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December 2006 | Vol. V - No. 12
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Lots and Lots for Babies and Tots

Retailers Vary Holiday Selection for Little Ones


“For my clientele, it’s toys that are simple: no bells and whistles.” Christina Wallerstein, Playworks
With additional reporting by regional correspondents Virginia Davis, Dennis Furlan, Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Krista Lebednik and Brenda Ruggiero

Toys and other items for infants and toddlers cover an astonishingly large spectrum — from teethers and plush to ride-ons and puzzles. A survey of 51 specialty retailers pinpointed best sellers Melissa & Doug, Manhattan Toy (ToyDirectory) and Haba USA (ToyShow), with Learning Curve and International Playthings right behind.

What’s Selling

“I have done quite well over the years with the Lamaze line, from Learning Curve/RC2. Good packaging appeals to people who don't know what they're after all the time,” said owner Dan Willis of Communique Toys in Seattle.

Some stores are trying out product lines for the first time, and doing so successfully.

Baby Einstein (Gift Guide) for infants … is a new line for us, and we have already seen an increase in sales just in the last two weeks,” Angel Stahl, owner of Angel’s Toy Barn in Greensburg, Pa., told TDmonthly.  “We always sell a high volume of the Thomas Wooden Railway starter sets during the holidays,” she added.

Many of these toys, such as Wee Wedgits from Imagability, allow little ones to be creative and develop skills as they play. “They’re very open ended, for any age,” commented owner Teri Soelter of Teri’s Toybox in Edmonds, Wash.

Christina Wallerstein, owner of Playworks in Pasadena, Calif., agreed about the success of open-ended toys for infants and toddlers. “For my clientele, it’s toys that are simple: no bells and whistles…things that invite play.”

Here’s a glimpse at the baby toys retailers and manufacturers said will be their best sellers this Holiday Season:




MSRP: $39.99
Age Range: 2 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



This classic fill-and-pour toy has a fun, contemporary twist. Whenever toddlers place a bug in or out of the frog’s mouth, they hear sounds such as “ribbit,” “burp” and “buzz.” A door in the frog's belly opens for easy emptying, and moving the bug-shaped pieces helps develop motor skills. The product comes with three soft winged insects and a battery. Launch date: January 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10148      (added 11/17/2006)
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MSRP: $74.00
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



For tots age 18 months and up, this magnetic build and stack activity garden is “blooming” with things for baby to play with. It includes 11 magnetic shapes.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7416      (added 3/30/2006)
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MSRP: $34.00
Age Range: 2 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Infant & Toddler
Preschool



Each Twilight Turtle and Friends character from the collection projects constellation nightlights that create a magical sleep-time environment. Each “shell” illuminates the night with three soothing color options to help ease fear of the dark. The Twilight Collection includes Twilight Turtle and Twilight Ladybug, each available in three colors and a Twilight Sea Turtle that also has five illuminated windows projecting images of sea life.
— Retailers surveyed by TDmonthly have been naming the Twilight Turtle as a best-seller since 2006.
— Six of 66 retailers mentioned one of the Twilight Turtles as a top-selling item for baby gifts in July 2008. Four of 47 retailers named Twilight Turtle as a top-selling baby gift in June 2009. Three of 64 retailers cited it as a top-selling infant and toddler toy in March 2009, and eight of 39 said the same in March 2010.
— In a 2012 survey, Erika Evers, owner of Dancing Bear Toys in Hendersonville, N.C., told TDmonthly that their best selling infant & toddler product is the "Twilight Turtle from Cloud B, and it's spin-offs, like the ladybug." They sell about 20 units each month.
— Want this? As of 05/06/2011, this product was available for purchase at Toys & Co.
AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 1 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Videos & DVDs



Baby's Favorite Places provides a playful, interactive introduction to first words from around town - spoken and in sign language. Special guest Marlee Matlin introduces little ones to the concept of nonverbal communication, which provide a strong foundation for early literacy and stimulate intellectual development.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9094      (added 8/22/2006)
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MSRP: $26.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill



This alphabet puzzle toy was designed to combine fun and learning. It comes with large pieces containing letters and drawings that are visually and intellectually appealing to the growing mind. It’s handcrafted of solid wood.
— "We sell a lot of puzzles. Most of the ones we sell well are Melissa & Doug. They’re a really great company," said Rene Leonardi, assistant manager at Ouray Toys in Ouray, Colo.
— Owner Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop has carried these chunky puzzles for a couple of years and said they are best sellers due to their graphics and play value. “Each puzzle piece stands alone and can be used for pretending as well as for the puzzle,” she told TDmonthly in summer 2007.
— Rick Davis, from marketing at Melissa & Doug, told TDmonthly that “We just try to make it fun to sell our toys, and from what we hear from our vendors, customers, and from the media, it sounds like we’re succeeding.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9730      (added 10/23/2006)
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MSRP: $12.00
Age Range: 0 to 2
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



The 6" version of Whoozit has hidden noise makers, including rattles, squeakers and crinkle paper to perk up little ears. Whoozit is made of ultrasoft velour and attaches to most strollers, carriers and car seats. Whoozit is uniquely designed to hold babies’ attention. Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barston’s Child’s Play in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly Whoozit by Manhattan Toy would be a 2006 holiday best seller in a market where “nothing really stands out.”
— Jessica Wood of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., told TDmonthly in summer 2008 that her store sells six to 12 Whoozits a month.
— Catherine Higgins of Stone Soup in Bar Harbor, Maine, reported monthly sales of 5 to 6 units.
— Three of 66 retailers mentioned Whoozit as a best-selling baby gift in July 2008.
— As of 8.24.10, this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 2 reviews on Target.com and was listed in the top 30 best-selling toys and games. PROS:  Humorous; keeps children busy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5305      (added 11/2/2005)
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MSRP: $55.00
Age Range: 2 and up
SKU or Item #: 1953
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Wooden Toys
Preschool



The charming shapes, patterns and motifs will guide children into Fantasy Land. Mouse, bear, lion and the other blocks can be arranged into a jigsaw picture or piled like constructing blocks. With a kaleidoscope block, mirror and little bell, these constructing blocks of beech wood have a foil coating. It is ideal for ages 18 months and up. “This creative block set offers the unique feature that it is a 3-D puzzle also — it may be constructed vertically or horizontally on a table. The multi-faceted colors, textures and optical effects create a one-of-a-kind set for specialty stores,” Lea Culliton of HABA USA told TDmonthly. It was named one of the 100 Best Children’s Products of 2006 by Dr. Toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7934      (added 5/22/2006)
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MSRP: $17.99
Age Range: 0 to 5
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Videos & DVDs



Featuring the Emmy Award winning original classical music of mom and composer Belinda Takahashi, PhD, young children laugh, sing and learn as they interact with Juno and her lovable puppet friends.  Indie lost his teddy bear, and needs the viewer’s help to find it by solving clues and playing along. This musical journey features interactive learning concepts to engage your children while exposing them to foreign language and classical music. Sing along in English, Spanish and French. For every product sold, the Juno Company donates a very special music DVD to a child in need. “We know infants, toddlers and children are capable of enjoying, appreciating and learning so much more than what has been offered to them,” Dr. Takahashi told TDmonthly
Awards: 2006 Dr. Toy Top 10 award; 2006 iParenting Media Award; 2007 Parents' Choice Award; 2006 Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4766      (added 9/23/2005)
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MSRP: $6.99
Age Range: 0 and up
SKU or Item #: 118005
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



This new board book series complements the Taggies best-selling soft cover series. Each cover has a snuggly soft insert with pages of singing and storytelling fun.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8908      (added 8/7/2006)
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Age Range: All Ages
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys



This plush toy puts classical music at a baby's fingertips. This huggable, plush activity toy plays beautiful classical music, while sparkling lights flash. It features four musical compositions, activated by a simple touch, and can also be used in a long-play lullaby mode. Fun tactile activities include a crinkle, squeak, beads and teether. It is a versatile crib, floor or take-along toy with high-quality sound. “I really like the Sunshine Symphony by Neurosmith,” Manager Jane Worm of Crackerjacks, Inc. in Easton, Md., told TDmonthly when asked about 2006 holiday best sellers. It's a good value and makes a nice baby gift, seconded Michael Ziegenhagen, owner of Playmatters in Cleveland.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5615      (added 11/21/2005)
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MSRP: $54.99
Age Range: 1 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Vehicles - Riding



What kid doesn’t want to fly his or her own plane? The press of a button on the steering wheel can activate the captain’s voice, realistic takeoff and landing sounds, or even music for the flight. The bin under the seat provides space to transport precious cargo, while flashing lights on the soft propeller keep kids engaged. The detachable rear handle transforms this colorful ride-on into a walk-along for the beginning walker.
— Of 45 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly in early 2008, over six percent shared that this item was the best-selling ride-on toy in their store.
— International Playthings was named by over 13 percent of retailers – who spoke with TDmonthly in early 2008 – as the manufacturer of the best-selling ride-on toy.
— Diana Glaser, owner of the The Green Caboose in Stroudsburg, Pa., told TDmonthly that her store sells two to three units of this item every month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7367      (added 3/29/2006)
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MSRP: $20.00
Age Range: All Ages
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



This stuffed animal monkey is a smiling interactive toy whose stunning purple, yellow and green patterns attract babies’ eyes. When the infant or toddler claps the monkey's hands together, the monkey plays the song "If You're Happy and You Know It." Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7106      (added 3/3/2006)
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MSRP: $69.95
Age Range: 0 to 2
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



The Gymini Total Playground Kick & Play is a 2006 Oppenheim Toy Award winner for its versatile structure and 17 developmental activities. The borders of the activity mat can be opened or closed to provide baby with a large play area or a cozy, womb-like environment. The Musical Kick & Play response pad can be set upright as a kickboard or placed flat for baby to touch with her hands. In either position, the pad provides 10 minutes of classical music.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7242      (added 3/17/2006)
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MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 2 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Pretend Play



This is a little, brightly colored soft "pleather" purse with pretend play accessories. A charming flower decorates the front and soft chunky handles attach on top. Included is a wallet, debit card, lipstick, keys, soft unbreakable mirror and play cell phone.
 —  As of 8.30.10, this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 25 reviews on Target.com and was listed in the top 30 best-selling toys and games. PROS: Well-made; encourages imaginative play.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7842      (added 5/10/2006)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 1 to 5
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets



Bring the beloved characters from the land of Oz to life with this playset. Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, the Wizard, and the Wicked Witch of the West are all included, as are the settings for the Yellow Brick Road, Emerald City, and the Wicked Witch Tower.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4781      (added 9/23/2005)
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MSRP: $69.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: PC020
Launch Date: February 2005
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Vehicles - Riding
Preschool
Outdoor Fun



The Original PlasmaCar continues to intrigue and fascinate. Powered by kid power; no batteries, gears, or pedals needed. Just sit, put your feet up, and turn the steering wheel to propel yourself forward. The patented safety seat design places riders in a safe, comfortable position and minimizes tipping. Moves up to 6 mph on any smooth, flat surface. Supports up to 220 lbs. Visit www.plasmacar.com to see all the wonderful colors available.
— In a March 2015 survey, two out of 10 retailers told TDmonthly that Plasmacar is a best-selling outdoor toy.
—  As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 122 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Does not work well on surfaces that aren't completely smooth.
— This top-seller in specialty stores earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for its distinctive aerodynamic design and ease-of-use. TDmonthly believes it has the potential to become a classic due to its fresh, contemporary appeal and application in a child’s formative years.
Awards: 2012 Parents Choice Awards Recommended, 2009 Green Parents List Check Mark, 2009 DisneyFamily.com Top Action Figures and Toys for Toddlers, 2009+2008+2005 The National Parenting Centre Seal of Approval, 2008 iParenting Media Toy Award, 2008 Fat Brain Toy Award Active Play, 2006 TIA Outdoor Toy of the Year - Specialty Toy of the Year, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, 2005 Dr. Toy Best Vacation Products, 2005 Creative Child Seal of Excellence, 2001 International Patent Fair, Hong Kong Gold Medal
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3829      (added 6/28/2005)
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MSRP: $99.00
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



HandySitt Wooden Booster seats are a new, stylish and compact alternative to everyday high chairs. Manufactured in Denmark, the unique combination of beech wood and steel make them durable and innovative. The seats easily fit onto most chairs, making them versatile and allowing the child to sit at the table with the rest of the family. These booster seats fold flat and are fully portable making them ideal for traveling, restaurants and home alike. They are appropriate for kids 7 months to 4 1/2 years.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8184      (added 6/7/2006)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 1 and up
Launch Date: November 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



These super soft cuddly blankets have embroidered themes and make great companions for bedtime and playtime. They are machine washable and measure 28” by 36”. “Danny First products are hand sewn with the utmost care for detail and safety, plus (are) designed to be bright and cheerful. Our products also bring forward the child’s imagination rather than push it backward with a set ‘game play’ or design,” Jeff Alward, vice president of product development and sourcing at Playground Enterprises told TDmonthly. Launch date: November 1, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9876      (added 11/2/2006)
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MSRP: $22.00
Age Range: 1 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



Baby Farm Friends Bowling from the Earlyears line includes six numbered pins with a soft weighted ball so baby can practice coordination and counting at the same time. The cushiony pins make soft sounds and resemble farm animals including a cow, pig, sheep, dog and duck. The colorful ball has its own distinctive chiming sound and the pins are distinctively numbered from one to six and are easy to stand up. The toy comes with a reusable zip bag, so when kids are done with it they can put it back. This toy won an iParenting Media Award. "Bright, colorful and classic, it's a must for any 12 month-old," Sue Tice, public relations manager for International Playthings, told TDmonthly.
— "We actually have baby bowling — soft cloth pins and balls — by International Playthings that does well," said Cheryl Pyles, manager at Toyland in Milford, N.H., when predicting hot-selling baby items for Christmas 2007.
— "It's all seasons for babies, and International Playthings for babies and toddlers," said Patricia Masing, co-owner of Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor, Mich.
— Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that this soft bowling set was a best-selling toy in the infant & toddler category.
— Want this? As of 05/06/2011, this product was available for purchase at Doodlehopper 4 Kids.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5608      (added 11/21/2005)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 0 to 2
Launch Date: March 2005
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



Auto Mobiles, the first child’s travel mobile to adhere to a car’s headliner with micro Velcro, was created to provide precious automobile passengers with visual entertainment. Child- and caregiver-safe, Auto Mobiles features a variety of colorful, lively shapes and designs that dangle and delight young passengers from infancy and beyond. Launch date:  March 2005.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10017      (added 11/10/2006)
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Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



This Figure 8 Set includes a stone bridge, water tower and cargo car along with Thomas, Sir Topham Hatt and more. The assembled set measures 42” by 22”. It received an iParenting Media Award and an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10310      (added 11/30/2006)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $139.00
Age Range: 0 to 1
SKU or Item #: 2406
Launch Date: November 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



This 36" rocker features a hardwood frame and washable, removable seating fabric attached with Velcro. The product is handcrafted in Poland and is designed to create a gentle rocking motion for baby. The tail section opens as a pouch to store toys and other items. Marion Zeiger of Zeiger Enterprises told TDmonthly that “parents, and especially grandparents, are looking for quality … that lasts. Poland doesn’t have a throwaway society,” and their “children’s items are made to last from one child to the next.”  For ages 4 mos. to 14 mos. Launch date: November 1, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9805      (added 10/26/2006)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $20.00
Age Range: 2 and up
SKU or Item #: 2191
Launch Date: September 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



These creative creatures add color, texture and a whole lot of fun to traditional bowling. Soft yet firm plush pins stand up on their weighted bases, ready to be toppled by the monster ball. Storage is easy with the clear zippered carrying case. Measurements are 10" x 7.5" x 7". Launch date: Fall 2006.
— Melissa & Doug products have been top sellers for Michelle Deutschmann, owner of Kaleidoscope Toys in Falmouth, Mass., since July 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10141      (added 11/17/2006)
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MSRP: $7.00
Age Range: 0 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



Little ones love the famous Boo-Bunnie Ice Packs. When minor boo-boos occur, this little bunnie helps to soothe baby. Place reusable ice cube in the freezer, until needed. Replacement cubes are available separately. Boo-Bunnies come in blue, pink, green, yellow and white. New 20th Anniversary patterns, launched in January 2007, include multi-striped, flower, multi-dot, blocks, blue, pink and yellow. Boo-Bunnies have won an iParenting Media Award. "The Boo-Bunnie has been with Stephan Baby for 20 years, comforting little ones," marketing director Judy Witt told TDmonthly. "It's great to help take a baby's mind off of a recent bump or fall."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8163      (added 6/7/2006)
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MSRP: $30
Age Range: 0 and up
SKU or Item #: 1020
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler
Wooden Toys



Nifty easy to carry clear back pack contains 12 soft shapes for stacking and knocking down. Each shape contains its own delightful surprises including interesting sounds and textures. Manager Philomena Paolucci of Wayland Toy and Stationery in Providence, R.I., named Wonder Dice as one of three Haba items expected to be 2006 holiday best sellers. “We really do well with Haba,” Paolucci told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 307      (added 9/1/2004)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $45.00
Age Range: 2 to 5
Launch Date: October 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler
General Toys



This friction-powered ambulance features a push button wheelchair release, a working X-ray machine, and a stretcher. The set includes Mary, her paramedic Nina, a boy patient and his mother, and helps develop hand/eye coordination, action/reaction, social skills and imaginative role play. Launch date: October 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10173      (added 11/20/2006)
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Age Range: 1 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler
Construction



These soft-play vinyl stacking blocks form a colorful pyramid.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10208      (added 11/22/2006)
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Julie L. JonesWriter'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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