Ikea is discontinuing a blue shark stuffed animal - it sent Chinese social media into total meltdown

Business Insider US
Ikea's Blahaj toys are immensely popular in Asia, where people have posted photos of the sharks doing "human" things like eating dinner as a family or working on laptops.
  • Social media users in China went into full meltdown mode on Monday over news that Ikea is planning to discontinue a shark stuffed toy.
  • Ikea posted on its UK Twitter account that it will discontinue the popular Blahaj toy from April 2022.
  • At press time, the Blahaj shark toy was out of stock in Ikea's Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwanese online stores, and was no longer listed on its Chinese store.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The biggest debt crisis of the decade might be looming large over China, but that's not what social media users on Weibo, the country's Twitter-like platform, were talking about Monday.

Instead of discussing real estate giantEvergrande's$300 billion in liabilities and its impending collapse, Weibo users were in full meltdown mode over the possibility that an $18, 39-inch stuffed toy shark called Blahaj might be permanently pulled from Ikea's shelves.

The root of the chaos stemmed from a September 26 tweet posted by Ikea UK, which said that the Blahaj shark was temporarily unavailable "due to supply issues." But Chinese social media users seized upon the second part of the tweet, where an Ikea support staff member wrote that the shark "may only be available for a short period of time as it is set to be discontinued from April 2022."

The topic thread "Ikea toy to cease development" - akin to a subreddit - was viewed on Weibo over 72 million times on Monday morning, and at press time had spawned over 10,000 discussion threads.

The meter-long stuffed shark gained popularity back in 2019 when people began posting photos of the shark plushie doing "human things" like enjoying a pleasant fall picnic or working at a laptop.

"Please don't take the Blahaj shark away from me," wrote one Weibo user with the ID Ni De Tiao Tiao Tang, posting a picture of her Blahaj shark leaning out of a washing machine. "The one I have at home is a little torn, I haven't had the chance to buy a new one."

"I went to Ikea to get more toys this summer but I'm now filled with regret that I didn't buy a Blahaj then," wrote another user with the ID ListterLe. "I can't believe there's a chance I'm never going to be able to get it again."

Some Weibo users even posted first-hand accounts - complete with images of the shark sitting in their shopping carts - celebrating the fact that they were able to snap up the plush toy before it ran out of stock.

"I'm bringing my shark home! I'm ecstatic!" One Weibo user with the ID TianQiu Biubiu wrote.

Chinese social media users are up in arms about a stuffed Ikea toy shark called Blahaj being potentially taken off the shelves for good. Some lucky Weibo users, however, managed to secure a purchase of the shark on October 4.

At press time, the Blahaj shark toy was out of stock in Ikea's Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwanese online stores, and was not listed on its Chinese website. It was, however, still available for sale on Ikea's Malaysian, Japanese, and South Korean sites.

Ikea's intention to pull Blahaj from its shelves might not apply to all its retail regions. Ikea USA said in a tweet on September 27 that there were no current plans to discontinue the shark soft toy in its US and Canada stores.

There are currently calls for any plans to discontinue Blahaj to be shelved circulating on Reddit. A petition asking Ikea to keep selling the shark got more than 4,000 signatures at this article's time of publishing, and a subreddit, r/savetheblahaj, has also been started by a couple of Blahaj fans.

Ikea did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

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