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June 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 6
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Games Threaten, But Webkinz Aren’t Whipped


With additional reporting by Sharri Hefner, Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Alison Marek, Marie Raven and Brenda Ruggiero

A TDmonthly Magazine survey of 66 specialty retailers last month showed that many of the toys and games that have topped best seller lists for months are, in fact, still right at the top: Webkinz by Ganz are selling by the hundreds in some locations. Only one retailer, Owner Patricia Dickinson of The Briar Patch in Alpine, Texas, noted a slowdown and “won’t be reordering.”

Bananagrams are still being peeled from their hanging displays, PlaSmart’s PlasmaCars are racing out doors, and Stomp Rockets by D & L Company are blasting off yet again. As for newer products, one retailer was amazed by initial sales of Gamewright’s Boochie, and another sang praises for Q-Ba-Maze, a classy marble run/construction toy.




MSRP: $15.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Category: Rockets
Outdoor Fun



As a creative, educational action toy, it’s loads of fun — kids jump on the air bladder to launch a 9" all-foam rocket into the air. The Junior Stomp Rocket is used by science teachers to help children learn about trajectory, force and motion. It is also valued by psychologists, physical therapists, special-ed teachers and parents of children with special needs. “Stomp Rockets are recognized for their positive contribution to the lives of millions of children and adults around the world,” Frank Reed, of D & L Company, told TDmonthly. Awards: Top Toy of the Year 2005, Creative Child Magazine; Excellent Product 2005, iParenting Media.
— “Our top selling flying toy is The Stomp Rocket Jr.,” confirmed Sallie Kashiwa, manager of Timbuk Toys in Denver, in October 2008. “We go through about four cases (40) a month.”
— Six of 68 retailers said in fall 2008 that the Stomp Rocket is their best-selling flying toy. Holly Anvers, manager of Ages & Stages Toy Box in Golden, Colo., cited sales of about 40 units per month in late fall 2009.
— Eighteen percent of 38 specialty retailers named Stomp Rockets an overall best-selling toy in July 2010. Scott Loveless, owner of Toys That Teach in Bothell, Wash., told TDmonthly in summer 2010 that his store sells “somewhere along the lines of 40 to 60” Stomp Rockets each month. “Stomp Rockets … are always a summer favorite.”
— In autumn 2010, Marc Holcomb, owner of Toys & Co. In Greensboro, S.C., said he sold approximately 50 per month per store. “It's our #1 gift item,'' he told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1089
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Age Range: 5 and up
SKU or Item #: Q20C
Launch Date: May 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



Designed by a former architect, Q-BA-MAZE (kyoo-ba-maze) is a construction system of interlocking cubes that form pathways for rolling balls. The system uses just three kinds of cubes and is easy to learn, but is also endlessly fascinating because the cubes attach in many different combinations and the action of the balls is so unpredictable. It is part art and part science, and even adults can enjoy it as an interactive desktop sculpture. “We believe in the value of design: product design that inspires creative play for children and adults; packaging design that uses resources efficiently, stands out on the shelf and demonstrates the product in the box; and web design that provides lasting value beyond the box with helpful videos, interactive tools and printer-friendly PDF instructions,” CEO Andrew Comfort told TDmonthly. Launch date: May 1, 2007.
— “We picked up a new toy called Q-Ba-Maze and those have been really, really popular,” Alicia Smith, owner of Juneau’s Imagination Station in Juneau, Alaska, told TDmonthly in May 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12039      (added 3/22/2007)
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MSRP: $34.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 314
Launch Date: January 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Balls
General Toys
Outdoor Fun



The action-packed family game has players tossing, kicking, bowling and throwing a distinctive 12-sided ball. The game comes with four toss rings, four bean balls, four wrist trackers, a 12-sided Boochie target, a vinyl travel bag and play rules. This product has received the following awards: Dr. Toy Award for Best Products for Summer 2008; Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold; iParenting Media; National Parenting Center Seal of Approval; Major Fun; Parents' Choice Silver Honor; Creative Child Magazine Game of the Year; and NAPPA Gold. Launch date: 2008.
— Employee enthusiasm over Boochie helped The Wooden Toy in Wethersfield, Conn., sell out of its initial shipment of the updated bocce ball game soon after it arrived, Storeowner David Ekwall told TDmonthly in May 2008. “It sells for about $35, so I was kinda surprised that it sold as fast as it did,” he said.
— Eleven reviews with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Fatbraintoys.com showed that parents rate this game very highly. It is interactive, encourages physical activity, offers endless variety, and there is no age limit, so the whole family is welcome to play. One minor shortcoming is that is only for four players. (09.15.08)
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17672      (added 2/25/2008)
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MSRP: $26.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games



Agriculture has never been so much fun. Kids battle to harvest their crops before the ravens descend on the farm. The board features colorful wooden fruit pieces. Kids can join up and play as teams.
— “It’s an expensive game, generally speaking, but it has a very good following of people who know it and recommend it and then other people buy it,” said Jason Oliver, chief operating officer of Oompa Toys, based in Los Angeles. “We have three versions of the game. The regular sells the most. It’s consistent.”
—  “It probably sells best of our HABA games,” said Owner Alex Goedrich of Maulika in Carlsbad, Calif. “HABA does a really nice line of games with wooden pieces that are fun and quick and easy to learn,” retailer Diane Robinson of Essex, Mass., told TDmonthly before the 2006 holidays.
— This game is a top seller at Stone Soup in Bar Harbor, Maine, Catherine Higgins said in May 2008. Two other retailers, out of 66 surveyed, also named HABA items as best sellers in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4887      (added 9/30/2005)
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MSRP: $12.95
Age Range: 7 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



In this classic party game, two or more players roll the dice to score points and try to avoid “pigging out” so they don’t lose their points. It comes with two pig dice, a score pad and guide, two pencils and a plastic carrying case.
— “Every time we get it, it's crazy,” Donna Cole of Kaleidoscope Toys in Salida, Colo., told TDmonthly in May 2008.
— “Our best-selling game has always been Pass the Pigs,” said Joel Hardy, co-owner of Magpie Toys in Red Lodge, Mont., noting that they “display it vertically on a shelf.”
— In a late Summer 2012 survey, Mike Castor, owner of Pentwater Toybox in Pentwater, Mich., told TDmonthly that Pass the Pig was their second-best selling card game.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19069      (added 5/29/2008)
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Age Range: 6 and up
SKU or Item #: 4170
Launch Date: January 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Pretend Play
General Toys
Creative Activities



With this set, children can capture a video of the enormous Brachiosaurus with the adventure-seeking explorers. It includes a camera, two figures, a frog, a sword, a cave, trees and other accessories. The Brachiosaurus has movable parts. Launch date: January 2008.
— Four of 66 specialty retailers named Playmobil as a top seller in their stores in May 2008. “We sell a lot because there's so much of it, and for the money, it has great play value,” Mike DiAndrea, manager of Hardware Center, Inc., in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly. “They do try to keep up with the trends.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16629      (added 12/18/2007)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 7 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Educational
Award Winners



The fast-moving word game consists of 144 ivory-like letter tiles in a zippered banana pouch. Players place the tiles face down on the table and randomly select 21 tiles. They turn their letters right-side up simultaneously and proceed to form as many intersecting and interconnecting words as possible, rearranging their own letters as many times as desired throughout the game. Awards: TDmonthly Top Seller 2007; 2009 TOTY Game of the YEAR, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal; 2007 iParenting; 2007 Parents' Choice Recommended; 2007 Dr. Toy Best Products. (Read Review)
— This product has been making the TDmonthly Best-sellers lists since 2007.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 456 reviews on Amazon.com.
— Eight of 66 retailers vouched for its best-selling status in May 2008; seven of 63 did in Sept. 2008. Shani Watmough of Planet Toys in Rockland, Maine, said her store sells 60 per month.  Fifteen of 38 named it a top-selling game in Feb. 2010.
— As of April 5, 2010, Bananagrams had spent 570 days in the top-100 best-selling toys and games on Amazon.com.
— According to owner Brett Sommer of Figpickels Toy Emporium in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,  “It was the 2009 game of the year. The brilliant packaging definitely helps this product."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8301      (added 6/19/2006)
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This feathery friend comes with a hangtag that grants its owner access to Webkinz World online, where it even has a special egg chair.
— “Enough said” was Jamie Burdette’s comment when he listed Webkinz as a continued best-seller in his store, LB Toys in Media, Pa., in April 2008.
— Nine of 66 retailers named Webkinz as their best-selling toy in May 2008. Donna Stone, owner of The Perfect Present in Suwanee, Ga., displays the plush in a glass case right inside the door and, on average, sells 790 Webkinz per month.
— In spring 2008, two of 55 retailers singled out Webkinz as their best-selling novelty toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18537      (added 4/22/2008)
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MSRP: $69.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: PC020
Launch Date: February 2005
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Vehicles - Riding
Preschool
Outdoor Fun



The Original PlasmaCar continues to intrigue and fascinate. Powered by kid power; no batteries, gears, or pedals needed. Just sit, put your feet up, and turn the steering wheel to propel yourself forward. The patented safety seat design places riders in a safe, comfortable position and minimizes tipping. Moves up to 6 mph on any smooth, flat surface. Supports up to 220 lbs. Visit www.plasmacar.com to see all the wonderful colors available.
— In a March 2015 survey, two out of 10 retailers told TDmonthly that Plasmacar is a best-selling outdoor toy.
—  As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 122 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Does not work well on surfaces that aren't completely smooth.
— This top-seller in specialty stores earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for its distinctive aerodynamic design and ease-of-use. TDmonthly believes it has the potential to become a classic due to its fresh, contemporary appeal and application in a child’s formative years.
Awards: 2012 Parents Choice Awards Recommended, 2009 Green Parents List Check Mark, 2009 DisneyFamily.com Top Action Figures and Toys for Toddlers, 2009+2008+2005 The National Parenting Centre Seal of Approval, 2008 iParenting Media Toy Award, 2008 Fat Brain Toy Award Active Play, 2006 TIA Outdoor Toy of the Year - Specialty Toy of the Year, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, 2005 Dr. Toy Best Vacation Products, 2005 Creative Child Seal of Excellence, 2001 International Patent Fair, Hong Kong Gold Medal
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3829      (added 6/28/2005)
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MSRP: $19.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Science & Nature
Educational
Kits



This net habitat (almost like a Chinese lantern) encloses caterpillars, food and the setting for a caterpillar’s eventual metamorphosis. It requires mail-sent larvae. “The Butterfly Garden not only shows actual insect metamorphosis, but it does so in just three weeks' time. Many other animal habitats can take up to six months for any changes to occur. This makes it a perfect item for kids who have short attention spans and is an ideal science project for any classroom,” John White, marketing director of Insect Lore, told TDmonthly.
— Fred Rosenberg of On the Park in Kingwood, Texas, named this as his No. 1 seller in May 2008, with sales of 50 to 60 units monthly. “I just can't keep them in stock right now,” he told TDmonthly. “We have a display on our counter with the real butterflies so people can see it go through the process,” said Kim Emigh, VP of e-commerce at Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa.
— 25% of 64 retailers surveyed in August 2008 named this as their top-selling nature toy, reporting average sales of 12 per month. Five of 38 retailers named Insect Lore’s butterfly habitats as best-selling science and nature products in late summer 2009. In an August 2010 survey, 21 percent of 43 specialty retailers said Insect Lore is a top-selling science and nature brand. Five retailers specifically cited Butterfly Garden as a best seller.
— As of 5/21/2012, the Butterfly Garden had spent more than 1,600 days in the top-100 best-selling toys and games at Amazon.com and has 4.4 out of 5 stars from 461 reviews.
AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3975      (added 7/18/2005)
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Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction
Animal Figures



Thirty-five snap-together pieces give kids freedom to create their favorite insects — a red ant, wasp or monarch, perhaps — or combine parts to form poseable creatures the world has never seen.
— Two of 66 retailers told TDmonthly in May 2008 that Zoomorphs is one of their best sellers.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18004      (added 3/17/2008)
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These highly detailed Papo figurines and accessories are hand-painted and historically accurate. They stand approximately 3.5” tall.
— “Papo knights and pirates are a huge hit,” Patti Tepper-Rasmussen, owner of Learning Tree Toys in Oklahoma City told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— “They do really well,” Diana Gisolfu, co-owner of Sisters Kids in Springfield, Mass., said of the Papo line in her store. “We probably sell around 25 a month. The knights are definitely the most popular.”
— In spring 2008, four of 50 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly singled out Papo playsets as the best-selling playsets in their stores. In May 2008, 20 percent of 55 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly singled out Papo knights as a best-selling action figure. Also in May 2008, two of 66 retailers named Papo as one of their top sellers overall.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18767      (added 5/8/2008)
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Julie L. JonesWriter'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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