Blizzard Pet Store Plush Pets Hands On Preview
Post by dotarray @ 04:53pm 19/02/10 | Comments
World of Warcraft's in-game vanity pets don't really do much. They follow their master adoringly, they perform a couple of animations, but they generally just look cool.
Last year, Blizzard unveiled their pet store, where gamers could slap down real money to buy their own pets, rather than winning one through quests, special game deals or by attending BlizzCon or other events. The scoffing was heard around the world as skeptics wondered just how many people would pay $US10 for what amounted to a pretty collection of pixels.
The answer, as with all things to do with World of Warcraft, is "lots of people".
One of the two launch pets was listed as a "Make a Difference: Pandaren Monk Charity Pet", with the promise that 50% of its proceeds would go directly to the Make-A-Wish foundation. It was on sale for November and December 2009, before being retired. This week, Blizzard execs presented the charity with a cheque for US$1.1 million, funded entirely through sales of the Pandaren Monk pet.
Three months after the launch of the pet store, there are more changes afoot. Blizzard have revealed that - finally - your real money will actually purchase real items, with two new plush creatures arriving in the coming weeks.
Sitting on my desk right now is a Gryphon Hatchling and a Wind Rider Cub, both of which are ridiculously cute, and both of which are bigger than I expected. I have Murky the Murloc who I picked up at last year's BlizzCon, and just assumed these new companions would be a similar size. At 22cm tall, they're a noticeable step up from last year's merch - in terms of size, but also quality, feeling heavier, softer and seemingly better-designed.
Looking at the Gryphon Hatchling first, he's pretty adorable, with a snowy-white head and a teeny pink tongue inside his big yellow beak. It's this sort of attention to detail which really takes these plushes to the next level. I also really like the fact that instead of plastic eyes, both creatures have fully embroidered features - the Gryphon's are big and green, giving him a wide-eyed, innocent expression.
The Wind Rider Cub is probably the cuter of the two, with a constant state of bed-hair. His little fangs and tufted ears make him look mischievous, like he's just about to pounce!
The adorable plushies aren't the whole story, though. With each creature comes a code from Blizzard, which can then be used to redeem your very own in-game pet to follow you around throughout Azeroth, looking charming and generally being a very nice conversation starter.
These creatures are not perfect. I'd like the ability to remove their faction shields (Gryphon wears a blue-and-gold Alliance symbol, Wind Rider a red-and-silver Horde logo), but that's a personal preference. The translation from pixels to plush wasn't completely accurate for Gryphon, with some of the perspectives a little off (his legs should be longer!).
But there's no denying: They are adorable. Their tiny feet and claws are some of the cutest things I've seen in a long time, and the character that's imbued into these inanimate objects is pretty impressive. I'm going to have to tidy my desk to give this dynamic duo a permanent home somewhere I can see them all the time - they're too cute for a cupboard.
Both the Gryphon Hatchling and the Wind Rider Cub will be arriving exclusively to the Blizzard store on February 23rd (Feb 22nd in the US), for US$24.99 each, plus shipping. They even come in their own little pouch, to keep them safe. Aww.