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After a number of violent outbreaks for Hello Kitty products in the past, Singapore's obsession with the Japanese doll may have finally come down a notch.
McDonald's rolled out a new series of Hello Kitty dolls for the character's 40th anniversary on Monday morning and while previous releases have seen fist fights break out among mobs, crowds were reportedly more well-behaved on Monday.
The new "Bubbly World Collector's set" features the iconic doll dressed as six other famous Sanrio characters, including "Kerokerokeroppi" and "Bad Badtz-maru." Singapore will be the world's first country to purchase the collection.
Last June, McDonald's unleashed a promotion of the 'Hello Kitty Fairy Tales' series, which saw massive crowds brave high levels of smog as they queued outside. Local media said that police were called out as people began to shove one another as they attempted to get to the front of the line.
Social media sites were then flooded with backlash against the restaurant chain as customers expressed disappointment over how quickly supplies sold out.
However, the city saw its worst outbreak of "Hello Kitty fever" fourteen years ago when the fast-food giant unveiled a promotion in which customers could buy the kitten with her boyfriend Daniel. Thousands of people, including schoolchildren playing hooky and parents skipping work, swarmed outside branches, with at least seven people injured at one branch after a glass door was shattered. Some store managers said they were even forced to hire security firms to police crowds.
In an effort to reduce on-site demand, McDonald's released a "pre-order deal" ahead of Monday's official launch. Still, the "Bubbly World Collector's set" has already appeared on the Internet black market, with searches on eBay showing one set on sale for nearly S$200 ($160), compared to McDonald's price of S$4.95.
On Twitter, Hello Kitty fans shared their excitement over the new promotion:
While the Southeast Asian city state is known for its exceedingly low level of crime, incidents of bad public behavior have been in the spotlight recently. In December, twenty seven people were arrested in the "Little India" neighborhood in the worst case of civil unrest in over four decades.
Just last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called on residents to reflect upon their behavior following a BBC article in which the writer described her unpleasant experience on the subway train during her pregnancy.