Friday, 25 April 2014 | MYT 10:00 PM

Mayhem in Singapore: Hello Kitty fans crash McDonald's website

Singaporeans raged on the Internet when frantic attempts to buy limited edition Hello Kitty toys from McDonald’s website failed after servers crashed, in the latest frenzy over the Japanese cat to hit the Lion City.

The fast-food giant was forced to suspend online sales of the plush toys 80 minutes after their launch on April 23, resuming only hours later to the chagrin of die-hard collectors.

The Hello Kitty Bubbly World Collector’s Set – comprising six versions of the mouthless kitten dressed as different animal characters – are making their global debut in Singapore and have been released to mark the 40th anniversary of the iconic character.

The animal characters featured in new collector's set – Pompompurin, Osaru No Monkichi, My Melody, Kerokerokeroppi, Bad Badtz-Maru and Tuxedo Sam – are part of Hello Kitty's parent company Sanrio Inc's roster of characters.

Cat Crasher: Above is a screen capture of the McDonald's Singapore website homepage, which crashed after the dolls went on sale Wednesday. It's back to normal now. Below is the collector's set in its entirety, which in addition to the dolls includes a certificate of authenticity and individual boxed packaging costing SG$80 (RM208).

A dedicated McDonald’s website for sale of the dolls was functioning normally Thursday after the servers were fixed, but many still vented frustrations over problems with completing payment.

"Are you selling Sanrio plush toys or disappointment?” asked Jasmine See on the McDonald’s Singapore Facebook page.

"If your servers cannot support such heavy Internet traffic why start such a marketing strategy?” asked Desmond Chua.

The online mayhem comes less than a year after a sale of the kittens in skeleton outfits sparked chaos in McDonald’s outlets across Singapore, with police called to at least one branch amid rampant queue-jumping.

A complete set of the new Bubbly World dolls costs SG$80 (RM208) and comes with meal vouchers, as well as a special commemorative certificate. The toys will be sold at McDonald’s restaurants across Singapore from April 28. 

Some Singaporean fans are obsessed with obtaining entire Hello Kitty collections, at times paying exorbitant rates for dolls resold online. Bids for a set of the new toys were as high as SG$180 (RM469) on eBay Singapore on Thursday. 

Hello Kitty, which started in 1974 in Japan as a moon-faced cartoon cat on a coin purse, has developed into a global cultural phenomenon. Sanrio says it now has around 50,000 different Hello Kitty products on sale in 109 nations and territories. 

Kitty mania is also well established in Hong Kong, with both men and women lining up for hours outside McDonald’s outlets during past promotional schemes. In 2008, Japan appointed the character as its goodwill tourism ambassador to China and Hong Kong. – AFP/RelaxNews

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , Features , Singapore , Hello Kitty


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