December 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 12
Our Best Sellers: 26 Nationwide Retailers
Webkinz Ousted by Frogs and Bugs
With additional reporting by Peter Fernbaugh, Chris Lundy, Claudia Newcorn, Marie Raven and Brenda Ruggiero.
In the autumn of 2010, TDmonthly Magazine interviewed 26 retailers across the nation about their three top sellers. What was most notable was what they did not say: Webkinz. Not even one storeowner mentioned the formerly sizzling plush toy.
And though Silly Bandz are still selling in the hundreds and thousands per month, that fad may be fading, too.
As for new trends, one retailer claimed that designer purses in little-girl sizes were hot and another noticed that knight figurines were coming back into favor.
Here's what's selling now: (See all of the interviewed retailers at the bottom of this article.)
HEXBUG Nano Micro Robotic Creatures by INNOVATION FIRST LABS, INC.
Other products from INNOVATION FIRST LABS, INC.
This small, 12-legged microrobotic creature is battery powered and designed to behave just like a real bug. It moves very quickly and can even flip over by itself. Five colors are available in the Newton Gravity Series. Awards: Parent's Choice Award 2010. Launch date: Fall 2009.
— Chris Lowe, owner of Bean Head Toys in Sandy Springs, Ga., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that she sells between 20-30 items from the HEXBUGS line each month.
— Christine Osborne, co-owner of Wonder Works in Charleston, S.C., has a Hexbug Nano Habitat set up in the store. They've sold ''thousands,'' she said; she couldn't even guess at an exact number.
― “Hexbugs are doing very well,” said Jenny Bramhall, owner of Dandelion Toys in Fort Collins, Colo., in summer 2010. Fifteen percent of 40 retailers polled in June 2010 said Hexbugs are their best-selling electronic item.
— Hexbugs were great sellers at Figpickels Toy Emporium in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in Aug. 2010. “They fill the affordable techno/RC need - grab and go,” said owner Brett Sommer.
AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26040 (added 11/9/2009)
Classic Water Garden Starter Kit Eco-Aquarium by WILD CREATIONS
Other products from WILD CREATIONS
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)
Containing the shapes of a dolphin, sea turtle, crawfish, and other creatures native to the habitat affected by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, this special pack of Silly Bandz is designed to raise awareness for creatures threatened in this environment. A portion of the sales from every pack will go to helping rescue affected wildlife. In addition, this pack features “thermo activated” technology, causing a change in temperature to change the Silly Bandz's color.
— Two of 44 retailers listed Silly Bandz as a best-seller for tweens, reporting sales of approximately 100 per month during a September 2010 survey.
— "We've sold 2,300 this year at all three stores,” Marc Holcomb, owner of of Toys & Co. in Greensboro, S.C., said in autumn 2010. ''Silly Bandz is trending down, and they are selling their excess to stores in California, Washington and Texas,'' he added.
--Christine Osborne, co-owner of Wonder Works in Charleston, S.C., sells about 3,000 to 4,000 per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30998 (added 10/28/2010)
The Pumponator Balloon Pumping Station is designed to make filling balloons with water or air easily. The Pumponator Balloon Pumping Station is filled with 500 balloons and strings for tying. Just fill the container with water, pump, press and fill the balloon. Leave out the water for indoor balloon fun.
— Two of 43 specialty retailers named Pumponator as a top seller in late spring 2010. Four of 40 surveyed retailers claimed Pumponator as an overall top seller in June 2010.
— “I order 144 at a time (and am on my) fourth order since May,” Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barston’s Child’s Play in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly in early summer 2010.
— In a summer 2010 survey, seven of 38 toy and gift retailers named Pumponator an overall top seller. Terri Bracken, owner of Earth Explorer Toys in Zionsville, Ind., told TDmonthly in July 2010 that her store sold 120 Pumponator stations in less than two months. The same month, Kathy Burns, manager of My Favorite Toy Store in Downers Grove, Ill., called Pumponator "a neat, neat item, and very price-appropriate.”
— ''We sell about 500 per year at all 3 stores,'' Marc Holcomb, owner of owner of Toys & Co. in Greensboro, S.C., told TDmonthly in autumn 2010.
AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25620 (added 10/16/2009)
Calico Critters Sandy and Zach Trike Ride by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Other products from INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
It's a beautiful day in Cloverleaf Corners, so Zach and Sandy decide to go for a bike ride. This play set includes Babblebrook Beavers Zach and Sandy, two colorful trikes, two tennis rackets and tennis balls.
— Dave Campbell of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont., sells about 30 Calico Critters per month.
— Five of 43 specialty retailers cited Calico Critters as a top-selling toy in a late summer 2010 TDmonthly survey.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30618 (added 9/22/2010)
This set includes 216 powerful rare earth magnets that can be molded, shaped and snapped together in an endless variety of configurations. Each Buckyball has two poles — one repels, one attracts. Not intended for children. Watch video
— ''Pun's has sold about four dozen in the last month alone,'' Joe Berardoni, Sr., owner of Pun's Toy Shop in Bryn Mawr, Pa., shared with TDmonthly in the fall of 2010.
—Jeanette Lauture, owner of Aunt Jean's Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., sold nine of 24 units in two days after opening a box for display, she told TDmonthly. Two of 39 retailers named Buckyballs as a best-selling travel toy in March 2010.
— Dean Smith, Co-owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that he sells "probably 50" sets of Buckyballs each month.
— May 27, 2010 RECALL of 175,000 sets (prior to March 2010) with 13+ labeling violating a federal standard that powerful magnets not be sold to children under 14.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26179 (added 11/25/2009)
Nanodots 216 Magnetic Constructors by NANO MAGNETICS LTD.
Other products from NANO MAGNETICS LTD.
Nanodots are sets of spherical magnets (dots) held together by magnetic force. You can use them as a stress ball, putty, or constructor to build fascinating creations. Inspired by the miniature craft of nanotechnology, Nanodots are designed to supply players of all skill levels with endless fun and creativity, wherever they go. The magnets are protected by a shiny resilient surface with anti-bacterial properties, offering the benefit of industrial, kid-proof strength in a lightweight form. "There is no predefined set of rules one has to follow. As the players advance their skill levels, they experiment with magnetic properties and discover a diversity of unique applications. Nanodots can be rearranged into an infinite number of formations and original compositions," Tim Szeto, Director of Sales & Marketing, Nano Magnetics Ltd., told TDmonthly. Available in Original ($29.99), Black/Silver ($34.99), and Gold ($39.99). Launch date: September 2009.
— Jeanette Lauture, owner of Aunt Jean 's Toys and Treats in Montclair, N.J., sells about three Nanodots per week, she said in autumn 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26676 (added 1/14/2010)
One of 10 new breeds of ultra soft, floppy pups with realistic features, more poseability, and fine detail.
— Kelly Ratoff, manager of Kennebunk Toy Co., in Kennebunk, Me., says the store sells approximately 36 to 40 Douglas stuffed dogs per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21638 (added 12/9/2008)
This truck measures 16.7" x 6.9" x 9.5" and includes a telescopic and height-adjustable crane unit swivels 360 degrees and features a locking mechanism for the hook. Other features include rubber-like wheels and a toolbox that opens and closes.
— Bruder trucks were on the top-10 best-seller list at Totally Thomas Toy Depot in San Diego in July 2010. “Customers really love the working parts and the German quality that so sets this toy apart,” President Cynthia Wyatt told TDmonthly. “As a Flagship dealer, we have access to Bruder’s replacement parts service, and are able to support this product end-to-end. Bruder’s service that they back us with is awesome. Not to mention we usually get next-day service when we do order from them. They are a great company to work with.”
— Kelly Ratoff, manager, says the Kennebunk Toy Co., in Kennebunk, Me., sells approximately 25 Bruder toys per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 29238 (added 6/29/2010)
With this army pack, children can lead the attack on planet Hoth by launching flick fire missiles from a battle station. This pack, designed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of "The Empire Strikes Back" includes two snowtroopers, one Imperial officer and one AT-AT driver.
— As of 05/12/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 34 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Pieces are small and hard to put together for younger kids; smaller than depicted.
— As of 8.12.10, this product had 4 out of 5 stars from eight reviews on ToysRUs.com and was listed No. 20 in best-selling toys and games. PROS: Colorful, sturdy and easy to assemble.
— Dave Campbell, owner of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont., said he sells about 24 LEGO Star Wars toys per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30015 (added 8/12/2010)
There is more Snuffles to love with the 15” 30th Birthday Snuffles, which features a special 30th birthday commemorative medallion. Available in frosted-tip, caramel plush fur or frosted-tip, chocolate plush fur.
— Rick Henry, owner of Stellabella Toys in Cambridge, Mass., and three other toy stores, says they sell about12 brown Snuffles per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27610 (added 3/17/2010)
This multicolored magnetic building toy is a 30-piece set that includes 18 squares and 12 triangles with 108 magnets. Kids can create 2-D or 3-D objects for open-ended building possibilities.
— Lynda Blankenship, owner of Smart Toys & Books in Knoxville, Tenn. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that Magformers were a best-selling construction toy.
— Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at Smart Toys & Books
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30679 (added 9/27/2010)
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This dartboard set includes six balanced darts that feature N-35 Neodymium rare earth magnets and the lightweight, durable Doinkit material that keeps the darts flying perfectly true. The darts will work on any magnetic dart board.
— Owner Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop in Jamaica Plain, Mass., told TDmonthly in summer 2007 that she has been selling lots of these dart boards for years. “The quality is great. The holding power of the magnets is great. The price is right,” she explained.
— Doinkit Darts have been “unbelievable” for Piccolo Mondo Toys of Portland, Ore., Owner Michelle Smith told TDmonthly at the end of 2008. JoAnn Farrugia, owner of JaZams in Pennington, N.J., reported sales of about three dozen per month of Doinkit Darts in a March 2009 survey of best sellers.
— “The [Doinkit] Darts sell really well for kids and adults,” said Lauren Obenour, manager of Portland, Oregon’s Green Frog Toys, where the product is among the best-selling sports and outdoor toys, as of spring 2009.
— Doinkit Darts are a “longtime best seller” at Totally Thomas Toy Depot in San Diego, as reported in July 2010 by President Cynthia Wyatt. “The rare earth magnets in the darts are super strong, stay put, and don’t bounce off. They’re very safe and don’t damage your walls. Nothing but fun!” she said.
Past Videos: ASTRA 2008
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14606 (added 8/13/2007)
Kids can whittle down their waists by keeping this hula hoop going. It comes in various colors and sizes to suit all shapes and sensibilities.
— Syd Clarke, owner of Ali-Cat in Carrboro, N.C., sells about 30 hula hoops per month. She attributes the fad's resurgence to increased interest in countering childhood obesity with exercise. She also noted that a woman in her neighborhood now offers a hula hoop class for adults.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 24588 (added 7/16/2009)
Mad Libs combine language education, creative stimulation, and just plain silly fun. Each page asks for a list of words by part of speech, which are then plugged into strategic blanks in a short story on the page following. When distributed throughout the Mad Libs framework, a list of seemingly ordinary words becomes inventive and hilarious.
― Two of 39 retailers who participated in TDmonthly's March 2010 survey of top-selling travel toys said Mad Libs are their best.
— “We sell three Mad Libs a day,” Ava Allen, owner of Be Beep A Toy Store in Columbia, S.C., told TDmonthly in autumn 2010.
— In an April 2013 survey, two out of 12 retailers said that Mad Libs are one of their best-selling travel products.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27942 (added 4/9/2010)
Suitable for babies 0 to 3 months and up, this teether and discovery toy features a contrasting spot pattern that offers visual stimulation, plus a squeaker for amusement. It is made of natural rubber from Hevea tree and colored with food paint. Sophie is distributed in the United States by Calisson.
— Retailers surveyed by TDmonthly have been naming Sophie the Giraffe as a best-seller since 2009.
― Nicole Boomhover, assistant manager of Learning Express in Cahaba Heights, Ala. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that they sold between five and ten Sophies a month.
— In an April 2012 survey, three out of 11 retailers told TDmonthly that Sophie the Giraffe was their best selling infant & toddler product.
― “Sophie giraffe is a great baby product that we order over and over again,” Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Company in Denver, Co., told TDmonthly in June 2010. “I can't keep them on the shelf,” agreed Keith Schumacker, general manager at Talbot’s Toyland in San Mateo, Calif.
― During a March 2010 survey of 39 retailers, seven said Sophie the Giraffe is a top-selling toy for infants. Sales averaged 24 per month.
— Want this? As of 05/06/2011, this product was available for purchase at Learning Express of Cahaba Heights, Ala.
AWARDS: 2014 TDmonthly Magazine Top Toy Award, 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23246 (added 4/10/2009)
Playmobil Eggs open to reveal surprise play sets. This 13” egg contains a zookeeper figure, two panda figures, a basket and food for the pandas.
— In August 2010, 14 percent of 43 specialty toy retailers named Playmobil products an overall best seller.
— Clyde Walton, owner of The Toy Shoppe of London in London, Ont., Canada, told TDmonthly in summer 2010 that when it comes to Playmobil, “The only two responses (he receives) are “’I've never heard of it' and 'That's my child's favorite toy.’ If they like Playmobil they like it all.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30617 (added 9/22/2010)
This dazzling charm attaches to Charm It! bracelets or necklaces for a bit of fun and sparkle.
— Charm It! Charms were on the top-10 best seller list at Dancing Bear Toys in Asheville and Hendersonville, N.C., in June 2010, as reported by Sarah and Erika Evers, owners and sisters. “These charms are very tastefully done, and they are the right price point,” they told TDmonthly. “They’re also adorable, and you can start a child with a couple charms and they can add on over time.”
— ''Every day, we sell a bracelet and two charms, and on the weekends, it's more,'' Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper for Kids in Springfield, Va., shared with TDmonthly in the fall of 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28784 (added 6/8/2010)
Spot It is a party game for two to eight players. It's played by laying a random assortment of cards on the table and all players racing to find one image that matches between two cards. This fast-paced game is designed to never be the same twice, and though it has very few rules to remember it requires a sharp eye to master. The set of 55 round cards transports in its own carry tin. Watch Spot It: Top-5 Video, Toy Fair 2010
— Spot It has been been a top seller for retailers surveyed by TDmonthly since early Spring 2010.
— In a March 2012 survey, 3 out of 12 retailers told TDmonthly that Spot It was their overall best selling product, and had been for more than a year.
— Dean Smith, Co-owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that he sells 50-60 copies of Spot It each month.
Awards: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children's Products - 2010
Where to buy:
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27018 (added 2/11/2010)
The play mat, Talk of the Farm, is designed for children to learn while they play, reinforcing the concepts of counting, learning colors, and animal sounds and helps children learn to follow directions.
Awards: Dr. Toy 100 Best Children's Products - 2010
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30737 (added 10/11/2010)
This bulldog, made of 100-percent synthetic fur, simulates breathing as its tummy rises and falls, and comes with the following: a collar with tag, a bed and carrier, a brush, an adoption certificate and one D alkaline battery.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22063 (added 1/12/2009)
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
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7426 (added 3/30/2006)
Made of comforting fabrics and textures, Gund Comfy Cozy 24" blankets are available in various styles and colors. They feature satin paw pads and are machine washable. A 12" size is also available.
Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that Comfy Cozies were a best-selling toy in the infant & toddler category.
— Elmer Carranza, assistant manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Falls Church, Va., told TDmonthly in an October 2011 survey that Comfy Cozy blankets are their best selling keepsake item. They sell about a dozen each month.
— Want this? As of 05/06/2011, this product was available for purchase at Doodlehopper 4 Kids.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 29180 (added 6/25/2010)
Little girls can act just like mommy with their very own soft purse by I-Play, full of accessories.
- This item rates as a top seller on Amazon.com and Target.com as of February, 2005.
- Imaginarium.com’s toyologists have given this toy a top rating in independent play and motor skills.
- This item was on the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) list of Hot Holiday Toys for the 2004 season.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 2875 (added 2/14/2005)
Squishlanders are fun, 3/4" rubbery animals in a plastic capsule that can be found in more than 300,000 vending machines around the world. The squishie characters were first introduced 4 years ago as Pet Friends, and more than 55 million of the little creatures have been sold since that time. Each Sqwishlander comes with a code for access to a new kid-friendly virtual world, www.Sqwishland.com.
— Squishies pencil toppers were on the top-10 best-seller list at Totally Thomas Toy Depot in San Diego in July 2010. “They are the hottest trend in Southern California as of this spring,” President Cynthia Wyatt told TDmonthly. “’Regulars’ and ‘Rares’ — they collect them all!”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 29827 (added 7/28/2010)
This set comes with 150 bright, interlocking pieces that are flexible and can form a farmhouse, a rooster and a 3-D baby chicken, as well as various other imaginative designs.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25825 (added 10/29/2009)
This fun, sprawling floor puzzle (2 feet X 3 feet) has large, rugged pieces made from 98% recycled materials. Like all innovativeKids' Green Start series products, this puzzle is not only good for the earth, it also helps kids see their connection to
it, in this case with a wonderfully illustrated garden scene showing kids busily working and playing in and around the garden. Once assembled, the puzzle becomes a hunt-and-find adventure in which kids count objects hidden in the garden. Numerals and matching illustrated quantities (chicks, apples, bees, flowers, etc.) along the top and bottom borders of the puzzle show kids what, and how many of each, to look for. When finished, pack it back up into the very attractive carrying case package it came in, also made from recycled materials.
Awards: Bright Eyes Autumn 2010 Tillywig Award
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31131 (added 11/4/2010)
Retailers interviewed: Marc Holcomb, Toys & Co., Greensboro, S.C.; Syd Clarke, Ali-Cat, Carborro, N.C.; Michelle Bears, The Toy Store, Highlands, N.C.; Ava Allen, Be Beep A Toy Shop, Columbia, S.C.; Christine Osborne, Wonder Works, Charleston, S.C.; Kim Pagliarini, Teach! LLC, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; David Campbell, Amazing Toys, Great Falls, Mont.; Susan Swickard, The Talking Teddy, Estes Park, Mont.; Cheryl Richmond, Punkin Doodles, Havre, Colo.; Tony Hoyt, Hummingbird Toys & Treats, Arlee, Mont.; Shanna Frieling, Giggles Toys & More, Bozeman, Mont.; Jeanne McCullough, Children's Store Inc., Boise, Mont.; Diane Gervais, Armato's Toy & Hobby, Middletown, Mont.; Diana Gisolfu, Sisters Kids, Springfield, Idaho; Rick Henry, Stellabella Toys, Cambridge, Mass.; Kelly Ratoff, Kennebunk Toy Company, Kennebunk, Me.; Catherine Higgins, Stone Soup, Bar Harbor, Me.; Steven Levy, Toy City, Keene, N.H.; Kay Steen, Wingdoodle, Warner, Me.; Lori Lind, Narrangassett, N.H.; Linda Laramy, Crackerjacks, Easton, Idaho; Joe Berardoni, Sr., Pun's Toy Shop, Bryn Mawr, Pa.; Jeannette Lauture, Aunt Jean's Toys & Treats, Montclair, N.J.; Mike DiAndrea, Hardware Centre, Paoli, Penn.; Gwen Bowden, Doodlehopper for Kids, Springfield, N.J.; Susan Blanton, Pufferbellies, Staunton, Pa.
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Writer'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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