December 2013 | Vol. XII - No. 12
Top-10 Most Wanted Educational Toys
With additional reporting by Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero
Science kits, puzzles, and games all made the cut in this month's Top-10 Most-Wanted Educational Toys list. See which toys retailers told TDmonthly were best-sellers 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.
Strange Attractor Thinking Putty by CRAZY AARON ENTERPRISES, INC.
Other products from CRAZY AARON ENTERPRISES, INC.
Deep black with subtle green sparkles, this slightly stiffer Thinking Putty has a mind of its own. Near a powerful magnet it comes alive! Strong enough to defy gravity. It can even lift tacks and paperclips on its own after charging in a magnetic field. One would be mesmerized by the invisible forces at play.
— Candace Gooch, owner of At Once All Agog in Limerick, Maine, told TDmonthly in July 2010 that this product is one of her top-three best sellers. She cited sales of 12 in the last month and three in the last week.
— In a late Summer 2012 survey, three out of 12 retailers said Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty was their bestselling novelty item. Richard Gibson, owner of Learning Express of Newton in Newton, Mass., told TDmonthly that the putty brings in $5-6,000 a year, and "the best is the magnetic one."
— In a Fall 2013 survey, three out of 12 retailers told TDmonthly that Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty was their best-selling novelty toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26128 (added 11/19/2009)
Help each magnetic animal find its place and environment. This magnetic book with removable pieces is "bound" to amuse and educate with pet, farm, wild and undersea animal shaped magnetic pieces.
— As of 1/17/2013 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 21 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Good for travel; Easy enough for young children but challenging enough to hold their interest. Cons: Pictures begin to fade after a while.
— In a November 2013 survey, Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly that puzzles, especially from Melissa & Doug, are a best-selling education toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 36023 (added 1/18/2013)
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The simple memory game uses numbers and familiar objects to help children sharpen their counting and memory skills. The game contains 20 3-1/4” x 3-1/4” squares.
— In a November 2013 survey, Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly that memory games, like those from Eeboo, are a best-selling educational toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18755 (added 5/8/2008)
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)
With Zingo! 1-2-3, players must match their numbered tiles with the corresponding display on their challenge board. The first player with a full card wins the game by yelling “Zingo!” In this fast-paced game, two levels of play focus on image recognition and addition. "This is a line extension of the best-selling Zingo! game by ThinkFun. It now uses numbers and math skills as compared to of pictures and image recognition skills used in original Zingo!" Edoardo Kulp, Marketing Manager, ThinkFun Inc., told TDmonthly. Launch date: Jan. 15, 2010.
— Angie Knutson from My Four Monkeys: the “easy to use” number dispensing Zinger was “the funnest part of the game” for her kids. “As with most ThinkFun games,” said Angie, “Zingo! 1-2-3 would also make a great preschool and kindergarten resource!”
— Ruth B. Roufberg and Parents’ Choice applauded the successful blending of number education and bingo as well as the game components and packaging for being “functionally designed.” Zingo 1-2-3 Number Bingo received the Spring 2010 Parents’ Choice Gold Award.
— Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Best Toy Award Winner, 2010
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26463 (added 12/16/2009)
Players try to fill their Zingo! cards with matching tiles from the Zingo Zinger. The first player to fill his or her card wins. Rules can be adjusted to favor more or less competition among players, and to vary the length of time each game requires. This game was a 2007 T.O.T.Y. Nominee for Specialty Toy of the Year. "It teaches memory, matching, vocabulary and social interaction skills. Kids have so much fun playing again and again; they don’t realize they’re learning essential thinking skills," Marketing Communications Manager Emily Peters of Thinkfun told TDmonthly.
— “Customers use this game as their ‘standard’ party gift,” Owner Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop in Jamaica Plain, Mass. told TDmonthly in summer 2007.
— “We sell out as soon as they come in,” added Pam Horwitz, manager of Mr. Toad’s Toy Company in Naples, Fla. Four of 63 retailers singled out Zingo! as the hottest-selling game in their store. Seven percent of 56 retailers listed Zingo as a top-selling game in January 2009. Six of 38 retailers called it a best-selling game in Feb. 2010.
— “Zingo is a great game for 4- to 5-year olds,” Jamie Burdette, owner of LB Toys in Media, Pa., told TDmonthly about this game — a top seller in his store — in April 2008. “The basic Bingo concept starts to introduce words and spelling.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3529 (added 5/10/2005)
24 Game Double Digits by SUNTEX INTERNATIONAL INC.
Other products from SUNTEX INTERNATIONAL INC.
This set includes double-sided, 4" by 4" cards that come in three levels of difficulty. The object of the game is to make 24 using all four numbers displayed on the card, using each only once. Players can add, subtract, multiply and divide. There is at least one solution to every card.
— In a November 2013 survey, Dean Smith, owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly that the 24 game is a best-selling educational toy in the store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8511 (added 7/10/2006)
What do you get with basic geomentric shapes made of Lauri crepe rubber and 21 tall-stacker Pegs? You get toy that entertains preschoolers for hours in convenient travel case for kids on the go. They'll fill all the holes, sort the pegs by color, and see how high the pegs will stack. With to holes per shape, it's also counting toy that lays good foundation for early math skills. When finished playing, kids will have fun putting the shapes back in the puzzle frame.
— In a November 2013 survey, Richard Gibson, owner of Learning Express of Newton in Newton, Mass., told TDmonthly that they make $5,000 a year on Tall Stackers alone.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 35972 (added 1/15/2013)
It's easy to turn old paper into custom-made new paper. Take any type of paper, add water, and grind away. Place pulp on the screen, press and let it dry. Easy, simple way to recycle paper while creating greeting cards, bookmarks, tags, announcement and more. Grinder, screen plus ribbons and jewels for decorating.
— In a November 2013 survey, Linda Graham, president and co-owner of Scheffel's Toys, Inc in Jacksonville, Ore., told TDmonthly that Small World science kits are among her store's best-selling educational products.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 33204 (added 11/18/2011)
In this innovative kit from Toysmith, kids harness the natural, clean, free energy of the sun to accomplish practical tasks. Complete supplies and instructions are provided to cook an egg and purify water. Through these products, children can learn about the powerful energy all around them and become more conscious of the environmental concerns in their world.
— “They're low price points, and they're doing really well,” said Martha Burrows, owner of Timeless Toys in Chicago, Ill., of Toysmith's Solar Science kits during a September 2010 survey of 44 retailers. Burrows listed Solar Science as a top seller for tweens.
— In a November 2013 survey, Yamil Castillo from The Red Balloon Toy Store in Salt Lake City, Utah, told TDmonthly that Toysmith science and experimenting kits are best-selling educational toys in the store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30996 (added 10/28/2010)
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Writer'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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