Sold out! Ikea's shelves left empty after anti-government toy Lufsig goes on sale

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 11:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 January, 2014, 6:33pm

Thousands of toy 'Lufsig' wolves which have become a symbol of Hong Kong's anti-government protests were snapped up from the city's Ikea stores yesterday, leaving shelves empty within hours.

Hundreds of shoppers had massed outside the store early on Wednesday morning to get their hands on fresh but limited stocks of the city’s latest plush icon of political protest.

Stocks of the HK$99.90 stuffed wolf toy Lufsig, which rose to fame last year after a protester had thrown one at Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, were finally replenished at the Swedish furniture retailer’s three city stores more than a month since selling out.

Staff began handing out reservation tickets at 9.30am in Causeway Bay and 10am at their Kowloon Bay and Sha Tin stores. 

About 2,000 of the toys were on sale at the three stores with around 700 available at each outlet. 

Customers were only allowed to purchase one Lufsig per ticket, but the clever ones lined up again for more. 

Simon Chan was first to arrive at 6am but he made a deal with second place Richard Mak to do interviews with the press. "I’m actually supposed to be at work right now and I don’t want my boss to see me on TV," said Chan, who wanted to purchase a Lufsig for his 10-year-old son.

Mak, a university student, said he wanted to buy one as Lufsig "indirectly represented the public’s discontent with the government."

Sam Chan Tai-sum, 15, in line since 8.45am, said he would consider selling a Lufsig online "only for a price of HK$689" - Leung’s other pejorative nickname. The number refers to the 689 votes he secured from a 1,100-odd strong committee to win the 2012 Chief Executive election.

Not all in line were locals. New York-based lawyer Eric Finkelman, who has only been in Hong Kong since September, was in queue at 9am. "I think [Lufsig] is a really cool symbol of democracy and I like how it’s become so popular so quickly."

The wolf motif is a play on the chief’s nickname "the wolf". But the joke doesn’t stop there. The Mandarin name for Lufsig once happened to sound like a crude Cantonese phrase referring to the female genitalia of one’s mother. Ikea eventually changed the product’s Chinese name.

The company on Tuesday sought to reassure customers more Lufsigs would hit shelves if stocks dried up again.

"Please don’t worry. In case this batch of [Lufsig] is stock out, we shall try our very best to replenish our stock as quickly as possible to meet all of our customers’ demand on our ordinary range," the store announced on its Facebook.

A new stock is expected for late-March to April, the retailer said.

Lufsig, which comes with an attached "grandmother", is supposedly modelled after the wolf in popular children’s tale The Little Red Riding Hood. The store describes the wolf as "good at hugging" and "fond of play and mischief".