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September 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 9
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TDmonthly’s Top-10 Most-Wanted CDs and Musical Toys

Putumayo and the Basics Keep Things Rockin’


With additional reporting by Sharri Hefner, Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Chris Lundy, Claudia Newcorn and Brenda Ruggiero

When TDmonthly Magazine recently spoke to 68 retailers about their sales of music for children, most expressed that it’s a steady, stand-by category with an emphasis on simple instruments, like percussion. Rising awareness of environmental and safety concerns are driving sales of traditional wood instruments, and acoustic basics continue to be the cornerstone of most storeowners’ selection. Putumayo Kids topped retailers’ lists of CDs for kids; the other top-selling CDs and musical toys are listed below:




MSRP: $14.98
Age Range: All Ages
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Audio & CD



Thirteen tracks of playful music from all over Africa, Putumayo's African Playground is a colorful array of tunes for dancing, singing, and playing. Putumayo's celebration of these deep musical traditions introduces children to aspects of many cultures, and liner notes included with the CD provide fun facts about the artists.
- “[We] sell about 100 per month” of Putumayo CDs, Tina Benoit, Operations Manager of Kidstown in So. Burlington, Vt., told TDmonthly in July 2008.
- Almost 20 percent of 68 retailers surveyed in summer 2008 listed Putumayo as their top-selling line of children's music.
- “These songs provide a sampling of African musical styles and a calm, restful listening spot for your day,” said Beth Blenz-Clucas, publicist for Putumayo Kids.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20043      (added 8/12/2008)
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MSRP: $14.98
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Audio & CD



This joyous new collection for kids and their families from Putumayo Kids features a festive selection of tunes that reflect the crossover appeal and worldwide influence of reggae – a genre that is beloved all over the globe. As Jacob Edgar, Putumayo’s resident ethnomusicologist notes,“Reggae is one of the most adaptable and influential styles. People can really blend the reggae vibe with their local music to create something that is influenced by reggae but has its own unique flavor.”
- “[My] best-selling CD is Putumayo Reggae Playground,” said Laurel Marvin Jacobs, of Science To Go in Tampa, Fla.
- Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids Springfield, Va., said Putumayo was her chosen line of children’s music. “We don't sell a lot of CDs, but we do sell Putumayo …quite a few.”
- “Customers come in and ask what [the owner] listens to and that's what drives the sales,” said Catherine Higgins of Stone Soup in Bar Harbor, Maine.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8776      (added 7/27/2006)
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MSRP: $3.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys



Bright colored and bright sounding, this simple beginner’s harmonica from Hohner is an easy, portable, durable introduction to musical instruments for a young child. The translucent plastic casing comes in a variety of cheerful colors, and will stand up to being carried around for a little bit of music anywhere. A classic diatonic harmonica, this is a great way to start kids learning about blues music and beyond while having fun creating their own unique sounds.
— “Harmonicas have been selling very well this last year or so,” David Campbell, owner of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont., told TDmonthly in summer 2008.
— “Our translucent harmonicas are really popular,” said Donna Stone, manager of The Treasured Child in La Grange, Ky.
— Laurel Marvin Jacobs of Science to Go in Tampa, Fla., named harmonicas as a hands-down best seller in her store: “They always move; [we] probably sell 100 harmonicas per month.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20036      (added 8/12/2008)
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MSRP: $44.00
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: KD-5080-01
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys



The Remo Floor Tom is a professional quality drum made to fit smaller hands. It can be played with the two included mallets, hands, or the stick side of the mallet for a variety of sounds. Manufactured with Remo Acousticon®, a proprietary material made with 100% recycled wood fiber and a durable synthetic drumhead. Measures 7.5” tall x 10” diameter. Drumming is a great way to start learning basic musical skills and explore counting. It has been shown to channel energy in a positive way and help kids express themselves.
— “Tom Tom drum by Remo; [we sell] about 100 per year,” said Joanne Farrugia, owner of JaZams in Pennington, NJ, of her top-selling musical toy.
— “I think drums as a category are strongest,” Tara Friese, assistant manager of Tree Top Toys in Redmond, Wash., replied when asked about her store’s music category in July 2008.
— “[My customers] prefer cymbals and percussion instruments,” said Anna Barr, owner of Anna's Toy Depot in Austin, Texas, who credited her clients’ preference for basic acoustic instruments over more electronic or battery operated toys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20034      (added 8/12/2008)
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MSRP: $6.50
Age Range: 2 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys



These new and safety-approved capless egg shakers provide kids with quick, delicate and responsive shaker sounds. Constructed of durable wipe-clean plastic and filled with non-toxic steel shot, the Egg Shakers make sweet, reliable and rhythmic sounds for kids and adults alike. "Our egg shaker is unique because of our patented design sealing process. Other egg shakers are seamed in the middle or have a glued end cap. In other words, ours is safer and has a better appearance," said Ray Enhoffer, director of R&D at Latin Percussion.
—  "Shakers are the type of toy that might be selling in the music section. We get them from LP RythMix," said Tristan Hewitt, manager at Dragon's Toy Box in Seattle. “Everybody needs some egg shakers,” said Janet Gregory, owner of Over the Rainbow Toy Store in Anchorage, Alaska. “They’re perfect for baby hands, and I sell them to lots of grown-ups for all kinds of things.”
— Two of 45 retailers told TDmonthly in 2007 that shakers from Latin Percussion are popular with their customers, citing sales of about 30 and 120 units monthly. Six percent of 68 retailers said in July 2008 that egg shakers are their top-selling musical toy.
— Egg shakers are “perfect for little ones to hold in their baby hands, and non-toxic,” Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Company in Denver, told TDmonthly of this best seller in her store in January 2009. “It's something simple and not too noisy for a parent; I think that's why they do well,” explained Sherry Peddie, manager of  Applause Kids in Bracebridge, Ontario, in January 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14259      (added 7/23/2007)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys



This 10-piece set of musical instruments (heavy on the percussion with maracas, a tambourine and a triangle) lets a child explore the wonders of sound, music, anthropology or just the fun of making some noise.
― Richard Gibson, owner of Learning Express of Newton, Mass., says his store sells about 6 or 7 of these sets per month.
— In summer 2008, Meredith Zellweger, owner of Toy Jungle in Manhattan Beach, Calif., touted this set as her “go-to musical toy.” Melanie Anderson of Daly City, Calif., said, “The kids have so much fun playing with them. They are real instruments, not plastic imitations that don´t sound quite right. This was a purchase I don´t regret.” 
— Three of 45 retailers cited Band in a Box when asked about best-selling musical toys in mid 2007, citing sales of between three and 10 units per month. Seven of 48 retailers named it as a musical best seller in January 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4401      (added 8/31/2005)
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MSRP: $49.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: FN630G
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys



Sized for small people, the 30” acoustic guitar from Trophy Music has six steel strings that are tunable with durable metal pegs. It stores well in the heavy cardboard box it comes in, and is also offered in a 34” size.
— “Guitars are big sellers,” Paul Faustine of Red Dragon Toys in Brunswick, Maine, said in summer 2008.
— Retailers surveyed sold an average of six guitars per month.
— Nine percent of 68 retailers named guitars as their best-selling musical toy for children.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20035      (added 8/12/2008)
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MSRP: $14.95
Age Range: 3 to 9
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys



Kids can perform like a pro with the electronic Tune in Violin with bow that produces 18 pre-programmed tunes and a light show, too. Made of plastic, the instrument features volume control and requires 2 AA batteries (not included). "Featuring a bow that moves over faux strings to create realistic notes, flashing lights and 18 different programmed songs that children can listen to or play along with, the Tune in Violin is a playful way to encourage imaginative play, develop cognitive thinking and instill a lasting love of music," said Debra Fine, CEO of Small World Toys.
— “The Tune In Violin or the Saxophone from Small World still seems to be our most popular seller,” said Kim Emigh, VP of e-commerce at Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa.
— This product was named as a top-10 best seller by Jamie Burdette, owner of LB Toys in Media, Pa., in spring 2008. “It’s a good, interactive toy and good quality,” he said, noting a few months later that he sells about 30 per month.
— Three of 45 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly in summer 2007 said Small World or Neurosmith musical toys were selling well, reporting average sales of about 10 to 20 units a month. Ten percent of 68 retailers listed Small World as their top supplier of musical toys in summer 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14258      (added 7/23/2007)
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MSRP: $8.00
Age Range: 2 and up
SKU or Item #: LPR010
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys



Small, light, and shaped with an easy-to-grip handle, these compact maracas invite rhythm and dance in kids of all ages. Safe for children under 3, Chick-Itas make a nice, simple rattle for babies and a great early instrument for preschoolers. Just the right amount of filling gives them a nice tone and allows for a variety of different sounds to be made.
— “We sell hundreds of LP baby maracas,” said Peg Scholtes, owner of Capitol Kids in Madison, Wis.
— Six percent of retailers named maracas as their top musical toy.
— Teresa Ford, owner of Kids Ketch in Lewes, Del., told TDmonthly in July 2008 that maracas are her music section’s best seller, with as many as two dozen per month going out the door.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20044      (added 8/12/2008)
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MSRP: $18.99
Age Range: 1 and up
SKU or Item #: 6405
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Musical Toys



This colorful, five-note xylophone is solid wood, yielding a gentle sound when struck by the included mallet. Made from sustainably harvested materials and safe for children under 3, the simple instrument is a great first tool for young children to begin exploring tone and rhythm.
— Denis Hofsetter, owner of The Toy Store in Atlanta, told TDmonthly in summer 2008 that Plan Toys is his top supplier of musical instruments for children. “We don't always have them in stock, but they always do well when we have them.”
— “More and more parents are aware of the importance of interaction with sound, both visually and textually,” said Mary Ellen Cerney, owner of Dear Friends and Children in Duncan, Okla.
— Meredith Zellweger, owner of Toy Jungle in Manhattan Beach, said she has noticed an increase in Plan Toys as people search for greener products for their children. Three of 52 retailers named products from Plan as best sellers in their stores when surveyed in November 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20045      (added 8/12/2008)
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Marie RavenWriter's Bio: Marie Raven has a long history with the specialty toy industry as a family business. In addition to freelancing for TDmonthly Magazine, she writes creative and technical material for various other businesses. Read more articles by this author

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