June 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 6
TDmonthly’s Top-10 Most-Wanted Construction Toys
LEGO Won’t “LEGO” of the Lead
With additional reporting by Virginia Davis, Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Christine Lebednik, Marie Raven and Brenda Ruggiero
Of the 50 specialty retailers who spoke with TDmonthly about construction toys, more than 30 percent named LEGO as their best-selling construction toy. Also popular were Standard Unit Blocks by Melissa & Doug, ZoobMobile Racer by Infinitoy, Wedgits by Imagability and Quadrilla by Hape International Ltd.
When assembled, the All-Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) measures over 12” x 14” and is capable of walking forward and backward and moving its head up and down, using the power functions system. The 1,137-piece set includes an opening cockpit, rotating laser cannons, an AT-AT pilot, General Veers, a snow trooper and a rope- and light saber-equipped Luke Skywalker.
— In a late Spring 2011 survey, four out of 12 retailers surveyed said that LEGO Star Wars sets were their best-selling licensed products. six out of 12 mentioned Star Wars in general as being their best-selling licensed property.
— As of 05/12/2011 this product had 3.6 out of 5 stars from 5 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Fragile once assembled; does not come with numbered bags, unlike most LEGO sets.
— “Star Wars is big right now. We sell one or two units of … LEGO every day,” Gary Timmerding, manager of Johnny’s Toys in Covington, Ky., told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— In spring 2008, 16 of 50 retailers singled out LEGO as their best-selling construction toy; four specified Star Wars.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18077 (added 3/24/2008)
Block sets are a classic that never go out of style, and FamilyEducation.com notes that blocks allow kids to “master math concepts about shapes, space, balancing and gravity.”
— “Wooden blocks by Melissa & Doug” were expected to be a 2006 holiday hit at The Name Dropper in Montgomery, Ala., owner Shea Schroll told TDmonthly.
— “Standard building blocks by Melissa & Doug … we sell those every day,” Peter (Mr. Toad), owner of Mr. Toad’s Toy Company in Naples, Fla., told TDmonthly in April 2008. Erica Welton, manager of Bedford Falls Toy Store in Charlotte, N.C., said her store sells “two or three sets a day.”
— More than 17 percent of retailers who spoke with TDmonthly in spring 2008 named this item as their best-selling construction toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 2283 (added 1/31/2005)
Infinitoy has re-invented the wheel with its ZOOBMobile Car Sets. Each set comes with ZOOB pieces, instruction guides and sturdy wheels with rubber tires that snap onto ZOOB pieces. As a bonus, the wheels are notched so that they can work like gears. The ZOOBMobile Racer includes 37 ZOOB pieces, four wheels and two instruction guides with models such as a three-wheeled racer, a Lunar Rover, and a dune buggy. This model debuted within the last year.
— “Zoob race cars … [we sell] maybe two or three per day,” Greg Bonner, owner of Heights Toy Store in Little Rock, Ark., told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— “Zoob race cars are our best right now. We sell about one a week,” Steve Ricks, owner of My Story House Toys in Roswell, Ga., told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— In April of 2008, four of 50 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly singled out this item as the best-selling construction toy in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7910 (added 5/22/2006)
The shapes fit together differently than standard building sets, helping children think on their own. The 15-piece junior set comes with instructions on how to make the Wedgits support each other and wedge into place, as well as a design book to get kids building creatively. Winner of numerous awards from 1998 through 2004 from Dr. Toy, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio and Parenting Magazine, the blocks encourage creativity and stimulate spatial thinking and geometric patterning.
— “Wedgits, by Imagibility, are very, very good for us,” Brandy Cardenas, manager of Timbuk Toys in Denver, Co., told TDmonthly in April 2008. “Of our starter set with 15 pieces, we sell a good 25 or 30 per month.”
— “We always do well with Wedgits,” Leslie Chiaverini, owner of Adventure Toys and Teacher Supplies in Los Altos, Calif., told TDmonthly in April 2008, when asked to name the best-selling construction toy in her store.
— Over five percent of retailers, who spoke with TDmonthly about construction toys in April 2008, named Wedgits as their best-seller.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3754 (added 6/3/2005)
Kids can create 3D pictures by placing the included transparent building plate on top of the instruction grid and match up the colors to make a pirate ship ride, a merry-go-round or even a Ferris wheel. Add micro K’NEX pieces to give the images 3D movement. Instructions on how to build ten pictures are included, along with fun and educational facts about the subject of each picture. The set included 408 building pieces.
— “K'NEX is a new item for us. …[We sell] 20 to 30 per month,” Jamie Burdette, owner of LB Toys in Media, Pa., told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— “K'NEX are very good sellers. When you're looking … for a nice gift, the K’NEX definitely comes in,” Fran Anaya, owner of Golden Aspen Toys in Flagstaff, Ariz., told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— In spring 2008, two of 50 retailers singled out K’NEX construction sets as their best-selling construction toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18154 (added 3/26/2008)
According to Valtech Co., Magna-Tiles were inspired by Pythagoras of Samos (560-480 BC), an important historical mathematician. (Perhaps you recall the Pythagorean Theorem from high school.) If this lofty inspiration doesn’t impress you, perhaps the design of the magnetic tiles themselves will. While using the tiles to build various constructs, children will also be developing familiarity with geometric shapes, which will lay a strong foundation for advanced mathematics, such as geometry and calculus. This product has no equal, Michael Ziegenhagen, owner of Playmatters in Cleveland, told TDmonthly. "It's used in some schools to teach geometry and spatial reasoning," he added.
— Two of 50 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly in spring 2008 singled out this item as the best-selling construction toy in their stores.
— “We're constantly selling Magna-Tiles. This is a weekly seller, and they're even high end,” said Peggy Sebert, owner of Becky & Me Toys in Glenview, Ill., during an April 2009 survey of 49 retailers on their best-selling construction toys.
— “We sell the Magna-Tiles from Valtech really well on a consistent basis,” Kim Emigh, VP of e-commerce at Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa., told TDmonthly of her store’s top-selling construction items in spring 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9551 (added 10/3/2006)
This Lego building set portrays a Mars' mission vehicle that can be used to help mining specialists searching for energy crystals. Players have access to a connecting air pump that can be used to transport sleds and battle aliens. The aliens come in their own glow-in-the-dark attack ship.
— “LEGO and more LEGO,” Phil Wrzensinski, owner and manager of Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, Miss., told TDmonthly in April 2008, when asked to name the best-selling construction toy in his store. “The Mars Mission is hot.”
— “I’ve been in business for 22 years, and a lot of stuff come[s] and go[es], but some things just stay around,” Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barston’s Child’s Play in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly in April 2008, when asked to name the best-selling construction toy in her store. LEGO was one of three manufacturers she mentioned.
— In April 2008, more than 31 percent of 50 retailers surveyed named LEGO products as the best-selling construction toys in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15715 (added 10/11/2007)
Gears! Gears! Gears!® Coggy Doggy™ by LEARNING RESOURCES INC.
Other products from LEARNING RESOURCES INC.
Kids can create a one-of-a-kind canine, or follow the color-coded instructions to build three different dogs. The set challenges problem-solving and fine motor skills with snap-together pieces that are compatible with all other Gears! Gears! Gears! sets. Remote control brings everything to life with motion and doggy sounds. Includes plastic gears, mouth, nose, tail, stickers and more.
— “We do very well with Gears, Gears, Gears from Learning Resources,” Bob Breneman, owner of G Wilikers in Portsmouth, N.H., told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— Brandy Cardenas, manager of Timbuk Toys in Denver, Colo., told TDmonthly in April 2008 that her store currently carries this item.
— The Gears! Gears! Gears! line includes various sets targeted to a broad age group of children.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17177 (added 1/23/2008)
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The purpose-built, performance-oriented car features durable body accessories permanently fixed to the simple wooden body blocks. Launch date: February 2008.
— “Automoblox always does very well. Usually, when we get those in, we sell through,” Leslie Chiaverini, owner of Adventure Toys and Teacher Supplies in Los Altos, Calif., told TDmonthly.
— “Automoblox have become very hot. They're a little pricey … but people really seem to like them,” Yamil Castillo, owner of The Red Balloon Toy Store in Salt Lake City, Utah, told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— In spring 2008, three of 50 retailers mentioned Automoblox to TDmonthly, when asked about best-selling construction toys and those they are interested in selling in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18463 (added 4/17/2008)
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