March 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 3
TDmonthly's Top-10 Most-Wanted Games
Families are Still Bananas for Bananagrams
With additional reporting by Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Chris Lundy, Claudia Newcorn and Brenda Ruggiero
In January 2009, TDmonthly Magazine polled 56 specialty retailers around the nation about their sales in the games category. While individual item sales varied, a common thread across the country was retailers noting that the demand for family games has risen recently. Thirty-one percent of retailers mentioned seeing sales of games that involved more people, or a wider range of ages, climb.
“Family games are making a big comeback,” said Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Company in Denver.
The types of games families are playing showed a wide range of interests, from the wild popularity of word game Bananagrams, to complex strategy and role-playing games, such as Settlers of Catan by Mayfair Games. Here are the top-10 best-selling games.
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)
Europe´s 2002 game of the year, Blokus is a strategy game for the family. It's similar to the ancient Go Game — the board is a grid and players use their pieces to try to control as much territory as possible. The game pieces are in four, 21-piece sets of varying shapes. Each player chooses a color and works on expanding his territory on the board while blocking others from doing the same. Each new piece laid down must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but can only touch at corners, not along edges. The game ends when all players have been blocked from laying down more pieces. Points are deducted for pieces not played, and the player with the highest score at the end, wins. Blokus comes with a game board with 400 squares, 84 game pieces (red, green, blue and yellow), and instructions.
— In spring 2007, Sally Lesser, owner of Massachusetts’ Henry Bear’s Park, called Blokus a “consistent best-seller” at her three stores. It's also tops at Juggles in Wakefield, R.I., and Kazoodles in Vancouver, Wash. Six of 63 retailers named Blokus as their overall best seller in September 2008. Three of 52 retailers named Blokus as one of their overall top sellers in November 2008. Blokus is no longer distributed by Educational Insights as of 12/4/08.
― “No. 1 is Blokus,” Linda Hanzelko, owner of Timmy's Toy Chest in Lake Mary, Fla., told TDmonthly when asked about best-selling games in early 2009. “It's an easy sell. It's one that people come back later and say 'You were right.'” In late 2009, Lori Hershman, owner of Evan's Toy Shoppe in Hamden, Ct., estimated sales of about 34 units monthly. Six of 38 retailers called it a best-selling game in Feb. 2010, selling from three to 150 units per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3721 (added 5/27/2005)
Players try to fill their Zingo! cards with matching tiles from the Zingo Zinger. The first player to fill his or her card wins. Rules can be adjusted to favor more or less competition among players, and to vary the length of time each game requires. This game was a 2007 T.O.T.Y. Nominee for Specialty Toy of the Year. "It teaches memory, matching, vocabulary and social interaction skills. Kids have so much fun playing again and again; they don’t realize they’re learning essential thinking skills," Marketing Communications Manager Emily Peters of Thinkfun told TDmonthly.
— “Customers use this game as their ‘standard’ party gift,” Owner Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop in Jamaica Plain, Mass. told TDmonthly in summer 2007.
— “We sell out as soon as they come in,” added Pam Horwitz, manager of Mr. Toad’s Toy Company in Naples, Fla. Four of 63 retailers singled out Zingo! as the hottest-selling game in their store. Seven percent of 56 retailers listed Zingo as a top-selling game in January 2009. Six of 38 retailers called it a best-selling game in Feb. 2010.
— “Zingo is a great game for 4- to 5-year olds,” Jamie Burdette, owner of LB Toys in Media, Pa., told TDmonthly about this game — a top seller in his store — in April 2008. “The basic Bingo concept starts to introduce words and spelling.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3529 (added 5/10/2005)
Requiring no reading from its players, Qwirkle is a simple-to-learn but stimulating game based around matching the attributes of the game play tiles. Players build rows and columns by placing tiles adjacent to tiles they share an attribute with (shape or color), and score bonus points if they can think ahead and put a tile down touching multiple other tiles. While the game is easy to understand, a good eye and quick thinking make Qwirkle challenging enough for a wide range of ages to play together.
Awards: 2011 Speiele des Jahres (German game of the year).
― “We sell a lot of Qwirkle,” Sue Banducci said of popular games in her Danville, Calif., store, Games Unlimited. “Qwirkle was best-selling over Christmas,” said Shirley Reilly, owner of Let's Play in Hillsboro, Ore., in January 2009.
― When asked about his top-selling games in early 2009, Tye Steinbach of Thinker Toys in Portland, Ore. told TDmonthly, “It was probably Qwirkle. We're not huge gamers in our family, but it's really fun.”
— Four of 44 specialty retailers named Qwirkle as a best seller in late fall 2009. Ages & Stages Toy Box in Golden, Colo., sells about 10 Qwirkle games per month, Manager Holly Anvers told TDmonthly.
— As of 12/17/2012 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 483 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 6 on the top 100 bestselling toys and games. Pros: Exciting; intellectually stimulating, easy to learn. Cons: Some said it took too long to play; only had 3 reviews less than 3 stars, however.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22437 (added 2/9/2009)
Apples to Apples is a wild, award-winning card and party game that provides instant fun for four to 10 players. It’s as easy as "comparing apples to apples" ... players need only open the box and deal the cards to be ready to play. They then select the card from their hands that they think is best described by a card played by the judge. If the judge picks their card, they win that round. Everyone gets a chance to be the judge. Each round is filled with surprising and outrageous comparisons from a wide range of people, places, things and events. Fast moving and refreshing, Apples to Apples is perfect for any get-together with family and friends.
— "Sales have doubled every year," enthused Matt Mariani of Out of the Box Publishing in 2005. "We´re struggling to keep up to the demand." [Game previously available from Out of the Box.]
— Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., told TDmonthly that she expected Apples to Apples to sell well during Christmas 2006.
― In early 2009, retailers reported sales of up to 40 per month of the Apples to Apples game.
― “We probably sell 25 a month,” Mike DiAndrea, manager of Hardware Center in Paoli, Penn., told TDmonthly in early 2011.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3423 (added 4/22/2005)
LCR® Left Center Right™ Dice Game by GEORGE & COMPANY LLC
Other products from GEORGE & COMPANY LLC
This addictive, fast-paced dice game is as simple as looking left, center and right. The roll of the dice determines which players to the left, right or center get the chips, and the player with the chips at the end wins the game. It's simple, fun and even educational for growing minds. L-C-R comes with a storage tube, three dice, 24 playing chips and game instructions printed on the back of the packaging. Yellow, red, blue and green chips are available. The game is designed for three or more players. "L-C-R is fun for kids and adults. It's fast-paced with its own twist. Even teachers like to use it to teach educational concepts such as sense of direction," said Jill Smilanich, a representative for George & Company LLC.
— "L-C-R is still our biggest seller," Bill Rayment, co-owner of Toy Crossing in Harbor Beach, Mich., told TDmonthly.
— "L-C-R is our No. 1 seller," said Michelle Sahr, owner of My Little Red Wagon in Stow, Ohio.
— “We have ordered ‘Left, Center, or Right,’ a new dice game from George & Company. We had lots of calls for those,” Sheena Brittan, manager of Weiner Dog Toys in Marco Island, Fla., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11310 (added 1/31/2007)
The Amazing Labyrinth is a mind-challenging game that allows players to shape the game board maze in order to win. A player’s wooden piece is moved according to the card games selected and the imagination of the players involved. It’s fun for kids and adults alike.
Where to Buy: Smart Kids Toys
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9735 (added 10/23/2006)
Double Shutter Jr. by BLUE ORANGE GAMES
Other products from BLUE ORANGE GAMES
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This junior version of the self-contained Double Shutter comes with wooden dice and plays like the original. A casino tin and travel version are also available. “The colorful casino like feel to the game ensures nobody will want to put the dice down,” Jeremy Smith at Blue Orange Games told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 2008.
― “It's very family oriented,” observed Mike Shaw, manager of Little Blue Choo Choo in Scottsdale, Ariz., who reported Double Shutter as a best–selling game in January 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18481 (added 4/17/2008)
Imported from Germany to the U.S. in 1995, this European designer game is thematically nonviolent, elegant in game play and visually appealing. Players must collect and trade resources, such as wood and sheep, and build the best settlement on an island. Moves require strategic planning, and negotiating and trade are crucial elements of the game.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 2230 (added 1/18/2005)
Voted one of Parent's Choice Foundation's "Best 25 Toys in 25 Years," Rush Hour puts players to the test, demanding thought and vision. As if the commute home isn’t enough, in these 40 beginner-to-expert challenges, players must navigate a red car through a traffic jam and gridlock to successfully leave the game board. Challenge cards fit neatly into a pull-out tray beneath the game tray. Watch video
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4845 (added 9/29/2005)
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Writer'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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