December 2006 | Vol. V - No. 12
Building Holiday Spirit
Retailers Experience Seasonal Rush for “Constructive” Toys
Myriad construction toys are building up the market this holiday season. The consensus from specialty toy retailers? Wooden is the way to go, LEGOs are still a hit, and Zoomorphs of any kind are more than welcome, they told TDmonthly Magazine.
“People are really psyched about wooden toys,” commented April Chambers of Kazoodles in Vancouver, Wash. “Parents and grandparents are interested in seeing their kids play with the same types of toys they played with when they were kids.”
The wooden Quadrilla Marble Run by Hape International is making another significant run of its own this year. “Most people want to buy two sets,” said Tara Friese, assistant manager of Tree Top Toys in Redmond, Wash. “Sometimes I wonder if it’s for the parents or for the kids.” However, at least one retailer has noticed a drop in demand.
River Dolphin Toys made a big splash with its Beachmorphs, Safarimorphs and other zoomorphs with interchangeable pieces. In mid-November, owner Robert Noe of Playthings in Louisville, Ky., told TDmonthly he’d re-ordered the sets for the third time this quarter. He’s been selling 12 to 18 sets per week.
K’NEX Lincoln Logs and Magneatos by Guidecraft (ToyDirectory) also garnered acclaim in the construction category.
The following are projected Holiday hits, according to retailers and manufacturers:
The knight's castle playset features a drawbridge, boulder-drop and trap-door to fend off invading knights.However, the castle also has a break-through wall that invaders may succeed in knocking down.
— Over 20 percent of retailers revealed to TDmonthly that Playmobil’s playsets will most likely be their wow item of the holiday season.
— “As far as Playmobil’s line goes, we have been selling 30 to 40 percent of those [items],” Terry Myers, owner of Kaleidoscope Toys in Round Rock, Texas, told TDmonthly.
— “This year, there are a couple of Playmobil items that are going to do very well, [including] the airport and the castle,” Peter Scott, owner of Perfect Toy in Avon, Conn., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8937 (added 8/8/2006)
These classically styled real wood, interlocking, round logs are guaranteed to stimulate and challenge the imagination of every child. Pieces lock together for easy assembly, disassembly, and reconstruction without glue or tools. Logs are made of real wood with non-toxic finish.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8788 (added 7/28/2006)
Fiddlestix is a classic rod and connector toy that stimulates creativity and provides hours of fun for kids. Pieces are made of select hardwood with a non-toxic finish and are easy to manipulate.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8789 (added 7/28/2006)
Goobi MASTER Pack With Permanent Carrying Case by CREATIVE ZONE
Other products from CREATIVE ZONE
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This 202-piece pack contains 112 bars in an equal mixture of seven rainbow colors, 64 spheres and 26 tripods, which are new to the line. The educational toy features fascinating magnetic capabilities and can help improve children’s problem-solving skills. It also appeals to professionals as a stress reducer, and can help elderly people who have trouble with motor skills. The permanent carrying case is available in four color options and features a magnetic locking system and insert holder. Launch date: October 18, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9724 (added 10/23/2006)
The Advanced Kit contains 600 plastic pieces. “I-Gami is based on a totally new concept from other construction toys. The secret is it’s a block that can be manipulated in thousands of ways by changing the angles and folds,” Gerry Pascoe of Plastic Play told TDmonthly. It was named one of the 100 Best Children’s Products of 2006 by Dr. Toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8497 (added 7/7/2006)
Superstructs Makin' Tracks gives young engineers everything they need to build a colorful train, rugged outback explorer, hard-working tow truck and much much more. It comes with large, vibrant pieces and a visual construction guide that make for easy building and plenty of happy travels. With 160 pieces, children will never run out of ideas or possibilities. Makin' Tracks has already received the 2006 "Smart Play/Smart Toy" award from Dr. Toy. Launch date: June 2006.
— “Superstructs by Waba” was cited as a best seller by Jane Beck, owner of B.J. Beck’s Toys in Cedarburg, Wis.
— Two of 39 specialty retailers told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that Waba was makin’ tracks with sales in their stores.
— “The Superstructs Makin’ Tracks was actually designed together with kids. It involves stay-together models and is also designed for post-build play,” said Owner David McCloskey of Waba Fun.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7916 (added 5/22/2006)
Kids can create buildings and structures that are taller than they are with the ÜberTropolis 601 set. It includes complete instructions for four different towers, including one to build a 5' tower with a flag to put at the top.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8520 (added 7/11/2006)
This wooden railway toy is the classic among the Thomas & Friends line. Compatible with wooden railway toys from other manufacturers, this replica of the popular children's character embodies the hopes and dreams of mini-Thomas fans.
— “Thomas the Tank by RC2 — I sell 100 to 150 units a month,” Ray Goodhart, owner of Ages and Stages Toy Box in Arvada, Colo., told TDmonthly.
— Janelle Cedusky, manager of Cheeky Monkey Toys in Menlo Park, Calif., told TDmonthly that her best-selling wooden toy item is “Thomas the Train by RC2 in general, but especially the Wooden Railway System. It’s hard to specify how many we sell because all are popular.”
— "Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway is the perfect last-minute gift or stocking stuffer. [The] deep product line offers a wide range of price points, from $10.99 engines to deluxe sets," said Laura Mares, marketing manager for Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9119 (added 8/24/2006)
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Children can easily snap together 100 rugged plastic pieces to form these poseable creatures: Blue Crab, Dimorphodon, Horse, Sea Lion, Conure Parrot, Hadrosaur, African Elephant, Swallowtail Butterfly, Bull Trout, and Platypus. Or, they can morph and interchange pieces to make various fantasy creatures. Extra pieces and an educational booklet are included with the reusable tub. “Zoomorphs has used PVC in almost every piece. It has a much softer and warmer (emotionally) feel than typical hard plastic. We are also the only animal-only building toy ever created,” president Mark McFarland of River Dolphin Toys told TDmonthly. Zoomorphs has spread through the specialty toy market based almost solely on word of mouth. From around 50 stores back in 2005, Zoomorphs can now be found in almost 1,100 gift and toy stores. The Deluxe tub sets "are opening up a whole new market for us — the educational market," said McFarland. Retailers are again expecting the new Zoomorph set to be as successful as the smaller sets were last Christmas. Launch date: October 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9854 (added 10/30/2006)
Imaginations take flight with this amazing kit of parts to create flying dragons, mythical beasts and ancient monsters. New FX brick lights up eyes and “breathes fire” to create authentic dragon traits. Step-by-step building instructions for eight models come in one kit, with photo inspiration for more. “Every LEGO Creator set is a virtual creativity toolbox,” said Michael McNally, senior brand manager for LEGO Systems Inc. Launch date: August 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10135 (added 11/17/2006)
The Defender Duel has a competitive play pattern: The radio-controlled Defender vehicles enter the arena, facing the spectators in the stands — all constructed of Rokenbok's unique girder, ramp and decking units. Then it's no-holds-barred excitement as the two players try to capture all three flags from their opponent's vehicle or push the vehicle completely out of the arena to win the game. Like the other Rokenbok Start Sets, Defender Duel includes the four-player, eight-vehicle command deck and eight receiver keys, which allow nearly limitless expansion of the system. “Retailers responded enthusiastically because of the proven themes of these new Start Sets; Rokenbok's reputation for imaginative play; the flexible expandability of the Rokenbok construction system; our full-featured, robotic vehicles, and the rock-solid quality of every Rokenbok product, backed by our lifetime warranty,” Christine Norris, marketing for Rokenbok Toys, told TDmonthly. “Men really like the Rokenbok sets and are always adding to them,” said Ed Dodd, manager of Classic Toys in Anchorage, Alaska.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7262 (added 3/20/2006)
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)
In this beginner’s version of the classic wooden building set, the pieces are big, but are specifically designed for little hands. It also comes in “School” and “Farm” versions.
— Lincoln Logs was among the best-selling classic toys for Sylvia Pudtice, co-owner of Giggles for Kids in Suwanee, Ga. She added, “What makes them so popular is that mothers and grandmothers like them, so they buy their kids something they had as a child.”
— Lincoln Logs was also a best-selling classic for Roberta Kennedy, owner of Abracadabra Toys in Greenville, N.C.
— Seven of 27 retailers told TDmonthly that Lincoln Logs was a classic best seller. Most said that the toy’s success was because of the ability of parents and grandparents to pass on the joy of the product to younger generations.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9731 (added 10/23/2006)
Intermediate and advanced builders can use the latest specialized K’NEX parts to building the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, the Chrysler Building and other structures from around the world. Experienced builders can create everything from bridges to monuments with the rods, connector pieces, and new flexi-rods and flexi-panels. A battery operated motor puts models in motions, and the set comes with a storage case. Launch date: Fall 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9717 (added 10/23/2006)
Kapla has won a Parent’s Choice Award and a Dr. Toy's Smart Play, Smart Toys award and has even been named to Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Classic Toys list for 2006. Kapla produces wooden building planks that stimulate the imagination and artistic side of everyone. Made of high-quality marine pine, children can build large bridges, skyscrapers, castles, and more using the Kapla 200 Building Set. This set comes with 200 planks and an illustrative booklet. It can be used in the classroom to foster discussion and at home as a bonding activity with the family. Wooden planks are also available in various colors.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1909 (added 12/13/2004)
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Writer's Bio: Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author
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