October 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 10
Retailers Predict Top Mass-Market Holiday Toys
Mattel and Hasbro Will Co-Dominate Santa’s Sleigh
I recently asked my retailer panel friends — seven mass-market and three specialty stores — to tell me which toys are likely to do the best this Christmas. Here are their top-20 rankings, in terms of dollar sales, not unit sales:
Mattel beats Hasbro by a whisker – seven entrants versus six. What surprises me, though, is who is not there:
• MGA Entertainment, presumably due to the general decline in Bratz sales
• Ganz’s Webkinz, which would most certainly have been there in previous years
• MegaBrands’ Mega Bloks
• Russ Berrie
However, there are two surprising contenders from companies that aren’t known for having a toy among the top-20 holiday favorites:
• Spin Master’s Bakugan, which, during a year dominated by action-figure movies, has no movie back-up of its own
• Thinkway Toys’ WALL-E U-Command, because the company is barely known compared to others in the list
See all of the products mentioned below:
This preschool-appropriate digital camera boasts a durable drop-resistant design, a rubberized outer shell, a 1.3” backlit color LCD screen, dual handle grips, two-eye viewing and auto flash. Features include 640 x 480 resolution, memory for more than 50 pictures, an SD card slot, software and more. It requires 4 AA batteries (not included). “Our motivation for product development is always grounded in a consumer need or want,” marketing manager for Fisher-Price Mike Sullivan told TDmonthly. “In this case, it’s 'durable and easy-to-use' preschool electronics. Since preschoolers may drop their toys, we wanted to develop an electronics line that would be tough enough for them to use.” Launch Date: July 2006.
— Steve Levy, owner of Toy City in Keene, N.H., got a lot of requests for the Fisher-Price digital cameras, “which I should have bought,” he said.
— Kidult products continue to grow in popularity, attracting ever younger fans. (VIEW ARTICLE)
— The Kid-Tough Digital Camera made the top-25 best-selling electronics toys for kids on Amazon.com as of December 28, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9930 (added 11/3/2006)
This world-class MONOPOLY game for two to six players take participants to global cities on six continents. Each player has a MONOPOLY credit card, plus a digital device that acts as a bank to track the balance. It requires two AA batteries (not included).
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20726 (added 9/24/2008)
Suitable for ages 18 months and up, Elmo Live sings, dances and speaks. It can even be programmed to repeat a child’s name. “For the first time ever, Elmo seems to actually be speaking as his mouth opens and closes just like he does on 'Sesame Street,' while he gestures with his arms, sits, stands and even crosses his legs ... all the while telling stories and jokes, singing songs and playing games,” Gina Sirard, vice president of marketing for Fisher-Price Friends, told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17778 (added 2/27/2008)
Nintendo’s Wii is distinct from other video game consoles because it has the wireless Wii Remote. This device detects motion, so that game-players can simulate the movement of their game rather than just press buttons. Players whose game character is swinging a sword, for example, make swinging motions to get their character to act. With a BM PowerPC-based CPU, a Wii Optical Disc, 512MB Internal flash memory, and online services such as Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, WiiConnect24, Virtual Console and Wii Channels, Wii also delivers great performance. Launch Date: November 19, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10833 (added 12/28/2006)
The motion-activated video game plugs directly into television sets. It offers lesion in basic math, reading, science, spelling and more. The wireless, motion-activated controller is even adaptable to both right- and left-handed play. Launch date: August 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18189 (added 3/28/2008)
The electronic reading pen contains a small infrared camera that recognizes letters, words and symbols printed on the pages of Tag books. The pen delivers audio, games and activities that correspond with the specific book the child is reading. Tag's 16MB memory capacity allows it to hold up to five books at any given time. Tag also tells parents which words kids are reading well, and documents the amount of time kids spend reading.
— As of 8.03.2010, this product had 4 out of 5 stars from 43 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 50 in the top 100 best-selling toys and games. PROS: Educational, entertaining and portable. CONS: Requires a computer with USB port and CD device. Is not compatible with some MAC computer systems.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17780 (added 2/27/2008)
This life-sized Golden Retriever puppy features voice-recognition technology that allows kids to interact with the dog, telling it, for example, to “Lie down” or “Give me a paw.” When touched, sensors on the puppy’s head make his tail wag; he can also bark and move his eyes and ears. The toy comes with a comb and dog bone, and requires six D batteries (not included). Launch date: Fall 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18534 (added 4/22/2008)
Play Along Holiday Pop Star Hannah Montana by JAKKS PACIFIC INC.
Other products from JAKKS PACIFIC INC.
The collectible fashion doll sings Hannah’s version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and wears an exclusive, hand-sewn dress. The doll also comes with a stand and a special keepsake in a beautiful gift box. “Hannah Montana fans, doll enthusiasts and even mom herself will want to play and display this exquisite Holiday Pop Star Hannah Montana doll,” Play Along Public Relations Manager Jen Bernstein told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19077 (added 5/30/2008)
Kids can build an army of Clone Troopers with this set, which includes four figurines plus a blaster turret and speeder bike.
— Dean Smith, Owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that he sells "at least" 20 of these LEGO sets each month.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 20 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Detailed; the speeder vehicle included is fun and seats two clones; good for travel because of their smaller scale. Cons: One reviewer complained there weren't enough figures included in the set.
— "Every time there's a new Star Wars LEGO, it blows right out the door," Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toy Shop in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly in September 2008. He and one other retailer, out of 63 polled, mentioned LEGO when discussing best-selling products.
— “Star Wars Lego has been insane at our store,” said Michelle Smith of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., at the end of 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20727 (added 9/24/2008)
This action figure portrays the Joker character in Warner Bros.' 2008 movie "The Dark Knight." Launch date: 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20728 (added 9/24/2008)
Bakugan Battle Brawlers - Starter Pack by SPIN MASTER TOYS
Other products from SPIN MASTER TOYS
Bakugan is a strategic card game played with magnetic, spring-loaded marbles that transform into robots. The game spawned an animated series on Cartoon Network, Bakugan Battle Brawlers, which debuted on February 24, 2008, according to Wikipedia. Launch date: February 2008.
— Barbara Vininsky, owner of Blossom & Harry in Montreal, Canada, said in early 2008 that this is her hottest item by far: "It's out of control; I've never seen anything like it." Boys 6 to 9 are snatching it up as fast as she can order, even though her store specializes in clothing and she rarely has hot toys for boys.
— Two of 63 retailers named Bakugan when asked about their overall best-selling toy in September 2008. Tim Hayes, owner of Learning Express in Sudbury, Mass., told TDmonthly in November 2008 that his store sells 500 to 600 units of Bakugan monthly. “We’ve been very fortunate in having shipments,” he said.
— David Marks, owner of Learning Express of Westport in Westport, Conn., lauded Bakugan for its wide range of appeal. "I've been in this business for 13 years and I've never seen a product appeal to kids as young as 5 and as old as 13," he told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18227 (added 4/3/2008)
Using plug-and-play technology, parents simply plug this kid-sized stationary bike into their television’s A/V jacks to bring the arcade experience home to enable kids to be active while learning. Kids pedal and steer to play fun learning games right on the TV. Launch date: March 5, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11938 (added 3/15/2007)
Suitable for children ages 9 months and up, the Busy Ball Popper pops colorful balls out of the top after they are dropped onto the track. It features sound effects and eight songs, and requires 4 D batteries. This product received a 2003 NAPPA Gold Award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20729 (added 9/24/2008)
This kid-friendly DVD player is especially designed to survive drops, and has an easy-to-use door and controls, plus a kick-stand base and anti-skip protection. The LCD video screen measures 3.2" and is supported by stereo sound. The product has rubber hand grips and a sturdy handle, and can play CDs or be connected to a television with a video output cable (not included) for large-screen viewing. It comes with bonus DVDs and a rechargeable 4.8V NiMH battery pack and AC charger/adaptor for plug-in use.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20731 (added 9/24/2008)
Little girls can press Baby Alive's bracelet to wake her and then mix her food and feed her with the included bowl and spoon. She "chews" food and "drinks" from her bottle, and when put on her own potty will "pee" and "poop." Kids need to hurry and get her there, though, or she might have an accident and her diaper will need changing. The doll comes with four AA batteries and is also available in Caucasian and African American varieties.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20732 (added 9/24/2008)
Fashioned after the house in the movie "Barbie & The Diamond Castle," this tri-level palace has a light-up tower and plays a song.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20733 (added 9/24/2008)
This remote-controlled version of Disney-Pixar's WALL-E features realistic expressions, sound effects and movie voice, eyes that light up, and real tread motion, plus dance moves. The wireless remote is programmable, and there are more than 1,000 possible action combinations. Ten specific buttons are designed to control voice, expression, motion, dancing and more.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20734 (added 9/24/2008)
This soft, 3' whip features whip-cracking sound effects and theme music from the Indiana Jones movies. It includes a belt-loop attachment so that kids can easily carry the whip with them. Sounds can be silenced with the flip of a switch, and the product comes with three AA batteries.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20735 (added 9/24/2008)
The ultimate playing and shopping experience for girls’ growing collections of Littlest Pet Shop characters, Biggest Littlest Pet Shop includes two exclusive pets and multiple accessories. It features a spinning tower, a bathtub and lots of other accessories. It also folds up for storage.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10568 (added 12/8/2006)
My Meebas are plush toys contained in an electronic tube that allows girls to play games with the My Meebas character and watch it grow. Over time, the character grows to full size and the tube pops open, revealing which Meeba has been hiding inside.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20738 (added 9/24/2008)
Each Bratz™ works her own personalized guitar and two trendy rock star outfits. The line includes Punk Jade, Hip Hop Sasha, Pop Star Yasmin and Rock Star Cloe. Launch date: Fall 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19229 (added 6/4/2008)
This striped character comes with an Internet access code that gives kids the freedom to explore Webkinz World online with the virtual equivalent of the plush pet. The tiger’s special item in the virtual world is a rock ledge bed.
— “Webkinz are still selling,” Owner Randy Austin of The Gifted Child in Lenox, Mass., told TDmonthly in summer 2008.
— “We move probably 100 to 150 per month,” William Meredith, owner of Learning Express in Cary, N.C., told TDmonthly in August 2008.
— Twenty percent of 64 retailers named Webkinz as their top-selling collectible toy in summer 2008.
Six of 63 retailers named Webkinz as their overall best seller in September 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20417 (added 9/8/2008)
MEGA Bloks WordWorld Barn Word Build Construction Set by MEGA BRANDS
Other products from MEGA BRANDS
This 49-piece set comes with a "WordWorld" DVD, featuring material from the PBS Kids program, and has pieces that teach the words barn, rake, rope, tractor, pail, corn and fence.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19689 (added 7/2/2008)
This 13-piece set includes 10 pieces of wooden track, a Thomas the Tank Engine Train, a passenger car and a railroad crossing sign. The set measures approximately 20-1/4" x 17-1/2" x 2-2/5".
— “The new Thomas trains do best when they come out,” Linda Angel, owner of Kidoodles Toys in Norman, Okla., told TDmonthly in April 2008. “I usually order a dozen and they sell through pretty quickly.”
— “We try not to carry anything that's in a big store … [but] we do carry Thomas the Tank, definitely,” Fran Anaya, owner of Golden Aspen Toys in Flagstaff, Ariz., told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— Over one-tenth of retailers who spoke with TDmonthly in spring 2008 named Thomas trains as their best-selling licensed product.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18771 (added 5/8/2008)
This fuzzy frog gives kids the chance to register a star with the International Star Registry ... and name it, too. In the Shining Stars virtual world, owners of Shining Stars pets can play games, send e-cards, and define their pet's personality with different character traits.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20741 (added 9/24/2008)
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Writer's Bio: Lutz Muller is a Swiss who has lived on five continents. In the United States, he was the CEO for four manufacturing companies, including two in the toy industry. Since 2002, he has provided competitive intelligence on the toy and video game market to manufacturers and financial institutions coast-to-coast. He gets his information from his retailer panel, from big-box buyers and his many friends in the industry. If anything happens, he is usually the first to know. Read more on his website at www.klosterstrading.com. Read more articles by this author
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