“So Cool!” Retro Tech: Watchimal

…and they’re also watches with serious fashion cred!

Color me inspired!

I love the instances that something nostalgic – and possibly, obscure – comes to me in the creative process of another article. For instance, semi-recently, I wrote about a series of watches by Armitron that were part toy, part watch, part serious fashion.

And all 1980s dance moves!

During the course of that article, I made mention of a very tiny part of my childhood that sat in the deepest recesses until it I shake it loose and write about it. Having taken the better part of a year off from writing, I haven’t tapped into those recesses as much as I did in previous years, and it is amazing what I wind up shaking loose.

So on that note, did you have a Watchimal?

What’cha Call It?

A Watchimal? And why do you call it that?

Because it’s an animal with a watch inside! And no, the animal didn’t eat the watch.

Watchimal(s) were a furry wristband with a digital watch inside the mouth of a plushie animal head, first marketed in 1985 by Hasbro Softies. Two series of watches were produced in 1985 and 1986, with the first wave of time-keeping animals being an elephant, bear, toucan, peacock, mouse, and butterfly. The 1986 wave expanded to include a unicorn, snail, dragonfly, dog, goldfish, and moose.

The primary target market was young girls, though there were boys in the original commercial. And as always, in the tradition of Flashback Friday, we need to have a word from our “sponsor.”

While the original series of Watchimals seemed to be only marketed to the young kiddie crowd (based on the commercial and corresponding jingle), the second wave’s commercials featured slightly older kids praising the amazingness of Watchimals. These kids seemed old enough for something decidedly cooler than the plush toy watches their younger siblings liked.

“What’s A Girl To Wear?”: Accessorizing with Watchimals’ Cousin, Wearimals!

Peacock hair clips (Image: Pinterest)

From Watchimals also came Wearimals, animals made in the same style, but sold in pairs and including a clip to attach to hair, clothing and backpacks. The snail, butterfly, goldfish, peacock were included in this line, as well as a pig and cat.

I found a high quality version of the commercial, on YouTube, and queued it to the exact start time (0:35 seconds in, if the queue doesn’t work), but man, if you like independent network nostalgia, this is a great commercial block!

Such a tough decision – gotta nail that outfit/Watchimal/Wearimal combination. Just say “I’m so cool!”, no matter where you wear your Wearimal.

The addition of the Wearimals proved to be the end of the wearable plushie trend that was Watchimal/Wearimal. While the line was only produced from 1985 until 1986, they were obviously still on the market in 1987 (based on the Wearimals commercial), but beyond that, I’m not sure.

Was Allison “So Cool!” In Her Watchimals (or Wearimals)?

Yes I was!

I actually did own a Watchimal, but not Wearimals, which I’d never heard of until I was writing this article. My Watchimal was from the original 1985 line, a Purple Elephant, and my brother had the Bear. I remember LOVING this Watchimal, and I’m sure it had everything to do with my love for watches much later in life. I can guarantee you I didn’t know how to tell time, but I wore a giant stuffed animal on my wrist with excitement. Time is irrelevant when you can take a plushie with you!

Image: eBay

I actually do have a photo of me wearing the watch, explaining (presumably in the way any little kid would) it to a preschool aide while dressed like a cheerleader for Halloween. I’ll have to dig that photo out next time I’m at my parents’ house.

Can You Still Be “So Cool!” In A Watchimal (Or Wearimal)?

While the stuffed animal on your wrist, hair, shoes, or anywhere trend may be long gone, the nostalgia can still live on. I roved eBay for the plushie watches and fashion accessories, and I was not disappointed in the last. If you’re looking for one to fall in love with all over again, or find a new Watchimal to love, plan to shell out a pretty penny for that nostalgic love. There are listings for “New in Box” ones between $49 and $72 (verified as of this writing, Friday, July 29, 2022), with pre-owned Watchimals priced at $12 to $20. As for Wearimals, $29.99 can net you a set on the low end, with others going for $50, $55, and $44.99 (again, verified as of this writing).

I even found my beloved Purple Elephant in an unopened box. No, I’m not looking to reconnect with her (yes, her), but I love seeing that she (yes, she!) still exists!

Of course, that search also turned up what I believe are Hatchimals (erroneously ID’d as Watchimals), as well as an actual “inspired by Watchimal” creation.

The “Other” Watchimal…

Interestingly enough, there was a “Watchimal”-esque toy/watch hybrid with the same concept (searchable under Watchimal and their actual name), called “Kennel Kuddlee Watchdog.” They look like a Pound Puppy-Watchimal Hybrid in concept, and were made by a company called Tara Toy Corp. in 1986. There were even plush dogs a la Pound Puppies, so I guess there were filling a demand in the market when Pound Puppies were hard to come by.

Image: eBay

Based on their going prices on eBay, these seem to be rare, but nonetheless, they’re stinkin’ cute!

Tara Toy Corp. , like Hasbro, is still around today, and produces toys based on popular licensed characters and properties. Their products include activities, storage cases, toys, and arts and crafts. They’ve been around since 1977, and are located in Hauppauge, NY.

And Now, You!

Did you ever tell time with a Watchimal, accessorize with a Wearimal, or just wear either because they were “so cool”? I would love to know which one you had, or if you’re even remotely familiar with these watches, plushies, or whatever they market themselves as.

Have a fantastic day, and, you know, continue to be “so cool!”

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