This was originally written as a series of comments and posts regarding the leaked information about the 2024 re-release of Jellycats for the 25th Anniversary of the brand. This encompasses my responses and initial thoughts on the matter as they have been posted. I have edited it them for clarity, added previously posted information on pricing, and additional comments.
This is where I remind everyone of what I’ve been saying for years: Jellycats are like stocks or, as I’ve said lately, crypto. Popularity goes up and down and so will value.
After collecting for over 10 years, I’ve watched different ones become popular over months or years. This has become more extreme as social media has spread the popularity of certain designs. What was popular five years ago isn’t as popular now. As an example, I remember when SE bunnies were going for high prices. The market shifted and now some of the regular bunnies I bought are going for less.
Some, like Fergus Frog, are sleeper hits: not popular on release but successful later. And no one can predict what will prove to be popular. Would you have bought stock at Apple if you knew they would have been so successful? Of course! No one ever knows that in 6 months, a plush they sold would become highly sought after. (I’m looking at you, Wumpers!)
I have spent a fair amount on Jellycats; it stands to reason as I have over 1925. Some I’ve bought at MSRP (retail price), some I’ve bought secondhand. I’ve certainly bought ones for over MSRP once they were retired. Do I regret it? No. I bought mine because I wanted them and thought about which ones I would love to have in my collection.
The design, length of time it was available, retire date, region of sale and even the store it came from can factor in to price and value. As things go, the older Jellycats are and the better condition they are in means they will sell for more money. This factors in particularly when a design becomes popular after being retired. Fergus Frog is a good example of this. Fergus was released for one year and then retired. The supply is lower than the demand, thus affecting price. This is not restricted to Jellycats: look at boxed action figures, memorabilia etc.
Like Limited Edition1 releases that are a planned short term, small batch products, items that get released for a short time and taken out of production, have the same issues with supply/demand. That doesn’t make them “limited edition” in the sense that they aren’t tagged that way, but it does make them hard to find.
Exclusive designs that were only available in one country or region drive up the prices too. With shipping and charges like VAT, language barriers and sites that are only accessible in one country without use of a VPN and an address within the country will add to value.f\
Pricing is highly subjective. Everyone wants a bargain but the prices are what the market will hold. If one person sells a plush for 200 more than the last person was able to sell it, an individual looking for similar comps probably go off that pricing the next time. Interest in an item can also drive prices up. When a bunch of people post they are interested in an ISO, the price can go up as it becomes more sought after. If you haven’t been looking at Smudge Bunnies recently, you can see what I mean by searching those. Perceived scarcity—the idea an item is in short supply—may also factor into people searching for an item before it sells out, in case it sells out because it could become popular. That can lead to buying up a bunch to resell and then boom! No one can buy them at retail and end up going to those who purchase to sell for profit—like price gouging.
Prices that may be reasonable to some are unfathomable and ludicrous to others.
Now that we have re-releases, there are mixed feelings. It is always going to be controversial and no one is going to be pleased either way: people complain when there aren’t enough of a design, but also are happy to sell in demand products for profit for at least half, if not double MSRP. There will be people who are happy there are more Jellycats coming into circulation as the price for the product when it was retired is more than they will pay. They get them at MSRP and then people are upset because they spent more to get them before the re-release when they thought they were gone for good.
Who bought a custom Fergus or Smudge because they wanted one and weren’t going to pay the hundreds?
I am not sure everyone realizes this, but Jellycat designs, like other companies’ designs are copyrighted. That means they are part of the company’s intellectual property or IP or “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.” Making designs that are copied after a copyrighted design are subject to legal action, if the company so chooses.2 This isn’t new either. It’s not something I am posting for debate. This is a fact. I highly doubt Jellycat decided to re-release designs in some sort of revenge scheme against people who have handmade plush.
Jellycat did re-release Bashful Lemon Bunny. It was marked retired. Bashful Rose and Honey Bunnies in medium wer released as exclusives at Selfridges in the last couple years; Jellycat has been ok re-releasing designs. They have also done reintroductions—like Bumbly Bear (Huge) in the 2021 Holiday catalogue.
I have complicated feelings about ones I’ve bought for more, but (and this applies to ME) I know I can’t change it so I’m trying to not be fussed. Sometimes I question if I should have purchased them at such a high price. I wish I bought them when they weren’t so expensive. Some of my Jelly friends have listened to me gripe about how much we had paid years ago because they have become more popular. Most of the ones that I’ve gotten that were more expensive were exclusives that were retired. I’ve told people how much I’ve spent on one and the reactions vary from “What a great price!” to “I would never pay that much!”
There was one point a couple years ago, where I was afraid I’d have to give up my whole collection. An article accused Jellycat of being involved in labour trafficking: as a survivor of trafficking, this was unacceptable and I was prepared to give away what I owned as I would not keep something that had used forced labor.
I emailed and the president of the US side of Jellycat was kind enough to explain their practices and how they deal with manufacturing—none of which involve forced labour. They also connected me to the managing director who also happened to be the CEO. We discussed Jellycat at length: collectors, popularity of designs, regional designs etc. I suggested many of the things that are happening now: re-release for anniversary and social media. I have no idea if those ideas were shelved and used now or if they helped plant seeds for this. But it isn’t a new concept and you can see it over many companies and their products.
Jellycat never made a promise that products would stay retired and that was made clear to me in that conversation with the CEO as well. They were open to the idea but “retired” products to bring new ones in. When I spoke to the CEO, they hadn’t known about some of the popularity designs had. I was told at the time that “Jellycat doesn’t have social media because we want the products to speak for themselves.”
Changes: Social Media and a New Direction
We can’t deny that social media has changed our shopping habits and what influences us to buy things. As the now former CEO said in 2021, “There’s something wonderful about being discovered on an individual basis….and we like to let the products speak for themselves. Social media is something we’re looking into, but we want people to buy from Jellycat because they want to, not because they’re being told to.” That reiterates the conversation I had and had been a consistent message from Jellycat.
Times have obviously changed: a new CEO, a new direction for the company and a bigger fan base. Most importantly and arguably the most influential piece, is social media.
I think we can credit many Jellycat ISOs to cute pictures that have been posted online. Does anyone remember the run on Dumble Sloth? The beautiful rainbows of bunnies in circles or the snaps of vintage Jellycats?
Who hasn’t gone to Bashfulbunnies.com to find out information about SE Bunnies or other Bashful Bunny styles?
I remember seeing a rainbow of bunnies in a circle and going “OMG I WANT THOSE!” Discovering designs that were not in local stores and thinking “Yeah, I need that now.”
Was I influenced by social media? Have you been? Who added Baby Fuddlewuddle Lamb, Fuddles Calf, Rumpkins, Poloneck Peekers or any of their ISOs because they saw one posted somewhere?
No, I am not pointing fingers. I haven’t bought those, but my Bashful Bunny collection was influenced by social media. We make many decisions based on what we see and hear around us and social media is most definitely in the forefront. You hear a product is good, you’re more inclined to buy it. Word of mouth (WOM) and electronic word of mouth (eWOM) are instrumental in driving our desires.
To Collect or Not to Collect?
There has been plenty of complaints about Jellycats in the last years: limited stock, regionals exclusives, increasing price and a downgrade in quality.
With prices of Jellycats rising and a decrease in quality, there are a fair number of collectors who are disappointed. Inflation and heightened living costs haven’t helped the situation. While not every Jellycat has had these problems, they have appeared more often. I’ve had several with bunnies missing fur, badly sewn arms, lopsided faces, open seams and other issues that I have not seen before in any of my purchases. Causing much discontent, it hasn’t helped collectors feel confident about the products they have loved.
For some, after paying an arm and a leg for a sought after design that is being released again is upsetting. For others who have yet to own that design, the re-release is highly anticipated. Others may fall in the middle, but it’s already caused controversy.
Whether you choose to collect or decide you want to move on, continue to buy or enjoy the ones you have, sell or buy is entirely a subjective and personal decision. After ridiculous amounts of worry, a huge bought of insomnia that will hopefully leave when I publish this (it’s almost 5 am and I’m annoyingly wide awake), and a bucket of tea, I don’t think I should make any statements about this without a good nap. More thoughts will follow. I hope this encourages a think.
- Jellycat hasn’t done anything that was tagged limited/special edition since the bunnies they released in the 2010s. ↩︎
- Or maker if it is a smaller business or individual—like for people who design pins of stickers for example ↩︎
- Dixon, M. (2021, August 2). “Making beautiful things that people remember”: In conversation with William Gatacre, co-founder and MD at Jellycat – Fashion & Luxury, people, Leadership & Talent, Weekly Column Executive Search. The MBS Group. https://www.thembsgroup.co.uk/internal/making-beautiful-things-that-people-remember-in-conversation-with-william-gatacre-co-founder-and-md-at-jellycat/