THIS WEEK IN 1997: Keyring pet is tipped to be next toy craze

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It was forecast to be the biggest toy craze to sweep Britain since the Rubik’s Cube – and it was about to give a huge boost to a firm near Fareham.

The Tamagotchi was a virtual pet which could eat, play, go to the toilet and die – all on a liquid crystal display.

Sold on a keyring, the toy had racked up five million Japanese sales in the past six months.

The Japanese had fallen so in love with the Tamagotchi, translated as ‘loveable egg’ or ‘egg watch’, that creches existed for those owned by high-fliers too busy to look after them.

There also existed bereavement counselling sessions for others getting to grips with the death of their virtual pet.

Manufacturers Bandai, based at Hedge End, hoped to sell a million of the £10.99 toys when they went on sale in Britain on May 12.

Owners would be able to influence how long their pet could live, its size, health and wellbeing by making certain life choices for it.

Mark Vidgeon, store manager of Portsmouth’s Toys R us branch, said: ‘There really is nothing else on shop shelves to compare it with.’

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