on YouTube or other social media outlets.
MGA Entertainment Founder and CEO Isaac Larian explained to CBS Sunday Morning that he came up with the idea for the dolls after a bout of insomnia had him up all night watching unboxing videos. That idea has certainly paid off; twenty-five million L.O.L. Surprise! dolls have been sold since their debut one year ago. Not surprisingly, retail tracking firm NPD Group named the L.O.L. Surprise! Tots the top selling toy of the year in the U.S., according to an MGA Entertainment in a December 11 news release.
Amazingly, all this hype was generated without one television commercial. MGA Entertainment simply sent the dolls to a group of YouTube unboxing influencers (did I just coined a term?) and waited. It didn’t take long for the craze to begin considering unboxing videos have reached a staggering 11 billion views.
I happened to buy a few L.O.L. Surprise! dolls back in September and planned to give them to my seven-year-old daughter on Christmas; but with the insane demand, I should probably sell them on eBay and put the proceeds into her college fund.