TDmonthly Magazine!
June 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 6
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Regional Reports: What's Selling … And Where

Find Out What’s Going on in Stores Near You


Mid-Atlantic Trends by Brenda Ruggiero

Magformers by Rainbow Products are hot sellers for Mike DiAndrea of Hardware Centre Inc. in Paoli, Pa. He noted that between the brick-and-mortar store and the website, they sell about 100 to 150 sets per month. “I’m reordering every three weeks,” he told TDmonthly Magazine.

Magna-Tiles from Valtech are top sellers in the construction category for Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa., according to Owner Kim Emigh.

Melissa & Doug play sets, such as the Slice and Bake Cookie Set and the Decorate Your Own Princess, are strong sellers for several retailers. Sticky Mosaics by The Orb Factory are also good sellers. As Gwen Bowden of Doodlehopper for Kids in Springfield, Va., said, “It’s not messy, and it keeps the kids busy. We sell a lot of these.”

Consistent with earlier research, most of the retailers I spoke with reported that they don’t carry a lot of licensed toys.


New England Trends by Chris Lundy

The frogs are coming.

Noted by several storeowners last month as something they were really excited about, Wild Creations EcoAquariums are already affecting sales significantly. One storeowner said previously that the product has the potential to flood the market quickly, but the trend appears to be on an upswing.

“Unbelievable. I have to order every week,” T.J. Pelino, owner of the Learning Express of Essex Junction, Vt., told TDmonthly.

Lego topped sales in construction toys, and was mentioned as a storewide bestseller for Toy City in Keene, N.H. However, two stores cited problems in shipping, a big disappointment since, when a good seller doesn't ship, it hurts everyone.

Sticky Mosaics by the Orb Factory were named by two storeowners as best-selling activity kits.

Licensed toys are not the preferred genre of small toy stores, retailers indicated. But Thomas the Tank Engine, Star Wars (when it comes as Lego), and Fancy Nancy are licenses that were mentioned.


Southeast Trends by Chris Lundy

Two stores named Kooky Klickers by Courage Brand as an overall best seller. Others noted traditional good sellers, including Calico Critters by International Playthings and puzzles by Ravensburger.

Three retailers mentioned Lego as their best-selling construction toy. The pirate line and Star Wars tie-ins do especially well.

When it comes to activity kits, sales are spread evenly throughout entire lines, such as Klutz books, or throughout the store. At Picayune Toys in Dunwoody, Ga., for example, Alex and Creativity for Kids perform equally well.

Most of the storeowners questioned do not carry licensed products. Tracie Meadow, owner of Whippersnappers in St. Simons Island, Ga., told TDmonthly, however, that Dora the Explorer products beat out even the everlasting Elmo, from Mattel.


West Trends by Claudia Newcorn

Lego received two mentions, out of eight, as the most popular construction toy. For best-selling activity kits and playsets, Calico Critters also received two mentions.

Only half of the retailers said they carry licensed items. Fancy Nancy, for one, is popular in a couple of the stores.

No one item stood out as a best-selling game or toy. Individual mentions included the PlasmaCar, Klutz’s Encyclopedia of Immaturity and Webkinz by Ganz.


West Coast Trends by Marie Raven

For construction toys, Lego is a landslide best seller, with retailers citing consistent customer demand. Erector, from Nikko America, followed Lego, with one retailer also mentioning that she was glad Schylling had picked up distribution of the brand.

For playsets, Playmobil as a line is definitely tops in the category, with some retailers saying it is the top-selling brand in their store. Most specialty stores carry little or no licensed product, though even some stores that say they avoid stocking character licenses do carry Sesame Street products from Gund.


Midwest Trends by Terri Hughes-Lazzell

Playmobil is, hands down, the winner when it comes to playsets at specialty toy stores in the Midwest. The entire line seems to do well for most, although pirates are especially hot right now. When it comes to construction sets, Lego tops the list, although several others, including Magna-Tiles and Superstructs, are also selling well.

Licensed toys aren’t seen often in specialty toy stores, although a few, like Thomas the Tank Engine, can be located there. As for overall top sellers, Midwest stores vary from the EcoAquariums to Cloud B’s Twilight Turtle to collectible erasers from BC Industries.


See descriptions of the products mentioned below:




MSRP: $34.98
Age Range: 5 to 11
Launch Date: April 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



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)
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MSRP: $49.50
Age Range: 3 to 7
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



According to Valtech Co., Magna-Tiles were inspired by Pythagoras of Samos (560-480 BC), an important historical mathematician. (Perhaps you recall the Pythagorean Theorem from high school.) If this lofty inspiration doesn’t impress you, perhaps the design of the magnetic tiles themselves will. While using the tiles to build various constructs, children will also be developing familiarity with geometric shapes, which will lay a strong foundation for advanced mathematics, such as geometry and calculus. This product has no equal, Michael Ziegenhagen, owner of Playmatters in Cleveland, told TDmonthly. "It's used in some schools to teach geometry and spatial reasoning," he added.
— Two of 50 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly in spring 2008 singled out this item as the best-selling construction toy in their stores.
— “We're constantly selling Magna-Tiles. This is a weekly seller, and they're even high end,” said Peggy Sebert, owner of Becky & Me Toys in Glenview, Ill., during an April 2009 survey of 49 retailers on their best-selling construction toys.
— “We sell the Magna-Tiles from Valtech really well on a consistent basis,” Kim Emigh, VP of e-commerce at Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa., told TDmonthly of her store’s top-selling construction items in spring 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9551      (added 10/3/2006)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 3 to 7
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Wooden Toys



This set of 12 wooden, sliceable cookies offers creative play for young bakers. The realistic-looking cookies come in a durable dough tube.
— The set was listed as a best seller in spring 2009 at Green Frog Toys in Portland, Ore. “The set is good for fun, educational and creative play,” Owner Patricia Fiedler told TDmonthly.
— This cookie set has been on the top-10 best seller list at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., for at least a year, Co-owner Susan Blanton told TDmonthly in fall 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23232      (added 4/9/2009)
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MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 5 and up
SKU or Item #: 62705
Launch Date: August 2009
Gender: Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts
Creative Activities
Fashion & Accessories



An update on our classic Sticky Mosaics® Jewelry Box design, this product features a beautiful fairy and flowers to decorate it. It includes one numbered Jewelry Box and more than 1,000 sticky foam and jewel pieces. "While there are many other Jewelry Box kits on the market, ours stands above. Our easy to use number-to-color matching system creates perfect results every time, providing a child with an unparalleled sense of accomplishment," Damien Crocker, sales and marketing representative for The Orb Factory Limited, told TDmonthly. Launch date: August 2009.
—John MacDougall listed Sticky Mosaics as best sellers in his store, Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., in summer 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23862      (added 5/22/2009)
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This balanced ecosystem offers a low-maintenance way for children or adults to enjoy an aquarium environment. It comes complete with water, a snail, two little frogs, food and care pack. The water in the aquarium only has to be changed every five or six months.
— ''We sold about 660 during the year,” Marc Holcomb, owner of Toys & Co. in Greensboro, S.C., said in autumn 2010. Dave Campbell of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont., sells approximately 12 per month.
— "I brought in 20, and in two weeks it sold out. I brought in 20 more and it sold out," Gage Brownell, manager of Belmont Toys in Belmont, Mass., told TDmonthly in March 2009 about the EcoAquariums he discovered at Toy Fair the month before. Molly McMullin of Twirl in Taos, N.M., reported sales of about 70 a month in March 2009.
— "Everyone was excited about them," Jeanne McCullough, owner of Children's Store Inc., said following ASTRA Marketplace in June 2009.
— In late summer/early fall 2009, three of 38 retailers named EcoAquariums as a best-selling science and nature product, noting sales of 18 to 60 a month. “We were hesitant to bring them in. We didn’t want to be a pet store. But it’s a neat idea. It’s low maintenance. It’s something the parents and kids can agree on,” Gary Green of Toy Box of Asheville in Asheville, N.C., told TDmonthly.
Awards: 2010 Tillywig Top Fun; Parent's Choice Award 2010
Past Videos: Toy Fair 2009
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22491      (added 2/16/2009)
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MSRP: $19.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books
Arts & Crafts
Creative Activities



Complete with photos, drawings, footnotes and diagrams, this guide boasts 300+ entries, including how-tos such as “How to Do a Wheelie” and “How to Really Annoy Your Older Sibling.” The book received a National Parenting Publications Gold Award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23904      (added 5/28/2009)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



Modeled after the agile one-pilot fighting crafts in the original Star Wars movie, this kit builds into a detailed TIE fighter. The nose of the ship opens to access the cockpit, which houses the included Darth Vader figurine.  Flick-firing missiles, Darth Vader's red light saber, and other movie details add to the building activity in this set.
— Three of 49 retailers named Star Wars Lego sets as their best-selling licensed toy in April 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23878      (added 5/26/2009)
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MSRP: $21.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Rail Roads & Trains



Thomas, Sodor's cheeky favorite train car, comes all decked out in birthday finery. Covered with streamers and confetti, this engine comes packaged pulling a special boxcar whose panel door slides back to reveal a load of wrapped presents. This festive addition to a child's train table is compatible with all of Learning Curve's wooden rail line, as well as many other major brands.
— “There's definitely a group that's really into it,” said Scott Loveless, owner of Toys That Teach in Bothell, Wash., of his persistent sales of Thomas the Tank Engine in spring 2009.
— “Thomas is about all we do in licensed toys, and it's still selling. We're getting requests again,” Peggy Sebert, owner of Becky & Me Toys in Glenview, Ill., told TDmonthly in April 2009. 
— Six of 49 retailers named Thomas as their best-selling licensed toy line in spring 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23877      (added 5/26/2009)
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MSRP: $6.99
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



Packaged in a purple box, this craft set includes a mirror fit for royalty, stickers, gems that sparkle, and both craft and glitter glue.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23905      (added 5/28/2009)
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MSRP: $9.99
Age Range: 6 to 12
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



Standing 3.5” tall and complete with flick-firing missiles, the Clone Walker packs a powerful punch as children use imagination and building skills to relive or reinvent their favorite parts of the Star Wars saga. Once complete, the posable model stands on two legs and carries two of the four included characters.
— “Legos are still king,” said Patti Tepper-Rasmussen when asked in spring 2009 about best-selling construction toys in her Oklahoma City, Okla., store, Learning Tree Toys, Books and Games.
— “Everyone wants Legos,” Ron Kutchik, owner of Grand Slam Toys in Kodiak, Alaska, told TDmonthly in April 2009 during a survey concerning best-selling construction items.
— More than 40 percent of 49 retailers pointed out Lego as a best-selling construction brand in their stores in spring 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23611      (added 5/11/2009)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 5 and up
SKU or Item #: BP61103
Gender: Girls
Category: General Games
Licensed Products



Players help Fancy Nancy transform her bedroom from plain to posh, by bringing in her boas, ribbons, tiaras and more. No reading is required. The game comes with a color die, four bedroom game boards and 40 Posh Cards, including 14 purple "Let's Get Fancy!" cards, 18 pink "Accessories!" cards and eight blue "Oops!" cards.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19166      (added 5/30/2008)
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MSRP: $3.49
SKU or Item #: GKKLUL
Gender: Girls
Category: Novelties
Gifts
Stationery



Each hand-painted Kooky Klicker features a distintive personality and fun design. The 5" characters have rubbery strands of hair and a metal clip.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21162      (added 10/30/2008)
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MSRP: $17.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Play Sets



In this ready-to-play set from International Playthings, children help 4-year-old Olivia's older sister Ashley set up a birthday party for the special girl. Designed in detail to fit in with International Playthings' extensive Calico Critters line, the kit includes a cake, drinks, presents and party hats to enrich the fantasy-play and include all of a child's favorite Calico Critters characters.
— The Calico Critters line from International Playthings accounted for the top licensed toy sales in three of 49 stores surveyed in April 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23879      (added 5/26/2009)
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MSRP: $8.99
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill



This 60-piece puzzle completes to 14.5” x 10.33”.
— “They have a great range from little kids up to adults,” Cheryl Richmond, owner of Punkin Doodles in Havre, Mont., told TDmonthly of the Ravensburger line. Nearly 6 percent of 52 retailers named the company as a preferred vendor in late 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21913      (added 12/19/2008)
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MSRP: $16.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Launch Date: January 1900
Gender: Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts
Tween



This book allows girls to create their own poseable fairy dolls that feature petal dresses and flowing floss hair. Supplies to make 12 posey pixies are included, and the book is written by Rachel Haab.
- “Girls love Klutz; [it] sells constantly,” Jeanne McCullough, owner of Children’s Store Inc. in Boise, Idaho, told TDmonthly.  
- “Klutz is No. 1 by far,” said Ron Banducci, co-owner of Games Unlimited in Danville, Calif., when telling TDmonthly about best-selling items for tweens in fall 2008.
- “[Tweens] want to make something,” said Diana Gisolfi, co-owner of Sister’s Kids in Springfield, Mass.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20618      (added 9/19/2008)
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MSRP: $34.99
Age Range: 2 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



With My Giant Busy Box, kids can craft and create with two frames, four animal punch outs, 10 colors of dough, two peel-and-stick tissue art pictures, plenty of tissue paper, and glue. All the supplies come in a handy storage box with an easy tote-along handle.
— “It's awesome,” said Vicki Davis, owner of Children's Prep in Atlanta, Ga. In an April 2009 survey of best-selling activity kits and playsets, Davis reported sales of about a dozen per month.
— About 10 percent of 49 retailers named Alex as a best-selling activity kit line in spring 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23803      (added 5/21/2009)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts
Educational



Astronomy and crafting are combined in Planets – Create a Solar System Mobile, which provides kids with the ingredients they need to create a solar system. The set includes foam balls with eight colors of air-dry clay to create an array of planets that later can be fixed to the galaxy base with string and displayed. An instruction booklet contains planetary science facts.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22587      (added 2/25/2009)
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MSRP: $13.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls



A favorite childhood character, Dora the Explorer is an adventurous little girl who loves to explore and learn. In this interactive toy, Dora wears a jacket with patches from four countries around the world that she visits in the television show. Upon pressing each patch, children can learn the words for “hello” and “goodbye” in the language for each country. Dora also speaks other phrases in English and Spanish, and sings the Friendship Song. Included are four collectible friendship bracelets from each country.
— “Dora the Explorer … even beats out Elmo,” remarked Tracie Meadows, owner of Whippersnappers in St. Simon's Island, Ga., of her best-selling licensed toy in April 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23882      (added 5/26/2009)
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MSRP: $59.99
Age Range: 2 and up
Launch Date: October 2009
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Interactive



Suitable for ages 18 months and up, this toy builds on the success of the 2008 Elmo Live. The encore version has new jokes, a new story and more interactive features. It will also sing the Sesame Street theme song “Sunny Days,” as well as “Somebody Come and Play” and “Elmo's World.” Launch date: October 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23618      (added 5/11/2009)
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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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MSRP: $12.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puppets



With his bright yellow feathers and familiar, wide-eyed face, Big Bird is a staple character for many children.  Gund captures one of Sesame Street's cardinal characters in a soft, flexible hand puppet where little players or big can move both his wings and his long beak to act out favorite or original stories. The puppet measures approximately 12” tall.
— “The Gund plush [is] the only licensed product that's ever done really well,” Mike DiAndrea, manager of Hardware Centre in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly in spring 2009 of his top-selling licensed toys, Gund Sesame Street characters.
— “The Sesame Street 11" dolls are selling very well,” Fran Anaya, owner of Golden Aspen Toys in Flagstaff, Ariz., said, reporting sales of 15 to 20 plush characters per month in spring 2009.
— Nine out of 49 retailers named Sesame Street as their best-selling licensed character line during an April 2009 survey.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23876      (added 5/26/2009)
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MSRP: $39.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



The magical world of pinklets™ opens in a beautiful garden that young builders create themselves. The Fairy Garden theme includes plastic rods, connectors, wheels, and decorative EVA flowers, leaves, and wings. Built on the award-winning Superstructs building system, pinklets allows for endless play possibilities.

Superstructs pinklets are designed for girls and the way girls want to build. pinklets embrace the themes young girl builders' want with easy-to-assemble components - and just enough structure - to create their own environments for nearly endless role play and storytelling.

  • Includes plans to build five enchanting environments for creative play
  • Includes two fun fairies; Megan and Sophia
  • Designed for girls the way they build and play!
  • Packaged in a 6.5"x6.5"x13.25" (LxWxH) Canister - perfect to store all the pieces!
  • Oppenheim Gold Seal - Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2008
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23374      (added 4/27/2009)
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MSRP: $34.00
Age Range: 2 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Infant & Toddler
Preschool



Each Twilight Turtle and Friends character from the collection projects constellation nightlights that create a magical sleep-time environment. Each “shell” illuminates the night with three soothing color options to help ease fear of the dark. The Twilight Collection includes Twilight Turtle and Twilight Ladybug, each available in three colors and a Twilight Sea Turtle that also has five illuminated windows projecting images of sea life.
— Retailers surveyed by TDmonthly have been naming the Twilight Turtle as a best-seller since 2006.
— Six of 66 retailers mentioned one of the Twilight Turtles as a top-selling item for baby gifts in July 2008. Four of 47 retailers named Twilight Turtle as a top-selling baby gift in June 2009. Three of 64 retailers cited it as a top-selling infant and toddler toy in March 2009, and eight of 39 said the same in March 2010.
— In a 2012 survey, Erika Evers, owner of Dancing Bear Toys in Hendersonville, N.C., told TDmonthly that their best selling infant & toddler product is the "Twilight Turtle from Cloud B, and it's spin-offs, like the ladybug." They sell about 20 units each month.
— Want this? As of 05/06/2011, this product was available for purchase at Toys & Co.
AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller
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SKU or Item #: 38138
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: School Supplies
Novelties
Gifts



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)
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Julie L. JonesWriter's Bio: Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author

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