February 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 2
Top-10 Most-Wanted Musical Toys
Kids Love to Hum, Strum and Play Along
With additional reporting by Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Chris Lundy, Claudia Newcorn and Brenda Ruggiero
TDmonthly Magazine recently interviewed 47 specialty toy-store owners around the country (plus one in Canada) to find out what's selling in their music departments. Stores find the most success in music with items that call for kids’ participation — such as classic Recorders for classroom use, from Schylling, for example, or Hohner's beginner's Acoustic Guitar. Recorded tunes for children earn their place on retailer shelves in the form of Putumayo's collections of world music. Here are the top-10 most-wanted musical toys.
No manufacturer paid to be included in this article. All products listed were designated by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with TOYDIRECTORY.com/TDmonthly Magazine.
Age Range: 3 and up
This 10-piece set of musical instruments (heavy on the percussion with maracas, a tambourine and a triangle) lets a child explore the wonders of sound, music, anthropology or just the fun of making some noise.
― Richard Gibson, owner of Learning Express of Newton, Mass., says his store sells about 6 or 7 of these sets per month.
— In summer 2008, Meredith Zellweger, owner of Toy Jungle in Manhattan Beach, Calif., touted this set as her “go-to musical toy.” Melanie Anderson of Daly City, Calif., said, “The kids have so much fun playing with them. They are real instruments, not plastic imitations that don´t sound quite right. This was a purchase I don´t regret.”
— Three of 45 retailers cited Band in a Box when asked about best-selling musical toys in mid 2007, citing sales of between three and 10 units per month. Seven of 48 retailers named it as a musical best seller in January 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4401 (added 8/31/2005)
Kids can transform their musical imaginations into melodic reality with this metal harmonica that comes in assorted colors.
— Four of 45 retailers cited Toysmith Harmonicas as hot-sellers as summer 2007 approached. Retailers cited average monthly sales of six to 12 units. Six of 48 specialty retailers said in January 2010 that harmonicas are the most popular choice in their music departments.
— Donna Schwedler, manager of Treasured Child in La Grange, Ky., said in early 2010 that harmonicas are popular in Christmas stockings and Easter baskets.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14255 (added 7/23/2007)
Putumayo Kids invites children and families on a fun musical cruise to the Caribbean with "Caribbean Playground." Filled with upbeat songs, informative liner notes and colorful artwork, this album is a festive carnival. "Caribbean Playground" includes full-color liner notes in English, Spanish and French with song descriptions and cultural information. Launch date: 2004. (This album was re-released in early 2010, in response to the major earthquake in Haiti, with 100-percent of proceeds donated to the Red Cross.)
— “Putumayo is a standout,” Kai Rady, owner of Shenanigans in Charlottesville, Va., told TDmonthly in January 2010.
— Elizabeth Dahl, owner of Calico Cat Toy Shoppe in West Bainbridge Island, Wash., said in early 2010 that Putumayo is her best-selling music item. “We sold so many of them over December.”
— Of 48 retailers interviewed in January 2010, 12 percent named Putumayo CDs as a top seller.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1684 (added 12/8/2004)
Children can easily make music on this solid wood instrument by sliding a song sheet under the strings and plucking the string above each note. It comes with tuner pick, a spare wire and 12 songs, including “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Rock-a-Bye Baby.”
— “The Music Maker is really popular,” said Steve Ellerhoff, manager at Finnegan's Toys and Gifts in Portland, Ore. Ellerhoff was part of a January 2010 survey of 48 retailers concerning their best-selling musical items.
— “The Music Maker, made by European Expressions, is popular because it's a no-brainer musical instrument,” Steve Shelton, owner of Magical Moon Toys in Logan, Utah, told TDmonthly in early 2010. “[Kids] can follow along right out of the box.”
― “One day we got in six, and sold three the first hour they were in the store,” said Mary Sisson, co-owner of Kazoodles in Vancouver, Wash. (see her talk about the Music Maker in the attached video).
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14531 (added 8/8/2007)
A 12 1/2” soprano recorder, this simple instrument from Schylling makes a good companion to school music classes teaching the recorder to children. In clear, durable plastic and an assortment of bright colors, the recorder comes with a cleaning rod as well as instructions printed on the box.
— “We go through a lot,” remarked Priscilla Moore, owner of Mr. Fub’s Party in Yellow Springs, Ohio, of her recorders and other instruments from Schylling in early 2010.
— Four of 48 retailers told TDmonthly during a January 2010 survey that recorders are their most-wanted musical item.
— "We sell a lot of them in September or October. After that, it's hit or miss," said Lou Metri, owner of Joggen Your Noggin in Monroe, Conn. He sells about about 40 or 50 per year.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26818 (added 1/28/2010)
A 30” nylon string instrument, Hohner's Acoustic Guitar is a precisely tuned musical tool for children. The frets and tuning pegs are placed with enough care to allow for accurate intonation, and the action is low enough that a young musician just beginning to build the hand strength for complex hand positions will not be hindered by it. This starter guitar comes with one song book.
— “You can't go wrong with a guitar, it's a good staple item to have in your music section,” Genevieve Collogne, manager of The Wooden Horse in Los Gatos, Calif., told TDmonthly when asked about her best-selling musical items in January 2010.
— “Our Hohner guitar, which is a real guitar scaled for a kid's hands, is probably the best-selling one over there,” said Nishan Shepard, owner of Rockridge Kids in Oakland, Calif., in early 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26819 (added 1/28/2010)
Perhaps one of the most basic and easy instruments to play, the kazoo is played simply by humming one's favorite tune into the mouthpiece. A sheet of tissue inside the instrument buzzes against its sounding holes to create a distinctive, twangy buzz. This instrument from Trophy is made of sturdy metal and is ready to play instantly.
— Three of 48 retailers said during a January 2010 survey that kazoos are their top-selling musical item.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26820 (added 1/28/2010)
Bontempi Saxophone, Trumpet and Clarinet Trio 16" by INTEGRATED GLOBAL SOLUTIONS, INC.
Other products from INTEGRATED GLOBAL SOLUTIONS, INC.
This boxed, musical trio includes trumpet, saxophone and clarinet with color-coded keys and a shiny silver sheen. Bontempi’s boxed horns are color coded and with Bontempi’s 7 Note 7 Color Musical method, can be played right out of the box.
— This shiny trio of instruments is a best seller at Kazoo & Company in Denver, Owner Diana Nelson told TDmonthly in early 2009.
— Jeanne McCullough, owner of Children's Store Inc. in Boise, Idaho, said in January 2010 that her Bontempi instruments “sell like crazy.”
— “[They are] great little instruments that sound nice,” said Nerice Kendter, owner of Busy Bee Toys in Doylestown, Pa., when asked by TDmonthly about best sellers in the music department.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15107 (added 9/10/2007)
These new and safety-approved capless egg shakers provide kids with quick, delicate and responsive shaker sounds. Constructed of durable wipe-clean plastic and filled with non-toxic steel shot, the Egg Shakers make sweet, reliable and rhythmic sounds for kids and adults alike. "Our egg shaker is unique because of our patented design sealing process. Other egg shakers are seamed in the middle or have a glued end cap. In other words, ours is safer and has a better appearance," said Ray Enhoffer, director of R&D at Latin Percussion.
— "Shakers are the type of toy that might be selling in the music section. We get them from LP RythMix," said Tristan Hewitt, manager at Dragon's Toy Box in Seattle. “Everybody needs some egg shakers,” said Janet Gregory, owner of Over the Rainbow Toy Store in Anchorage, Alaska. “They’re perfect for baby hands, and I sell them to lots of grown-ups for all kinds of things.”
— Two of 45 retailers told TDmonthly in 2007 that shakers from Latin Percussion are popular with their customers, citing sales of about 30 and 120 units monthly. Six percent of 68 retailers said in July 2008 that egg shakers are their top-selling musical toy.
— Egg shakers are “perfect for little ones to hold in their baby hands, and non-toxic,” Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Company in Denver, told TDmonthly of this best seller in her store in January 2009. “It's something simple and not too noisy for a parent; I think that's why they do well,” explained Sherry Peddie, manager of Applause Kids in Bracebridge, Ontario, in January 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14259 (added 7/23/2007)
Viewed as a good starting instrument for a future guitarist, the ukulele is a simple, small, lightweight, four-stringed instrument with a distinctively bright, Hawaiian sound. Woodstock's Ukulele is made of high-quality wood and strung with nylon. The instrument comes packaged with a pick, illustrated instructions and some first songs to play.
— “I sold a slew of ukuleles last month,” said Dean Smith, co-owner of JaZams in Pennington, N.J., told TDmonthly in January 2010, citing sales of two dozen instruments per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26821 (added 1/28/2010)
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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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