October 2006 | Vol. V - No. 10
|October 2006 | Vol. V - No. 10|
TDmonthly's Top-10 Most-Wanted Plush Toys
Penguins and Uglydolls Give New Face to Cute
With additional reporting by regional correspondents Virginia Davis, Elizabeth Greenspan, Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Krista Lebednik and Brenda Ruggiero
There’s nothing cuddlier than a ... penguin? That’s what retailers across the country told TDmonthly Magazine. When quizzed on their top-selling plush, 67 specialty toy storeowners agreed that classic characters might dominate, but penguins, pets-in-purses, Uglydolls and the oh-so-hot Webkinz were stellar sellers. Here are their top-10 squeezable plush toys:
Douglas makes many sizes and styles of breed-specific dogs and cats, but the 9" Kohair Softies are one of the most popular collections. The newest and softest materials make interesting interpretations of new breeds possible. There are 28 dog breeds and 11 cat breeds available in this category. The take-me-home expressions in the faces are irresistible, as can be seen with this cuddly Jack Russell. Launch date: late April 2006.
— “We sell a lot of dogs,” said Carol Knight, owner of Toy Store in Ketchum, Idaho. “Douglas is good … I'd say they're probably my strongest. Personally, I think it's the price points, the quality, the design. They're very realistic.”
— “I sell a ton of Douglas, mostly their dogs. They do the best dogs,” observed Amy Barrett, owner of Lasso the Moon Wonderful Toys in Helena, Mont.
— Scott Clarke, president of Douglas Cuddle Toys, told TDmonthly: “There's some great realism in that Jack Russell and, in fact, in all the dogs and cats we make. There's realism in their faces and that's what people are drawn to. They look at the face and they want to pick it up. It feels great. That's what completes the signature.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7543 (added 4/12/2006)
This trio of adorable pups is new at Ty. At 8” each, Dooley, a blonde retriever puppy; Houston, a cocker spaniel puppy; and Outlaw, a black lab puppy, have such sweet faces they’re sure to hold mass appeal. “Dogs sell year round, and we know that these cute canines are sure to win hearts all over!” said Scott Wehrs, COO at Ty.
— “Ty is a staple. Beanie Babies are reasonable,” was the judgment given by Andrea Keyes, manager of Dilly Dally’s in Rogers, Ariz.
— “Ty Beanie Babies sell because of price point,” agreed Debbie Wurzburger, owner of The Toy Chest in Pikesville, Md.
— Beanie Babies are such a “staple” for kids that a recent mother/son charity team donated them to needy children in Kenya (along with underwear and toothbrushes), according to an article in West Linn Tidings.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8338 (added 6/21/2006)
This adorably soft 8” pug fits snugly in his very own pink purse that is adorned with hearts. He can be removed from the purse for added play value.
—“Aurora sells those cute little Fancy Pal purses. That sells really well,” was the observation made by Sherry Collins, owner of Abundant Joy for All Ages in Spring, Texas.
— “Right now, with the girls, it's the Aurora pets and pocket book — The Fancy Pals: cats and dogs that come in a purse,” was the sales trend noticed by Jackie Keyes, buyer at Over the Moon in Hingham, Mass. Jan Grimsley, owner of Trademarks in Little Rock, Ark., agreed.
—The plush Pet Carriers are Aurora’s No. 1 seller and have won an iParenting Media award. Aurora announced an expansion of this product line in February 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8579 (added 7/18/2006)
This tiny doggie is a computer whiz. Not only is he a cute plush toy, but he also lives online. Kids can access his online persona with a special code on his hangtag. They can even build a special room just for him, with points gained from answering trivia questions at the Webkinz website. The Canadian Toy Testing Council, the leading authority on toys in Canada, has recognized Webkinz pets with its top 3-Star rating. Webkinz won the iParenting Media Award, Outstanding Products of 2006.
— When asked about the biggest surprise hit of 2006, Lisa Mitchell of Peacock Feathers in Needham, Mass., replied, "The Webkinz. They're the next big craze." "The way Webkinz has continued has definitely been a surprise," added Rich Gordon, owner of Learning Express in Exton, Pa.
— In store, Webkinz is also the best-selling plush toy, Laura Brauer, owner of Cloud Nine Toys in Sudbury, Mass., and Nancy Streeter, owner of Eureka Toys in Newburyport, Mass., agreed in September.
— Susan McVeigh, communications manager at Ganz, excitedly told TDmonthly that there were more than 1,000,000 pets registered on the site as of early August 2006, and by October "KinzPost ...was used to send more than 1,000,000 gifts and messages."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8721 (added 7/25/2006)
This big, soft bird is ready to warm up with a friendly hug. He has long, outstretched wings and a wire frame so that he is partially poseable. He is quite realistic looking and measures 23.5" by 13" by 12".
— “Anything penguin,” was the state of plush toys described by Kim Duff, manager at Giggles Toys & More in Bozeman, Mont. “Our favorite is the one that's 2' tall from Melissa & Doug.”
— Angel Stahl, owner of Angel’s Toy Barn in Greensburg, Pa., concurred: “Melissa & Doug is our No. 1 seller. For them, penguins sell the best.”
— Rick Davis, from the marketing department at Melissa & Doug, told TDmonthly, “This embracably soft plush penguin will march into your heart with its colorful coat and cute features. Nearly 2' tall and 12" wide, this cuddly emperor's 'waddle' can make any penguin lover happy.” Launch Date: Summer 2005
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8353 (added 6/21/2006)
This puppet is designed to look like a Glen Terrier, an old and rare breed from the Glen of Imaal, Ireland.
— “That’s how I got into the toy business — with Folkmanis puppets. All their puppets are great,” was the enthusiastic endorsement given by Sydney Shure, owner of Ideas Etc. in Westminister, Md.
— Anna Barr, owner of Anna's Toy Depot in Austin, Texas, said, “I don’t do plush unless it’s puppets, like Folkmanis. Kids can role play and act out. If it’s just a stuffed animal, it doesn’t sell well for me. I need something with more action to it.”
— ”We love the Glen Terrier and, as is Folkmanis tradition, the consumers love our dogs for their realistic features and lovable personalities.” Teresa Klein of Folkmanis media relations told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8299 (added 6/15/2006)
This 14" plush Peaco is very shy. … Well, shy on the outside. On the inside, Peaco is a wild man! You can see it in his eyes. All three. Peaco really shines when he’s doing what he does best, DANCING. Peaco loves to dance in the water...much to the dread of his cousin Cinko. Why dance in the water? Well, think about it: When you dance in the water, no one can see you! SHY! Remember? It’s kind of a pain explaining, water dancing to lifeguards though. Please dance with Peaco; he’s seen your moves! (But don’t step on his ears.) Peaco is also available in a $10 Little Ugly size (7") and $6 key chain size (4").
— “Uglydolls. I think that half the people that buy them are buying them to give to adults. That’s been a phenomenon,” was the consumer behavior noticed by Rick Henry, owner of Stellabella Toys in Cambridge, Mass.
— “We might be behind the rest of the country, but suddenly Uglydolls are real big,” said Debbie Scholl, owner of Fundamentally Toys in Houston, Texas.
—”I attribute Uglydoll's success to the quality and originality of the brand,” Victoria George, PR director for Pretty Ugly LLC, told TDmonthly. “It's the only plush product on the market that carries such versatility and broad-spectrum appeal. They're soft, cuddly and the narratives are funny, silly and sweet. They really have a wide demographic of fans and enthusiasts, which is so unique for a toy brand.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9177 (added 8/29/2006)
This blue crab is known for his large, round shell. He sits in the bay and watches people on the beach play in the sand. He has two front legs with pincers that he uses for feeding and defense. Crabs can also communicate by drumming or waving their pincers. Though he is shy about making friends, he sometimes gets brave enough to say hello.
— “Wild Republic stuffed animals are probably our best seller,” Melissa Mortington, buyer at Toys & Company in Greensboro, N.C., told TDmonthly.
— “Wild Republic for animals,” were the top sellers for Warren Brown, owner of French’s Toy Shop in Concord, N.H.
— Realistic plush animals are good sellers for most of the 82 retailers surveyed.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8346 (added 6/21/2006)
From Aurora’s Barn Mates line of plush horses comes this 25" horse with a chocolate coat and light brown rings above her hooves. She also has a light brown mane and tail as well as big, brown eyes.
— “Russ Berrie has wonderful detail,” Carolyn Meyer, owner of Blue Turtle Toys in Dayton, Ohio, shared with TDmonthly.
— “Russ Berrie sells well,” was the verdict given by Angel Stahl, owner of Angel’s Toy Barn in Greensburg, Pa. Jan Grimsley, owner of Trademarks in Little Rock, Ark., cited Russ when discussing top-selling animal products.
— Debbie Scholl, owner of Fundamentally Toys in Houston, said horses were among her top sellers. “We sell a lot of plush horses,” agreed Crystal Mobbs, sales associate at Tinkerz Toy Shop in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8582 (added 7/18/2006)
This soft, cuddly bear has a stitched cinnamon brown nose and comes with a plaid neck ribbon. It's not hard to figure out why kids want to hug this classic teddy. It's soft, cute and a favorite in Gund's popular line of plush bears.
— “Gund is our big one. It's a great company to work with,” noted Jean Oliveira, store manager at Henry Bears Park in Brookline, Mass.
— “Plush products are doing very well. Gund Teddy Bears: They're well made, imaginative and traditional. They're the teddy bears our customers like,” said Sallie Scott, owner of The Learning Tree in Missoula, Mont.
— According to a November 2005 Gund press release, “The American Brands Council has named Gund ... as one of America’s favorite brands.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9449 (added 9/21/2006)
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Writer's Bio: Dennis Furlan is a freelance writer who lives just outside of Toronto, Canada. He works on a variety of writing and editorial jobs with clients and publications worldwide. Dennis is proud to be part of the TDmonthly team, serving as a regional correspondent for the northwestern U.S. Read more articles by this author
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