TDmonthly Magazine!
June 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 6
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TDmonthly Goes Inside … Puzzle Zoo, Santa Monica, Calif.

Specialty and Mass Market Blend in Neighborhood Icon


“We’ve seen some customers start out as kids, then come in as boyfriend and girlfriend.” Linda Tsukamoto, Puzzle Zoo
Since 1993, Puzzle Zoo has been tempting pedestrians on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to release their inner children and buy something cool. Find out why by watching interviews with kids (below) and seeing the toys the store carries (scroll down to see all the videos). You can also see the storefront, windows and interior by clicking on this brief intro video. 


Get the Flash Player to see this video.


Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Starting out with puzzles only, the store expanded its inventory to include toys of all kinds and then broadened its reach to encompass five other branches in California and Texas. Founder Jay Demircift and his brother Sean pay close attention to customer requests when deciding what toys to bring in. On the April afternoon when TDmonthly Magazine’s video crew visited the flagship store, customer mix varied from newborns on their first strolls down the aisles to gangs of teens and young adults ogling the designer toys.

Manager Linda Tsukamoto told TDmonthly the local customer base is not only faithful, but regenerative: “We’ve seen some customers start out as kids, then come in as boyfriend and girlfriend. Soon enough, they're married and have a little dog with them (we welcome dogs in the store), and then she’s pregnant and we watch that baby grow up, too.”

Watch videos of individual projects in the store below. A few more toy videos can be seen here.





MSRP: $20.00
Age Range: All Ages
SKU or Item #: 513018
Launch Date: March 2009
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Designer Toys
Plush
Pretend Play



Fea Bea: The Ugly Stick. Ugly Sticks are sort of the perfect sidekicks to have with you at all times in the Uglyverse. They are there for you. Feeling sad? Ugly Sticks will knock that right out of you. Happy now? No, wait ... feeling really ugly? Good! Ugly means unique! Anyone can retouch a photo to look beautiful, but you can't fake ugly. Launch date: March 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22775      (added 3/12/2009)
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MSRP: $12.00
SKU or Item #: 39501
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush



This cute little Yomiko Classics Cow stands 12" high.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23541      (added 5/5/2009)
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MSRP: $16.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Designer Toys



This Domo is not too small and not too big... he's just right. Confide in him, play with him, listen to him - he's the perfect everyday companion.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23555      (added 5/6/2009)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Computers
Interactive



This lion's king of the jungle, both online and off. While he seems to be an adorable, snuggly plush animal, he also has a secret code that allows kids to access the Kookeys website for fun and educational games.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23558      (added 5/6/2009)
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MSRP: $29.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Designer Toys



The follow-up to Anna Chambers' Lucy Owl, each twin brother and sister Woodchuck is limited to 400 pieces.Suzy (Orange) is friendly, and loves to sleep in. She's a lazy one, and loves to dream.
Sammy (Blue) is fast, and loves to climb trees.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23561      (added 5/6/2009)
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MSRP: $15.00
SKU or Item #: 35573
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Computers



This 8" long Shining Stars Alligator is more than a cuddly plush. He comes with a code that allows kids to go online and play educational games. In addition, they can sign up for their own star on the National Star Registry.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23542      (added 5/5/2009)
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MSRP: $67.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush



This entire guts set can be yours to cuddle or to give away (donate organs without having surgery). It includes a heart (6" x 8.5"), lungs (9" x 9"), a liver (8" x 6.5") and a kidney (5" x 6.5"). It is made in China.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16566      (added 12/13/2007)
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MSRP: $16.00
Age Range: 0 and up
Launch Date: December 2002
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Licensed Products



 Ernie, one of the most playful characters on Sesame Street is an 11"  character with his trademark jeans and striped jersey, red sneakers, and a big wide smile. Launch date: December 2002.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23440      (added 4/27/2009)
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MSRP: $18.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush



This floppy pig is super soft and cuddly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23562      (added 5/6/2009)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $36.00
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: 60579
Launch Date: February 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush



Kids can go hog-wild with Arnold the Snoring Pig, a cute, quirky companion sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. Arnold’s oversized snout, curly pink tail and sleepy expression make him a cheerful gift for animal lovers of all ages. Press Arnold’s hoof and the 16” snuggly swine comes to life, moving his ears, mouth and body as he happily snores the day away. Arnold includes 3 AA batteries. “Like all GUNDFun characters, Arnold stands apart from other animated plush because of the quality of his design – his movements are impressively fluid, and he is still a soft, huggable companion,” GUND Marketing & Licensing Manager Shallu Chhabra told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 2007.

Past Videos: Puzzle Zoo Video
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11680      (added 2/27/2007)
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MSRP: $15.00
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Licensed Products



George stands 12" tall in his striped pajamas. Like any little boy, he needs his own teddy to get a good night's sleep.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23543      (added 5/5/2009)
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Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush



Broken Heart Dolls are soft, plush dolls that are in the shape of hearts. Each character has a story and a fun fact. Susiee's story reads: "Why was life such a struggle? Would Susiee never find love? She tried putting on a happy face but negativity followed her everywhere. Luckily she had enough black eyeliner, black polish, black fishnets, black boots and black hair dye to cheer her up - at least temporarily." Her fun fact states: "Once wore pink and tried out for cheerleading as a joke." This Broken Heart Doll is 7" high and very plump.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21195      (added 11/3/2008)
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MSRP: $8.00
SKU or Item #: 35895
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Eco-Friendly
Plush
Infant & Toddler



Going green takes a whole new hands-on approach with new Simply Natural plush.  Made using 100% all natural cotton, 100% recycled paper hangtag and vegetable dyes for coloring, what could be more eco-friendly... or fun! The Elephant is 7" tall.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23544      (added 5/5/2009)
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MSRP: $14.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Computers
Interactive



This super-soft plush toy comes with a code that gives kids access to an online world of fun and games.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23563      (added 5/6/2009)
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The world cup is his dream. Kicks the bear is the best on his team. He hopes that one day he'll be the pick. First he needs to improve his kick. THIS PRODUCT HAS BEEN RETIRED.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23576      (added 5/6/2009)
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One of the Beanie Babies 2.0, this ladylike plush ladybug comes with a secret code that lets kids play games on the web.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23577      (added 5/6/2009)
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Trish's purple hair can be styled with her own little comb. She's posable and flexible — she can even wander onto the web, thanks to a secret code that lets little girls access an online Ty Girlz world.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23578      (added 5/6/2009)
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MSRP: $20.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Specialty: Yes (as of 2012)
Gender: Girls
Category: Dolls
Plush
Pretend Play



Glamorous all around, Lakinzie is ready to take on anything. Stylin' in pink, purple and green, her outfit features: purple shoes, pink polka dot orange tights, a cute shiny patterned dress accented with lime green fur and beautiful bright highlighted blonde hair.
— Manhattan Toy’s products were listed as best sellers in spring 2009 by Steve Melody, owner of Melody’s Choices in Fayetteville, Ark. “Groovy Girls make up a good portion of the sales here, but the line offers much more,” he said.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23579      (added 5/6/2009)
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Age Range: 0 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Dolls
Infant & Toddler



Mademoiselle Rose makes a perfectly snuggly first companion for Baby.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23581      (added 5/6/2009)
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MSRP: $12.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Plush



Perfectly playful, the Groovy Girls sensational pets have many lives - in person and online. This sweet 5" long dog is dressed in its party best and comes with an exclusive web-access code to unlock virtual fun and games.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23580      (added 5/6/2009)
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MSRP: $8.99
Age Range: 1 and up
SKU or Item #: 1437
Launch Date: August 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Balls
General Toys
Sporting Goods & Accessories



The Oball Stranz Football is made with yards of soft strands and may be used for any indoor or outdoor tossing activity. Just like the original Oball, it can be crushed, stomped or kicked, and it bounces right back to a perfectly formed sphere. It's an all-around ball that is designed to be soft, durable and super catchable. Launch date: August 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23509      (added 4/28/2009)
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MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 1 and up
Launch Date: February 2009
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Cars
General Toys
Infant & Toddler



The VikingToys Cute Cars Mom & Baby Assortment feature cute big "Mom" and small "Baby" car sets in four different themes: Frog, Pig, Cat and Bear. Featuring new colors, VikingToys are sized just right for little hands, and their smooth, soft edges are safe for teething toddlers. "VikingToys Cute Cars are designed to be safe for young children to mouth. They are sanitary, allowing for top dishwasher rack cleaning. Additionally, they are made of soft, pliable plastic with smooth, round forms," Nicole Tiedemann, PR account executive for International Playthings, told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 15, 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22657      (added 2/27/2009)
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MSRP: $13.99
Age Range: 0 to 2
SKU or Item #: LC27052
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



Kerry the Fairy will flutter anywhere ..her portable clip means take-along fun "on the fly". This plush toy's interactive features include a multi-colored rattle and crinkle wings for endless discovery play. High-contrast patterns stimulate vision. Perfect for baby's first doll.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23582      (added 5/6/2009)
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MSRP: $7.99
Age Range: 0 to 2
SKU or Item #: 8993
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Animal Figures
Infant & Toddler



Tolo First Friends Lamb has a movable head and squeaky legs.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23584      (added 5/7/2009)
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Age Range: 2 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Toys



Made of rubber and covered with colorful flocking, these fun, easy to handle activity vehicles are as durable as they are soft. Available in micro, mini and large sizes and an assortment of colors – collect them all. (Product was formerly dist. by PlaSmart)
Past Videos: ABC Kids Expo 2008
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15578      (added 10/2/2007)
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Toss it in the air and watch the colors magically flip! Handheld, magical color-flipping balls make a fun, portable toy. Collect all four cool color combinations. Toss just one or try to juggle with three.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23586      (added 5/7/2009)
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MSRP: $5.49
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Animal Figures
Collectibles



Part of the Farm Life series, this Rodeo Bull is ready to buck. He measures 14.3 x 6.9 x 6.8 cm.
— Schleich’s small animal figures are consistent best sellers at Melody’s Choices in Fayetteville, Ark., as reported by Owner Steve Melody in April 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23587      (added 5/7/2009)
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MSRP: $15.00
Age Range: 6 and up
SKU or Item #: 29854
Gender: Girls
Category: Plush
Licensed Products



This 8" plush Kuromi is ready to charm, with her exciting new polka dot hood with pink accents and pompoms.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23519      (added 4/30/2009)
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Toy demonstration by Lizette Orozco. Direction and videography by Alison Marek. Editing by Osvaldo Cuevas. Hairbrush "microphone handle" provided by Herdoos: Cheerleader Funky Folks ™ Gift Set



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Alison MarekWriter'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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