June 2014 | Vol. XIII - No. 6
Top-10 Most-Wanted Activity Kits and Play Sets
With additional reporting by Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero
Arts & crafts toys are the hottest products in the activity kit category, according to specialty retailers interviewed by TDmonthly in May 2014. Science toys from Thames & Kosmos and play sets from Playmobil also made their list of best-selling toys. You can learn more about all of the top-10 activity kits and play sets below.
*No manufacturer paid to be included in the Top-10 list below. All products listed were designated by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with TOYDIRECTORY.com/TDmonthly Magazine.
Make Clay Charms features simple step-by-steps for more than 30 different designs — cute fruit, adorable animals, sweet treats, and tons more. Make your charms with the nine bright colors of clay, bake them, add shine (with our specially formulated glaze), and then attach your creations to the included bracelet.
Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval
— Dean Smith, owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly in a May 2014 survey that Make Clay Charms from Klutz is the store's best-selling activity kit.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 35733 (added 12/10/2012)
Tooby Loops™ Fashion & Fun allows kids to turn colorful mesh tubing into creative crafts. Use the kit to create headbands, bracelets and more with Tooby Loops, chenille stems, beads, rhinestones and more – all included.
— Barb Stine, owner of Toys on the Square in Hummelstown, Pa., told TDmonthly in a January 2014 survey that Tooby Loops were a best-selling arts & crafts item.
— Joe Berardoni Jr., owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly in a May 2014 survey that Creativity for Kids is one of his store's top activity toy brands
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 35851 (added 12/20/2012)
Make colorful, chunky jewelry with Bling Blocks! Create looks that are uniquely your own by stringing Bling Blocks into necklaces and bracelets. Add sparkly touches to your designs! You can make a ring and earrings, too. Includes blocks, silver-colored beads, 1 block ring, sticky gems, satin cord, elastic string, earring hooks, jump rings, beading needle and easy to follow instructions.
— Joe Berardoni Jr., owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly in a May 2014 survey that ALEX-PANLINE is one of his store's top activity toy brands.
— Matt Peel, manager of Toys & Co. in Greensboro, N.C., told TDmonthly in a January 2015 survey that Alex Toys was their best-selling brand of arts & crafts toys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 36335 (added 9/26/2013)
Product Description: Ready to learn about how airplanes work by building awesome flying gliders? With this kit, you can build five different glider models and test them to learn how they fly. You can try all sorts of wing positions and angles. You can even design your own gliders! You’ll learn how wings generate lift and how the wing’s shape and the configuration of the wings affect the plane’s flying performance. (16-page manual, 44 building pieces). Ages 8 and up.
— In a May 2014 survey Mary Porter Green, owner of Curiosity Zone in Broadlands, Va., told TDmonthly that Thames & Kosmos makes her store's best-selling activity kits. They sell dozens of toys from the brand each month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 36717 (added 4/29/2014)
Kids will have fun even when they're on the go with the Carrying Case Vet Clinic. This easy to take-along case comes with a figure, kitten, puppy, guinea pigs, and accessories to help the vet treat the animals.
— In a July 2013 survey Donna Frederick, owner of The Play House Toy Store in Durham, N.C., told TDmonthly that toys by Playmbil are one of her store's overall best-sellers.
— In a May 2014 survey Suzi McMullen, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Falls Church, Va., told TDmonthly that Playmobil was her store's best-selling play set.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 35364 (added 10/24/2012)
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Loopdedoo is a new spinning tool that makes fabulous twisted bracelets in just a few minutes. It's fast, easy and fun. Just wrap the threads around the Loopdedoo device, turn the knob, guide the thread and minutes later the bracelet is done. Kids can even make necklaces, anklets, belts and more. There's no pattern to follow so each accessory is completely different and unique. Kids can use as many threads and color combinations as they like, and can make them thick, thin or anywhere in between. Launch date: November 2011.
— In a January 2012 survey, Barbara Finblum, owner of Barston's Child's Play in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly that Loopdedoo is their best selling arts and crafts toy. "They came in in December and we sold 194 out of 5 stores - 163 out of 3 stores alone. We sold out and couldn't get them back," she said.
— As of 10/5/2012 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 8 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Easy to use; promotes creativity; fun. Cons: One user couldn't figure out how to start.
— In a Fall 2012 survey, Dean Smith, owner of Jazams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly that they sell 15 of this item each month, making it one of their top-2 sellers in the Hobby category.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 33342 (added 12/15/2011)
Sticky Mosaics® Hidden Pictures by THE ORB FACTORY LIMITED
Other products from THE ORB FACTORY LIMITED
Hidden Pictures makes art appear before your eyes. This Sticky Mosaics kit is full of surprises. Follow a numbered legend and add tiles to 4 fun projects. Complete your picture to reveal one of 4 Wild Animals.
— In a May 2014 survey Sherri Stone, manager of Toys & Co. in Charlotte, N.C., told TDmonthly that The Orb Factory is their best-selling brand of activity kits. "Over a weekend, we could sell 30 pieces of Orb," she said - and 200/month of the whole line.
— In a January 2015 survey, two out of 10 retailers told TDmonthly that Sticky Mosaics was their best-selling arts & crafts line.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 36403 (added 11/27/2013)
Set includes 5 pounds of Sands Alive!, 6 Geometric Shape Molds, 4 Deluxe Castle Molds, 4 Small Castle Molds, 5 Mini Castle Topper Molds, 2 Sculpting Tools, 1 Paver, Brick and Pebble Rollers with Interchangeable Handle and Large Play Tray.
— In a March 2014 survey, 2 out of 9 retailers told TDmonthly that Sands Alive! was a best-selling product.
— Kelly Ratoff, owner of Kennebunk Toy Company in Kennebunk, Maine, told TDmonthly in a May 2014 survey that Play Visions sands are consistently best-sellers. "As many as we can get, we sell through," she said.
— David Castillo, vice president of The Red Balloon Toy Store in Salt Lake City, Utah, told TDmonthly in a November 2014 survey that Sands Alive is one of their store's best-selling educational toys. "Sands Alive especially has been hard to keep on the shelf," he told us.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 36657 (added 3/31/2014)
Just the right size for a variety of tiny treasures, jewelry or other extra-special keepsakes, this miniature craft kit from Melissa & Doug comes with four pots of paint, a brush, glitter, white glue, and glittering gems to decorate the lidded, heart-shaped box.
— “It's a party favor. A cute and fun activity,” Linda Rocco, owner of Gummy Lump Toys in Medford, N.Y., told TDmonthly when asked about top-selling activity kits in spring 2009.
— Seven of 49 retailers surveyed in April 2009 listed Melissa & Doug as a top-selling activity brand in their stores.
— Bill Sartain, owner of Tutoring Toy in Salt Lake City, Utah, told TDmonthly in a May 2014 survey that items from the Melissa & Doug "Decorate Your Own..." line are their best-selling activity kits.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23804 (added 5/21/2009)
Sea Monkeys Sunken Treasure by EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS INC.
Other products from EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS INC.
This Sea Monkeys kit comes with everything one needs to get started raising these living, swimming ”micro-crustaceans.” After treatment with the included water purifier, sprinkle the pouch of dormant Sea Monkey eggs into the tank, and watch the new pets appear and grow. It comes with a “growth guarantee.”
— “Another thing that sells really well is the Sea Monkeys. We sell a lot of those, and we had one of those on display,” Pat Cooley, owner of Cooleykatz Toys Livermore, Calif., told TDmonthly in August 2008 when discussing popular science and nature toys.
— “Kids still get so excited about those little kits,” said Janet Gregory, owner of Over the Rainbow Toys in Anchorage, Alaska. “A lot of adults seem to be drawn to them, too, because of the nostalgia factor.”
― As of 9.23.2010, this product had 4 out of 5 stars from 9 reviews on ToysRUs.com and was listed No. 10 in best-selling science and nature toys. PROS: Entertaining, educational, interactive and easy to use.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20423 (added 9/8/2008)
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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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