yeah my little sister in law is into this crap
you can buy them in stores it's probably safer. any you can buy at the store will have a usable code. hallmark stores usually carry them i think.
basically there is a webkinz website you go to and register etc. when you get a new webkinz toy the code that comes with it gives you a little animated version of the same animal which you play with on the site. you build and decorate a home, buy clothes and stuff for it, etc, with points you earn by playing games on the site, like the trivia games which are actually pretty educational.
IRL you can buy outfits for your toys and i belive they also come with codes so that your virtual critter will receive the same outfit. they also have trading cards, those also come with special codes to get rare items. so a realy nice gift would be a toy, an outfit, and a couple packs of cards. the toys are only about $15 around here, not sure how much outfits are, and the cards are around $3-4 per pack.
if you can find them in stores i would say get it that way rather than on ebay or whatever cause yeah once the code is used you can't reuse it and it's kind of pointless without the code.
i don't know about the retired ones but i would say it just means they don't make them anymore. i think the code should still work if it's unused. but i don't know if i'd want to risk it.
oh and be prepared to get hooked on it yourself. my mother in law agreed to "take care" of SIL's account when she was gone to sleepovers or whatever and next thing we know she's on there more often than the kid and bragging to her about how many points she earned and the cool new items she won etc. she had rooms in the virtual house that she had decorated herself and everything.
it finally sorta died down around here, i don't think either of them go on there much these days but she still sleeps with the toy and carries it around etc. the one she got is a pug that looks a lot like my BIL's real pug so she has sentimental attachment to it
I'm singin' here to get rid of fear
Hope it disappears right here with the rain
But I know life is pain, not like a fairytale
Meaningless to pray, so just goin' on my way