Tickle Me Elmo was a huge seller with the original Tickle Me Elmo plush doll during Christmas season of 1996.His catchphrase in Elmo speak was giggles and saying “That Tickles” when his belly was squeezed. If you squeezed three times in a row it would send him in a laughing ans shaking frenzy. Without doubt was one of the hardest to find toys of the year.
In 1997 the range extended to Tickle Me Big Bird, Ernie, and Cookie Monster none of these came close to the sales of Elmo. These were then re-released as mini version of each toy.
On Black Friday, Tickle Me Elmo sold out of stores around the country within hours. Tyco, which had originally expected to sell 400,000 Tickle Me Elmos, couldn’t keep up with the demand, even though they continued to ship new product from their factories in Asia throughout the Christmas season. The company reportedly sold over a million Tickle Me Elmo dolls by Christmas, and over 5 million between 1996 and 1997.
In 2001 a surprise Edition of Elmo,Big Bird and Ernie was released as part of a contest, five of the special edition Elmos when tickled would laugh and then announce to the lucky people that they had won a prize. The grand prize was $200,000.
In 2006 a new Elmo doll was announced instead of just vibrating tlike the original these versions could roll around on the floor, hitting fists into the ground and begging for the tickler to stop. It was released on September 19th 2006 and was previewed in limited numbers to the press who had to sign gagging orders on confidentiality. The retail price was $40 and required six AA batteries. The packaging was very novel, the product could not be seen without purchasing it, and when opening the box only the dolls eyes were initially visible.
Back in 1992 the initial concept was designed by Ron Dubren and Greg Hyman two vetran toy inventors, it was first presented to Tyco at the time they did not have the rights to Sesame Street, but they did with Loony Tunes, the work began on tailoring this but soon after the Sesame Street Rights were secured and Tickle Me Elmo was ready for its début.
Such was the hype that reports of store employees being pushed to the ground and fights breaking out between customers were not uncommon.