April 2006 | Vol. V - No. 4
Construction Builds in the Unexpected
2006 Hopefuls Are Hybrids
“[My husband] Rick, was on your Web site this morning and was really enthusiastic about Instructures,” Trish Garlock, owner of Treasured Child in La Grange, Ky., told TDmonthly, when trying to think of new construction toys she’d ordered. “It sounded really good.”
The game requires players to build structures using miniature wooden blocks while following directions from an “architect” who won’t let them see the design.
Patricia Masing, owner of Brain Station in Ann Arbor, Mich., was fired up about the Mindstorms robotic vehicles and creatures. “That’s probably the most deluxe building set you can get,” she said.
Retailers were still excited by relative newcomers, such as Guidecraft’s Magneatos, Hape’s (ToyShow) Quadrilla and River Dolphin’s Zoomorphs, which were hits last year in the specialty market. They’re also relying on classic sets by K’NEX, Lego and Erector to do well.
Several owners who’d missed the boat last year by not ordering Magneatos, the magnetic building game for tiny tots, were pulling it in for 2006. Guidecraft is offering two new sets: one with curved pieces and another in a smaller size for older kids.
“Magneatos is a proven thing, and we finally got behind it,” said Debbie Scholl, owner of Fundamentally Toys in Houston. Five other retailers told TDmonthly they’d ordered Magneatos, too.
Scholl commented that it’s hard to find new items in the construction category. “We just brought in Zoomorphs [because] we’d gotten good feedback from other retailers.”
Magnamorphs by Wild Republic and Zoobs by Infinitoy were mentioned by three retailers as other construction/critter-building kits that they hoped would do well again in 2006.
There’s still a run on the wooden marble run Quadrilla, two retailers reported. “Ever since we’ve set up a display of it in the store, it’s been really strong,” said Kevin Hart, buyer for Toy Store in Atlanta. “It’s not a low-priced item, but we’ve been selling all of them!”
“Omigosh! Did that thing sell!” exclaimed Steven Levy, owner of Toy City in Surry, N.H. “We couldn’t get enough for Christmas. We were 2 1/2 weeks into the season and basically sold out.”
Michelle Deutschmann regretted not having brought in Superstructs by Waba Fun (ToyDirectory) last year. She was ordering them for 2006.
Two retailers had ordered LEGOS for the first time, even though, “We’ve been reluctant, because everyone has it,” said Kevin Pohle, owner of The Wizard’s Chest in Denver.
“We’re looking forward to Batman from Lego,” Rich Gordon, owner of Learning Express of Exton, Pa., told TDmonthly. “We already have customers signing up for wait lists. And of course, LEGO’s Star Wars continues to sell and sell and sell.”
Gordon also hoped that the new mini K’NEX pieces for 2006 would “revitalize that line.”
For fourth quarter, Steven Levy was ordering the giant wooden building set, Arkitecky by Arkitecky Toys (ToyShow). “I think that’ll make a statement,” he said.
Kate Tanner, owner of Kidstop Toy and Book Store in Scottsdale, Ariz., hopes she has another holiday hit with Hexabits (ToyShow). “Last Thanksgiving, a grandmother had brought it out for her six grandchildren, ages 6 to 18. She said she’d never seen them all play with the same toy at the same time. She came back to get more.”
Here are some of the construction toys that retailers have or will order for 2006, in addition to a few that TDmonthly’s camera crew picked up on their trade show travels:
When Two-Face tries to get away with an armored car full of stolen money, it's time to send the Batmobile into action! Kids can dodge the two-sided truck's hidden weapons, then fire the Batmobile's rocket at the secret panel to send Two-Face flying. The building kit includes black-suited Batman, Two-Face and evil henchman minifigures, Batmobile, bank truck and city roadblock. The 9.5” Batmobile has a blunt shooter rocker. A secret panel on bank truck sends Two-Face flying. The kit also includes a collection of Batman gadgets.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7443 (added 3/30/2006)
Future architects, engineers, and even rocket scientists will love using this versatile construction system that utilizes principles of physics and mathematics to build, float, and fly their wildest projects. The highly flexible, yet sturdy links, crossbeams and connecting panels interlock to form rigid structures that soar. This 450-piece set has plans for a tower, boat, bridge, ray-gun and UFO. Complete instructions are included.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7445 (added 3/30/2006)
InStructures is a family/party game in which two teams race to build a structure with building blocks. However, only their "Foremen" get to see the blueprints. Good verbal communication is the key to winning.
— This game turns block-building into a competitive sport.
— The high-quality wooden building pieces make the game aesthetically pleasing, too.
— MarBan took “tons” of pre-orders for InStructures at Toy Fair, said vice-president Jenna Banks. The game will be available in June 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6013 (added 12/15/2005)
For kids who have tired of swatting at gnats and mites, this new robotics construction set will give them something bigger to aim at. Kids can build a variety of critters, including a robotic bug. The bug will back off if it gets too close to an object or, if it feels threatened, it will reach out and “sting” the intruder.
This robotics toolset includes a “Quick Start” guide to build and program a robot in 30 minutes. Mindstorms uses “intelligent brick” and light, sound, motion and touch sensors. This product is blue-tooth wireless technology capable. LEGO Mindstorms NXT won first prize in the category “Technical Innovation” at the international Nürnberg toy fair in Münich. Launch date: 2006.
— "LEGO, if I can get them, but that's a whole other story," said David Campbell, owner of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont., when discussing upcoming holiday 2007 hot sellers for young boys.
— "We're the best ones to sell it for LEGO,” Campbell added. “I can steer people toward Mindstorms in my store, and I can steer them away from Mindstorms [if they] shouldn't have it. Walmart.com doesn't talk to people."
— Seven of 54 retailers said that despite the availability of LEGO in the mass market, it will still sell in specialty stores during the holidays.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7038 (added 2/28/2006)
Kids and adults alike can enjoy using the 105 pieces in this set to create many different kinds of giant marble runs. The brightly colored, sturdy wood pieces include two twist-action helix pieces. It also has rails, connecting blocks, accelerators and action pieces. This large Quadrilla set comes with 100 colorful marbles and instructions on how to build three rail combinations.
— Girls and boys are both into building systems, as well, such as Marble Run,” Eric Masoncup, owner of Gepetto’s Toy Box in Oak Park, Ill., told TDmonthly.
— Quadrilla was a monster hit during the holiday season 2005 and continued to sell afterward, retailers all across the nation told TDmonthly.
— Accessories, including extra tracks and blocks, are available separately.
THIS PRODUCT IS NO LONGER SOLD BY HAPE
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3949 (added 7/15/2005)
Sixty rugged plastic pieces snap together easily to form endless combinations of poseable creatures. In this set, kids can make a cat, fruit bat, lantern fish, desert lizard, snake and firefly or morph them to make all sorts of fantasy creatures. The heads have hinged jaws, and select pieces, such as the cat’s eyes, glow in the dark. All Morphs sets are interchangeable. The Morphs are also available in jungle, sea, pet, runners, fliers and dinos sets.
— “This is a great one,” said Doris Jelliff, bookkeeper for Dinosaur Hill in New York City. “It was a big hit when they first came out and now they’ve come out with new glow-in-the-dark ones.”
— “This is one of the hot sellers,” said Ricki Block of Ariel’s Child in New Windsor, N.Y. “All of the sets are going to be popular.”
— “We started with 60 stores in 2004, but the word got around so now we’re in 700,” said River Dolphin partner Mark McFarland. “The demand has been high; we’ve gotten slammed with orders. We got in 25,000 units today and they are almost entirely sold.” READ MOM REVIEW
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5256 (added 10/27/2005)
Ball-and-joint construction pieces endow Zoob creations with mobility. Kids can make anything from spheres to dinosaurs with this 250-piece kit, which comes with six instruction booklets.
— Zoob continues to be a strong seller at Big Fun Toys in Hoboken, N.J., says manager Wendy Kramer. Tara Trew, sales associate at Growing Tree Toys and Books in State College, Pa., agrees.
— Zoob has been rated a top seller by accounts such as Neiman Marcus and Learning Express, it was the No. 1 selling product in two well-known direct-to-consumer catalogs, and it now sells in 45 countries around the world, according to Jeff Pinsker of Infinitoy.
— Jordan Walden, manager of Finnegan’s Toys in Portland, Ore., claims that Zoob was unavailable for about 3 years. During that hiatus, customers requested it frequently. Now it’s selling well again.
— “In our store, probably Zoobs” will be found under most trees for the 2006 holidays, Tristan Hewitt, manager of Dragon’s Toy Box in Seattle, Wash., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3791 (added 6/15/2005)
The 126-piece Superstructs BIG Builder set gives you everything you need to build detailed, hard-working construction vehicles. Build a working forklift, dump truck, crane or utility truck with the enclosed step-by-step plans. And once you have mastered these, you can take them apart and use your imagination to build other great creations.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3737 (added 6/1/2005)
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