April 13, 2011, Makati City, PHILIPPINES - Over 400,000 kids across the US, Canada, and Australia are crazy about the cute characters and fun games inside Sqwishland.com, a virtual world where they can create their own avatars, safely make friends, and earn points as they successfully take the challenges online.
Unknown to many, this safe virtual world for kids was created and continuously developed in the Philippines by Funguy Studio, a team of creative game designers led by Project Designer and Entrepreneur Darwin Tardio.
“If Disney has its Club Penguin, Philippines has its Sqwishland.com,” said Tardio.
The characters in Sqwishland.com are based on a popular toy called ‘Sqwishies,’ a 1 inch encapsulated toy which kids can buy for quarter of a dollar. This breakthrough idea, which is now a subject of patent, was to include a fortune cookie style code in each capsule. These codes will direct kids to Sqwishland.com where they could earn points or rewards once they enter the secret code.
The first shipment of the toys reached US in June 2010 through a partnership with America’s largest Bulk Vending Company, Brand Vending of Scottsdale, Arizona and became a huge hit when Sqwishland.com went live with an OpenBeta in August of the same year.
Barely a year after Sqwishland.com’s launch, the site is seen to reach 2,500,000 members and recorded shipment of 40,000,000 encapsulated toys.
Early this year, the toy received the most coveted Best Product Award at the National Bulk Vendors Association Awards in Las Vegas, featured in a couple of magazines, TV, and newspapers all around the US, and recently featured at the Kids Choice Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA where teen celebrities were seen gaga over the SqwishLand. “A lot of kids (and their parents) are so absorbed with this game that I, together with my fellow Filipino game designers were inspired to develop Sqwishland.com mobile game applications for iPhone which could be downloaded for free or for a fee,” said Tardio.
Sqwishland makes a triumphant return to the Philippines
After spreading cheers all around US, Canada, and Australia, Sqwishland is set to give smiles from here to Sunday in the Philippines.
“It is high time for Filipino kids to enter the virtual world of Sqwishland.com as imagined and landscaped by their Ates and Kuyas (big brothers and sisters) here in Funguy Studio,” Tardio said.
Liza Yao of Richwell Trading took a leap of faith when she agreed to get the exclusive distributorship of the encapsulated toys in the Philippines. “We made the world’s most important toy brands hugely popular in the Philippines, and we are confident that together with the country’s largest toy retailers, Toy Kingdom and Toys R US, we could do more to make this homegrown creation well loved by Filipino kids,” said Yao.
“My hope is that Filipino kids will see that SqwishLand is a real deal and understand the huge fun value of our virtual world which is included in every one of our toys,” added Tardio. As Sqwishland.com opens its doors to Filipino kids, Sqwishland has announced a great campaign of giveaways and prizes ranging from a PHP 2,000 SqwishLand collection to PHP 50,000 in cash. “Entering and winning is as simple as joining SqwishLand, entering a code from one of the capsules and finding out immediately if you are one the hundreds of lucky winners of SqwishTastic prizes,” said Tardio.
SqwishLand mascot Monty the Frog will also be visiting kids all summer long, appearing in malls and stores around metro Manila. “If you happen to see a friendly giant green frog, snap a picture of him because he is our next Filipino cultural export.” “He may not have the moves of Manny Pacquio but he’s definitely cute and squishy” ends Tardio.