September 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 9
Buying for Birthday Babes
Where to Steer Gift Givers
Not much is new in baby gifts, 50 toy-store owners said. Rattles and soft stuff from Gund, Douglas and others still rule the infant universe, while the Twilight Turtle night light from Cloud b continues to be a hot choice, as it projects stars above sleeping babes.
Knights and pirates are the best bets for boys, while Calico Critters, lip gloss, Breyer horses, Corolle dolls and anything bead-related gets wrapped for girls.
Read about other best sellers in TDmonthly’s Top-10 Most-Wanted Gifts.
WHAT’S NEW … and RESURGING
Though it’s still early in the game, Ty Girlz may be warming up, confided Sue Cooke, owner of Mother Goose in Litchfield, Conn.: “I’ve sold a dozen in three weeks; [that’s] not that many; but one girl has come back the third time; she wants all of them.”
The Girlz are no Webkinz, but neither are the Webkinz: Now that supply’s caught up with demand, sales of the online plush pet have slowed except for new releases, said Sabrina Plaice, owner of Playful Plush Toys in Valencia, Calif.
Of 13 retailers who mentioned Webkinz, most said they were still selling outrageously, with up to 75 walking out of the store each day. But two said the toy had fizzled.
“The local people have lost interest in [Webkinz],” explained Michelle Wood, manager of the 12-year-old Whippersnappers on St. Simon’s Island, Ga., who still sells Webkinz to tourists and out-of-town callers. “We had a waiting list of local people, but now when we have a shipment come in and we call, they say they are no longer interested.”
But as the new wanes, the old waxes.
“Pok-e-mon is making a strong comeback,” reported Gary Timmereing, manager for 25 years of Johnny’s Toys in Covington, Ky. He’s selling “a dozen a day,” though nobody else mentioned the resurgence.
And way down east, Automoblox are revving up.
“They’re beautifully crafted wooden cars,” said Amanda Melemed of Toy Box in Amherst, Mass. Bullet-proof plastic makes the puzzle-like toy virtually unbreakable, and a VIN adds to authenticity, she said, estimating that the store sells 12 per month.
“Thomas is fading…even without the recall,” stated Ginger Milligan, buyer for Fantasy Island Toys in Fairhope, Ala. Two other retailers agreed, but a third said she sells “something Thomas” every day.
WHAT TO MAKE OF IT
As the Webkinz get shipped, expect a drop of interest for older lines. Keep an eye on Ty Girlz, wait and see with Thomas, and stock up with Automoblox. Plush animal blankets are a must for babes.
Here are the toys that retailers say get wrapped for gifts:
Baby can safely snuggle and sleep with this drowsy plush duck/blanket combo. Lil' Snugglers measure 13" x 13" and come in ten styles, including a Spotted Brown Horse. Matching rattles are available separately. "The material is ultra soft and it has the satin edge that children so love to rub," Douglas Cuddle Toys Marketing Manager Erika Radich told TDmonthly. "They are compact and perfect to carry everywhere, totally washable and have irresistible faces!"
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8500 (added 7/10/2006)
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
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7426 (added 3/30/2006)
This cute and cuddly toy is floppy and fun for any kid who likes to cuddle. “All of our Pluffies are machine washable, infant safe and handmade with the finest quality standards in the industry," Ty Inc. Marketing Manager Dana Scott-Turkovich told TDmonthly. “Additionally, Pluffies are made of super-soft fabric that is huggably soft and ideal for young children.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5722 (added 11/28/2005)
Lift-Off Rocket by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Other products from INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Suitable for children 18 months and up, this rocket lights up and emits realistic rocket sounds with the push of a button. It has a handle for take-along play and comes with an alien, a moon crate, a dune buggy, a space puppy dog and two astronauts. The rocket features a cargo hold, a Murphy bed and toilet, a cockpit and an on/off switch and volume control. "The Lift-Off Rocket by iPlay is designed to encourage young imaginations and introduce them to new worlds. This high-quality playset has a space theme with an at-home-feel," Sue Tice, public relations director and product manager at International Playthings Inc., told TDmonthly. Awards: TDmonthly Top Seller 2007. Launch date: March 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13798 (added 6/28/2007)
These soft 100% cotton knit rattles resemble all the good things baby should grow to love: tomato, peas, cabbage, radish and carrot.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10810 (added 12/27/2006)
Made of comforting fabrics and textures, Gund Comfy Cozy 24" blankets are available in various styles and colors. They feature satin paw pads and are machine washable. A 12" size ($12.00) is also available.
— When asked for the best-selling classic toy in her store, Diana Gisolfu, co-owner of Sisters Kids in Springfield, Mass., replied, “Gund Comfy Cozies. We’re an authorized dealer because we sell so many of these. It’s like a blanket with a head on it. It attracts the grandmothers market.”
— “People just love plush from Gund,” was the simple but enthusiastic response from Debbie Wurzburger, owner of Toy Chest in Pikesville, Md.
— Gund plush was specified as a big seller by eight of 57 retailers surveyed by TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8507 (added 7/10/2006)
Thomas & Friends: A Big Day for Thomas ? Wooden Train Bonus Pack by HIT ENTERTAINMENT
Other products from HIT ENTERTAINMENT
Narrated by George Carlin, this DVD takes little ones on a new adventure as Thomas gets to pull his very own train for the first time — with unexpected results. Kids will find out what “shocks” Percy and may hold their breath when snow jams one of the island’s signals and leads Henry to disaster. The product includes two sing-along songs, a character gallery and a bonus DVD spelling game, plus an on-pack Salty train. Launch date: January 23, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11064 (added 1/9/2007)
The Original Yo Baby Practice Board by GarageCo Toys, Inc.
Other products from GarageCo Toys, Inc.
This action toy helps keep kids fit as they simulate and learn how to skate, surf and snowboard without getting wet, cold or sore. Children can twist it, kick it, flip it or pop it as they play. The board measures 21” by 5.25” and comes in red, yellow, green and blue. “This product is the first of its kind. The boarding industry never had a plastic, functional, inexpensive toy — a 21st century toy,” CEO Bob Ellis of GarageCo Toys told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 2006.
— It’s very simple, yes, but the Yo Baby Practice Board received a TDmonthly Innovations 2007 award due to its usefulness as a training tool for very young children, propelling them to develop board-sport skills they can use later in life. It’s perfect for use on carpet in the home, and can easily travel anywhere.
— “We're doing well with Yo Babys, [and] ordering a case a month,” said Connie Hoeft, owner of C R Toys in Kearney, N.E., when asked about her best-selling sports toys in spring 2009.
— “We do really well with the Yo Baby practice boards. Last year, we went through a lot of those,” Lauren Obenour, manager of Green Frog Toys in Portland, Ore., told TDmonthly in March 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11555 (added 2/21/2007)
Swashbuckler Pirate Collection ? Gunner Phillip Morton by SAFARI LTD.®
Other products from SAFARI LTD.®
Safari's pirate collection embraces the intrigue and adventure of life on the high seas. Gunner Phillip Morton is one of six 4”-tall pirates in the collection. He is hand painted and phthalate-free. "Our Pirates are...[v]ery finely detailed with excellent handpainting. The collection also includes a treasure chest that opens and closes, cannonballs, a ship’s wheel that turns and [a] cannon that moves up and down," Safari Ltd. President Ramona Pariente told TDmonthly. "Educational information is included in five languages." Launch date: Spring 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13004 (added 5/22/2007)
This CD celebrates 10 years of Pokémon musical history and includes five new songs from "Pokémon: Battle Frontier," the ninth season of the hit animated TV series on Cartoon Network. It features season themes and other exciting tracks. Launch date: March 27, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12303 (added 4/13/2007)
Land Rover Defender With Horse Carrier is part of Ravensburger's Siku Super Series - Die-Cast Metal.
— "It’s really Siku. That’s what we carry the most," said Debbie Carroll, partner at Kringle’s Toy Box in Amherst, N.H., when asked in spring 2007 about hot-selling die-cast in her store.
— Kringle’s sells "about 200 a month," Carroll told TDmonthly.
— Retailers also mentioned other Siku die-cast items, including construction vehicles and vintage car models.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13026 (added 5/22/2007)
Knight With Sword on Horse by SCHLEICH NORTH AMERICA, INC.
Other products from SCHLEICH NORTH AMERICA, INC.
In the battle against the infidel, many knights joined forces and formed different knights' orders. This knight is part of the World of Knights Series and is no exception to Schleich’s reputation for beautiful art work and detail on hand-painted figurines. The knights are 1:20 scale, ranging in size from about 4" to 6", and are made of durable synthetic material.
— Trish Garlock, owner of Treasured Child in La Grange, Ky., said, "My Schleich has done wonderfully," when asked about action figures in her store. She said the knights, in particular, were among customer favorites.
— Retailers TDmonthly spoke with reported monthly sales of 10 to 200 Schleich action figures a month.
— Ten of 34 retailers TDmonthly spoke with in spring 2007 cited Schleich action figures as being popular with customers.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13017 (added 5/22/2007)
The Trade Federation is on the march. The Separatist forces battle against the Republic with a droid transport carrier and “hovering” STAP vehicle, complete with a full squad of armed and combat-ready battle droids. The set includes two Battle Droid and three super Battle Droid minifigures. Kids can build their own armies and stage battles against the Clone Troopers Battle Pack. "To commemorate the 30th Anniversary for the Star Wars franchise in 2007, there are nine new LEGO sets representing all six movies," Karen Lynch, account executive at Flashpoint PR LLC, told TDmonthly. " Included in this assortment is the LEGO Droids Battle Pack which contains an army of minifigures to allow fans to create their own armies."
— When asked to name a best-selling construction toy in his store, Sean O’Brien, manager of Blinn’s in Fairfield, Conn., said, “I would have to say LEGOs. They’re having a hard time supplying us — couldn’t keep up with demand. There [might] be a big shortage of LEGO this year, especially the Star Wars product line.”
— Thirteen of 39 retailers agreed with O’Brien in spring 2007 that LEGO is big in the construction toy category.
— Specialty retailers reported to TDmonthly an average sales figure of about 80 units per month for LEGO sets.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12550 (added 5/2/2007)
Automoblox MINIs are a reinvention of the classic wooden toy car — a fusion of heirloom craftsmanship and ultra-modern styling, transformed into a mix-and-match design system that allows kids to create their own distinctive car styles. ”We’ve combined old-school durability, ultra-modern style and an innovative play pattern to create a new generation of classic car toys. The Automoblox MINI line makes it fun for kids to explore their own unique design instincts by combining warm wooden blocks, colorful rubber tires and bright translucent plastics to create super-cool car styles,” PR Manager Tina Noelle Mezzina of Automoblox told TDmonthly. A three-pack plus accessories are also available (MSRP: $24.99). Launch date: August 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14356 (added 7/26/2007)
A winner of 20 awards, Rush Hour continues to be one of ThinkFun’s most popular and renowned mind-challenging games. In honor of Rush Hour’s 10 years of success, ThinkFun is celebrating with a Deluxe Edition that is guaranteed to delight seasoned Rush Hour fans and newcomers alike. Just like the traditional game, the object is to put problem-solving skills in gear to help the red car escape the traffic jam. But Rush Hour Deluxe Edition has been revved-up for maximum performance, featuring 60 of ThinkFun’s best challenges and an exciting new level of play. It comes complete with a modern design, 15 bright metallic cars and a collector’s gift box for easy travel. Launch date: Summer 2006.
— When surveyed about his best-selling puzzles in a Summer 2011 survey, Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., said he sells between 5 and 7 Rush Hours puzzles each month.
— As of 7/12/2011 this product had 4.3 out of 5 stars from 19 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Helps build problem solving skills; great for travel or quiet time. Cons: Two reviewers said that the Deluxe Edition was disappointing, as it actually has less features than the original game.
— Kids caught in traffic love to pull out this game and find their way out of the crunch. Rush Hour makes a great travel toy, specialty retailers have told TDmonthly, and it's been a top seller in their stores for more than 10 years. For these reasons, we gave it our TDmonthly Classic Toy 2007 award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10158 (added 11/20/2006)
A Morphibian is a radio-controlled, multi-terrain vehicle that comes in one of four animal options, including the "Land Shark," "Dirt Frog," "Gator" and "Cobra."
— "They're very durable, and they can go from land to water with no problem," said Wendy Kramer, manager at Big Fun Toys in Hoboken, N.J.
— Laura Miller, owner of Imagination Village in Concord, N.H., added, "It has a pretty good price point and has big appeal for the kids."
— This RC car navigates shallow water as well as roads.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7629 (added 4/20/2006)
Snap Circuits make learning electronics easy and fun. Kids follow the colorful pictures in the manual to build exciting projects, such as FM radios, burglar alarms, doorbells and more. Parts are mounted on plastic modules and snap together with ease. “Children can play with this kit for hours and hours and still have not completed all the projects the snap circuit kits have to offer,” Walter Larsen, national sales manager for Elenco, told TDmonthly.
— One retailer said in summer 2007 his store sells 25 Elenco units monthly. Five percent of 64 retailers said in August 2008 that Snap Circuits are a best-selling science product, reporting average sales of six units per month. Four of 38 retailers echoed the same a year later. “They’ve gone back to this game six or seven times,” between January and July 2006, said TDmonthly's homeschooling mom Susan Ledford.
— Any time TDmonthly asks specialty storeowners about top-selling science toys, Elenco's Snap Circuits heads the list. This simple electronics kit appeals to both girls and boys. By making science fun and easy, Snap Circuits earned a TDmonthly Classic Toy 2007 award.
— As of 12/17/2012 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 575 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: One user said that her grandchildren were "not all that interested" in the Snap Circuits, and told her that they would prefer LEGOs on their birthday.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5252 (added 10/27/2005)
Just dunk the Football in water, and give it a little squeeze. Throw the Football and watch it spirally spray water in a 10-foot diameter as it heads toward the receiver ... who is going to get wet. The football sprays like crazy. The Geyser Football flies great with or without water. It comes in two sizes: small 6” and large 8.5”. The footballs are made of soft urethane and come in three cool color combos: yellow/green, red/orange and light blue/dark blue. The toy is patent pending. The large Geyser Football retails for $9.99 and wholesales for $5.00.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10260 (added 11/28/2006)
World of Elves ? Falaroy by SCHLEICH NORTH AMERICA, INC.
Other products from SCHLEICH NORTH AMERICA, INC.
Falaroy is bold and his deeds are legendary. He bravely faces the forces of darkness and defends the peace in the land of the elves. This figurine is hand painted. Launch date: May 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13439 (added 6/13/2007)
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)
The Tower O' Beads comes with five reusable bead cases filled with colorful glass beads that can be stacked and stored on the tower. Make rings, bracelets, necklaces and more. The bead set includes over 55,000 glass beads, five bead cases, a bead scoop, colored elastic and elastic thread. The tower measures 5" x 10-1/4". "Bead Parties are starting to be the trendy thing to do for tween sleepovers," Sarah Koth, public relations and marketing coordinator at Fashion Angels Enterprises, told TDmonthly. "This Bead Party kit is a fun way to get your hands on many different bead styles that are sure to please everyone."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13216 (added 6/5/2007)
These 14” soft-sculpt dolls are dressed in the latest trend-setting fashions that can be mixed and matched, and each outfit is completed with complementary accessories. Ty Girlz have soft, realistic hair that can be easily combed and made into numerous styles. Their clothes, hair and makeup are coordinated in monochromatic hues for a distinctive look. This new concept in dolls has been created in conjunction with its own 3-D interactive virtual world. Launch date: April 2007.
— “There are many characteristics of Ty Girlz that make them ideal; our patent-pending design, quality, price, fashions, detail and virtual Girlz world set us apart from the rest,” a Ty representative told TDmonthly. "Ty Girlz inspire the imagination, emphasize uniqueness and individuality and, with their 3-D interactive virtual world, girls will play games, learn new things, manage their own money and so much more!"
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12310 (added 4/13/2007)
Calico Critters ? Willow at the Horse Show by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Other products from INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Carla Whiskers and her pony Willow have practiced jumps all summer, but they are up against tough competition in the 1st Annual Cloverleaf Corners Horse Show. Today is the day to find out who is going to take home the first place trophy. The horse show play set includes Carla Whiskers, Willow the Pony, bridle and reins, brush, comb, trophy and awards. Launch date: July 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12927 (added 5/21/2007)
Breyer Classics Veterinary Care Gift Set by REEVES INTL. INC.
Other products from REEVES INTL. INC.
This cute young veterinarian in cool-colored scrubs has everything she needs to take care of her dun Thoroughbred cross. The set includes horse and veterinarian figurines, a first aid kit, a bag, medicine and more. "Our Veterinary Care Gift Set encourages children to use their imagination but is also educational in that it teaches them how to care for their animals," Kim Abbott of Reeves International told TDmonthly. "This set also includes authentic replicas of a horse and veterinary medical accessories."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11794 (added 3/6/2007)
This assortment of lifelike Yomiko Classics is made of Caress™ and includes mandrills, gibbons, gorillas and more. Five different styles are available, and each comes with a special hangtag that includes its individual name. The "detailed airbrushing on each animal [gives] our Yomiko Classics Primate assortment that realistic look," Russ Berrie Marketing Coordinator Stephanie Araujo told TDmonthly. Launch date: August 15, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13676 (added 6/25/2007)
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 musical treasure box features gorgeous, all-original, colorful graphics. The drawers open in four different directions and are perfect for holding tiny treasures such as earrings, bracelets, charms and sachets. A distinctive white carousel mare twirls inside to the tune of “The Entertainer.” It’s the perfect gift for horse and fair lovers of all ages, and measures 6” x 4” x 6”. Launch date: May 28, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12315 (added 4/13/2007)
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Writer's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ... Read more articles by this author
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