November 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 11
Be-Tweens Find Common Ground
Games and Crafts Capture Elusive Age Group
The question of what tweens want has baffled retailers and manufacturers since the term’s introduction in the early 1980s. And many of the 54 specialty retailers recently surveyed by TDmonthly Magazine pegged the age group as difficult to analyze. Gender-specific toys are important, they revealed, but Webkinz by Ganz, Klutz and Uglydolls are popular across the board (see TDmonthly’s Top-10 Most-Wanted Toys for Boys and Toys for Girls).
The Rubik’s Revolution from Techno Source, a twist on the traditional cube launched at Toy Fair 2007, has proven to be a best seller for Lisa Mayfair, manager of Groovy Girls in Tempe, Ariz.
For both girls and boys, ages 8 to 12, Webkinz, Klutz Crafts and Uglydolls were praised as reliable best sellers by multiple retailers. Thirteen of 54 specialty retailers named arts and crafts kits from Alex as their most popular tween item.
“I don't do a lot for that age group unless they're artistic. I have a lot of crafts,” Marilyn Sipila, owner of Toys Etc. in Poulsbo, Wash., told TDmonthly. “Anything that is basically paint and decoration sells.”
Other than the artsy side, traditional and electronic games are always favorites, retailers said, expecially since grandparents like to give them as gifts.
Jude Larene, owner of Izilla Toys in Seattle, said he’s been selling a lot of Carcassonne from Rio Grande and Settlers of Catan from Mayfair, though sales for tweens can be tricky.
“That’s one of those areas where in general it's just hard to know. You have 9-year-olds that are 9-year-olds, and then you have 9-year-olds that are 18-year-olds,” he said.
The Jewel of Truth board game from International Playthings was mentioned by Cathy Foland, manager of Imagination Station in St. Fenton, Mich., as the Christmas gift for the upcoming season.
Patti Tepper-Rasmussen, owner of Learning Tree Toys in Oklahoma City, Okla., informed TDmonthly that Virtual Football and Virtual Baseball from Small World Toys are among her best-selling tween items.
Wild Planet Spy Gear was recommended by Deb Necker, owner of Necker’s in Simsbury, Conn. And continuing in the vein of popular pirate toys is Maxim Venture Pirate Ship, already a favorite for Candace Gooch, owner of At Once All Agog in Limerick, Maine.
WHAT TO MAKE OF IT
Speciality retailers tend to disgree on how much tweeners’ tastes diverge according to gender. But they do tend to come together in the areas of plush, interactive and craft/activity toys. Check out some tween options below:
Active Edge Extreme Virtual Distance Football tells you how far you've thrown the ball. The football has a digital LCD readout on it that displays the distance thrown in yards. Super grip texture and durable foam construction are just like a real football.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10238 (added 11/27/2006)
The Virtual Speed Baseball is just like a real baseball, with a leather cover and stitching. The difference is that it clocks the speed of a throw with an LCD display that’s powered by non-replaceable batteries. So, although you can throw it, you can’t hit it. It’s a specialty item that’s neat for all kids but can be used as a training tool for up-and-coming baseball players, too.
— “Small World Toys has a baseball that you can throw and it will tell you how fast you’re throwing. That’s been popular,” described Terri Bracken, owner of Earth Explorers Toys in Zionsville, Ind.
— “Virtual Speed Baseball,” was the answer given by Warren Brown, owner of French’s Toy Shop in Concord, N.H. when asked about top-selling fitness toys in his store.
— Lisa Orman, public relations rep for Small World Toys told TDmonthly, “Children love to challenge themselves, and the Virtual Speed Baseball allows them to challenge themselves again and again, and try to beat their ‘best throw.’ It lasts for more than 100,000 throws!”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9448 (added 9/21/2006)
Kids can collect, trade and play awesome games with these cards. The first series of Webkinz Trading Cards includes 80 base-set cards featuring favorite Webkinz pets, characters, items and recipes to collect and enjoy. Kids can also collect three exciting subsets of cards: Challenge Cards, Curio Shop Curiosities and Webkinz Doodlez. Each set comes with 10 packs of cards and six cards per pack. Other amounts and booster packs are also available.
— When asked about the current hot-seller in her store, Kate Tanner, owner of Kidstop Toys & Books in Scottsdale, Ariz., said, "Webkinz of all kinds —from the Googles and Chihuahua to the trading card games and booster packs."
— “I would probably have to say any Webkinz by Ganz accessories,” Bill DeFusco, owner of Toyz Toy Store in Chesire, Conn., told TDmonthly, when asked about what he predicted would be his store’s most popular stocking stuffer. “Whatever accessories for Webkinz can be found—lip glosses, body spritz, trading cards.”
—Eleven of 58 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly cited Webkinz accessories as highly popular stocking-stuffer items.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14382 (added 7/27/2007)
Imported from Germany to the U.S. in 1995, this European designer game is thematically nonviolent, elegant in game play and visually appealing. Players must collect and trade resources, such as wood and sheep, and build the best settlement on an island. Moves require strategic planning, and negotiating and trade are crucial elements of the game.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 2230 (added 1/18/2005)
Jewel of Truth by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Other products from INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
When the players expose their innermost secrets, the magic jewel of truth will reveal the winner's future. How it works: the magical crystal points to a player's colored jewel. This player then reveals a secret (a like or dislike), while other players try to guess what he or she will say. If the answers match, players earn fortune cards. The first to win five different fortune cards wins.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6224 (added 12/29/2005)
How-to-Build Pirate Ships comes with a deck of 64 beautifully illustrated laminated leaves that break into 226 separate cards, cleverly shaped and notched to fit securely with every other card. Builders follow the book’s guidelines using an innovative design to assemble the cards into a sturdy ship in full sail. There are literally billions of different combinations in every pack, so one can make anything from a dinky dinghy to a super sailing vessel. It's written by Doug Stillinger.
— Heather, manager at Toy Shop in Bethel, Maine, specifically predicted that the How-to-Build Pirate Ships Building Cards would do well with boys ages 4 to 8 during the upcoming 2007 holiday season.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15086 (added 9/7/2007)
The Rubik's® Cube is an icon recognized around the world, selling over 350 million units. Now there's an all new spin on the world's #1 Cube—the Rubik's Revolution™. Packed with speed games and brainteasers everyone can play, the award-winning Rubik's Revolution is an all new spin on the world's #1 Cube. Six addictive, fast paced electronic games are easy to learn, but will push your skills to the limit with multiple challenging levels to unlock. Fun for ages 5 or 105, play by yourself or compete against your friends in both single and multiplayer games to become master of the Cube. “Rubik’s Revolution was designed as the electronic sequel to one of the best-selling toys in history ... It provides a whole new take on cubing. It is about speed. It is about smarts,” said Eric Levin, executive vice president of Techno Source. “Techno Source is also offering a Professor Rubik’s Signature Edition for the specialty market.” Winner of 10 Awards including the TIA 2008 T.O.T.Y. Game of the Year, Rubik's Revolution won a 2008 iParenting Media Award, a 2007 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval Award, a Dr. Toy Summer 2007 Best Products Award and a 2007 NAPPA Gold Award. Launch date: Summer 2007.
― “I think it will do very well,” Debbie Wurzburger, owner of Toy Chest in Pikesville, Md., told TDmonthly.
— Four out of 58 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly cited Rubik’s Revolution as their most popular “big-kid” item.
— When asked what he would most recommend for older kids and adults, Bill DeFusco, owner of Toyz Toy Store in Chesire, Conn., told TDmonthly, “The first one that comes to my mind [is] Rubik’s Revolution.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11558 (added 2/21/2007)
Carcassonne is a clever tile-laying game. The southern French city of Carcassonne is famous for its distinctive Roman and Medieval fortifications. The players develop the area around Carcassonne and deploy their followers on the roads, in the cities, in the cloisters and in the fields. The skill of the players to develop the area will determine who is victorious.
― “Carcassonne is a classic tile-laying game, great for families, with several expansions,” Ed Evans, owner of All Things Fun! in West Berlin, N.J., told TDmonthly. “Carcassonne has only entered our top-10 in the last year or so. It’s considered an evergreen title in the game industry.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1374
Wild Planet's popular Dodge Discs now come in a Spy version. Kids shoot rapid-fire discs from the motorized hand blaster. They can test their skills on the included target or battle against opponents. The blaster fires safe, soft-foam discs and can rapid-fire as fast as any kid who thinks fast and moves faster. It comes with a built-in shield and 20 foam discs. Batteries are not included.
— "Dodge Discs from Wild Planet — shooting little disks [where kids are] trying to dodge the discs," said Peter Scott, owner of Perfect Toy in Avon, Conn., when asked about popular items for boys in his store.
— Retailers told TDmonthly they sell about 10 units a month of the shooter toys from Wild Planet.
— "The Spy Disc Shooter is the first defense tool in the Spy Gear line. The motorized spy-themed disc launcher has a rapid-fire feature for when you need to make a quick get-away. It comes with 20 soft-foam discs and the shooter also serves as a shield should your enemy spies have access to a launcher of their own," said Cori Burns, director of marketing for Wild Planet.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14253 (added 7/23/2007)
This black horse is gentle, mysterious and beautiful — the perfect pal to share secrets and stories with. In the online Webkinz World, the Black Stallion loves to cook. Its special item is the hay bale sofa and its special food is the horseshoe huckleberry hotcakes.
— Lynn Robillard, owner of Toys in the Attic in Manchester, Vt., told TDmonthly that when they’re available, Webkinz are one of her top-10 best-selling product lines.
— These computer-savvy plush pals take fourth place for best-selling toys at Red Wagon Toy Co. in Woodstock, Vt., according to Owner Kim Smith, who spoke with TDmonthly in summer 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14379 (added 7/27/2007)
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This colorful turkey is ready for Thanksgiving. When kids purchase a Shining Stars friend, they can log onto the Shining Stars website and use the secret code inside the plush’s hangtag to register and name a star with the International Star Registry. Children can print a star certificate that gives the exact location of the star, and the site also offers fun games and activities. Launch date: September 15, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13679 (added 6/25/2007)
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Writer's Bio: Greg Rock is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles. Read more articles by this author
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