Beware of Fake Squishmallows
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a stuffed animal as cute as a real animal, but as plush as a pillow? Good news. There is. Squishmallows are a line of ultra-soft, pillow-like stuffed animals that have taken the toy world by storm. It’s like the Beanie Baby crazy all over again.
But with success comes side effects. Knock-offs and fake Squishmallows abound on Amazon and other online marketplaces. It’s getting increasingly difficult to tell if the Squishmallow you’re about to buy is the real deal. So why are there so many frauds, and how can you tell them apart from the original collectibles?
Getting to Know the Company Behind Squishmallows
The first Squishmallows were released by Kelly Toys in 2017. At the time, there were only eight characters, and they were sold exclusively at Walgreens in three different Squishmallow sizes — 8 inch, 12 inch and 16 inch.
Most people who bought them back then didn’t go with the intention of toy shopping. They just stumbled upon them on their way to the checkout counter. Or that’s what I did at least. The original gray bunny Squishmallow is sitting in my bedroom right now. My Generation Alpha 6 year old has one in her room, too, and neither of us regret the impulse purchase.
There’s something special about Squishmallows that inspire meandering shoppers to toss one or three in their cart. They’re almost velvety in texture, and they have just the right amount of give to them — somewhere between a memory foam pillow and a real marshmallow. It’s hard not to buy one.
Clearly, plenty of people share the sentiment. Kelly Toys, the company behind the snuggly, multi-sized stuffies, announced in February 2020 that they had sold 50 million Squishmallows. Fifty million sales in only two years, including over 500 different Squishmallow characters. They even have a theme song. Any product this popular is bound to generate some fierce rivals. And they did.
Fake Squishmallows Have Been Popping Up for Over a Year
You would think that a fraudulent stuffy would be obvious, but it turns out that companies masquerading as the original Squishmallow are impressively sneaky. Even we were bamboozled. On our original list, we included Jenny the Cow. She looks just like the other Squishmallow cows, except that according to Reddit, she’s not made by Squishmallow at all. How can a lie be so adorable?
On Amazon, fake squishmallows have spread like wildfire. Some sellers advertise original Squishmallow characters, but when the toy is delivered, it’s obvious there’s something off. Hundreds of customers have complained about hard, cheaply made altogether unhuggable knockoffs that are annoyingly hard to return. Instead of being shipped from the Los Angeles-based Kelly Toys, they’re imported from China — and the return shipping is hefty.
Before Buying a Squishmallow Online, Do Some Digging
It’s tough to tell if a stuffy is legit at first glance. Fortunately, there are some telltale signs to let you know that you’re dealing with a fake.
Squishmallows are sold across the world in many countries. In the U.S., they’re sold in 32 different retail stores, including:
If you buy a Squishmallow from one of those shops, or from another shop on the international list of licensed Squishmallow retailers, you’re probably safe. It’s not unusual to find some Squishmallows at certain stores that aren’t available on the Squishmallow website. Squishmallow periodically releases exclusive toys at certain locations, like Costco and Claire’s. It’s primarily online retailers you should be wary of.
All the way back in 2018, Squishmallows posted on Facebook offering to help customers who fell prey to scam artists. More recently, they asked customers to send them a message on Instagram to report sketchy sellers.
How to Tell If a Squishmallow Is Fake
The easy way to tell if a site is legit or not? If it’s not www.squishmallows.com, it’s probably a fake. Just look at this site. It looks totally legitimate, except the end of the URL is off. Notice it's www.squishmallows.cn. Can you say red flag? On Amazon, avoid buying a Squishmallow from any seller other than the official Squishmallow store.
If you already have a Squishmallow, and you need to know if it’s real or not, you can’t judge purely by look or feel. Check the tags. According to one Reddit user, there should be three small tags. The first should say "Original Squishmallows: Squeeze and Cuddle Me." The second should say Kellytoy, plus information about Squishmallows. The final tag includes the toy’s ID and batch number.
All real Squishmallows, regardless of where they are sold, have these tags. If the tag on your Squishmallows have a slightly different brand name or a missing tag, you’ve most likely been conned.
The Best Squishmallow Advice? Be Patient
The easiest way to ensure you’re buying a legitimate product is to buy directly from the Squishmallow website. However, it’s been under construction for months now. According to their Instagram page, it should be up and running in the near future. At the very least, they promised an anxious collector @mar.mallows, "We will announce as soon as it’s live! Stay tuned."
Why the website is down in the first place is unclear. Squishmallow’s parent company, Kelly Toys, was bought out by a subsidiary of Alleghany Capital Corporation on April 3, 2020. Could that have anything to do with the mysterious website shut down? Or was the Squishmallow site hacked by evil, stuffy-stealing bots?
Kelly Toys has yet to officially comment on what’s brewing beneath the surface. They did share a warning on Instagram in October 2020: "Beware of counterfeit Squishmallows websites! Please comment or DM us if you find any. Thank you!"
It would be helpful if Squishmallow sorted out their own site, and fast. Without it, desperate collectors are turning to sites like eBay and Etsy to buy new and used collectible Squishmallows. On sites like those, it’s all too easy to get conned.
In the meantime, your safest bet is to buy only from the licensed retailers listed on the Squishmallow site. The company has yet to comment on whether small toy sellers also sell Squishmallows, so buy from their sites at your own risk.
And if you’re dying for a particular collectible, take your time finding it from a reputable seller. With Squishmallows forecasted to be the "Beanie Baby of Gen Z," they’re not disappearing anytime soon.
Related: Most Popular Squishmallows