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December 2006 | Vol. V - No. 12
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TDmonthly's Top-10 Most-Wanted Gifts for Boys

Last-Minute Gifts Are Simply "Magic"


With additional reporting by regional correspondents Virginia Davis, Elizabeth Greenspan, Terri-Hughes Lazzel, Krista Lebednik and Brenda Ruggiero

LEGO
and Thomas the Tank Engine are still popular classics that make great last-minute gifts for boys, according to 48 retailers surveyed by TDmonthly Magazine. Eight retailers cited magic as a popular trend in their stores, and well-known brands came up time and again. Pixel Blocks, Playmobil (ToyShow) and Nikko continue to build up the construction category, while 20Q Challenge by Radica shows that adding a new twist works, too. Here's what's bound to sell at the last minute during this holiday season:




MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



Little architects will find creative inspiration in a jar! The new clear storage format contains a versatile mix of roof tiles, doors, windows and bricks which are complemented by the reintroduction of LEGO trees and flowers to create houses — from small cottages to big mansions. The jar with lid makes clean up fun and easy and helps keep all of the 233 pieces in one place.
— “Any LEGO product, I can't keep them on the shelf,” said Warren Brown, owner of French’s Toy Shop in Concord, N.H.  “It has a wide age-range and has universal appeal,” pointed out Joseph Baiocco, manager of Big Top of Scarsdale, in N.Y.
— LEGO products can be "low cost items that can easily add to other LEGO creations or be used alone," Angel Stahl, owner of Angel’s Toy Barn in Greensburg,  Pa., told TDmonthly
— TDmonthly recently spoke with with Michael McNally, the Director of LEGO Brand Relations, who said, "The entire LEGO Creator Classic Building Line got a new twist this year with several sets designed to offer unique collections of LEGO bricks and elements to help young builders create the cars, homes, and buildings they see throughout their every day."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8185      (added 6/7/2006)
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MSRP: $59.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: LC99379
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Rail Roads & Trains



Kids can keep the Island of Sodor in tip-top shape with this recycling center. They can load paper, bottles and cans into the station, and discover what fun sounds they make as they’re magically sorted. This “Sights & Sounds” destination includes a hard-to-find vehicle and requires three AA batteries (included). It received the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award for 2007. “Thomas Wooden Railway is specifically designed to grow with a child by fostering creative and imaginative play,” Laura Mares, marketing manager at Learning Curve, told TDmonthly. Launch date: 2006.
— "For wood, it would be Thomas," was the endorsement given to TDmonthly by Shanna Frieling, owner of Giggles Toys & More in Bozeman, Mont.
— "The wooden trains by Thomas...by far," was the comment on wooden toy sales provided by Shirley Reilly, owner of Let's Play in Hillsboro, Ore.
—"Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway is the perfect last-minute gift or stocking stuffer. Thomas Wooden Railway's deep product line offers a wide range of price points, from $10.99 engines to deluxe sets, and is always a welcome gift for any Thomas & Friends enthusiast," Mares added.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10073      (added 11/14/2006)
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MSRP: $30.00
SKU or Item #: 10700
Gender: Boys
Category: Remote Controlled



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)
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MSRP: $4.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Action Figures



Dressed in white and emblazoned with a cross, this knight is ready to defend his faith. His horse is also dramatically draped. Each is available separately. Launch date: 2006.
— "Papo... across the line. Our Knight Papo figures are our best-selling stand-alone figures," said Alex Witten of Sparks Toy & Hobby Shoppe in Smithfield, R.I. Eighteen of 34 retailers TDmonthly spoke with in spring 2007 cited Papo as best-selling action figures in their stores.
— Retailers reported sales of Papo Knights averaging 50 to 100 units a month.
— "Papo’s design, quality and play value continue to inspire children and even adults with the imaginary world of Papo," said Larry J. Hotaling of distributor Hotaling Imports.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7767      (added 5/2/2006)
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MSRP: $19.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Pretend Play



This chest offers three exciting playscapes to provide fun and exciting imaginative play experiences. With one side open, the chest reveals the pirates’ cove, an inlet that needs to be protected from invading enemies. With both sides open, the chest reveals Treasure Island. The chest also acts as a storage container with a carrying handle so children can take the fun wherever they go. Moms will appreciate it as much as their kids.
— “Playmobil is made from high-quality indestructible plastic,” is one of the reasons the toy does so well, according to Harry Bolles, manager at Sweet Dreams in Berkeley, Calif.
— “My hands-down best-selling toy is Playmobil. Kids like it because you can play with it without it falling apart. It’s a play system. Everything snaps in,” was the enthusiastic feedback from Linda Graham, owner of Scheffel’s Toys in Jacksonville, Ore.
— Graham had even more to say about why this toy stands out in her store, “The hands, arms, legs and heads move. ... Their boats float. A lot of toys out there have boats that don’t float.”
— Carol Pilarski-Remis, owner of Marblehead Toy Shop in Marblehead, Mass., provided her reason for stocking Playmobil as a last-minute gift item: "We try to bring families together, while at the same time we want to encourage childhood independence."
— "Playmobil: we sell all their stuff. They just capture the interest of the child," commented Gerri Garniss, owner of Toys That Teach in Bothell, Wash.
— Rosie Morris, manager of Whiz Kid Toys LLC in San Luis Obispo, Calif., believes Playmobil is a great gift idea "for both girls and boys."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8936      (added 8/8/2006)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Magic Sets



Not only can kids use the Street Magic Wallet to perform up to 50 tricks and illusions, they can also use it as a wallet. It comes with an illustrated and colored instruction booklet, so that anyone can master all its secrets. However, if kids want to make sure there's always enough money in it, they’re on their own. Launch Date: 2006.
— Michele Gietz, purchasing manager at Where’d You Get That in Williamstown, Mass., said First For Magic has "great ideas for kids done by really great magicians.
— "Probably magic. We get our magic items from First For Magic. These are things boys are more interested in," was the last-minute gifts' comment given by Teri Soelter, owner of Teri's Toybox in Edmonds, Wash.
— Eight out of 48 retailers with whom TDmonthly spoke cited magic as a hot trend with customers in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10216      (added 11/22/2006)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



This set contains 875 interlocking 3/8" pieces. These multicolored translucent pegs give a stained glass look to 2- and 3-D designs. It includes a deluxe playbook.
— "I think people like them because of the intricacy of putting the pieces together. It's very different. It's acrylic and you have to slide the pieces to keep them together," Patti Tepper–Rasmussen, owner of Learning Tree Toys, Games & Books Inc. in Oklahoma City, Okla., told TDmonthly.
— "Last-minute gifts tend to be Pixel Blocks....Every single piece is the same size. They're like same-size LEGOs. They also lock together sideways," Added Tristan Hewitt, manager at Dragon's Toy Box in Seattle, Wash.
— As described on Amazon.com, "Pixel Blocks can express any mood, from the vibrancy of children's toys to the subtle shading of a photograph. "
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8120      (added 6/1/2006)
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MSRP: $37.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Electronic Games



The popular game of 20 Questions now has a new look and style that generates even more excitement and fun play. 20Q Challenge allows players to see the new dome display 360 degrees around the new table-top design. It comes with more questions and answers, allows players to go back and change choices, and even anticipates a player’s next move. It's the next stage in evolution for the 20 Questions game. Three C batteries are included.Launch Date:  2006.
— "I love 20 Questions by Radica. It’s sold for years and people love it. …What’s amazing to me is that it’s usually correct," was the endorsement provided by Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barston’s Child’s Play in Baltimore, Md.
— "For a boy that’s hard to buy for, I like 20 Questions," said Jane Worm, manager at Crackerjacks, Inc. in Easton, Md.
— "The all-knowing 20Q Challenge is the ultimate mind reader with artificial intelligence that is just plain spooky. The amazing 360-degree spinning display intensifies the reality that 20Q knows what you're thinking," Ron Gibson, senior product manager for Radica USA, told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10217      (added 11/22/2006)
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MSRP: $79.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



This deluxe set of timeless erector pieces (today manufactured by French company Meccano S.N. and distributed in the United States by NIKKO) includes everything needed to build more than 50 different models. The set contains 643 parts including steel girders, plates, wheels, nuts and bolts. It comes with instructions for building a 4x4 truck with articulated arm, dragster, submarine, helicopter and more. A power tool is included for easier construction. Previously distributed by Nikko America (6.2.09).
— Cheryl Richmond, owner of Punkin Doodles in Havre, Mont., told TDmonthly that the smaller Erector sets are big in her store: “The preference is for sets with 4 or 5 models to build rather than 15 or 20. At least that’s the trend for us.” Two other retailers agreed in spring 2007 that Erector sets sell well in their stores.
— Specialty retailers reported to TDmonthly average sales of 15 Erector sets per month.
— Juan Alejo, product manager for Erector Sets, told TDmonthly about the Special Editions Set: "It's just pretty cool. It comes with its own carrying case, so that all the parts can be kept safely. It's made of plastic and metal, and is ideal for kids aged 8 to 15."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7575      (added 4/14/2006)
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MSRP: $4.49
Age Range: 5 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Toys



The Neon Slinky is a brighter and more colorful version of the world-famous Slinky toy. You simply stretch it and it bounces back, and then keeps bouncing in ways familiar to eyes from all corners of the planet. The Neon version comes in various colors and offers consumers an alternative to the standard classic. Don't worry, it still makes the same "slinkity sound" when set into motion.
— "Surprisingly, Slinkies are [still] big sellers," said Peggy Sebert, owner of Becky and Me Toys in Glenview, Ill., when asked about hot-selling novelty toys in her store.
— Two of 38 retailers TDmonthly spoke with in spring 2007 said Slinkies are still hot. Both said they were surprised at the enduring retail appeal of the classic toy.
— Ray Dallavecchia, president and CEO of Poof-Slinky, spoke with TDmonthly about the enduring popularity of this toy: "Slinky is an American icon. It's something that goes beyond explanation. The simplicity and value of a product that's made in the United States contribute to its success."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10218      (added 11/22/2006)
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Dennis FurlanWriter'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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