My kids have been obsessed with them for a couple of years now. Even my 13 year old still wants Webkinz. Now I have to admit that some of the stuffed animals are very cute, but I am so confused by the games on the computers. DS was just explaining to me that he thought the Chihuahua might be November's pet of the month and if you added him next month you would get an extra token. Of course I'm so lame that that didn't mean a whole lot to me. He said that you need ten tokens to make the wishing machine work (don't worry that didn't clear it up for me either)or more for something specific. You can get all sorts of things from the wishing machine like a quad, milk truck, and so on. At least Webkinz are better than furbies.
One night I go so fed up with furbies chatter, I actually killed it. I took the batteries out and I finally hid it. Worse than furbie were these darn virtual Pet things. I believe they were made by a couple different manufacturers.
They were cute at first, the kids could take care of their own pet, but they soon became annoying and obsessive. And then those virtual pets led to virtual pets on the computer like SimDog.net. DD became a slave to the computer. If you didn't feed, brush, wash, and exercise the animal at appropriate times,you were "killing" your animal. DD practically went into seizures when we went on a trip and did not have access to "care" for the animals. Mind you I don't think the welfare of our own animals crossed her mind once. (For those of you who think such a cyber animal teaches responsibility - my first hand research says "NO").
At least the Webkinz, let the kids "take care" of their pets, but don't penalize them for living life in the real world, nor do they make horrible repetative sounds in the middle of the night. This trend may be a keeper.