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August 2011 | Vol. X - No. 8
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Top-10 Most-Wanted Puzzles

Melissa & Doug, Ravensburger are the Favorites


With additional reporting from Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero

When TDmonthly Magazine interviewed 12 retailers about their best-selling puzzles in Summer 2011, items from Melissa & Doug and Ravensburger were far and away the favorites, each getting five mentions as a best-selling brand. Puzzle and game company ThinkFun was also mentioned for three of its products. From peg puzzles to a recreation of a classic Van Gogh painting, these varied products offer fun for all ages.

You can see the full list of best-selling puzzles 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: $9.99
Age Range: 1 and up
Launch Date: January 2010
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
Wooden Toys
Infant & Toddler



This fishbowl features three happy residents for puzzle play. The extra-thick, three-piece wooden puzzle includes a fish, a turtle and a crab, each with jumbo wooden knobs for easy grasping. Full-color, matching pictures appear underneath each piece.
— In a Summer 2011 survey, 5 out of 12 retailers told TDmonthly that wooden peg puzzles from Melissa & Doug were their best-sellers in the category.
— As of 7/12/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 32 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Durable; age-appropriate; puzzle pieces fit well. Cons: One reviewer said the veneer on the puzzle pieces began peeling a month after purchasing it.
— In a June 2010 survey of 40 specialty retailers, 15 percent named Melissa & Doug as an overall top-selling brand. Two retailers told TDmonthly that the brand’s puzzles sell especially well.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 29393      (added 7/8/2010)
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Soaring in front of a beautiful fantasy castle, the majestic Pegasus takes flight as if it might launch right off the surface of this 1500 piece puzzle from Ravensburger. The finished puzzle measures 33” x 23.5”, and a full picture of its detailed image is on the front of the box. The many details in the high-quality graphic will keep puzzlers interested from start to finish.
— In an August 2011 survey, 5 out of 12 retailers told TDmonthly that Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles were their top-selling puzzles.
— As of 7/12/2011 this product had 4 out of 5 stars from 2 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Challenging but not frustrating; "gorgeous." Cons: One reviewer said the puzzle was too large when completed.
— Three of 44 retailers told TDmonthly that puzzles are a top-selling item in their stores in September 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30997      (added 10/28/2010)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill



Packed in a bright red latching box emblazoned with a painted stegosaurus, four individually bagged jigsaw puzzles offer different skill levels for young children.  At four, six, nine and 12 pieces, each puzzle assembles into a picture of a different dinosaur (a pterodactyl, tyrannosaurus, triceratops and the pictured stegosaurus). 
— In an August 2011 survey, 2 out of 12 retailers said that Crocodile Creek's puzzles were best-sellers in the puzzle category. Jeanette Lauture of Aunt Jean's Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., said that she sells 3-6 Crocodile Creek puzzles each week.
― “We have Crocodile Creek and do well with those,” Jeri Dorsey, buyer for Kits and Kaboodle in Carmel, Ind., told TDmonthly in June 2009 when asked about top-selling puzzles.
— "All of the Crocodile Creek products" for school do well, said Rick Henry, owner of Stellabella Toys in Cambridge, Mass., in autumn 2010. He sells approximately 50 pieces of lunch boxes, thermoses and the like per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 24706      (added 7/21/2009)
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MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 2 to 4
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
Interactive
General Toys



Featuring detailed images of 8 favorite noisy vehicles, this wooden peg puzzle makes the vehicle sound when a piece is placed correctly in the puzzle board. Eight sounds in all. Full-color, matching picture under each piece. Dimensions: 1.2" x 8.5" x 11.7" Assembled. AAA batteries not included.
— Michael O'Dell of Toys from the Attic in Rehoboth Beach, Del., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that he sells 10 Melissa & Doug sound puzzles each month.
— As of 7/12/2011 this product had 3 out of 5 stars from 23 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Affordable; engaging. Cons: Many reviewers said the sounds were poor quality.
— In a February 2012 survey about wooden toys, three out of 14 retailers said that puzzles from Melissa & Doug were their best sellers in the category. “Melissa and Doug has been a core of the store for years and years," Mike Snyder, owner and manager of Cville's Hobbies, Games and Toys in Charlottesville, Va., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32555      (added 7/12/2011)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 12 and up
Target Age Range: 13 and up
Specialty: Yes (as of 2011)
Made in: United States
SKU or Item #: 3600
Launch Date: March 2011
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
Educational
Language



PathWords is a new game that combines the Tetris® and Word Search. Players must find all the words in each challenge and place the puzzle pieces so that the letters under each piece spell a word. PathWords will delight puzzle game buffs and word search fanatics. Launch date: March 2011.
— In a Summer 2011 survey, Mary Porter of The Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va., told TDmonthly that ThinkFun was her best-selling brand of puzzles.
— As of 7/12/2011 this product had 4.9 out of 5 stars from 19 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Clear instructions; fun alone or as a group; challenging.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31693      (added 2/9/2011)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 5050
Launch Date: July 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
General Games



A winner of 20 awards, Rush Hour continues to be one of ThinkFun’s most popular and renowned mind-challenging games. In honor of Rush Hour’s 10 years of success, ThinkFun is celebrating with a Deluxe Edition that is guaranteed to delight seasoned Rush Hour fans and newcomers alike. Just like the traditional game, the object is to put problem-solving skills in gear to help the red car escape the traffic jam. But Rush Hour Deluxe Edition has been revved-up for maximum performance, featuring 60 of ThinkFun’s best challenges and an exciting new level of play. It comes complete with a modern design, 15 bright metallic cars and a collector’s gift box for easy travel. Launch date: Summer 2006.
— When surveyed about his best-selling puzzles in a Summer 2011 survey, Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., said he sells between 5 and 7 Rush Hours puzzles each month.
— As of 7/12/2011 this product had 4.3 out of 5 stars from 19 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Helps build problem solving skills; great for travel or quiet time. Cons: Two reviewers said that the Deluxe Edition was disappointing, as it actually has less features than the original game.
— Kids caught in traffic love to pull out this game and find their way out of the crunch. Rush Hour makes a great travel toy, specialty retailers have told TDmonthly, and it's been a top seller in their stores for more than 10 years. For these reasons, we gave it our TDmonthly Classic Toy 2007 award.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10158      (added 11/20/2006)
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MSRP: $10.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
General Games



In ancient times, the great Oracles proclaimed that whoever solved the mystery of the Gordian knot would rule the world. For 400 years the knot remained a mystery until Alexander the Great solved it and went on to rule great kingdoms. Today the classic tradition of the world’s toughest puzzle continues. This colorful modern variation features just six interlocking pieces but takes 69 different moves to take it all apart. A step-by-step how-to booklet will jump-start the most perplexed and help put the puzzle back together once it is solved.
— In a Summer 2011 survey, Mary Porter of The Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va., told TDmonthly that "We sell a lot of ThinkFun puzzles. Gordian's Knot sells very well."
— As of 7/12/2011 this product had 4.2 out of 5 stars from 34 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Challenging and fun; a great value; fun for adults and older kids. Cons: One reviewer said it was not challenging enough; One adult reviewer said it was too small for him too use.
— “Gordian’s Knot is an innovative brainteaser challenge that helps kids develop deductive reasoning and problem-solving skills. Players can’t wait to unravel the mystery of the knot,” Emily Peters of Thinkfun told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5455      (added 11/10/2005)
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MSRP: $21.99
Age Range: 12 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
General Toys
General Games



This 1500 piece puzzle  features one of Van Gogh's most iconic works. Each piece is unique and fully interlocking.
— In a Summer 2011 survey about best-selling puzzles, Donna Frederick, owner of The Play House Toy Store in Durham, N.C., said that Ravensburger puzzles over 1000 pieces were a best-seller. “There are not a lot of [companies] who cater to older people who like puzzles but not kiddie pictures,” she told TDmonthly.
— In the same Summer 2011 survey, Syd Clarke, owner of Ali Cat in Carrboro, N.C., said that this Van Gogh puzzle was one of his best-sellers in the category.
— As of 7/12/2011 this product had 5 out of 5 stars from 5 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: "Outstanding quality;" durable; beatiful artwork; challenging.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32556      (added 7/12/2011)
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MSRP: $11.99
Age Range: 9 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
General Toys
Tween



This 300 piece puzzle glows in the dark for extra value once the puzzle is completed. Each piece is unique and fully interlocking.
—In a Summer 2011 survey, Syd Clarke, owner of Ali Cat in Carrboro, N.C., said that this Glow-in-the-Dark unicorn puzzle from Ravensburger was a best-seller.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32557      (added 7/12/2011)
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MSRP: $12
Age Range: 3 and up
Target Age Range: 3 to 5
Specialty: Yes (as of 2010)
Made in: China
SKU or Item #: 978-0-7353-2519-7
Launch Date: January 2010
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puzzles & Skill
Eco-Friendly
Educational



Mudpuppy 42-piece puzzles measure 16" square when assembled. The pieces are packed in a sturdy, 5" cube box with a colorful rope handle and are CE and ASTM tested to ensure safety. The puzzle's greyboard is made of 90-percent recycled paper, and the packaging is 70-percent recycled paper and printed with non-toxic, soy-based inks. Mudpuppy Press Public Relations Assistant Shanya Lewis told TDmonthly, "With themes like robots, princesses, cars, animals and classic characters like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the Rainbow Fish, Mudpuppy 42-piece Puzzles make great gifts!"
— Kristin Dolle, manager of Playthings Toy Shoppe in Louisville, Ky., said that puzzles from MudPuppy were a best-seller in the category.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28380      (added 4/30/2010)
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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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