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 companies that are “good” in their books.
Retailers love 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 prize products they produce. Below is the second page of products.
Also see page 1 and page 3.
This on-the-go carrier holds four 4”-tall plush characters — Santa, elf, snowman and reindeer — each with its name embroidered on the side. The characters play a Christmas tune when squeezed, and the carrier features a candy cane handle. The set is suitable for ages 6 months and up. "Santa's Workshop encourages learning and development, and is good for travel since it's an 'on-the-go' item," Aurora World Inc. Public Relations Representative Dan Grody told TDmonthly. Launch date: October 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12623 (added 5/2/2007)
Turn any of your Automoblox vehicles into a six-wheeler by adding one of our Extension Blox to your Automoblox garage. Get two Extension Blox and create an eight-wheeler. It includes two C9 wheels and tires, and is compatible with most models.
― Automoblox is “very nice to deal with [and has] great sales reps,” said Martin Goetzinger, founder of www.schooldelay.com, in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11172 (added 1/17/2007)
Made of cherry wood and stained with walnut, this little chair is upholstered in black leather. It measures just 1-7/8"W x 2-5/8"H x 1-7/8"D. Bespaq also has a line called Basic Bespaq that comprises “very high quality” miniatures for about half the price point, according to Pitney Ginsburg, owner of Bespaq.
― Bespaq 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#: 4060 (added 8/2/2005)
Made in Italy under license from Ferrari, the Enzo is every bit as desirable as its adult version. Features include rubber tires; an adjustable sports steering wheel; wing mirrors; authentic stickers; an electronic accelerator and brake; polyethylene bodywork; forward, reverse and neutral gears; and a 12-volt electric motor. A rechargeable battery and charger are included. The car travels at 3 or 5 mph. Max rider height is 3.6” tall; max rider weight is 65 lbs. Toys Toys vehicles are "modeled after real sports cars. They have metal frames, and some of the models have rubber tires," Owner Chad Austreng of Big Toys USA told TDmonthly. "They're high-end, unique, exotic cars." Launch date: April 6, 2007.
― “So far, the most helpful company that I have worked with is Big Toys USA,” Bobbie Surra of Kool Kid Toys told TDmonthly in Spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12107 (added 3/27/2007)
It’s naptime at the pond, and Daddy and Mommy frogs want all Baby frogs to get rest on the big Water Lily. But the Baby frogs still want to play. They try to be the first to hop around the pond and cross the 11 small water lilies without being seen by the adult frogs. Under the new “Tree Campaign,” Blue Orange is committed to planting two trees for every tree used to create its games. This product received a 2007 Parent’s Choice Gold Award, a 2007 Dr. Toy Best Product Award, a 2007 Major Fun Thinking Award, a 2007 Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Award and a Creative Child Award 2007 Game of the Year Award. Launch date: March 2007.
― Owner Linda Angel of Kidoodles Toys in Norman, Okla., told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that Blue Orange Games is one of her favorite vendors.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11504 (added 2/19/2007)
The Foam Craft Workshop includes a tool so cool you have to try it to believe it. This tool allows you to do wood-working-type projects with foam, but it's easier and safer to do. Children simply guide the foam patterns through the machine and the wire heats up and slices through the foam. They can then use the foam cut-outs for a variety of fun craft projects — frames, door hangers, magnets and more. This complete set includes paint, glue and all the craft accessories needed to complete each project. It requires two D batteries (not included). Launch date: March 2007.
― Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that Creativity for Kids is one of the most fair and accommodating suppliers.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11916 (added 3/14/2007)
Trek Tek action replicas are full-scale toys modeled directly on original Star Trek props for maximum authenticity. With realistic action lights and sound and adjustable power settings, kids and fans will feel like they’re on board Kirk's Enterprise. An original two-in-one-design allows the Type-1 mini hand phaser to be separated from the Type-2 phaser pistol for the full Trek experience.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9743 (added 10/23/2006)
Little Mermaid CD Read Along by WALT DISNEY HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Other products from WALT DISNEY HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Walt Disney Records proudly introduces a CD Read-Along based on the hit film "The Little Mermaid." This magical underwater adventure features a 32-page storybook; multimedia CD that plays in both stereos and computers; bonus audio cassette; and a carry-along case that holds it all. Other exciting features include favorite character voices and vivid sound effects, and word-for-word narration to help build vocabulary and encourage independent reading.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10809 (added 12/27/2006)
The European concept of the Advent calendar runs from the 1st of December until Christmas. Santa’s helper fills the calendar each day with a little surprise until day 25, when he himself arrives. This calendar is made of cotton and felt with 24 little bags. “The advent calendar has been designed with appealing, childlike motives. It is great fun for kids to find each day in December a little surprise or a sweet that has been chosen lovingly, from the parents,” Marion Hohmann of Käthe Kruse Puppen GmbH told TDmonthly. Launch date: October 2006.
― Käthe Kruse is “one of the most accommodating” vendors, Bill from Tutoring Toy told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13255 (added 6/5/2007)
Crafted in wood and upholstered with a blue and white toile fabric, this living room set will lend elegance to any dollhouse or shadowbox. A settee, two chairs, a coffee table and an end table in the 1:12 scale comprise this lovely starter set. “The designs in the cloth are true scale,” said Dick Foltz, owner of R. B. Foltz. “If you look closely, you can pick out the figures and the little scenes.”
― Foltz & Company 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#: 4066 (added 8/2/2005)
Shut-the-Box Bookshelf Edition by FRONT PORCH CLASSICS
Other products from FRONT PORCH CLASSICS
Yes, another Front Porch Classic finds itself in a beautifully designed "Bookshelf Edition." Play it, then pack it up and place it on the shelf alongside other Front Porch Classics such as Sortie, Valley of the Pharaohs and Dread Pirate. Just as with the Old Century version, this vintage game from England involves matching the tiles as players roll the dice. They keep rolling until they’ve matched all the tiles. Players lay down all the tiles and "Shut the Box" to win. It's easy to learn, comes with a classic wooden box, and involves fun play for the entire family.
— "The Bookshelf games by Front Porch Classics are really great," said Miles Altman, owner of King Arthur’s Court Toys in Cincinnati, Ohio.
―Front Porch Classics is “the greatest company to deal with. They provide quality. … They’re a huge company, but still look out for the little guys,” Tom England, owner of Dancing Bear Toys & Gifts in Frederick, Md., told TDmonthly in spring 2007. “They were a specialty shop — that’s what made them popular. They do sell to mass market, but have the greatest group of people.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11455 (added 2/19/2007)
Goetz Aquini Drink & Wet Doll by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Other products from INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
This anatomically correct 13” doll comes in girl and boy varieties and includes a potty, a towel and a bottle. It features an articulated vinyl body, painted eyes and painted hair. The doll is great for children who are being potty trained.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10330 (added 11/30/2006)
Wooden Magnetic Vehicle Series by JACK RABBIT CREATIONS INC.
Other products from JACK RABBIT CREATIONS INC.
These magnet vehicles come in five styles, equipped with seven playmate characters. Each double-sided character can stand alone for imaginative play, or attach to vehicles or other characters, due to the super-strong and strategically placed magnets. For example, the poodle can ride the elephant on the circus truck and the surfer family can Hang Five on the surfboards. Each truck has a friendly dog pal that comes along for the action. Launch Date: Fire truck and School bus — August 2006; Surfer, Circus and Farm — March 2007.
― Donna Bliss of My Miracle Baby.com cited Jack Rabbit as one of the best vendors in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12648 (added 5/4/2007)
This rag-a-muffin mouse looks ready to take some wear and tear from young playmates. The tot-sized version is 18-cm tall while the small version is 26-cm tall. Both floppy varieties have well-proportioned whiskers as well as pink ears and tails. “Jelly Cat is one of our best sellers for girls,” Jerri Daniel, manager of Olivia & Co. in Ocala, Fla., told TDmonthly in early summer, 2006. “Our toys are hip and humorous, and always soft and sumptuous,” said Ken Askew, national sales manager for Jelly Cat. Launch date: January 2006.
― Jelly Cat is one supplier who has “gone the extra mile” for Wishes Toys & Gifts in La Quinta, Calif., Owner Roberta Edwards said in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8359 (added 6/21/2006)
Perfectly sized for most fashion dolls, this large dollhouse is filled with wooden furniture, and is brightly finished in trendy colors of hot pink, lime and lavender. The fashion dollhouse set includes a secret attic under the flip-top roof, three floors (excluding attic) including living room, kitchen, den, bedroom and bathroom, and 18 pieces of wooden furniture, some with fabric detail. The house weighs 39 lbs. and measures 32 ½” x 13 ½” x 51” H.
― Kelly Rummelhart of Ruby Q’s in Gridley, Calif., told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that she’s had “great experiences” with KidKraft.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11049 (added 1/9/2007)
The Amazing Book-a-ma-Thing for the Backseat is a hands-on book of puzzles and games, including a sliding-block puzzle, a pinball-baseball game and a lift-the-acetate Magic Writer. The Amazing Book-a-ma-Thing for the Backseat is the winner of the Canadian Toy Testing Council Three Stars Award, the National Parenting Publications Award and the Parents' Choice Approved Award, and was named Outstanding by Parent Council.
— "The Klutz kids travel is terrific," said Amy Barrett, owner of Lasso the Moon Wonderful Toys in Helena, Mont. Five retailers agreed in spring 2007 that Klutz travel is tops in their stores.
— While some retailers in the Southeast reported sporadic sales of the Klutz game books outside of summer, others suggested that 30 units sold per month was a more consistent figure for them.
— Owner Linda Angel of Kidoodles Toys in Norman, Okla., told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that Klutz is one of her favorite vendors.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12289 (added 4/12/2007)
It’s easy for young hands to snap together these colorful chunky Kid K’nex pieces. Rockin’ Robots kit includes an idea guide, as well as a handy case, making storage and on-the-go fun a snap.
― “K'Nex … has very good deals for the specialty market,” Bill of Tutoring Toy told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10572 (added 12/8/2006)
This set includes three separate wagons and an engine to awaken children’s fascination with trains. Children ages 2 and up can play with the wagons that are sized for little fingers and compatible with the classic wooden railway.
― Bill of Tutoring Toy told TDmonthly in spring 2007 that Brio “has very good deals for the specialty market.”
― Annette Garcia, owner of The Wee Loft in Dana Point, Calif., told TDmonthly that her store sells “10 to 20 units” of Brio trains every month.
― Over 14 percent of retailers who spoke with TDmonthly in early 2008 stated that wooden trains are very popular items in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11634 (added 2/23/2007)
Peel & Stick by Number by LAURI, a division of PATCH PRODUCTS INC.
Other products from LAURI, a division of PATCH PRODUCTS INC.
Lauri Inc.’s mosaic craft kits provide hours of fun and concentration as kids stick the colorful foam
tiles on the numbered pattern boards. The adhesive’s peel-and-stick quality makes for a clean craft project that’s perfect for traveling. These kits may be used alone or in groups, as each kit includes enough material for up to four artists. Each kit includes adhesive magnets for displaying completed works of art. Launch date: February 2007.
― Lauri provides quick orders, Owner Danny Given of Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Va., told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12853 (added 5/15/2007)
This kit is ergonomically designed for extra comfort for parent and baby. It contains a nasal aspirator, a digital thermometer with case, a soft-tip medicine dispenser, a comfort tip medicine spoon with cap, a magnifying nail clipper and a deluxe travel/storage bag. It is an officially licensed product of the American Red Cross.
― “The other company that I prefer to do business with is Learning Curve. There is no delay whatsoever in crediting the rare defective item,” Owner “Pete” James of Brain Train in Burlington, N.C., told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12606 (added 5/2/2007)
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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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