What is a squishy?
(this is a personal opinion on what a squishy is and my opinion as to why they are so popular. Through my own observations and minimal research, as information on this subject is difficult to find. If you wish to add your own personal opinion on this topic please contact me via the contact link on the Claw Grabby website and I will be happy to make changes or additions to this piece and credit your name also.)
A squishy is a toy made from soft foam material. It originally started out as a stress-ball product in the late 1980s and grew into a modern popular toy adored by fans across the internet.
The modern squishy fad originates from Japan, where many corporations develop extensive ranges of products to promote their brands and is it very common for companies to have cute or "kawaii" mascots as a way of promotion.
A stress ball is a popular corporate marketing product much like stationery or soft toys. This product coupled with the growth of the stressful environment of corporate Japan meant that these items became more widely produced.
An example of a corporate squishy mascot product can be seen by way of the Tochigi Lemon company, which produce a lemon milk drink. They produce a line of products to promote their drink, one of which is a squishy foam key charm / phone strap.
Here is a selection of promotional marketing products by Tochigi Lemon Company -->
Tochigi Lemon Box Milk Foam Phone Strap Squishy -->
Another example is Hello Kitty, a globally popular character and brand with a very wide range of products. There are many many Hello Kitty squishies available and the Sanrio brand is very suited to this style of toy with it's kawaii styled animations and characters.
An example of Hello Kitty Squishies-->
A majority of modern squishies have cellphone or ball chain attachments to attach to phones and bags as an accessory, this is why they are sometimes referred to as "straps."
In the beginning of the trend many squishies were "rare" and hard to find, due to the nature in which the where produced and marketed, mostly in Japan. With the assistance of the internet and user friendly video technology, creating collection videos became more and more common which helped popularity grow. It became the squishy collectors ultimate goal to have the most comprehensive collection.
Here are some key features of squishies that I believe help drive the fascination...
- They translate well on camera, especially with crinkly packaging, makes a nice sound and it sounds new and makes for great ''un-boxing'' presentation videos.
- Slow rising and scented. The common indicator of an ultimate squishy. The slow rising and scented kinds a regarded as very satisfying to watch and squeeze, signals the quality of the products. Also the "real-ness" of the scent is often a favourite thing to mention in a squishy video.
- A wide variety of styles and brands available. From Animals to baked goods, fruit and vegetables, squishies come in a wide range of interesting and cute styles to suit everyones interests.
- Squishy Trades. an online community of people that share a common interests, discussing, sharing, selling and trading these popular items on platforms such as Youtube, instagram and Facebook.
- Squishy Dares. Videos where people destroy expensive brands such as ibloom (and inexpensive brands also), with scissors, fire and other things...because, well, I am not quite sure why but the most likely reason would be to accumulate "views" on youtube.
- Not mainstream. Although these products are widely available online, at the moment they have not yet reached mainstream status in most western countries. Thus making them niche and their existence confusing to many adults.
Today you can find that many squishy collectors upload videos of their "hauls" and collections on youtube. Popular brands are ibloom, Sammy the Patissier, CafedeN, Cafe Sakura, Aoyama Tokyo, and Puni Maru.
The squishy fad is still going strong and it will be interesting to see if it continues in the years to come ^_^
Thank you for reading