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November 2005 | Vol. IV - No. 11
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Tapping Into After-School Specials

How After-School Programs Give Toys One More Place to Play

"We help in running YuGiOh! tournaments at various after-school programs." ?Claudine Ricanor, Upper Deck Company
Tick-tick-tick ? just one more minute until school is over. Brrrrrrring! There?s the bell, it?s time to play! After-school programs have become a profitable distribution channel for many toy manufacturers. According to recent studies, over 10 million children take part in some structured play after school, and that?s in America alone. But how does a manufacturer get in touch with this demographic? What sort of products are caregivers and parents looking for? TDmonthly Magazine contacted over 35 manufacturers to find out the whys and hows of after-school specials.

So what makes certain products attractive to the after-school market?

Ann Shade, sales manager of Dimensions/ Perler, has found that designing products with ?groups? in mind, with larger packs, helps. ?It?s spelled out on our website: ?For people with large group activities.?? Also, being reusable helps. ?Our Ocean Friends bucket of beads is good for after school programs because once they have the pegboards, they just need a supply of beads in the future. The pegboards can be reused again and again.?

Esther Novis, president of the The Young Scientists Club, also markets with groups in mind: ?We always check to see if our kits work well in bigger groups. We do school packs for them. Stores sell them for after-school activities, all pre-packaged.?

President and CEO of Karmel Games Inc. (Gift Guide), Dennis Klein, has found that even a little thing like the wording of a logo can help. ?They came to us, the educational market, home-schooling, etc. It?s a little more free-form, after school. One of the things that attracted them was the logo: Intelligent Fun.?

Having a focus for the play pattern of the product works, too. Betty Morris, president of

K&B Innovations, Inc. (ToyDirectory), has seen the Shrinky Dinks used in after-school programs all across America. ?Maybe they?re studying or working on birds. They might decide a mobile would be fun. Each kid does a different bird from a book, traces the bird, then colors it in from the picture. Then they punch a hole, put it in a toaster oven and watch the project shrink into a hardened piece of plastic. Kids get a kick out of watching them shrink. After they cool, they build the mobile.?

Having a product that fits is only half the battle. Where does a manufacturer go to get noticed?

Barbara Goldman, president of Newsline Publications, Inc. (ToyDirectory), which produces It?s News To Me Newsflash! Cards, has found that ?the potential is huge.? Goldman cites the National League of Cities, the Department of Education and The After School Corporation as a few of the potential organizations involved in this market.

Lee Ann Dichtel, retail sales manager for Ideals Publications, looks to the Cub Scouts and the Girl Scouts as well as anything that gets kids together in a group. Some use supervision, some don?t. ?The School Library Journal is good; most of our buyers are teachers, so we use the catalogues and go to teacher shows,? Dichtel said.

Lawrence Whalen Jr., vice-president of Face 2 Face Games, has found teachers to be the answer: ?Some teachers tried the game in the store, they?re always asking for games they could use in the classroom.?

Barbara Jerome, the Mom who created NAMiTS of NAMiTS, LLC, tested her toy in schools and the next thing she knew, the teachers were ordering it for their classes and after-school programs.

Art Schoendorff, co-owner of Applied Physics LLC (ToyShow), has even taken his product, the Newton Car, to where the ?big? kids spend their afternoons: the colleges.

Sam Reich-Dagnen, co-founder of BrainCandy, has gone one step further: she?s touring the West Coast ? talking to local parenting groups and schools. ?We?re getting out there.?

?Getting out there? has worked for Garry Kvistad, co-founder and CEO of Woodstock Percussion (ToyShow), as well. ?We work with a number of groups, adult groups, higher adult educators, cater to parents with kids? groups, music lessons, sales reps that work in that area,? he listed. ?Lots of funding has been cut from the public schools, so they?re going privatized.?

Some manufacturers, like the Upper Deck Company, help the after-school groups directly. Claudine Ricanor, senior public relations specialist, explained, ?We help in running YuGiOh! tournaments at various after-school programs. Teachers had called and bought the cards because it helped with math.?

And one of the best ways to get the buyers involved: Test the product with them.

Juleen Murray Shaw, creator of the Nursery Tap Hip To Toe DVD, tested it in the Northwest, giving it to people with kids that are enrolled in, and schools that provide, after-school programs. ?Because it is active, engaging and encourages play, kids want to watch it again and again,? she said.

Nancy Poffenberger, owner of Fun Publishing (ToyDirectory), said, ?I?ve tested with 35 schools, am endorsed by teachers. Been around since 1975. It works.?

In the end, Beth Blenz-Clucas, a publicist on behalf of the Scholastic Video Collection, which culls its titles from the Weston Woods studios story adaptations that many teachers use in the classroom to enhance reading, may sum it up best: ?We do things that are fun and comedic. But it?s about giving the best to kids - and helping them learn something at the same time.? And in the area of after-school, what manufacturers give back, can come back to them.

What follows are products that sell well in the after-school market for the manufacturers mentioned above.

MSRP: $23.95
Age Range: 5 to 8
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Science & Nature

In this kit, students learn about the mechanics, importance, and make-up of bones and muscles. Kids can study and recreate X-rays, make hinge and ball-and-socket joints, and make a model leg complete with bones and muscle. There are 36 different kits available, including Fossils, Flight, and Planets.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5045      (added 10/12/2005)

MSRP: $10
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts

This kit combines learning the art of cartooning with the fun of making Shrinky Dinks. The book in this kit contains outlines of different heads, eyes, noses, mouths and bodies. Kids pick their favorite head shape, lay the plastic over the image and trace.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4000      (added 7/18/2005)

MSRP: $5.95
Age Range: 4 to 8
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books

By P.K.Hallinan: Friends come in all colors and sizes; they can be funny or serious, musical or athletic, outgoing or quiet. This book reminds children to celebrate their differences because that is what makes each of us so special. A superb book about acceptance/tolerance.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5156      (added 10/25/2005)

MSRP: $20.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games

Face2Face has produced a number of award-winners, and this one promises to exceed the rest in popularity. READ MOM REVIEW
--Created by acclaimed designer Sid Sackson.
--BuyWord won Games Magazine´s Game of the Year for 2005.
--The game ranks #7 on the Best Board Games and Card Games of 2004.
By mixing math and word skills, BuyWord appeals to a broad spectrum of the market.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 2157      (added 1/3/2005)

Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $7.50
Age Range: 3 to 8
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games

There are four different color-coded kinds of cards that ask children to name items that share a common feature, such as things with buttons or items that are shaped like a circle. Other times this open-ended game has kids make up stories or share their knowledge of a specific topic. There are no winners or losers. This simple game is a fun conversation starter and creates talkative children, aiding in building their vocabulary. The games are licensed, manufactured and distributed to retailers by Great American Puzzle Factory, Inc.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4254      (added 8/23/2005)

Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Wheeled Toys
Science & Nature

The world?s first gravity-powered car uses gravity to overcome ? gravity! Without batteries, motors or fuel, the car still manages to climb hills from a standing start. Kids can change weights, rear-end ratio, payload, etc. to optimize distance, speed and acceleration while learning about the basic laws of physics that govern the car´s mobility.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3702      (added 5/26/2005)

MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 0 to 4
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Videos & DVDs

"Braincandy, My 5 Senses" is the first DVD in a series of six, whose content focuses on young children learning about themselves as they learn about the world. The Braincandy recipe encourages active experimentation rather than passive drills and repetition. Braincandy uses a creative combination of engaging puppet characters representing the five senses introducing the host, Bruce Brain, “real” kids engaged in captivating, sensory oriented activities, and innovative animations that show how the senses work. A variety of multi-genre, "kidified" music forms a textured backdrop that gets young children up and moving! Ideal for children ages 6 months to 4 years old, the DVD/video lays the foundation for independent thinking as well as social and emotional development. Winner of 10 toy industry awards and endorsements, including Dr Toy's "100 Best Toys for 2005" and the "Top 10 Audio/Video Products" for 2005. (Read Review)
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4162      (added 8/15/2005)

Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys

The Woodstock Toy Piano is a real musical instrument suitable for younger players. Made with tuned rods instead of strings, this toy piano is known for its whimsical chiming sound. It is constructed of high quality wood and has a 25-note chromatic scale. There are instructions and a songbook included as well.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4934      (added 10/5/2005)

MSRP: $9.99
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Card Games

This Yu-Gi-Oh! structure deck is straightforward enough for beginners yet includes enough challenging aspects to hold the attention of experts as well.
— It was a top seller on in March 2005, where it received high ratings from adults and kids alike.
— It is a good deck with powerful cards that is popular amongst players and collectors, according to reviews on
— In 2004 the Yu-Gi-Oh! collectible trading card game was listed as one of the most highly sought-after toys in Business Week, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, according to Upper Deck.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3271      (added 3/21/2005)

MSRP: $19.95
Age Range: 2 to 7
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Videos & DVDs

Directed and produced by award-winning actress and writer Juleen Murray Shaw, this DVD/CD set features 30 nursery rhymes set to tap, hip-hop and ballet. Each is choreographed, costumed and filmed against colorful sets to give the young child a complete sensory experience, and all are shot from the waist down, allowing viewers of all ages to imagine themselves in the rhymes. It received a George Foster Peabody Award, a 2005 Parents´ Choice "Recommended" Award, a 2005 Telly Award, a 2005 KIDS FIRST! Endorsement and the Dove Foundation Seal of Approval.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4232      (added 8/22/2005)

MSRP: $3.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books

A wonderful beginner book for anyone who knows his or her ABC´s. This 32-page book contains color-coded ABC stickers to be placed on the keyboard which are then matched with the ABC letter music of the book. This is said to be the simplest book on the market without having to do some un-learning, such as play by number or color. It has also been touted in Parent´s Magazine as well as the Music for Little People´s Catalog.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5155      (added 10/25/2005)

Age Range: 3 to 9
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Videos & DVDs

Steven Kellogg captures all the fun and excitement when Jimmy brings along his pet boa constrictor on a class trip to the farm. This 46-minute DVD also contains the stories, "Shrinking Violet" and "Will I Have a Friend?". The DVD Features also include 2 Bonus stories: "The Sweater" and "Many Moons". Additionally, the DVD has a Read Along function, Auto-Play, and Interactive Menus.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5119      (added 10/19/2005)

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