Angry Birds: This Year's Tickle-Me-Elmo for Geeks

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Angry Birds is a worldwide phenomenon, and resellers are hoping to capitalize on the fad this holiday season with jacked-up prices on hard to find Angry Birds plush toys.

Game maker Rovio announced in October a limited run of 8-inch versions of its green pigs, bombing black birds, and wood chopping yellow birds. The toys, which cost $15, quickly sold out. Most models are now on back order until January, and two toys--the blue and black birds--won't be available before March.

With the angry plush toys in limited availability, resellers have rushed in to fill the void with inflated prices on the plush critters. Third-party retailers on Amazon are selling the stuffed animals for as much as $60. Auction sales on Ebay, meanwhile, are offering starting bids as low as $10 for one bird and as much as $60 for two.

You can also spend $150 for a set of 5-inch Angry Birds plush toys on Amazon. Rovio's site only lists 8-inch versions of the toys, but Commonwealth Toy and Novelty, the company tapped to produce the Angry Birds plush toys, said it was producing both 5- and 8-inch versions.

Angry Birds Won't Be Home For Christmas

Even though some Angry Birds toys are offered at inflated prices, don't get your credit card out just yet. Closer inspection of Amazon shows most of the Angry Birds plush toys won't ship until after December 25. So unless you are on the lookout for Kwanzaa gifts, Amazon won't help parents or other gift givers desperate to get a stuffed bird with a bad attitude in time for Christmas.

The prices can also be more inflated on Amazon than they are on the reseller's own sites. One reseller, California-based Amazing Comics, is offering an 8-inch red bird for $40 on Amazon, but the same toy is sold for $25 on the shop's own Website. The company also lists all the Angry Birds on its Website as sold out, but claims to have limited items left on Amazon at inflated prices--and don't forget it likely won't ship in time for December 25.

Customer reaction to the overpriced toys is mixed as well. One customer going by the screen name Raidy bought a green pig plush toy from another Amazon reseller, and said the toy "seems more like a cheaper knockoff." But Raidy later added the purchase was an "OK deal" considering it was a holiday purchase. The pig Raidy bought is currently selling for $60, but based on the comments under Raidy's Amazon review, Raidy may have paid as much as $100 for the plush porker.

Rovio In Over Its Head?

Rovio appears to be having a hard time with those who ordered plush toys through its site, as well. Some users have complained that they received shipping confirmations for the plush toys in early December only to have the toys fail to show up or see the delivery dates get pushed back.

One commenter on Rovio's blog, Heather M., said she ordered the toys almost immediately after they were announced. She received a shipping confirmation that said the toys would be sent out on December 1. Heather M. said she later received an e-mail saying that due to "logistical problems and overwhelming demand" the toys wouldn't arrive until January. Another commenter going by the name "Angry Customer" said they too had received an early December confirmation. The self-titled Angry Customer sent 5 emails to Rovio customer service after failing to receive the toy order, and as of December 15 had not received one response from Rovio about his missing order.

Rovio was unavailable for comment at the time of this post.

Despite the plush toy hiccups, downloads for Rovio's super popular smartphone game are going strong. Rovio CEO Mikael Hed said during Le Web in Paris earlier this month the company has sold more than 12 million downloads of the paid version of Angry Birds games, largely for iOS devices. Hed also said users have downloaded the free, ad-supported versions of the game about 30 million times. Angry Birds debuted on the iPhone in late 2009.

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