Are Hug-A-Lumps 2024's new Squishmallow? I ask two little hardcore fans to find out

 My goddaughters sitting on the floor and facing away with Rocky the Crocodile and Bailey the Duck Hug-A-Lumps over their shoulders.
Credit: Future/Sarah Handley

Squishmallows have cemented themselves in the hearts of kids around the world, but could Hug-A-Lumps take their place? I tried Hug-A-Lumps with a couple of Squishmallow stans to find out.

It's official, Squishmallows were the biggest selling toy of 2023 - and for good reason. They are super-satisfying to squish, cuddle, and use as a makeshift pillow, and there are hundreds of different characters to collect, including Stitch from Lilo and Stitch and Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. They even appear in our guide to the best toys for six-year-olds. And my Goddaughters, Ella, nine and Mara, six, are obsessed - they each have a Squishmallow collection underway, including a range of sizes and styles. Last Christmas, they were very keen to tell me that they'd written to Santa asking for a Fuzz-A-Mallow (a fuzzy version of a Squishmallow) to add to their hoard. But could Hug-A-Lumps usurp the Squishmallow crown?

What actually are Hug-A-Lumps?

Hug-A-Lumps Crocodile (rocko), Weighted Plush, Medium (35 Cm), 1.5 Kg, Brown Box, (crocodile)
Hug-A-Lumps Crocodile (rocko), Weighted Plush, Medium (35 Cm), 1.5 Kg, Brown Box, (crocodile)

Hug-A-Lumps Rocky the Crocodile

Available to pre-order from Amazon. Available now at The Entertainer.

Hug-A-Lumps are a new range of plush toys - they are super-soft and squishy, with multiple characters to collect, but in a major difference to Squishmallows, Hug-A-Lumps are weighted. When placed on the body, the weighted pressure can provide an instant hug, promote relaxation and offer an overall calming effect.

Suitable for those age three and over, including teens and adults who might want to get in on the stress-busting benefits, Hug-A-Lumps weigh 1.5 kilograms (3.3lbs) and are about 60 centimetres long. This means they are the perfect size for a really good cuddle.

They cost £19.99 each, available from the likes of Smyths, The Entertainer and Amazon and there are eight Hug-A-Lumps to collect. Take your pick from Sydney the Sloth, Delilah the Dinosaur, Olly the Dog, Luna the Cat, Bailey the Duck, Hazel the Rabbit, Maverick the Goose and Rocky the Crocodile.

What did our hardcore Squishmallow fans think of Hug-A-Lumps?

My Goddaughters made a beeline for the Hug-A-Lumps when they saw them on my kitchen table - instantly drawn in by their cute faces. (I had Bailey the Duck and Rocky the Crocodile ready to show them). They loved having a good squish of the Hug-A-Lumps while they were on the table, showing that sensory exploration is so important when it comes to play.

But the real surprise for them came when they picked the Hug-A-Lumps up to go in for a proper hug. Both girls were even more intrigued when they realised that these didn't feel like other plush toys they had - they had some heft to them. (The weighting is in the body of the Hug-A-Lumps - the heads aren't weighted.) After that discovery, the girls' didn't want to put them down - they hoofed them everywhere, even choosing to have them on their laps, even while playing with other toys.

Having that bit of extra weight not only has wonderful calming benefit, but the girls also said that it made them feel like they were holding a real animal - so there's benefits when it comes to pretend play too.

I asked them how the Hug-A-Lumps compared to their beloved Squishmallows - and it was a very close call. They were convinced that Squishmallows were just a little bit squishier, but when I did a side by side comparison - I genuinely could not tell a difference in the squish factor. But Hug-A-Lumps got a big tick in the pro column for being so satisfying to cuddle.

From a cost point of view - Hug-A-Lumps might come out on top for me - you could pay north of £50 for a 50 centimetre Squishmallow, but 60 centimetre Hug-A-Lumps are £19.99.

Hug-A-Lumps could be great for anxious teens and adults too

From an adult's perspective, Hug-A-Lumps could be a great aid for anyone, regardless of age, who might feel a bit stressed or anxious - the weight feels like a hug, which can promote feelings of calm and relaxation. The softness and squeeze-ability can also help to engage the senses and encourage mindfulness, which is a grounding technique used to alleviate stress and anxiety. The nostalgia of having a plush toy in your possession could bring some comforting childhood memories back to the forefront too.

If you have a teen who might be a bit anxious about the thought of leaving school, or maybe heading off to university, sneak a Hug-A-Lump into their luggage.

For more toys news and ideas, check out the best kids toys 2024, the best interactive pets for kids, and our pick of some brilliant toys to support your child's mental health and wellbeing.