June 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 6
Top-10 Most-Wanted Construction Toys
Cobi and Jawbones Join Long-Time Favorites
With additional reporting by Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Chris Lundy, Claudia Newcorn and Brenda Ruggiero
There are newcomers to the top-10 list of best-selling construction toys in specialty — namely, Shoptaugh Games’ Jawbones (from Be Good Company), which entered the market in 2008 but is now starting to gain speed, and Lego-like sets from Cobi S.A., distributed in the United States by Imex Model Co. since August. Interviews with 43 retailers around the country told TDmonthly Magazine that classics like Lego and Erector, distributed by Schylling, still attract attention from builders young and old. Construction systems such as Cobi and Uberstix, designed to integrate with other brands, also draw customer interest. Here are the top-10 best-selling construction toys.
See chart of sales and inventory stats for 25 construction toys in the specialty toy market.
This Lego tractor pulls along the included log loader. The intricate set includes a fully articulated mechanical arm that children control with a mechanism that resembles the pneumatic valves on a real loader. Free-rolling wheels on both vehicles add to realistic play after the fun of constructing these machines in the first place.
― “The collectibles, the quality and the price make it so popular,” said Shanna Frieling, owner of Giggles Toys & More in Bozeman, Mont., of Lego during an April 2010 survey.
― “It's one of the few male products that goes beyond the young ages. Eight- to 10-year-olds still play with them, even though they're into the electronics,” Fred Rosenberg, owner of On the Park in Kingwood, Texas, told TDmonthly of Lego in spring 2010.
― Of 43 retailers, 20 told TDmonthly in April 2010 that Lego is a top-selling line in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28449 (added 5/6/2010)
With more than 600 pieces, the 50 Model Set from Erector offers kid builders a multitude of creative options. The kit is packed with detailed instructions for 50 complete models, 38 of which are taken from favorites in the 10 to 40 model kits, plus 12 new designs. From that springboard of projects, children can leap into inventing their own creations with the tools and parts provided in the box. This kit also includes a small, hand-held power tool to make assembly easy and fast.
— Melodie Ingwersen, owner of Creative Kids Inc. in Columbia, Ill. said Erector sets were one of her best-selling construction toys in late Spring 2011.
― “Erector sets do really well for us,” Chris Cahalane, owner of Cape Cod Toys in Mashpee, Mass., told TDmonthly when asked about top-selling construction toys in spring 2010.
― “Erector sets have made a comeback,” said Lance Ghulam, manager of Handlebar Toys in Lafayette, Calif., during an April 2010 survey.
— Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at Creative Kids Inc.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28450 (added 5/6/2010)
This 32-piece set of transparent tiles in various shapes makes for a colorful building project. It comes with 14 small squares, two large squares, four isosceles triangles, four right triangles and eight equilateral triangles.
— Four of 44 retailers told TDmonthly in late fall 2009 that Magna-Tiles is one of their best-selling products. Isaac Judd, CEO of Magic Beans in Brookline, Mass., estimated his store sold about 100 Magna-Tiles sets in November 2009.
― “[An] item I do very well with is from Valtech, their Magna-Tiles,” said Deran Muckjian, owner of Catch a Falling Star in Lexington, Mass., of best-selling construction toys in April 2010.
― Three of 43 retailers surveyed in spring 2010 told TDmonthly Magna-Tiles are a best-selling construction item in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26258 (added 12/3/2009)
Explore and experiment combining the hexagons with the triangles and squares to create your own favorite XL Cruiser. There are hundreds of possible 3-D combinations using these three geometric shapes. Feel the magnetic force and have countless hours building and designing different XL Cruisers.
— Hardware Center Inc. in Paoli, Pa., reported sales of 60 Magformer sets per week in late fall 2009, according to Manager Mike DiAndrea.
― Three of 43 retailers who participated in an April 2010 TDmonthly survey listed Magformers as a top-selling construction toy.
— As of 08/06/2012 this product had 4.9 out of 5 stars from 15 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Helps develop spatial awareness and problem solving skills; encourages creativity; durable.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25565 (added 10/6/2009)
Zoob's sturdy snap-together pieces are joined with colorful, flexible foam pieces that allow children to customize and accessorize their creations in new ways. The 80 Zoob pieces come with more than 100 pre-cut foam shapes and 10 sheets of foam from which kids can cut their own pieces. Instructions are included for projects ranging from robots to rocking horses, but the kit is totally open ended, allowing young creators to design straight from their imaginations. Cons: Foam pieces tear too easily.
― “Zoob seems to appeal to a broader age range,” Amy Barrett, owner of Lasso the Moon Wonderful Toys in Helena, Mont., told TDmonthly in spring 2010 of what makes Zoob her top-selling construction toy.
― Of 43 retailers surveyed in April 2010, three listed Zoob as their best seller in construction.
— Mary Porter Green, owner of The Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va. told in late Spring 2011 TDmonthly she sells a dozen Zoob kits each month.
— Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at The Curiosity Zone
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28451 (added 5/6/2010)
Designed to be compatible with other popular brands of building toys, Cobi's snap-together building bricks are a familiar classic. Kids can build sturdy structures from simple walls to complex designs that will hold together through play and manipulation. The 1,200-piece set contains plenty of material to stimulate children's imaginations and motor skills.
― “The theme with [Cobi] is availability,” said Sue Banducci, owner of Games Unlimited in Danville, Calif., when asked about her best-selling construction toys in spring 2010. Banducci added, “It's really appealing for the kids.”
― “It was a huge hit over the  holidays,” said Nathan McKelvey, manager of Toy Castle in Jonesboro, Ark.
― Three of 43 retailers told TDmonthly in April 2010 that Cobi is a top-selling construction line.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28452 (added 5/6/2010)
With 125 pieces, the Explorer Pack from Wedgits opens up great dimensions in building play. More than simply stacking or snapping pieces together, Wedgits employ unique shapes that brace or “wedge” together in order to form firm structures. The geometric interplay between pieces becomes increasingly complex as children begin experimenting with designs other than stacking and patterning activities also offered by the set. Some of the pieces even glow in the dark. Tips, techniques and designs can be found in the included booklet.
― “We do great with Wedgits. They don't break, or get vacuumed up. They don't get returned,” said Lori Hershman, owner of Evan's Toy Shoppe in Camden, Conn., during an April 2010 survey on best-selling construction toys.
― Three of 43 retailers named Wedgits a top-selling construction toy in spring 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28453 (added 5/6/2010)
Called by Be Good Company “The Buildable Art System,” Jaw Bones is construction and sculpture in one. The brightly colored pieces in distinctive shapes ratchet, swivel and snap together in an endless array of combinations, allowing children a lot of freedom when deciding what they want to build and how. An instruction booklet with more than 17 individual projects is included with the kit to offer children ideas.
― Two of 49 retailers said Jaw Bones is a top-selling construction line during an April 2010 survey.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28454 (added 5/6/2010)
Kids can recycle a soda can into a silly, walking, wobbling robot. The kit includes all the parts needed, right down to the googly eyes, except for the two AAA batteries that are required. Launch date: 2008.
— “The Tin Can Robot is a huge hit. It’s from their Green Science series, which has been doing great,” Jennifer Schneeweis, owner of Izilla Toys in Seattle, told TDmonthly in late August 2009. Two of 40 retailers mentioned the brand when discussing best-selling educational items in fall 2009.
― “Right now we have the Tin Can Robot for 8- to 10-year-olds and that's doing well,” said Marlene, manager of Kits & Kaboodle in Carmel, Ind., when asked about her best-selling item for tween boys. Seven of 39 retailers surveyed in October 2009 said science kits are their top sellers for tween boys.
― “It's a good price point and an excellent product. It sells all the time,” Priscilla Moore, owner of Mr. Fub's Party, Toys and More in Yellow Springs, Ohio, said of the Tin Can Robot and other 4M science kits in spring 2010.
— In August 2010, seven of 43 retailers told TDmonthly that Toysmith is a best-selling science and nature brand. Two retailers named Tin Can Robot as a top product.
AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23707 (added 5/19/2009)
Founded on the idea of a modular construction set that integrates with many other popular systems such as K'Nex and Lego, Uberstix is also intended for use with whatever recycled materials one might have lying around. Mixing Uberstix pieces such as the 60 contained in this set with found materials yields numerous possibilities. This model set is designed to yield a bird that can really flap its wings. The kit also includes a 40-page book of Uberstix basics.
― During an April 2010 survey of best-selling construction toys, two of 43 retailers named Uberstix as their top line.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25114 (added 8/26/2009)
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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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