December 2006 | Vol. V - No. 12
Trains Leave Models on the Slow Track
But Old-Time Hobbies Need Push From Old Folks
“They're trying to get [kids] away from the electronics,” noted Joel Hardy, co-owner of Magpie Toys in Red Lodge, Mont., who sees a rise in Lionel sales around the holidays.
Science is anything but weird at Lasso the Moon Wonderful Toys, a retailer in Helena, Mont., where there’s copious chemistry for hobby-related playthings, such as Lab-in-a-Bag kits from Be Amazing Toys.
“Their science stuff has done very well for me,” said owner Amy Barrett.
“Most of our sales are to parents or grandparents,” Renee Whitney, vice president of sales told TDmonthly. “But … once the parents buy one kit, we get a lot of repeat business with the kid saying, ‘oh, I loved making the fake snow, let’s go find something else.’ That’s what our retailers are telling us.”
Thomas & Friends still goes choo-choo ca-ching: Planes, trains and automobiles —especially trains — are among the hottest hobbies for kids of all ages.
“With Thomas, kids come in here and just play with the ones we have set up,” said Cheryl Richmond, owner of Punkin Doodle in Havre, Mont.
Remote control vehicles and slot cars are also ripping up the road. “I do extremely well with Kid Galaxy RC (ToyShow),” noted Bettie Lee Moore, owner of Kaboom in Leesburg, Va.
Scalextric’s RC slot cars are “a great way for dads and sons to play together,” added Debbie Wurzburger, owner of The Toy Chest in Pikesville, Md.
Labor-intensive model sales are down, continued Barrett. “Kids don't seem to have the patience … to put them together,” she said.
What to Make of It
Push the parents toward hobbies, and the kids will follow … if assembly’s not required.
Here are some of the hobbies that the old folks are bringing to the new kids on the block:
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From the specimen jar in which the kit is packaged to the secret formulas for making realistic-looking snot, vomit and body parts, this kit screams fun. Kids will be able to grow their own bacteria right at home. This nasty fun kit includes Slime Goo, Worm Goo, Slime Activator, True Color tablets, Growing Body Parts, Petri dish and lid, nutrient agar, cotton swab, clear cup, mixing cups, super-absorbent crystals and instructions. The jar is 18” high and 9” deep. Launch date: March 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9511 (added 9/26/2006)
Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway System: Terence the Tractor by RC2 BRANDS
Other products from RC2 BRANDS
As with all the toys associated with Thomas & Friends, this tractor character from the popular Thomas storyline allows children to combine imagination with learning skills while immersed in a fictional world they've come to love. The line was launched in 1995.
— "They are a traditional toy, well made, and we have a good display set up," said Ed Evans, co-owner of All Things Fun in Berlin, N.J.
— "High detail and price points" are what Donna Tippin, owner of Action Toys in Billings, Mont., believe makes RC2 a successful manufacturer.
— "With its wide range of characters, many places to visit, and real wood construction, nothing helps a child bring Thomas & Friends stories to life quite like Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway," Joal Kjarsgaard, brand manager of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway, told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8801 (added 7/28/2006)
This plane has a turbine in its center so that kids can launch it like a jet. Launch date: July 2006.
— Warren Brown, owner of French’s Toy Shop in Concord, N.H., said that Kid Galaxy RC planes are a top seller for 9- to 12-year-old boys.
— Kid Galaxy toys sell well for most of the specialty toy retailers who carry them, according to surveys conducted by TDmonthly.
— Marketing manager for Kid Galaxy, Sonya St. Cry, thought the Shadow Caster would appeal to kids because, “It's a substantial RC plane with a cool center-mount turbine.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7833 (added 5/10/2006)
This amazing slot car replica of Kimi Raikonnen’s F1 winning McLaren Mercedes 2005 zips so fast, it’s almost too quick to see. At 1:32 scale, it’s a slot car racer’s dream machine. “This phenomenal racing set is suitable for anyone between the ages of 6 to 60. It develops hand-to-eye coordination and brings out the competitive edge in kids,” said Russell Sheldon, vice president of Emirates Airlines, the original sponsors of the real racing cars.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8845 (added 8/1/2006)
Using this science kit, kids will learn the secret of the Giant Test Tube and how to make Touchable Bubbles that don’t pop. They can make a super bouncing ball and 20’ of gooey, slimy worms. Almost everything kids need comes in one clear vinyl bag for easy clean-up.
— In a September 2011 survey, Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Brynn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly, "Be Amazing’s Lab in a Bag (any one) does very well here. They have great experiments included and are a good 'birthday present' price."
— In a Fall 2013 survey, two out of 12 retailers told TDmonthly that Lab in a Bag was one of their best-selling science toys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9698 (added 10/17/2006)
Now kids can get real bang-up demolition derby action anytime, anywhere. They just power up the Mad Dogs cars and crash 'em together or smash 'em into objects, and instantly the car will crack up. When the car crashes head on, the roof, hood and a door will be dislodged. If it smashes and hits the rear bumper, the trunk and a door pop open. Kids can drive them "busted up" or push on the ejected parts to restore. This product is a 2007 Creative Child Seal of Excellence Award winner.
— "Remote control cars by Kid Galaxy: we sell them all the time. There are lots of different kinds for all age groups. Boys love them because they work well and they're fun," said Katie Culotta, owner of Victoria’s Toy Station in Baton Rouge, La., about last-minute gifts for boys.
— When asked about trends in her store, Jill Jernigan, owner of J. Christopher Toys in Jonesboro, Ark., replied, "Remote control toys. We do a whole lot of Kid Galaxy....Kids like it because they’re clever and unique remote control cars."
— Four of 48 retailers who spoke to TDmonthly named Kid Galaxy remote-control cars as among the favorites in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9855 (added 11/1/2006)
Marklin has been the leader in train models for the last 15 years. Their American Prototype line brings America’s age of railroads back to life with true-to-life details and exciting innovations. The Starter Set is based on actual New York Central System (NYC) train and comes complete with a diesel locomotive, freight train, transformer, mobile control, track layout, hardware, and detailed book of instructions and tips. With headlights and realistic sound effects, this train is sure to bring any fan back to the time of rail travel. The high-efficiency propulsion and digital control give plenty of control over the train’s movements.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9872 (added 11/2/2006)
In this G-gauge homage to the classic Lionel train sets, the fully animated Lionel Holiday Tradition Express is ready for a festive adventure. Leading the way, the locomotive features bright Christmas lights, true-to-life train chuffing and steam whistles, and two favorite holiday tunes. Just behind the tender, the animated bell car is powered by two elves who crank the handles, swinging the bells into action. The animated work caboose carries Santa’s bag, and Santa stands waving at the rear of the train. With five separate animations, the Lionel Holiday Tradition Express is the train set that families will proudly display for years to come. Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9925 (added 11/3/2006)
This colorful O-gauge Christmas caboose completes a holiday train display. It features die-cast metal trucks and operating couplers and interior illumination. The caboose measures 7-1/4". Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9926 (added 11/3/2006)
The “Forney” type steam loco is a favorite among railfans, both for its unique appearance and its unique ability to handle tight curves. This LGB Colorado & Southern Forney is equipped with a massive snow plow and tall “bear trap” smoke stack. The cab doors open to reveal detailed cab controls. A powerful Bühler motor and twin traction tires give it impressive pulling power. It also includes a smoke generator, directional lighting and DCC interface. Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9927 (added 11/3/2006)
From his childhood in his hometown of Brandenburg, Germany, LGB co-creator Wolfgang Richter remembers the good old days of streetcars, and this LGB model, personally requested by Wolfgang Richter, echoes that era. It's a classic streetcar beautifully decorated in the livery created to celebrate “100-Jahre Straßenbahn in Brandenburg” in 1997 and a roof-mounted sign to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk in 2006. Only 200 pieces of this very special model will be made, and each will be signed personally by Wolfgang Richter. Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9928 (added 11/3/2006)
LGB TOYTRAIN/EPL 125th Anniversary Starter Set by LGB OF AMERICA INC.
Other products from LGB OF AMERICA INC.
This special starter set celebrates the 125th anniversary of Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk, the maker of LGB, and offers kids an easy way to enter the World of LGB. A sturdy little steam loco pulls a gondola car with an LGB teddy bear and a colorful passenger coach. Also included are an oval of track, a safety-approved, 1-amp power supply; quick-connect cable and more. Parents can unpack it, assemble it and run it in minutes. Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9929 (added 11/3/2006)
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Writer's Bio: Zan Dubin Scott is president of ZDS Communications, a public relations, marketing and writing agency specializing in sustainable business, healthcare, arts and entertainment. Zan was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times for 10 years and continues to report and write for the newspaper and other publications. Read more articles by this author
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