Webkinz are stuffed animals that are distributed by the Canadian company Ganz. The first Webkinz was released on April 29, 2005 and unlike other stuffed animals it has an online counterpart. Each plush pet includes a tag with a secret code that unlocks a virtual version of the animal on the Webkinz World website.
Webkinz World is a virtual playground where an owner can interact with her pets, play games, and do a variety of activities. The player can design a pet’s room, cook and feed a pet different foods, and dress the pet in cute outfits. Each animal comes with an exclusive food and an exclusive item to get the fun started.
2005 was also the year Lil’ Kinz were introduced. These adorable stuffed animals are just like Webkinz, but smaller. And just like their big brothers, Lil’ Kinz also have a secret code for a virtual version in Webkinz World. This series of small pets lasted until July 2009.
Signature Pets are a series of Webkinz that were released from 2009 through 2013. These premium stuffed animals are more detailed and have a more realistic appearance. Small Signatures, smaller and less expensive versions, were also released. The virtual counterparts of both regular and small pets include exclusive items available only to Signatures. A third line, Endangered Signature Pets, were also produced and included virtual items exclusive to Endangered pets.
In July 2010, Mazin’ Hamsters were revealed. These adorable hamsters were released as plush pets with virtual counterparts or as virtual-only pets. Having one of these hamsters as a pet grants access to special areas of Webkinz World.
Up until 2008, all Webkinz were plush pets with virtual counterparts. This changed when online-only pets appeared in the Ganz eStore and a code for the Magical Retriever could be found in series 3 of the Webkinz trading cards. Virtual-only pets are popular with collectors who don’t have the space for more stuffed animals or are only interested in playing with their pets in Webkinz World.