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June 2011 | Vol. X - No. 6
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Top-10 Most-Wanted Construction Toys

LEGO Still The Leader


With additional reporting by Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero

When TDmonthly Magazine interviewed 12 retailers around the country about their best-selling construction toys in Spring 2011, building sets from LEGO topped most lists. Other unique toys, like light-up construction sets from Laser Pegs and a marble run that sticks to the wall from Active Products Inc, were also mentioned. See the rest of the Top-10 construction toys below.

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.




MSRP: $119.99
Age Range: 9 to 16
Gender: Boys
Category: Play Sets
Construction
Action Figures



Modeled after Blackbeard's ship in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides, this 1097 piece set features seven mini-figures from the movie including Jack Sparrow, Angelica and Blackbeard figures. The ship is designed to look like it's made out of bones and skulls, along with wood. This is the only LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean set that features the mini-fig of Angelica. She features a new style of brown female hair and hat that is exclusive in the LEGO universe to her character. Launch Date: Summer 2011.
— Barb Stein, owner of Toys on the Square in Hummelstown, Pa. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that she sells more than 30 LEGO products each month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31714      (added 2/18/2011)
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MSRP: $279.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys
Category: Interactive
Construction
Robotics



The intelligent 612-piece NXT Lego brick features 32-bit microprocessor, a large matrix display, 4 input and 3 output ports, and Bluetooth and USB communication link; batteries not included. This set includes interactive servo motors and four sensors (Ultrasonic Sensor, 2 Touch Sensors and the all-new Color Sensor). The Color Sensor has triple functionality; it distinguishes colors and light settings, and functions as a lamp. This product comes with easy-to-use software (PC and Mac) with icon-based drag-and-drop programming and 16 fun building and programming challenges, along with building instructions for 4 new amazing robots. Awards: 2010 TOTY Award
— As of 7.27.2010, this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 46 reviews on Amazon.com, and was listed No. 44 in the top 100 best-selling toys and games. PROS: Teaches simple programming with well-designed, easy-to-use software. Encourages creative play. CONS: Not innovative enough; doesn't allow for open-ended play; one customer received two defective sets before receiving one that worked.
— In late Spring 2011, 25% of retailers surveyed said LEGO was their best-selling brand of construction toys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27105      (added 2/15/2010)
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Age Range: 3 and up
Target Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



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)
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This 48-piece set includes solid colored pieces, along with pieces with holes, curved pieces, a magnetic door and a wheeled piece. Magna-Tiles DX contains 12 small squares, four large squares, six isosceles triangles, 10 right triangles, 11 equilateral triangles, a wheeled piece, and arch and three special shapes. An idea guide is included.
— In late summer 2010, five percent of 43 specialty retailers told TDmonthly Magna-Tiles are an overall best-selling product.
— In late Spring 2011, 25% of retailers mentioned Magna-Tiles as a best-selling construction toy.
— As of 05/12/2011, this product had 5 out of 5 stars from 23 reviews on Amazon.com.
— In a Summer 2012 survey, Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Company in Denver, Col., told TDmonthly that Magnatiles were their overall best-selling toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30619      (added 9/22/2010)
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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: $44.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Target Age Range: 5 to 9
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



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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Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction
Creative Activities



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 200-piece set contains plenty of material to stimulate children's imaginations and motor skills.
— Picayune Toys in Dunwoody, Ga., is selling 50 to 75 Cobi sets per month, Owner Rebecca Goblish told TDmonthly in April 2010. Nathan McKelvey, manager of Toy Castle in Jonesboro, Ark., mentioned that the blocks were a hit for the 2009 holidays.
— Christine Osborne, co-owner of Wonder Works in Charleston, S.C. said that COBI building sets were a best-selling construction toy in her store when TDmonthly interviewed her in late Spring 2011.
— Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at Wonder Works
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28020      (added 4/14/2010)
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MSRP: $19.95
Age Range: 5 and up
Specialty: Yes (as of 2012)
Made in: China; United States
SKU or Item #: #1, #3, #101, #105
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction
Creative Activities
Educational



The Wall Coaster is NOT an ordinary marble run. Kids can just stick it to the wall and let their imaginations soar. The Wall Coaster uses the basic laws of physics and gravity to enable hours of fun and imaginative play. Plus, it is super easy to use. What makes the Wall Coaster different? The Wall Coaster can be applied to almost any vertical or horizontal surface. The new add on parts allow the user to build all kinds of crazy contraptions.
— Dean Smith, owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that he sells between eight and 10 Wall Coasters each month.
— Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at JaZams
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26990      (added 2/9/2010)
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MSRP: $120.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Target Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



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)
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Justina HuddlestonWriter's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author

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