Fidget Toys Popping off again

Brian Quinn

Push Poppers, the new toy craze sweeping across Irish playgrounds.

Remember bubble wrap as a child? The excitement, the thrill, the pop! Sure, your parents seemed pleased enough with their new crockery package, but for you, the true gift was the plastic they tossed aside. The fools! What once was trash is now a mighty treasure of poppable possibilities. But of course, not all good things can last, bubbles burst and boredom sets back in. That is, until the next package arrives through the postbox and the cycle continues on.

Luckily there’s a new toy on the market granting you infinite pops. Push Poppers (also known as Fidget Poppers and Bubble Poppers), have flooded the market in recent months, becoming the latest toy trend to sweep Irish playgrounds for children aged three and up. These silicone gizmos come in all different shapes, sizes and colours – the rainbow unicorn model is truly a sight to behold – and are addictively simple to use: push the bubbles and hear them pop. The bubbles will then be on the other side ready to pop again. 

This may feel like déjà vu for those of us who lived through the fidget spinner craze of 2017. Like spinners, Push Poppers are said to improve attention, alleviate anxiety, and otherwise help academic performance for their users. While studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of fidget toys, marketing continues to pinpoint children with additional needs as ideal suitors. “These are perfect for children with autism.” according to DoodleBop, an international online toy store. “Improves brain function of the elderly, and provides a calming distressor for children and adults who have sensory processing disorder along with ADD/ADHD.”

Social media has become a driving force in toy marketing in the last decade. In 2015, the Torqbar, a fidget spinner prototype designed by MD Engineering LLC, was initially promoted through Facebook and YouTube to overwhelming public interest. “We were north of a million dollars in sales in less than one year,” Paul DeHerrera, CEO of MD Engineering tells Learning from their success, Push Poppers have followed suit; its weapon of choice: TikTok. 

The fast-growing, video-based social media app has been an undeniably important factor in the fidget toy’s global popularity. TikTok users, influencers, popping exhibitionists alike, have racked up millions of views by just playing with Push Poppers. H Grossman Ltd, wholesale supplier for Toymaster, told The Grocer magazine that TikTok was the “catalyst” to get on board, and has so far placed orders for 2.4 million items. As noted by Sandeep Bains, a Southern Co-op franchisee in Faversham, Kent, “TikTok is where NPD (New Product Development) is now, and wherever TikTok is, that’s where the money is.”

The strategy worked; Smyths Toys Superstores are currently sold out of Push Poppers across Ireland. If you want to snap one up, your best bet is Amazon, hosting thousands of sellers advertising them for a fiver a pop. The question now is: what’s next for the fidgeting masses? What comes after squishies, spinners and poppers? I envision a future paved with possibility, for pokers and pullers, from wrenchers to clenchers, for those that doodle, the whole kit and caboodle. Let’s fidget into the future, one toy at a time.