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Fast-food chain KFC’s toy duck gift for kids meal causes buying frenzy. Photo: Handout

Chinese frenzy over KFC Pokemon toy duck giveaway with desperate fans paying US$75 a piece in second-hand market

  • A toy mania, not seen since the buying frenzy around Beijing Winter Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen, hits China
  • For a price, some offer to buy and eat the promotional meal set on a customer’s behalf and then send them the giveaway toy

Chinese consumers have gone crazy for a children’s toy giveaway once again, this time for a plastic duck freebie promotion by Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

This week KFC launched a new promotion offering three different Pokemon toys as a free gift as part of a set meal to celebrate the June 1 Children’s Day.

However, one toy in particular, an adorable dancing duck called Psyduck, which looks like a cross between a rubber bath toy and a plastic desk paperweight, quickly ran out of stock, China News Service reported.

Promotions by food companies involving giveaways have led to food wastage problems in China. Photo: File
The resulting manic scramble to secure one of the toys has led to scenes reminiscent of the buying frenzy surrounding the Beijing Winter Olympic mascot toy Bing Dwen Dwen earlier this year.

The adorable dancing Pokemon duck quickly became a must-have item with its cute appearance, music speaker and wings which can flap while it shakes its body.

Consumers were soon sticking paper notes with funny messages on the toy duck’s wings and posting pictures online, sparking envy buying of the toys.

Eager fans of panda mascot Bing Dwen Dwen make their own souvenirs after stocks sell out

In one example, a teacher wrote “be quick” on a note stuck to one wing and “hand in homework” on the other when urging students to submit homework. In another example, a woman wrote “husband” on one wing and “be home immediately” on the other.

Demand for the toy has become so intense that speculative online sellers are demanding as much as 500 yuan (US$75) for the toy, far higher than KFC’s set meal price of 59 to 109 yuan (US$9 to US$16) including the toy duck giveaway.

Some online merchants have taken things even further with an “eat on-behalf” service. They buy the KFC meal set, eat it for the customer and then send them the toy with a price mark up from 10 to 30 yuan (US$1.50 to $4.50). They promote their service by saying: “Calorie for me, toy for you”.

Demand for the toy has fed a second-hand market selling them for as much as US$75 a piece. Photo: Handout

Shanghai Municipal Consumers’ Rights Protection Committee said on WeChat on Tuesday that it has checked with KFC and was told that all the Psyduck toys have run out of stock on the mainland.

However, a group-buying scheme for a residential complex in Shanghai’s Boshan District was selling a version of the toy that looked exactly like the KFC Psyduck on its shelves on Tuesday morning for 228 yuan (US$34).

In an advertisement for the toy, seen by the South China Morning Post, the selling scheme claimed the item is made at a Guangzhou factory and can be delivered within three to seven working days after ordering. In the first four hours after the toy went on sale more than 900 of the community’s 3,000 residents had rushed to order one. Many said it will be a gift for their children on Children’s Day.

In January this year, KFC suffered a public backlash in China after selling a promotional chicken meal set containing a blind box with limited-edition toys. Some blind box lovers spent as much as 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) buying more than 100 meal sets hoping to secure all the collectible toys and they often dumped the food.

The company was heavily criticised for encouraging food waste at a time when Chinese authorities were working hard to curb excessive consumption and food wastage.

The China Consumers Association criticised the company in a statement: “KFC uses this hunger marketing strategy to attract consumers. It will easily lead to impetuous consumption, with much food wasted.”