December 2006 | Vol. V - No. 12
When High-Flyin' Doesn't Fly
RC Powers Up Hobby Stores, But Toy Stores Prefer Low-Tech
Flying toys never get old. Some get more high-tech (like radio controlled and beyond), but even the simplest balsa wood glider is a revelation. TDmonthly Magazine’s correspondents found that RC helicopters, Rocket Balloons, and Stomp Rocket sales were soaring, while even that simple balsa wood glider has a good market share.
Electric airplanes and helicopters are “revolutionary” and a “hot item,” stated Lee Moore, owner of Nancy’s Hobby in Warren, R.I. His top picks come from Hobby Zone (Gift Guide), and Horizon Hobby's ParkZone and E-flite.
“Rocket Balloons are going crazy. We’re sold out,” Eric Masoncup, owner of Gepetto’s Toy Box in Oak Park, Ill., told TDmonthly. “The refills actually sell, too!” laughed Carolyn Meyer, owner of Blue Turtle Toys in Dayton, Ohio.
Other high-flyers are D&L Company’s Stomp Rockets (Gift Guide) and Marky Sparky Toys’ Blast Pads, the two owners agreed.
Susan Pruett, manager of Kilmarnock Toy Store in Kilmarnock, Va., pointed to the BeamO: “It’s easy for all ages, so big and little can do it together.”
And what of the age-old glider, balsa wood or otherwise? Those by Toysmith were mentioned as good sellers by Bettie Lee Moore, owner of Kaboom! in Leesburg, Va., while Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehooper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., cited balsa planes by Guillow.
But not all retailers see an upward trend: “At the beginning of the year, RC aircraft were really popular, and in the last two months, we’ve not sold one,” Nate Secat, sales rep for Winkie’s Toys & Hobby in Lititz, Pa., told TDmonthly. “I would have to say it’s mail order — we can’t compete with that.”
What to Make of It
So, what can we conclude from what our correspondents found? Keep your eye on the flight pattern: Although there’s always a niche for low-tech aircraft, competition from discounters could cause turbulence in RC.
Here are the flying toys that kept retailers’ spirits high:
Fun for both children and adults, especially at parties, this balloon can be inflated to 3 feet with a dual action pump before let go. Watch it whip, zip and hear it squeal through the air. It won a Creative Child Magazine´s Seal of Excellence Award in 2004.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1090
Stomp on the launch pad and a blast of air propels the Ultra Stomp Rocket over 200' in the air. The kit contains four rockets with the OG-1 Nosecone. “We are the original creator. Stomp Rockets started the "stompin' revolution," Cynthia Peeks of D&L Co. told TDmonthly, stressing that Stomp Rockets are known for their name, quality and safety.
Awards: TDmonthly Top Seller 2008; iParenting Media, iParenting Hot; Dr. Toy Best Children´s Vacation Toy.
— Retailers surveyed by TDmonthly have been naming Ultra Stomp Rocket as a best-seller since 2006.
— Four of 45 retailers who spoke to TDmonthly in summer 2007 said the Stomp Rocket's success makes it a choice gift, reporting unit sales figures from four to dozens a month. Nine percent of 66 retailers named the Stomp Rocket as a best-selling gift for boys in July 2008. "We sell about 75 a month," Marilyn Walker, owner of Play Fair Toys in Boulder, Colo., told TDmonthly in early 2009. Thirteen percent of 47 retailers told TDmonthly in June 2009 that Stomp Rockets are a best seller for boys. “It's probably been the dang Stomp Rocket for about 15 years now. They just fly out,” Tye Steinbach, owner of Thinker Toys in Portland, Ore., said when asked about his most popular outdoor toy. Nine of 37 retailers named Stomp Rockets as a best-selling outdoor item in spring 2010.
— Despite multiple complaints about its durability, the Ultra Stomp Rocket received an average of 4.5 stars among 217 Amazon.com customers for being fun for all ages and pleasantly surprising when it comes to the distance the rockets can be launched. The toy is best used in open areas. Rockets are easy to lose and break, but refills are easy and cheap to find! (12.17.2012)
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1088
Blast Pad Advanced Missile Launch by MARKY SPARKY TOYS
Other products from MARKY SPARKY TOYS
The Blast Pad Advanced Missile Launch System comes with telescoping technology that expands to almost 3'. The carrying case holds up to six soft-tipped missiles and the Flex Launch tube can’t kink to restrict airflow. Mark Rappaport, founder of Marky Sparky, invented his first toy when he was 9, according to his website. The Blast Pad was the winner of the 2003 Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award.
— “We sold more than 500 during Christmas  alone,” said Lee Ann Stern, general manager for the 11-year-old Village Toy Shop in Easton, Mass. Amanda Toupes, manager of Magic Box in New Orleans, added, “Some of [the missiles] get 200' in the air.”
— This toy is "sans pareil," according to Michael Ziegenhagen, owner of four Playmatters stores in Cleveland. "It has broad appeal as an outdoor boy toy" and has been one of his best sellers for four years.
— “These have sold well for us from day one,” Co-owner Jude Larene of Izilla Toys in Seattle told TDmonthly in mid-2007. “It's a kid magnet at the park.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 404 (added 9/1/2004)
The Xstream glider is the world’s first application of IWA (Internal Wing Aircraft) technology. Each purchase helps to fund on-going research and development of a real man-carrying IWA. This glider soars through air and water in a unique way: when it’s launched, air (or water) is directed along the fuselage, over the coanda and is entrained into the duct. The internal wing, or the bottom of the duct, accelerates the flow, creating enhanced lift. A power launcher is included for extra distance.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9540 (added 10/3/2006)
A high performance balsa wood flyer with the style of a jet fighter, this baby has a large 12" wing span with a built-in dihedral. Its colorful style prints on the wing, tail surfaces and canopy give it a very fun-tech look. Even though balsa wood gliders have been around for over half a century, they’re a perennial favorite.
― “[Jetfire] balsa planes have done very well,” said Teresa Ford, owner of Kid's Ketch in Lewes, Del. She reported sales of approximately 20 per month during an April 2010 survey of top-selling activity kits.
— Owner Michelle Bears of the Toy Store in Highlands, N.C., said she sells approximately 15 per month. Where do all those gliders land? When hiking at the bottom of a mountain one day, she found ''many crashed airplanes,'' she told TDmonthly in Fall 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9541 (added 10/3/2006)
Six jet planes that look terrific and fly like no other gliders.
— “Whitewings from A G Industries is a classic flyer for ages 7 and up. I think it’s because it’s more realistic looking than other products and kids get to build it themselves,” Jordan Walden, manager of Finnegan's Toys and Gifts in Portland, Ore., told TDmonthly.
— Syd Clarke, owner of Ali-Cat in Carrboro, N.C., told TDmonthly in a November 2011 survey that they sell about a dozen of these each month, as long as the weather's nice.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8892 (added 8/4/2006)
This ready-to-fly radio-controlled plane features a 3-channel radio system in a Zone 1 airplane, anti-crash Technology in a 3-channel airplane, a 2-piece, mid-set, swept, plug-in wing, and rigid, steel-wire pushrods to more precisely manipulate the control surfaces. “The Firebird Freedom by Hobby Zone is a good starter plane at a good price, and it has new technology,” agreed Sheena Demko, manager of Nittany Line Hobbies & Toys in State College, Pa.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9542 (added 10/3/2006)
Megatech's MegaChopper II is one of the most stable, 100 percent assembled indoor/outdoor ready-to-fly helicopters ever offered. The precision synchronization of its CBR-Drive (Contra Balanced Rotational Drive), keeps the twin rotors rotating in harmony. Accordingly, the MegaChopper II performs rock-steady hovering right out of the box. Also adding to the MegaChopper II fantastic easy-going flying characteristics is centrifugal stabilization offered by the weight fly-bar; a feature normally found on expensive model helicopters. Fly day and night with operating navigational lights.
— RC Helicopters from Megatech have “a good price point and are easy to fly,” Debbie Wurzburger, owner for 22 years of The Toy Chest in Pikesville, Md., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6196 (added 12/28/2005)
Dubbed the “Butcher Bird,” the Focke-Wulf 190 was the Luftwaffe’s most potent piston-engine fighter of WWII. Experience the thrill of flying this warbird legend on a smaller scale with ParkZone's aerobatic RTF reproduction. It’s ready to fly, straight out of the box.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9543 (added 10/3/2006)
E-flite Blade CP Pro RTF Electric Micro Heli by HORIZON HOBBY
Other products from HORIZON HOBBY
Based on the tried-and-true Blade CP platform, the Blade CP Pro adds the lightweight power of a three-cell 800mAh Li-Po battery pack, the lightning-quick cyclic response of Bell-Hiller mixing, and the upright or inverted agility of symmetrical main rotor blades. Plus, it can easily be outfitted with brushless power and a heading-lock gyro, without the need for a new radio system or difficult modifications. For red-hot micro heli aerobatics in about the time it takes to charge a battery pack, nothing can touch the cutting-edge Blade CP Pro.
— In a Summer 2012 survey about electronic and battery operated toys, Mark Rosenblum from Hobbytown in Fairfield, Conn., told TDmonthly that he sells 20-30 RC helicopters from E-Flite and Ares each month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9544 (added 10/3/2006)
Electric radio-controlled helis are the rage right now. With the new Blade CX you get a completely assembled and ready-to-fly, micro-radio control heli with a design that is so stable almost any first-time flyer can be hovering like a pro in no time. This is the most popular micro heli on the market today and can be flown indoors.
Included are a free training gear set and a crash kit comprised of the four most commonly used parts (regularly $33.95). This item also qualifies for free shipping.
The Blade CX comes with an instructional video CD and manual and is backed by solid phone tech support. Unlike toys, parts are widely available. Everything that's needed for flight is included with your purchase.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9851 (added 10/30/2006)
In the world of electric radio-controlled helicopters, the Eflite Blade CX 2 radio-controlled heli stands out not just because of its looks, but because it also offers the latest technology available, such as a 2.4 GHz radio, which lets you fly anywhere without channel interference. This helicopter also features an improved gyro and servo control motors. The Blade CX 2 can be flown by almost anyone with some practice and can easily be flown indoors. It comes with a training gear set and qualifies for free shipping. The Blade CX 2 also comes with an instructional DVD and manual and is backed by solid phone tech support. Parts are widely available. Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9852 (added 10/30/2006)
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Writer's Bio: Mark Zaslove is an entertainment industry veteran in developing content (writing, directing and producing television and feature films) for the major studios, including Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. A two-time Emmy Award winner for writing and recipient of the Humanitas Prize (for writing uplifting human values in television and movies), Mark is also Head of Content Development for Nice Entertainment. Read more articles by this author
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