July 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 7
What It Takes to Be "Good"
Retailers' Favorite Suppliers Strut Their Stuff
With additional reporting by regional correspondent Dennis Furlan
Through a recent survey of 129 specialty retailers, TDmonthly Magazine learned which vendors toy- and gift-store owners believe are the most fair and accommodating for their businesses. Eighty retailers collectively pointed out the companies that are “good” in their books, though not everyone agreed (see Those Love/Hate Relationships).
Retailers appreciate these suppliers for their ordering and shipping terms, their customer service, and of course, their product selection. See below some of the companies they named, and some of the products they produce.
Below is the first page of products. Also see page 2 and page 3.
Just place the egg in a container of cool water and, within 48 to 72 hours, your dino will hatch and grow to sizes ranging from 6” to 8” in length.
— "The Hatchin Grow Dinosaurs by Toysmith" was a hot-selling novelty item in the store of Linda Angel, owner of Kidoodles Toys in Norman, Okla.
― "Toysmith I like because they're fast. They always have a pretty good deal to get low freight. They take a percentage off on the price,” Shirley Reilly, owner of Let’s Play in Hillsboro, Ore., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13109 (added 5/24/2007)
As music plays, ladybugs spin on this 4”-wide hand-painted music box. “It’s the simple things in life that put smiles on our faces. It’s something as elementary as dancing ladybugs that make us laugh,” Sales & Marketing Coordinator Jaime Edry of Schylling told TDmonthly. “This product is made from quality wood and has the potential to last from generation to generation.” Launch date: January 2004.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13147 (added 5/25/2007)
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)
Corolle’s 17", multilingual baby doll communicates in French, English, Spanish or Italian. Through a simple, well-hidden and secure battery system, little girls can activate Lia’s language skills using different Corolle charm bracelets. Specific, gentle touches and tickles to Lia result in endearing, realistic responses. She is dressed in velour pajamas and a cap. Accessories include a bib, bottle, pacifier, teddy bear and charm bracelets. AAA batteries are not included.
― “I like working with … Corolle as I can order only what I can use for the time period,” Owner Patti Tepper-Rasmussen of Learning Tree Toys in Oklahoma City, Okla., told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
— “I think people want more interactive dolls,” said Nellie Fais, owner of Toy Magic in Bethlehem, Pa. Twenty-seven of 62 retailers said in spring 2007 that Corolle is their best-selling doll brand, with sales ranging from six to 25 units per month. Corolle’s Lia and Lila are best sellers for Brain Station and Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor, Mich., Owners Hans and Tricia Masing told TDmonthly in fall 2007.
— Interactive Lia is a precious baby doll from a company that’s popular with specialty retailers. She earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for educational value, as she speaks pertinent baby phrases, such as “I’m hungry!” in four languages. Her little baby voice is as pleasant as her pretty pink outfit and accessories. She’s much more than the average baby doll, and vanilla-scented at that.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12707 (added 5/8/2007)
Paxton, at 14.5” tall, features cuddly, toffee-toned fur and warm brown eyes. He has fully jointed arms and legs for a timeless quality, and a cream-colored ribbon around his neck to accentuate his happy smile. Paxton was awarded a 2007 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award. Launch date: January 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12400 (added 4/18/2007)
Part of the Town Square Miniatures line, an adorable teddy-bear motif sets the nursery tone in this set of seven pieces. Crafted of wood that has a natural finish, these pieces will catch the eyes of little collectors. Included in the set are a teddy-bear bed, a table with two stools, a rocking horse featuring a bridle as well as a soft mane and tail, plus a little wooden wagon for dolls to carry their own dolls.
― Aztec is “fair with the amount they request for a first order — $100 to $250,” Diane Vatca of D.D.’s Gifts in Waterford, Mich., told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4065 (added 8/2/2005)
This game provides a fun and easy way to learn and say Spanish words. Kids can learn about nature, vehicles, the market, animals, clothing and colors.
― “Some concrete examples of suppliers with whom I am VERY happy with would include … eeBoo. … [They] seem always available when called/emailed/faxed, stand ready to answer questions and have proven flexibility with their credit/shipping terms,” Owner Drew Friedman of White Mountain Trading Company in Lutherville, Md., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12199 (added 4/4/2007)
The Phantom Ghost Ship from Le Toy Van looks like an authentic pirate ship, but also features a spooky skeleton and spider web design. With glow-in-the-dark skeleton fabric sails, it sets sail with two masts, rope ladders, two removable jail cages, a prison, a working anchor and an opening stern for greater play value. The wooden, durable Phantom Ghost Ship holds so many ghostly pretend-play details that kids will sail off into some spooky and great imaginative play. Launch date: May 1, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10450 (added 12/6/2006)
Lioness, Walking by SCHLEICH NORTH AMERICA, INC.
Other products from SCHLEICH NORTH AMERICA, INC.
The Queen to the King of the Jungle, this Lioness is on the prowl for dinner. The Lioness walking figure, which is a part of Schleich's Wild Life line, is designed with true-to-life modeling. It comes with the Schleich symbol of highest quality, the Red "S." All Schleich figures are meant to educate children about a fascinating aspect of the world in which we all live.
— "My Schleich has done wonderful — the safari animals," said Trish Garlock, owner of Treasured Child in La Grange, Ky., when asked about hot-selling action figures in the spring of 2007.
— Angel Stahl, owner of Angel’s Toy Barn in Greensburg, Pa., named Schleich as one of her most fair and accommodating toy vendors in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13101 (added 5/24/2007)
Farm Fresh Deep Sea Jellyfish™ by UNCLE MILTON INDUSTRIES INC.
Other products from UNCLE MILTON INDUSTRIES INC.
Within this amazing illuminated jellyfish environment, realistic-looking creatures naturally pulse and swim like real jellyfish. The sleek and elegant tank is internally lit with a black light, illuminating vibrant phosphorescent features and intricate details unseen in normal light. It creates an ideal ambience for a tween/teen room, can be a conversation piece for an executive desk, or can fit any place that could use a little mesmerizing accent. Launch date: July 2007.
― Owner Linda Angel of Kidoodles Toys in Norman, Okla., told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that Uncle Milton is one of her favorite vendors.
— “It looks like a miniature aquarium,” Mary Horne of J. Christopher Toys in Jonesboro, Ark., told TDmonthly. “You fill it with water and a motor system moves water around. Really cool for a dad’s desk.”
— When asked by TDmonthly what he predicted would be a popular item for big kids, David Campbell, owner of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont., cited Uncle Milton products, most notably the jellyfish tank.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11599 (added 2/23/2007)
Whether off to an imaginary safari in the wild or pretending to uncover an extinct dinosaur skeleton, this Jr. Explorer costume is perfect for any expedition. The one-piece jumpsuit has short sleeves and short pants with cargo pockets, custom patches and embroidery. A smart-looking, Indiana Jones-style floppy hat tops off the costume to completely outfit a child for any backyard adventure. The shovel is not included. “Quality fabric and construction” are the characteristics that set this costume apart, Chief Operating Officer Sean Schipper of Aeromax told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 1, 2007.
― Owner Linda Angel of Kidoodles Toys in Norman, Okla., told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that Aeromax is one of her favorite vendors.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12052 (added 3/22/2007)
Now the smallest dollhouse dolls can enjoy cheery window boxes filled with flowers. These colorful miniatures come in small and large sizes (see photo for scale).
— Alessio is “very accommodating to my store's needs,” Debbie Perry, owner of Bear Necessities and Dollhouse Dreams & Miniature Wishes in Fort Madison, Iowa, told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8246 (added 6/13/2006)
The Trek Pak is a nature-lover's utility belt. It comes pre-attached with six essential outdoor exploration tools: a compass, insect net, foldout wallet, tweezers, magnifying lens and storage canister. The Trek Pak is ideal for camping trips and nature hikes: it gives kids all the tools they need to catch and examine bugs, and it comes with a compass to help kids find their way home. Having all of the tools attached to the belt allows kids to keep their hands free for climbing and collecting. The Trek Pak encourages kids to engage in outdoor exploration. Launch Date: April 2007.
― In spring 2007, Roberta Edwards, owner of Wishes Toys & Gifts in La Quinta, Calif., cited Wild Planet as a vendor who has “gone the extra mile.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12948 (added 5/21/2007)
VTech’s new portable Whiz Kid Learning System lets kids choose from 40 activity pages, place the page into the Whiz Pad, and it comes to life with more than 120 activities. The Whiz Kid grows with young readers through a series of learning curriculum that meets the user’s skill level. The “Story Bytes” activity, for instance, encourages beginning readers to read along with the story and sound out words. Kids can also connect the Whiz Pad to their computer to play activities, track their progress or replace lost or damaged activity pages by printing out new ones. Whiz Kid includes the Wondertown Whizware™ (software) title, which features a focused reading program and activities that help teach counting and encourage creativity. Older kids can even transform the Whiz Pad into a piano keyboard or typing keyboard. Additional Whizware titles include character favorites such as Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, Spider-Man and Friends, Scooby-Doo, and Thomas & Friends (ERP: $19.99 each). Launch date: Fall 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11791 (added 3/6/2007)
The palm-size Xtreme Micro Copter is the smallest and lightest RC helicopter in the world. It charges directly from the controller for up to 12 minutes of flight on a single charge. It’s made of lightweight but durable polypropylene foam and features an auto-stability system for indoor flying. It comes ready to operate. The Xtreme Micro Copter has been a best seller for Michelle Deutschmann since she brought it into Kaleidoscope Toys in Falmouth, Mass., in November 2006.
― Thunder Electronics is “special and different, and price points are really good,” Owner Susan Pruett of Kilmarnock Toy Store in Kilmarnock, Va., told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11639 (added 2/26/2007)
This sheared terry wrap features removable sequined straps and glitter bathtub embroidered appliqué. It is available in Citrus Lime and Coconut Ice Blue, and is part of a luxurious line of spa products for girls. “This product is made with the finest of fabrics and is very detailed. … Others in the market are somewhat plain. This product also comes with the matching painted wood hanger,” Jason Butts of Three Cheers for Girls told TDmonthly. Launch date: April 2007.
― “The most accommodating [supplier] is Three Cheers for Girls — very friendly and I receive my products in a few days!” retailer Lori Paris told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11608 (added 2/23/2007)
This stuffer measures 22” wide and 34” tall and weighs 49 lbs. It sits on a table or a counter, and is suited perfectly for stores with limited space. It comes in both a foot pedal model and a hand crank model. The latter does not require electricity, which opens up many opportunities for usage. The machine will stuff up to 60 animals a minute. Launch date: June 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13361 (added 6/12/2007)
The Skuut wooden balance bike gives preschoolers the big-kid riding experience, as well as a leg up on the competition. Its design helps youngsters forgo the awkward "training wheel" period. The Skuut has no pedals, so children kick off the ground as if running, thus pushing or "skuut-ing" themselves and the bike forward. Developing strength and balance as they go, kids can walk, coast or "skuut" along before transitioning to a two-wheeler. Launch date: November 10, 2006.
— “People like it because it's a little different. It's not a bike or a trike; it's not an infant ride-on. It covers that in-between stage and has a nice age range,” said Owner Tye Steinbach of Thinker Things in Portland, Ore., during a March 2009 survey.
— “We're starting to see more interest in coaster bikes," Phil Wrzesinski, owner of Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, Miss., told TDmonthly in spring 2009. Skuut offers “fun for pre-bike riders,” according to Patricia Fieldler, owner of Green Frog Toys in Portland, Ore. This bike was on her top-nine best-seller list in spring 2009.
— Two of 37 retailers named Skuut as a best-selling ride-on in March 2010. Skuut "is a huge seller," noted Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP Toy Shop in Jamaica Plain, Mass. Past Videos: Toy Fair 2008
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9999 (added 11/10/2006)
How do airplanes fly in the sky? With My First Airplane Kit, children can learn all about flight. They can build and paint easy-to-make airplanes with pens, and then watch their custom aircraft soar through the sky. Next, using their planes and other components, they can conduct experiments to learn about gravity, lift, drag and thrust, the forces involved in flight. This kit “tailors the fascinating world of flight to the young child. Not only can you build, paint and decorate planes — but you can also use these planes to conduct experiments,” Susan Rives at Scientific Explorer told TDmonthly. Launch date: May 2007.
— Idanna Smith, owner of Juggles in Wakefield, R.I., cited My First Airplane as one of the best toys at Toy Fair 2007.
— Scientific Explorer experiments do well, Owner Fred Rosenberg of On the Park in Kingwood, Texas, told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
— Scientific Explorer is one of “the most accommodating companies that I have dealt with,” Joshua Grindstaff of Education Station in Coldwater, Mich., told TDmonthly in spring 2007. “They … allow for a very small minimum order, and the quantities that you have to buy of each item are reasonable.”
THIS PRODUCT IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11700 (added 2/28/2007)
The highly popular Stikfas Ninja army is growing. The latest release features two Alpha Male Ninja kits, both fully equipped with weapons and ready for battle. Each pack contains two G2 Alpha Male Stikfas figures with 18 points of articulation, weapons and STIKer sheets. Launch date: June 2007.
―“Saizon … ha[s] been flexible above and beyond the call of duty as I tried to get my business off the ground,” Chad Seger of Wonko’s Toys & Games told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12453 (added 4/23/2007)
The Lancaster is the newest addition to Real Good Toys' family of dollhouse kits. The kit features milled-in clapboards on the medium-density fiberboard exterior walls and includes everything kids need to finish the house as shown. Complete assembly instructions are included along with precision-engineered parts pre-cut to fit. The oversized porch and large interior rooms make decorating easy. The floor-to-ceiling height is 9". This nine-room house measures 31-7/8"W x 23-3/4"D x 32"H when completed. Launch date: April 2007.
― Real Good Toys is one supplier that is “very accommodating to my store's needs,” Debbie Perry, owner of Bear Necessities and Dollhouse Dreams & Miniature Wishes in Fort Madison, Iowa, told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12643 (added 5/4/2007)
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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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