Build-A-Bear recently announced a new addition to its Pokémon Collection–the feisty water turtle, Squirtle, will be available online and in stores starting June 1st. The online set will cost $60 USD and include a raincoat, an Ultra Ball hoodie, an exclusive Pokémon card, and a prerecorded sound chip with Squirtle’s cry. (Thank God, I thought I was going to have to stand in the Build-A-Bear store screaming “SQUIRT-SQUIRTLE” into a recording device.) In stores, the Squirtle base plush will cost $28 to make your own and an extra $10.50 for the Ultra Ball hoodie–but the sound chip and raincoat remain online exclusives.
Having already released successful limited runs of Pikachu, Eevee, and Charmander, Squirtle seems like a natural addition to the Pokémon family at Build-A-Bear. To me, it seems that Build-A-Bear’s expansion into franchises such as Pokémon, My Little Pony, Star Wars, Disney, etc. is a purposeful attempt to profit from nerdier niches–think how popular plushies are among anime fans, for example–and that the target demographic of Build-A-Bear has shifted from children to adult fandoms since its founding. Then again, with companies like Hot Topic making a similar shift (it looks like a convention’s Dealer’s Hall now rather than an goth wonderland), who can blame them? There’s a lot of money to be made from nerds. I recall seeing Build-A-Bear exhibit at a local anime con a few years ago; they were only selling their Toothless plush (from How To Train Your Dragon), but sold out on the first day and had to drive to local Build-A-Bear stores to pick up more stock. Clearly, there’s a demand.
Are you going to swing by your local Build-A-Bear to catch Squirtle next month? What Pokémon do you want to see from Build-A-Bear next? Personally, I’m gonna save up to buy five Squirtles so I can have the entire Squirtle Squad.