May 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 5
Regional Reports: What's Selling … And Where
Find Out What’s Going on in Stores Near You
New England Trends by Chris Lundy
The best-seller category was different for all the storeowners interviewed this month. For some, lines with broad numbers of small product, such as Lego or the Iwako erasers by BC Industries, soared. For others, it was the new and different (such as Hex Bugs by Innovation First) that drew attention.
Regarding infants and toddlers, there wasn't any one breakaway bestseller. As David Ekwall, owner of The Wooden Toy in Wethersfield, Conn., told TDmonthly: “You don't have kids screaming for it.”
Bananagrams, often mentioned as the bestseller store-wide, won the travel games category. In general, storeowners reported it’s games, rather than toys, that keep little ones busy on trips.
It's as if no one has heard of bath toys from companies other than Alex-Panline. Whether it was drawing in the tub or a submersible animal friend, the company has the market cornered.
Mid-Atlantic Trends by Brenda Ruggiero
In the infant and toddler sector, the top seller most listed by the retailers I spoke with was the Oball rattle by Rhino Toys.
Melissa & Doug have popular items for travel, including Hangman and puzzle books. For tub fun, Alex was the top-named brand, for products including stickers, crayons and paint.
The new product that retailers are most excited about is the Toot Scoot by Buckale, which is a nice alternative to tricycles. It has no pedals, so it teaches balance. One retailer mentioned tricycles are getting too expensive, so she’s excited to see where this product will go.
In the absolute best-seller category, the most listed item was Bananagrams, which does very well for many retailers.
Midwestern Trends by Terri Hughes-Lazzell
When it comes to toddlers, it appears that anything WOW wows them. The majority of toy-store owners said this line of sturdy friction-powered vehicles continues to do the best for them.
And when it comes to travel, traditional toys stand out, including travel bingo and even games such as Bananagrams. As for bath toys, Alex tops the list with almost any of the water fun line.
Western Trends by Claudia Newcorn
Of 11 retailers interviewed, Manhattan Toys’ products received two mentions as popular for infants and toddlers. For travel games and toys, Sticky Mosaics by The Orb Factory and Squiggle games by Randomline each received two mentions.
In the bathtub, Alex’s Tub Tunes toys received four mentions, followed by Squirters (two mentions).
With the exception of William Mark’s Flitter Fairies (two mentions), nothing else received multiple votes as far as a new line or product. Additionally, several retailers didn’t feel there was anything at this point they felt really strongly about. Individual mentions included PlaSmart’s Plasmacars, Bananagrams, Hasbro’s Crocodile Dentist, yo-yos, Sticky Mosaics and Oballs.
Southwestern Trends by J. D. Meisner
There seem to be no dominant front runners in infant and toddler items, but the Taggies line of blankets, plushies, apparel and crib wear did receive more than one mention from Southwest storeowners.
Mudpuppy Press magnetic dress-up dolls and the Melissa & Doug line of Flip to Win magnetic games are attracting the attention of travelers this spring.
Southwestern tub walls are being transformed into colorful canvases by budding artists; Alex's bath crayons are the hands-down best sellers across the Southwest.
Still running strong, the PlasmaCar is holding on to its overall lead in the best-seller race.
Southeastern Trends by Chris Lundy
Traditional items are key for toddlers and infants. A Jack-in-the-box from Schylling was mentioned by two stores.
Children like the Magic Pen books from Lee Publications, which means parents like them, too. Alex again dominates the bath category.
Storeowners like creativity and critical thinking, and some have been able to get their customers inspired as well. Wedgits by Imagability, Jishaku by RSV Productions and ThinkFun items make the brain work a bit, and customers seemed to respond to these.
For this month's bestseller, most of the stores responded by naming something customers can grab on the go. It's inexpensive, well-displayed, and known through word-of-mouth. For example, many of the best sellers are less than $20. Exceptions were Corolle and Alexander Doll Company dolls, and the Step 2 Up and Down Roller Coaster, which was named only because of its high price point.
Being by the register helped Think-ets by Think-a-lot Toys. Other products that did well had name recognition, such as Bananagrams and Hello Kitty by Sanrio and others.
West Coast Trends by Marie Raven
For infants and toddlers, Cloud b is a strong manufacturer, with retailers pointing out the Twilight Turtle and Sleep Sheep in particular.
Travel toys encompassed a somewhat wider assortment of products, though Wikki Stix and Klutz Books were both mentioned more than once.
Alex is far and away the strongest selling line of bath toys with every retailer saying it was their top line, particularly the water flutes and bath squirters (in assorted styles).
In terms of new things buyers have brought in, Sprig Toys and Green Toys have people's attention.
Here are some of the toys mentioned above:
These hamster-themed erasers are available in six assorted colors. They can be taken apart and put back together like a puzzle.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 5 out of 5 stars from 10 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Not suitable for younger children because the small pieces constitute a choking hazard.
— Belmont Toys in Belmont, Mass., sells from 800 to 1,000 Iwako erasers monthly, Manager Gage Brownell told TDmonthly in October 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19975 (added 8/1/2008)
The HEXBUG Inchworm is the first Micro Robotic Creature in the HEXBUG line to feature a full-function IR remote control. Users drive the Inchworm forward, back, left and right. A and B control bands allow users to control two Inchworms at once or multiple Inchworms on the same band. The product features a unique crawling and pirouette motion around its center pod foot. "This unique HEXBUG Micro Robotic impulse item is offered in a five-pack impulse counter display with five-color variety assortment," Joel Carter, VP of marketing for Innovation First, told TDmonthly. Launch date: October 15, 2008.
— The Inchworm has been a top seller at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., for at least a year, according to co-owner Susan Blanton in fall 2009.
— The Hexbug Inchworm is a popular item at the Toy Shop of Concord in Concord, Mass., Owner David Hesel told TDmonthly in late 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20882 (added 10/2/2008)
This 89-piece set measures 3.5” tall and includes a functional mast and forks that lift a cargo pallet. Please check with LEGO directly to see if this particular item is available for the specialty market.
— “Lego's been a big huge boost,” Ron Banducci of Games Unlimited told TDmonthly in early fall 2008 when discussing hot-selling tween items.
— “The kids like the challenge of building all the pieces,” said Linda Kapnick, owner of Ambassador Toys in San Francisco.
— Twelve percent of 51 retailers said Lego is a best-selling item for tweens.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20607 (added 9/19/2008)
These floating drums introduce kids to rhythm while they bathe, and can be pitch-adjusted according to the amount of water in the drums themselves. They come with a waterproof rhythm chart.
— “We sell tons of Alex's bathtub musical instruments. A dozen or so [per month],” Mary Porter, owner of The Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va., told TDmonthly in spring 2009.
— In March 2009, eight of 64 retailers named instruments by Alex-Panline as their best-selling bath toys.
— Alex products are always top sellers for Melody’s Choices, Owner Steve Melody told TDmonthly in spring 2009. “Stock it well and it will sell well,” he said.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23239 (added 4/9/2009)
The Toot Scoot has no pedals or training wheels. Children sit on the seat while pushing off the ground with their feet, scooting themselves and the bike forward. By first learning balance, coordination and motor skills on the Toot Scoot, children as well as parents will find the transition to a traditional two wheel bike much easier than without a Toot Scoot. Available in Red, Blue, Black, and White.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21534 (added 12/1/2008)
This rubbery, tri-colored ball is a staple for any child learning cognitive and social skills and developing fine- and gross-motor skills. Ideal for children with a special need, the ball is durable and has a skeletal structure that allows for easy catching. "Kids and teachers agree that Oballs are the easiest balls to catch and hold. The cool design already has won five awards for excellence and innovation, including an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award and a Dr. Toy Best Vacation Products Award,” said Suzanne Silverglate, owner of Rhino Toys.
— “Everybody buys it,” Dalene Lockhart, owner of Toy Town in Casper, Wyo., told TDmonthly in 2007. “Right now it is head and shoulders above others [in the infant/toddler category]. It's probably been that way for two years.” Retailers reported average monthly sales of five to 25 a month.
— In summer 2008, four of 66 specialty retailers named the Oball as one of their top-selling gifts for babies. “We sell more of them because our store does gift wrapping and it makes a good topper,” said Jill Jernigan, owner of J. Christopher Toys in Jonesboro, Ark.
― Ask retailers about top-selling balls and the Oball is an answer that’s sure to come up, winning the graspable toy a TDmonthly Top Seller 2007 award. Six of 64 retailers named the Oball as a best-selling baby toy in March 2009, and two of 39 said the same a year later. “[It] is definitely the best-selling gift for babies,” stated John Naisbitt, owner of Thinker Things in Del Mar, Calif., in June 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 456 (added 9/1/2004)
Ernie Fire Engine comes to the rescue with his powerful friction motor and crew of firefighters. Little firefighters can ring his push-button bell and watch his revolving light before using the click-and-turn ladder to fight any imaginary blaze. The firefighter’s hand opens the back door to reveal two emergency barriers. Ernie is great for long-lasting role-play fun.
— “Wow is an excellent line of cars, especially for the 1- to 1½ -year-olds,” said Fred Rosenberg, owner of On the Park in Kingwood, Texas, in spring 2007. “It’s hard to find things as well made as [Wow] that you can actually sell to that age. In the fall , we brought them in, and they’ve done very well.” They’ve also become a best seller for Brain Station and Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor, Mich., Owners Hans and Tricia Masing told TDmonthly in fall 2007.
— “This is my baby’s favorite toy. She plays with it every day,” shared TDmonthly's Baby Roundtable reviewer Sharri Hefner. She and her co-reviewers voted Ernie No. 1 for lasting value out of the 12 toys they evaluated from March to July 2007.
— Ernie Fire Engine is full of “wow” for toddlers — from its friction-prompted motion and siren to its friendly face and likable figurines. Doors that open and close, a workable ladder and attractive packaging also contributed to its receipt of a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award. Saving trips to the store to buy batteries (it doesn’t need them) helped, too!
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12722 (added 5/10/2007)
Suitable for ages 3 months and up, this activity toy features bright colors and pictures of expressive baby faces by renowned photographer Penny Gentieu. It features various textures along with a bell, a rattle and teething accents.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21999 (added 1/5/2009)
Sticky Mosaics Jewelry Box by THE ORB FACTORY LIMITED
Other products from THE ORB FACTORY LIMITED
Use hundreds of glittering stickers and sparkling jewels to create a beautiful, personalized jewelry box with this easy-to-use kit. Simply peel and stick and follow the numbered pattern. No glue or tools are required. “It’s going to be our No. 1 item in 2008.” Melissa Milne of The Orb Factory’s sales and marketing department told TDmonthly.
— “Our best selling craft kits are Sticky Mosaics from the Orb Factory. … We sell five or six every day,” Scott Sloan, manager of Toys, Inc. in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— “[Customers] like [Sticky Mosaics] so much because it is only $15, it is educational and it makes a great travel toy or birthday present,” Steve Ricks, owner of My Story House Toys in Roswell, Ga., told TDmonthly in April 2008.
— Five of 50 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly in April 2008 named Sticky Mosaics as a best-selling kit in their stores. As of November 2009, this jewelry box craft had been a best seller for eight months at The Parent-Teacher Store & Toys Too in Louisville, Ky., Owner Kimberly Kopatz reported.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18366 (added 4/11/2008)
Alphabet SQUIGGLE on-the-go is a portable game that helps children learn the alphabet, improve penmanship and strengthen vocabulary as it stimulates their creativity and builds confidence. With its compact size, it makes a great addition when taking the kids to daycare or while on vacation to keep them occupied and learning. Its educational component would also be beneficial to any home-schooling program or transition to kindergarten. “Our games are for children to adults and offer creative, basic fun without loud noise or the need for batteries,” said John Kiely Chief SQUIGGLER and president of Randomline. “We believe that our games are more fun to play because they not only stimulate creativity, but also boost confidence and children gain a sense of accomplishment.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7394 (added 3/30/2006)
These small, sparkling fairies can be guided around via a magic wand and seem to magically flutter and float in the air. There are three characters: Daria, Eva and Alexa. A demo DVD is also available. Launch date: February 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22521 (added 2/17/2009)
In this classic game, players must carefully choose one of the crocodile's teeth and press it down. But watch out for his sore tooth! If a player chooses the wrong one — snap! the crocodile will playfully bite down and that person is out of the game. The game includes a crocodile, plus instructionsin English and Spanish. For 2 to 4 players. Original launch date: 1991.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23518 (added 4/30/2009)
Duncan has dispatched its new Duncan Hayabusa™ yo-yo (Model 3596XP) for the intermediate to professional offstring player. Duncan’s Hayabusa, Japanese for Falcon, was developed by Duncan’s Demonstration Team across the Pacific – Duncan Crew Japan. The Duncan Hayabusa provides four different spacers enabling the offstring player four different gap settings, and the ability to create twenty different gap settings with additional Duncan spacers! In addition, the Duncan Hayabusa includes three different response systems, including the new 3-hole recessed system. Also, a brand new response system for Duncan, silicone stickers, will be added to the package. A set of friction stickers is also included. With overmolded rims and winged shape, the Duncan Hayabusa is Duncan’s widest yo-yo to date. It's available in six different colors.Launch date: June 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19769 (added 7/10/2008)
This soft, plush puppy features an earthy color palette, is made with organic cotton, and has pure silk ribbons. Launch date: 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23172 (added 4/6/2009)
This colorful tin box comes with three sheets of mermaid-themed magnets, including three dolls plus clothing and accessories, and two cards with background images on both sides. The product is printed with nontoxic ink, and the tin measures 7-7/8” x 6 3/10” x 1”.
— “Magnetic paper dolls from Mudpuppy,” are the best-selling travel toy at Twirl in Taos, N.M. “I sold 32 last month,” Owner Molly McMullin told TDmonthly in March 2009.
— Three of 64 retailers named Mudpuppy magnetic sets as top sellers for travel in spring 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23242 (added 4/9/2009)
Wind the crank and a plush Curious George pops out of the 5” tin box. The song “Pop Goes the Weasel” plays as the crank is activated. This item is intended for children over the age of 18 months. Launch date: December 2000.
— “I sell quite a bit of [Schylling’s] Jack-in-the-boxes,” Jeanne McCullough, owner of Children's Store Inc. in Boise, Idaho, told TDmonthly, when asked to name her store’s best-selling novelties.
— Three retailers singled out Schylling products as best sellers in the novelty category.
— Over a dozen other jack-in-the-box varieties are available in the Schylling line.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18857 (added 5/19/2008)
Disney Fairies Magic PenŽ Painting Book by LEE PUBLICATIONS
Other products from LEE PUBLICATIONS
Let the magic of the Tinker Bell and friends come alive! Magic Pen® Painting is a fun and easy way to paint - but with no mess! Use the Special Pen to paint each picture and watch the colors instantly appear. Each book includes 24 pages of fun and a special pen.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16995 (added 1/9/2008)
This open-ended building set introduces kids to the spatial world of angles, color association and unlimited geometric design. With large components, this toddler-safe product offers the same open-ended fun kids find while building with WEDGITS Junior and Deluxe sets. The geometric shapes nest, and each set contains 15 pieces of primary-colored building blocks that can be configured in virtually unlimited configurations. The Starter Set is compatible with all other WEDGITS sets.
— “You can start very young with these,” said Patty Tepper-Rasmussen of Learning Tree in Oklahoma City, Okla. She sells approximately 10 to 12 WEDGITS sets each month. Idanna Smith of Juggles in Wakefield, R.I., named WEDGITS as a top seller in her store.
— “We came up with the starter set to meet the concerns of parents of toddlers regarding choking hazards. The pieces are big, so that all kids in the family can play with them without worrying about the littlest ones,” Rob McKinley, vice-president of sales and marketing for Imagability, told TDmonthly.
— The simple, open-ended play afforded by Wedgits makes it a favorite at toy stores and earned it a TDmonthly Top Seller 2007 award.
— Jillie Beans Toys & More in Westminster, Colo., has carried Wedgits, a consistent best seller, since the store’s opening in 2006. “These are an educational toy and parents love that they start at age 1 and you can continue using the early sets even as the child grows older,” reported Storeowner Valerie Elsea in April 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12551 (added 5/2/2007)
This portable strategy game is similar to chess or checkers, but with a twist — the magnetic stones with unmarked north and south poles can jump out of their position at any point during the game, giving players a whole new element of challenge. "Jishaku" is the Japanese term for "magnet." The game received a 2008 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, an iParenting Media Award, a Major Fun Award and a Mr. Dad Seal of Approval. Launch date: June 3, 2008.
— Tutoring Toy in Salt Lake City sells about 20 per month of this game, Buyer Casey Sartain told TDmonthly in fall 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21273 (added 11/11/2008)
This game of deductive reasoning involves life-like candy play pieces. Players examine all the clues on the cards before making a move. Once they discover where to put a chocolate piece, they combine this knowledge with the clues to learn more information. Some clues give exact or possible locations, while others just give you the token color or shape. Narrow down all of the possibilities to fill each candy assortment. Challenges range from beginner to expert. Awards: TDmonthly Top Toy 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16461 (added 12/5/2007)
This coaster rolls on 10' of track and offers safety features like a high back, handrails and a foot rest.
— This toy was a top-selling item on Amazon.com and Walmart.com in March 2005.
— A reviewer on Amazon.com said, “I bought the first Step 2 Up & Down Coaster nine years ago! This toy is still played with every single day.”
— Parents like the fact that this toy offers little thrill seekers fun without the need of batteries.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3267 (added 3/21/2005)
The educational and fun-filled game uses adorable miniature objects from around the world that inspire imagination and test memory. All packaged in a little drawstring bag, it’s an at-home game, a travel game, a party game, a storytelling game and a camping game that’s perfect for children and families. Think-ets has received the following awards: 2008 iParenting Media Award (Classic and Hot), 2008 The Toy Man Product Guide (Award of Excellence & Editor's Choice), AblePlay, and 2007 Creative Child Seal of Excellence. Launch date: September 2007.
— Teresa Derry, owner of Annie’s Toy Chest in Cocoa, Fla., told TDmonthly in March 2009 that her stores sells about 12 Think-ets per week, keeping them located near the register. “I can’t keep it in the store,” she said.
— “Think-ets are good ones for traveling,” seconded Lisa McMartin, co-owner of Wonderment Inc. in Minneapolis, Minn.
Past videos: Product Demonstration
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15477 (added 9/27/2007)
The set features a heart locket necklace on a silver ball chain and a matching rubber bracelet that features raised rubber icons and designs.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19408 (added 6/16/2008)
Cloud b is proud to announce the arrival of Sleep Sheep travel size. Finally, parents will have an extra sleep companion to take on the go. The award-winning Sleep Sheep has four soothing sounds to help baby sleep better: Stream Sounds, Whale Songs, Spring Showers and Ocean Surf. At 8" tall, Sleep Sheep can go along on car rides, strolls and more. This item is designed for travel and to attach to car seats and stroller. Launch date: October 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7427 (added 3/30/2006)
Three fun-activity books featuring that adorable little fellow, Curious George! Puzzles, picture games, counting fun, connect-the-dot activities: all to be completed with Wikki Stix. Three fun themes include A Day at School, A Trip to the Circus and The Birthday Party. Each book comes with 72 Wikki Stix and a furry little Curious George cutout. Distinctive 3-D activity in each book. Three fun books for one very low price!
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14851 (added 8/23/2007)
Designed to give children ideas for creative filming while using the home video camera, this book includes a slate to mark takes, outlines gimmicks and gags, and provides step-by-step instructions on cool techniques, such as staging disappearances or fight scenes (where no one gets hurt). The guide is authored by John Cassidy and Nicholas Berger.
— “It's the Klutz that sells best,” said Patti Tepper-Rasmussen, owner of Learning Tree Toys in Oklahoma City, Okla., during an April 2009 survey of best-selling playsets and activity kits.
— “Klutz is probably still my No. 1 seller. They have lots going on,” Pat Jensen, owner of Northwind Kites in Anchorage, Alaska, told TDmonthly.
— “I sell a huge amount of Klutz books,” said Amy Barrett, owner of Lasso the Moon Wonderful Toys in Helena, Mont., in spring 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23161 (added 4/3/2009)
Butterfly’s Farm features a water-resistant “farmhouse” with four play/garden shelves. When assembled by an adult, a large funnel and chute fit into slots on the shelves, ready to be filled with sand or water for plenty of flowing fun. The two insect characters—Bee and Butterfly—have chunky bodies with soft, interchangeable wings and a simple slot that allows them to “sit” on the shelves and in the sturdy Farm Truck. The hood of the truck doubles as a sand rake or plow. “We want parents to get outside and spend time with their kids,” says Sprig Toys co-founder and toy industry veteran Chris Clemmer. “And,
since Sprig Hollow is made from recycled materials, the toys provide an opportunity to talk about caring for the earth.” Launch date: 2008.
Past videos: Toy Fair 2009
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20957 (added 10/16/2008)
Made in the USA of recycled plastic milk jugs, this tool kit includes flat and Phillips screwdrivers, a wrench, pliers, a hammer, a saw, and two each of nails, bolts, nuts and two-hole connectors. The environmentally friendly set also includes a tool box for storage of the toys. Launch date: 2009.
Past Videos: ASTRA 2009
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22797 (added 3/13/2009)
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Writer's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ... Read more articles by this author
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