January 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 1
My Best Sellers: Piccolo Mondo Toys
Dolls and Other Specialty Favorites Offer a World of Fun
One of the goals at Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., is to bring a little bit of the world to customers. Owner Michelle Smith had a hard time narrowing down her picks of the top toys in the store, which thrives on an international theme and distinctive specialty products from around the world.
“Those are all my favorite things - … things that I show people all the time that we love,” Michelle told TDmonthly Magazine of the following list of items she counts as the store’s best sellers:
(No manufacturer paid to be included in this article. All products listed were chosen by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with ToyDirectory.com/TDmonthly Magazine.)
This dartboard set includes six balanced darts that feature N-35 Neodymium rare earth magnets and the lightweight, durable Doinkit material that keeps the darts flying perfectly true. The darts will work on any magnetic dart board.
— Owner Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop in Jamaica Plain, Mass., told TDmonthly in summer 2007 that she has been selling lots of these dart boards for years. “The quality is great. The holding power of the magnets is great. The price is right,” she explained.
— Doinkit Darts have been “unbelievable” for Piccolo Mondo Toys of Portland, Ore., Owner Michelle Smith told TDmonthly at the end of 2008. JoAnn Farrugia, owner of JaZams in Pennington, N.J., reported sales of about three dozen per month of Doinkit Darts in a March 2009 survey of best sellers.
— “The [Doinkit] Darts sell really well for kids and adults,” said Lauren Obenour, manager of Portland, Oregon’s Green Frog Toys, where the product is among the best-selling sports and outdoor toys, as of spring 2009.
— Doinkit Darts are a “longtime best seller” at Totally Thomas Toy Depot in San Diego, as reported in July 2010 by President Cynthia Wyatt. “The rare earth magnets in the darts are super strong, stay put, and don’t bounce off. They’re very safe and don’t damage your walls. Nothing but fun!” she said.
Past Videos: ASTRA 2008
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14606 (added 8/13/2007)
The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition™ by CCA and B LLC
Other products from CCA and B LLC
This set includes an 8" vintage-style pixie elf, a keepsake storage box and a children's picture book with a rhyming story that tells how the elf helps Santa out by watching children's behavior by day and reporting it to Santa at night. The elf is designed to be placed throughout the house during the Christmas season, creating a hide-and-seek activity for the whole family. Launch date: September 2005.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17594 (added 2/18/2008)
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)
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)
This magnetic construction set features 108 powerful magnets permanently encapsulated inside 18 jewel-toned square Magformers and 12 triangle Magformers. The magnets rotate to their attraction position upon contact, so Magformers always connect regardless of their polarity. Watch in amazement as Magformers "form" into three-dimensional structures. Magformers received an Oppenheim Gold Award as well as the 2007 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. The product’s “magnetic connector concept allows the end user to create quick, magical 3-D models,” President Larry Hunt of Rainbow Products told TDmonthly. Launch date: April 2006.
— Lynda Blankenship, owner of Smart Toys & Books in Knoxville, Tenn. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that Magformers were a best-selling construction toy.
— Magformers are a best seller at Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., Owner Michelle Smith told TDmonthly in Dec. 2008. “We have them on a play table,” she said. Magformers have been best sellers for at least a year at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., Co-owner Susan Blanton said in September 2009.
— Mike DiAndrea, manager of Hardware Centre in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly during an April 2009 survey that he sells between 100 and 150 sets of Magformers per month. Magformers are also a best seller at Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., Owner John MacDougall told TDmonthly in August 2009.
— Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at Smart Toys & Books
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7571 (added 4/14/2006)
Calico Critters Beagle Dog Twins by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Other products from INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
These twin doggies, William and Fiona, join the cute cast of characters that make up the Calico Critters world. They love to play in the sandbox together, and wear pastel blue and pink outfits.
— Calico Critters are strong sellers at Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., according to Owner Michelle Smith, who spoke with TDmonthly in December 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20552 (added 9/19/2008)
Suitable for ages 18 months and up, 12” Calin Darling has a soft, beanbag body and is easily poseable. She also has go-to-sleep eyes.
— “I love Corolle dolls,” said Michelle Smith, owner of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., at the end of 2008, about this best seller in her store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20553 (added 9/19/2008)
Mack Granite Dump Truck by BRUDER TOYS AMERICA INC.
Other products from BRUDER TOYS AMERICA INC.
Kids can tilt the cab forward to reveal a detailed replica of the engine, or incline the bed and snap it into place in an upright position. The vehicle features real tread tires, folding mirrors, doors that open and close and a back gate that opens. All of the Mack truck cabs are compatible with the implements designed for the front of the trucks, such as the mower and snowplow. The vehicle measures 25-4/5" L x 7-3/10" W x 10-4/5" H.
— “We're doing really well with Bruder …[especially] the big trucks and stuff. … We probably sell four a week,” Stacy Solie of Leapin' Lizards Toy Co. in Bend, Ore., told TDmonthly in May 2008. “They are consistent throughout the year ... we do very well with Bruder,” said Tye Steinbach of Thinker Toys in Portland, Ore., when asked about the stores’ best-selling die-cast vehicle.
— In May 2008, three of 55 retailers singled out Bruder die-cast trucks as the best-selling die-cast vehicles in their stores. Margy Peine, owner of Tree House Toy Shop in Cumberland, Md., told TDmonthly in October 2008 that her store sells about 12 Bruder trucks per month.
— Bruder trucks were named as top sellers at Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., by Owner Michelle Smith in December 2008. Bruder toys were on the top-seller list at Green Frog Toys in Portland, Ore., in spring 2009. “They’re sturdy and detailed,” said Patricia Fielder, owner of the shop.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19282 (added 6/9/2008)
The 8-1/2” 3D puzzle will help children learn geography in an innovative way. The puzzle features 540 perfectly crafted, curved plastic puzzle pieces the fit snugly together to form a solid, smooth ball. No glue is required. The underside of each piece is conveniently numbered to provide arrangement help. A variety of styles are available, including penguins, dinosaurs, dolphins and unicorns. Launch date: Summer 2007.
— “Ravensburger adult puzzles – we sell four or five a day,” Scott Sloan, manager of Toys Inc. in Myrtle Beach, S.C. told TDmonthly.
— “We sell a lot of Ravensburger [puzzles] for adults. At least a dozen every day,” Pam Horwitz, manager of Mr. Toad’s Toy Company in Naples, Fl., told TDmonthly. Four of 45 retailers surveyed by TDmonthly named Ravensburger adult puzzles as their best-selling puzzles.
— “Ravensburger puzzles are my very fav,” said Michelle Smith, owner of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., in December 2008 of this strong seller in her store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17473 (added 2/12/2008)
Chunky wooden body shapes can be switched around to make jolly chaps! Made in Germany, this is a solid beechwood stacking toy that will entertain the young and old alike! There are nine shapes and a sturdy base with pegs so the blocks don’t fall over.
— “We sell Haba really, really well,” said Michelle Smith, owner of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., in Decemeber 2008. “I love Haba blocks, so I tend to recommend them to a lot of people, and their marble run. We have a whole display.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21279 (added 11/11/2008)
This environmentally friendly tea set includes a tea pot with lid, a sugar bowl with lid, creamer, four cups, four saucers and four teaspoons. The set is constructed of bio-plastic made from renewable, sustainable resources in order to help decrease fossil-fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. Starch-based bio-plastic is ultimately biodegradable. "We do our best to make environmentally friendly business decisions, given today's available technologies from product development to packaging," according to Laurie Hyman, a partner at Green Toys. Green Toys also produces all of its products in the U.S. which cuts down on transportation costs and CO2 emissions. "Green Toys products are ideal for parents looking to make environmentally conscious decisions when it comes to shopping for their children," stated Hyman. Launch date: September 2007.
— “One of my new favorite toys is the Green Toys tea set and cooking set,” said Michelle Smith of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., at the end of 2008.
Past Videos: ASTRA 2009
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14495 (added 8/7/2007)
Kids can use this kit to build a working wind turbine to harness power out of thin air. Wind is one of the most promising sources of clean, renewable energy available today. During the experiments, kids will learn the physics of force and motion as it applies to wind power technology. The kit includes a full-color, 32-page experiment manual that offers illustrated instructions for 20 experiments and scientific information. Kids will build a working wind turbine, harnes mechanical energy to lift weights and more.
— “I’m featuring science kits that teach kids about the environment or renewable energy, such as the Thames and Kosmos Wind Power and the Fuel Cell X7,” said Michelle Smith of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., of this good seller in her store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20465 (added 9/11/2008)
PakNaks are soft, rubbery 3-D decorations designed for kids (and adults!) to use to personalize backpacks, lunch bags, headbands, computer bags, household items and more. There are more than 40 available designs. Customized Velcro makes them interchangeable and weather resistant, and they quickly and easily adhere to surfaces. Robert measures 2.5” x 2.5”.
— “PakNaks are from a new little small company, and we’ve been selling them like hotcakes since Easter,” said Michelle Smith, owner of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., in December 2008. “We were the first ones to launch them.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20554 (added 9/19/2008)
These tiny helicopter erasers come in four colors.
— “We have been selling those really, really well,” Michelle Smith of Piccolo Mondo Toys told TDmonthly of Iwako erasers in fall 2008. “It’s amazing how many people are driving across town for these things because they heard we have them.”
— "We sell 5,000+ pieces a month" of the Iwako erasers, estimated Bill Sartain, co-owner of Tutoring Toy in Salt Lake City, Utah, in early 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21864 (added 12/18/2008)
This plush planetarium projects a starry night sky onto bedroom walls and the ceiling, illuminating with red, blue and green lights.
— Kate Tanner, owner of Kidstop Toy & Book Store in Scottsdale, Ariz., was impressed with this product at Toy Fair 2008, noting, “the Twilight Turtle was extremely popular over the holidays.”
— “I love this collection,” Owner Michelle Smith of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., told TDmonthly of this good seller at the end of 2008.
THIS PRODUCT IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE. SEE THE RE-LAUNCHED TWILIGHT LADYBUG HERE.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16304 (added 11/28/2007)
Soft and fully washable, Nicki Baby dolls come in a variety of colors and are made of all natural materials. Colors include blue, violet, yellow, green, light blue, pale red, orange, rose, pink and red.
— Diane Robinson, owner of Silly Goose Inc., in Essex, Mass., said she sells a dozen a month of the “Nicki Baby organic doll from Kathe Kruse.”
— A summer 2008 survey about best-selling baby gifts found many retailers to be fans of European-made toys.
— “We love Kathe Kruse’s unique products from Germany,” reported Michelle Smith of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland at the end of December 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20315 (added 8/28/2008)
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Writer's Bio: Brenda Ruggiero is a freelance writer from western Maryland. Read more articles by this author
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