June 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 6
Top-10 Most-Wanted Activity Kits and Playsets
Mosaics Stick With Little Artists
With additional reporting by Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Chris Lundy, Claudia Newcorn and Brenda Ruggiero
In April 2010, TDmonthly Magazine interviewed 43 specialty toy stores about what's selling best among activity kits and playsets. Open-ended play is a staple of the specialty market, and creative toys come in a wide range of themes, ages and styles. Craft kits, such as the running favorite Sticky Mosaics by The Orb Factory, took places on our list, along with imaginative pretend play kits from Playmobil and International Playthings. Here are the top-10 most-wanted activity kits and playsets.
Sticky Mosaics - Princess by THE ORB FACTORY LIMITED
Other products from THE ORB FACTORY LIMITED
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Numbered templates, sticky foam and jewel tiles allow kids to easily create beautiful mosaics. Five different design templates are included, each with a short story on the reverse side geared at inspiring young artists to imagine his or her own mosaic fairy tale. Picture hangers are also included for easy artwork display.
— “The Orb Factory has a great variety of themed mosaic tile arts and craft choices,” Jeanette Lauture of Aunt Jean’s Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., told TDmonthly in early summer 2008 about this best-selling line in her store. “This has hours of play time. I had a dinner party and children from 2 to 12 years of age were entertained.”
― “Sticky Mosaics are terrific,” said Deran Muckjian, owner of Catch A Falling Star in Lexington, Mass., during an April 2010 survey of top-selling activity kits.
― “They're popular for both boys and girls, and they're fun and easy to play with,” Sandy Challinor, owner of Owl's Nest Toy Store in Southlake, Texas, told TDmonthly about Sticky Mosaics in spring 2010.
― Out of 43 retailers interviewed in April 2010, 10 named Sticky Mosaics as their best-selling activity kit.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14703 (added 8/16/2007)
Kids can use the icing tube-shaped dry-erase markers to color four wooden cupcakes that come with a baking tray, cupcake sleeves and decorative wooden candles. The package measures 10.5" x 13.25" x 3.13".
— Play food sets and cutting food from Melissa & Doug were named as a best-selling wooden toy by seven of 38 retailers in February 2010. "The Melissa & Doug cupcake set did really well," Lesa Smith of Whiz Kid Toys in San Luis Obispo, Calif., told TDmonthly.
― Michael McCollum, owner of Learning Express in Hoover, Ala., told TDmonthly in spring 2010 that the Bake and Decorate Cupcake Set is his best-selling playset. “One of my employees absolutely loves it,” he said of what helps drive sales.
― “All year, [the best seller] is food sets from Melissa & Doug,” said Bill Rayment, owner of Toy Crossing in Harbor Beach, Mich., when asked about his top-selling playsets and activity kits during an April 2010 interview.
― Six of 43 retailers listed Melissa & Doug as their top supplier of playsets in April 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27372 (added 2/24/2010)
With this 40-piece restaurant playset, little ones can design their pretend menus with many different pretend food items, and step into fully into their roles with a guest check pad, a waitress's apron and a hat. The table is set with menus, cloth napkins, cups, plates and flatware. The set, which packs into a carrying case, even comes packaged with two play credit cards.
― “The Sweetheart Cafe from Alex does very well,” said Lori Hershman, owner of Evan's Toy Shoppe in Camden, Conn., in spring 2010.
― Five out of 43 retailers who took part in an April 2010 survey of best-selling activity kits and playsets named Alex as their top supplier for this category.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28659 (added 5/26/2010)
Measuring 4” x 5” each, the three blank books are packed with markers and sticker accents. Kids create their own stories, photo albums, journals or anything else they can think of. The books are unlined to accommodate any style of contents imaginable.
― Three out of 43 retailers in an April 2010 survey listed Creativity for Kids as their top-selling provider of activity kits and playsets.
Awards: Dr. Toy 100 Best Children's Products - 2010
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28658 (added 5/26/2010)
Transport and store items at the Construction Site. Comes with a dumper, pallet jack, cart, shovel, barrels, broom, scale, pipes, and floodlights. The storage cases are lockable. Three figures in construction attire and helmets are also included. Launch date: January 2008.
― “We sell [Playmobil] weekly,” BeeBee Horowitz, owner of The Toy Box in Vineyard Haven, Mass., told TDmonthly when asked about her best-selling playsets in spring 2010.
― During an April 2010 survey, four of 43 retailers named Playmobil as a best-selling playset line.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16627 (added 12/18/2007)
A classic heirloom project, the woven potholder, gets an overhaul in this informational, whimsical book from Klutz. The loom is provided, as well as a generous quantity of cotton-blend loops made specifically for the kit. Projects include potholders, a purse, a picture frame, a chicken and more. Detailed instructions and illustrations are provided.
― “I have a huge Klutz assortment. I really love it because the quality is so good,” said Amy Barrett, owner of Lasso the Moon Wonderful Toys in Helena, Mont., in April 2010.
― “Klutz always sticks out for me, as far as activity kits go,” said Janet Gessner, owner of Deep River Toy Company in Deep River, Conn., of her top-selling activity kits in spring 2010.
― Four of 43 retailers told TDmonthly in April 2010 that Klutz is a top-selling activity line in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28660 (added 5/26/2010)
The multi-button, electronic cash register features a functional coin reader that correctly identifies real and included plastic play coins and a checkout scanner equipped with sound. The game will teach kids coin identification, addition, subtraction and place-value.
— Peg Scholtes, owner of Capitol Kids in Madison, Wis., said this product sells consistently well in her store.
— “I would have sold more of [them] had I not run out, but I thought I had ordered [more] and forgot,” Co-owner Mary Sisson of Kazoodles in Vancouver, Wash., told TDmonthly in early 2008.
— This is a best-seller on imaginetoys.com.
— Two of 43 retailers named a product by Learning Resources, including this cash register, when discussing best-selling playsets in April 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4384 (added 8/31/2005)
Mighty World River Explorer by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Other products from INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
One of many adventure kits from Mighty World, the River Explorer set comes with two character figurines and a load of other accessories to stimulate kids' imaginations. The bright yellow, heavy-duty truck and trailer both have free-rolling wheels and are accompanied by a raft, boating and camping gear, and an alligator.
― “Our rack is empty right now, so they've been doing good,” Wallace Harvey, manager of Three Cheeky Monkeys in Los Angeles, Calif., told TDmonthly of Mighty World, which he listed as his best-selling playset during an April 2010 survey.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28661 (added 5/26/2010)
The 44 pieces in this kit from Elenco Electronics include a miniature motor and a working solar panel. Children can assemble six different machines and watch their creations come to life while learning how the energy in sunlight converts to powerful electricity. A detailed instruction manual is included with the kit.
― “I can't keep those in stock,” remarked Casey Sartain, buyer for Tutoring Toy in Salt Lake City, Utah, of Elenco's 6-in-1 Solar Kit. Sartain listed the 6-in-1 Solar Kit as his best-selling activity kit during an April 2010 survey of 48 storeowners.
— In a Fall 2013 survey, Kim Emigh, manager of e-commerce at Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa., told TDmonthly that this solar kit is one of their best-selling science toys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28662 (added 5/26/2010)
A high performance balsa wood flyer with the style of a jet fighter, this baby has a large 12" wing span with a built-in dihedral. Its colorful style prints on the wing, tail surfaces and canopy give it a very fun-tech look. Even though balsa wood gliders have been around for over half a century, they’re a perennial favorite.
― “[Jetfire] balsa planes have done very well,” said Teresa Ford, owner of Kid's Ketch in Lewes, Del. She reported sales of approximately 20 per month during an April 2010 survey of top-selling activity kits.
— Owner Michelle Bears of the Toy Store in Highlands, N.C., said she sells approximately 15 per month. Where do all those gliders land? When hiking at the bottom of a mountain one day, she found ''many crashed airplanes,'' she told TDmonthly in Fall 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9541 (added 10/3/2006)
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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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