July 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 7
Toys for the Old Folks
Grown-Ups Teach Kids How to Play
With additional reporting by regional correspondent Dennis Furlan
Toymakers and retailers may complain about age compression, but some say the market’s opened up on the other end: The way to lure kids back to toys is to sell to the adults.
ROOM TO GROW
Four out of seven retailers surveyed by TDmonthly Magazine reported that adults buying toys for themselves accounts for at least 8 percent of their sales, and some see that figure increasing.
At Tinkerz Toy Shop in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho, for example, approximately 75 percent of purchases are made by adults shopping for themselves.
“We’ve expanded more in that area,” explained Missy Beutler, an associate at the store. “We have a lot of novelty things that the adults like.”
Jude Larene, owner of Izilla Toys in Seattle, has also seen an increase.
“It’s definitely gone up as we have started to look more toward the gift market,” he explained. “The toys that we bring in from Japan are definitely very popular with the adults.”
Some adults don’t even bother to buy for their kids anymore: “I had a lady come in and she bought a puzzle for herself,” shared David Campbell, owner for 19 years of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont. “Then, for her own kid I suggested something, and she ignored me.”
TOYMAKERS TARGET “BIG KIDS”
Hello Kitty by Nakajima is a popular item with the older crowd at Kids at Heart in Portland, Ore., according to manager Sarah Green.
“We sell a lot of bags, purses and backpacks,” she said. “We even have things like contact lens cases — things that are blatantly not for children.”
Dr. Toy acknowledged the trend, telling TDmonthly that adults recall positive memories when they see toys they played with as children or toys they always wanted but did not have.
“These memories can be emotionally satisfying, or provide enjoyment and conversation,” she said. “Teddy bears, dolls and trains continue to be very widely enjoyed. There are many who are seeking toys from the past.”
But it’s not just nostalgia that drives adult buyers. One toymaker who has capitalized on the adult market is Ernie Wong of Playmaker Toys, whose Flingshot Flying Monkey has “taken off” in the last year.
“As kids grow out of toys so much faster, we rely on adults to keep the momentum going strong for particular items, and to make up the numbers as children grow out of them,” Wong shared with TDmonthly. “Our company believes that toys need to catch the attention of the adults in order to get into the hands of the kids.”
The current fad for UglyDolls is also partly adult-driven, stated Alita Friedman, director of sales and operations for Pretty Ugly LLC.
“We have learned from our retailers that many adults buy Uglydolls for themselves and collect them,” she continued. “Then there are others that turn their kids on to our art-based brand because it’s creative and refreshing.”
What’s the conclusion? If kids in your store are too old to play, find something for mom and dad. Here are some of the toys that retailers say work for the big kids:
This monkey works like a slingshot and offers hours of screaming fun (he’s designed to scream on impact). The toy is 11” tall with an arm-span of 13”. With a bit of arm power, he can fly up to 30 feet – the farther one pulls him back, the farther he will fly. “The novelty of a monkey flying through the air and screaming, catapulted by the stretchy arms, brings smiles to children and adults alike,” said Ernie Wong, president of Playmaker Toys. “It requires interaction from those who play with it. You just don't watch it do stuff, you're an active part of what makes it such an entertaining product."
— “[We sell] three per day, 75 to 80 in a month” of the flying monkeys by Westminster International, Teresa Ford, owner of Kids’ Ketch in Lewes, Del., told TDmonthly in May 2008.
— “[We sell] at least 20 per month,” Owner Mary Sisson of Kazoodles in Vancouver, Wash., told TDmonthly in May 2008. She buys the store’s best-selling monkeys from Westminster and California Creations. “We sold something like 97 in a week before Christmas — mostly to adults for their offices,” Sisson said in early ‘08.
— The Flingshot Flying Monkey was a surprise hit, and thus earned a TDmonthly Top Seller 2007 award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9727 (added 10/23/2006)
The Flingshot Flying Cow screams and shoots across the room. The rubber neck allows it to shoot up to 50 feet through the air.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11880 (added 3/9/2007)
This 2,000-piece puzzle comes out to a finished size of 29 ½” by 38 ½”.
— Jigsaw puzzles are popular items for adults at Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont., according to owner David Campbell.
— “They’re coming out with fantasy-type puzzles now for Baby Boomers,” said Shanna Frieling, owner of Giggles Toys & More in Bozeman, Mont. “Ravensburger has come out with dragons and wizards — stuff like that.”
―“Ravensburger is a great company to deal with,” said Dan Willis, owner of Communique Toys in Seattle, in spring 2007. “They have a ramp-up buy at the beginning of the year. They have the ability to place re-orders for free freight at a lesser volume.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11863 (added 3/7/2007)
The cars are based on the most popular models from 1934 and 1941. Each model will be available in 1:24 and 1:32 scale, as well as 1:32 digital – Carrera is the only slot car manufacturer to have them in 1:32 and 1:24 scale. And each model will feature one of three designs, ranging from aggressive paint jobs to exposed chrome engine blocks, headers, and exhaust. These distinctively styled cars feature in-demand colors and are the coolest models in the market. Launch Date: Spring 2006
— This set is popular with adults at Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont. “One guy bought a set the other day ostensibly for his 6-year-old daughter, but you know he was going to play with it,” said Owner David Campbell.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11149 (added 1/12/2007)
Kids can set sail in the skies with this easy-to-fly Superflyer kite from Go Fly a Kite. Constructed of durable ripstop nylon and a tough fiberglass frame, this kite is built to provide an endless number of fun summer days. The Jolly Roger is one of several different themed appliqués and prints offered on the Superflyer. Complete with flight line on a handle and a stabilizing tail, the Superflyer is a breeze to assemble and aerodynamically the easiest kite to fly.
— “We carry kites on two levels: for those that just want to fly a kite and those that want a challenge. Go Fly a Kite does the best job for all levels,” said Jeri Dorsey, buyer for Kaboodle LLC in Carmel, Ind.
— “Our newest kite is the Jolly Roger. Pirate themes are hot and we try to stay with hot themes. It’s been one of our top sellers this year,” said Jim Christianson, vice president of Go Fly a Kite. “The Superflyer’s got everything you need for a great day of flying. It’s pretty much guaranteed success for any age, any skill level.”
— Kites are strong sellers at Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont. “Adults will buy one for the kids and one for themselves,” Owner David Campbell told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8424 (added 6/27/2006)
The 10"-tall Elephant on Bike tin wind-up toy is a reproduction of classic tin toys made in the 1940s and 1950s. Kids can wind the key and watch the ball spin on the elephant's trunk while he rides his bike in a circle. Schylling carries approximately 50 tin toy reproductions in its line, including many exclusives.
— Kara Fichtner, owner of Out of the Blue in Albuquerque, N.M., told TDmonthly that she sells up to 100 Schylling animal wind-ups to customers per month.
— "Collecting actual antique tin toys is extremely costly, but the Schylling Reproductions are very affordable and display just as nice," said Stephen Medina, public relations and marketing, Schylling Toys.
— Over 10 percent of 58 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly cited Schylling as a company whose products will make popular stocking stuffers.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13034 (added 5/22/2007)
Safari Ltd presents a new series of captivating mini creatures called the Good Luck Minis. Featured is the Red Dragons. Other minis include Blue Morpho Butterflies, Red-Eye Tree Frogs, Ponies, Emperor Penguins, Killer Whales, Dolphins, Ladybugs, Elephants, Pigs and T-rex. Each is hand-painted and non-toxic. Size is approximately 1” and comes conveniently packaged in an attractive acetate bin. Great impulse item near the register.
— “Safari this year came out with a bunch of little critters. They’re called Good Luck dolphins, butterflies, etc.,” said Sarah Green, manager of Kids at Heart in Portland, OR. “We sell tons of those.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12731 (added 5/11/2007)
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
Marble Run with Motorized Elevator by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Other products from INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Kids can create an endless and mesmerizing cascade of marbles. This 180-piece set, devised by Torino, Italy-based Quercetti Intelligent Toys, includes components to build a motorized, height adjustable elevator that works with any marble run configuration. This set includes an exclusive double entrance funnel and spirals, as well as transparent tubes to view sneak peeks of the marbles as they progress through the run. It also includes extra long bridges, sturdy base pieces and real marbles. Two "AA" batteries not included.
— For adults in Portland, Ore., marble runs by International Playthings are a fun purchase, reported Sarah Green, manager of Kids at Heart.
— This product was listed as a best seller by John MacDougall, owner of Golden Apple Learning Store, in Pleasanton, Calif., in August 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7398 (added 3/30/2006)
Standing 3.5" tall, this molded plastic dragon is hand-painted and highly detailed. He likes to challenge the knights and cause chaos in the castle. The Papo Medieval Collection will stand up to the greatest of wars and any magic Merlin can summon, stretching children´s imaginations by inventing a medieval wonderland. It is available in green or red.
— Papo figures aren’t just for kids at Kids at Heart in Portland, Ore. “[Parents] buy them, saying they think it’ll be cool for the kids, but you know they’re going to play with them, too,” noted Sarah Green, manager.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4199 (added 8/19/2005)
Alert! Alert! A boat is on fire and the crew needs your help! Now with your fire rescue boat you can save them! Includes floatable boat with ability to be equipped with the underwater motor, fillable and working water pump and removable roof.
— At Let’s Play in Hillsboro, Ore., adults buy Playmobil and probably play with it too, said Owner Shirley Reilly told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11771 (added 3/5/2007)
Trains are popular with adults and kids alike. This Peanuts Train starter set includes a steam locomotive, several Peanuts cars, and a full circle track.
— At Giggles Toys and More in Bozeman, Mont., adults enjoy train sets by LGB, reported Owner Shanna Frieling.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13211 (added 6/4/2007)
Kids and adults alike can enjoy using the 105 pieces in this set to create many different kinds of giant marble runs. The brightly colored, sturdy wood pieces include two twist-action helix pieces. It also has rails, connecting blocks, accelerators and action pieces. This large Quadrilla set comes with 100 colorful marbles and instructions on how to build three rail combinations.
— Girls and boys are both into building systems, as well, such as Marble Run,” Eric Masoncup, owner of Gepetto’s Toy Box in Oak Park, Ill., told TDmonthly.
— Quadrilla was a monster hit during the holiday season 2005 and continued to sell afterward, retailers all across the nation told TDmonthly.
— Accessories, including extra tracks and blocks, are available separately.
THIS PRODUCT IS NO LONGER SOLD BY HAPE
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3949 (added 7/15/2005)
Astrojax® Blue Diamond™ by Astrojax USA ? Active People
Other products from Astrojax USA ? Active People
This Astrojax swinging ball toy features three balls on a string with the center ball free to slide. Each ball has super-bright LEDs that are impressive even in broad daylight.
— “The Astrojax line doesn't really have any competition. Some skills for the yo-yo are transferable to Astrojax, but yo-yo tricks are done within a plane, whereas Astrojax is a completely new toy, a ‘free-dimensional orbiter™.’ Upon introduction of the Blue Diamond, this model instantly became our best-seller because the light displays it creates are so beautiful,” Larry Shaw of Astrojax told TDmonthly. Launch date: January 2005.
― “Astrojax, and they sell like hotcakes!” Shana Hack, owner of Moon Rabbit Toys in Santa Fe, N.M., said when TDmonthly asked about her best-selling electronics and battery operated items in June 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11030 (added 1/9/2007)
Selected for Parents Magazine's "Toys of the Year 2007" guide, this playset allows kids to care for the sick residents of their own little town. This new hospital includes several figures, functional elevator, adjustable operating table with light, movable patient's bed, reception area, children and babies' sections and tons of accessories. This product is a Fall 2007 Parent's Choice Award, 2007 iParenting Media Award and 2007 Oppenheim Gold Award winner. Launch date: September 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10908 (added 1/4/2007)
Safari Ltd introduces a new addition to our Knights and Dragons series. The Blue Chinese Dragon is hand painted and skillfully detailed. Our complete collection contains over 45 different knights and dragons. Replica size: 7” L x 4” H.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10879 (added 1/4/2007)
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Writer's Bio: Brenda Ruggiero is a freelance writer from western Maryland. Read more articles by this author
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