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January 2015 | Vol. XIV - No. 1
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Top-10 Most-Wanted Play Sets


With additional reporting by Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero

When it comes to play sets, it seems that Playmobil and Calico Critters are at the top every kid's wish list! At least, that was the case when TDmonthly Magazine interviewed specialty toy store owners about their best-selling play sets. Check out the sets below so you can decide which to add to your shelves this year.

*No manufacturer paid to be included in this list. All products listed were designated by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with TOYDIRECTORY.com/TDmonthly Magazine.




MSRP: $28.99
Specialty: Yes (as of 2014)
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Christmas
Gifts
General Toys



Help Santa assemble all the Christmas gifts as he makes his list and checks it twice! The Advent Calendar “Santa’s Workshop” contains twenty-four surprise items for each day of Advent to form a gift that will keep on giving long after the holidays have passed. Set includes Santa figure, two elves and one angel figure, reindeer with sleigh, gifts, assorted toys, wheelbarrow, basket, and additional accessories to build a complete Santa’s Workshop. Once all the pieces are revealed, experience even more fun with the bonus PLAYMOBIL memory game.
— In a December 2014 survey, two out of nine retailers told TDmonthly that this was a best-selling play set at their store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 36754      (added 5/6/2014)
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Specialty: Yes (as of 2014)
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Collectibles
Animal Figures



The lights turn on and off in this spacious four-room townhome, and the room divider can be moved to create a fifth room. The home opens and closes for lots of decorating and pretend play fun. The moveable staircase and extra floor area can be used to create larger rooms. House measures 12"" x 12"" x 12"" closed, 21"" x 21"" x12"" opened. The Hazelnut Chipmunk Family lives in this home. Critters & some accessories sold separately.
— In a December 2014 survey, two out of nine retailers told TDmonthly that this was a best-selling play set at their store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 37108      (added 12/30/2014)
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MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 4 to 10
Specialty: No
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Preschool
General Toys



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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MSRP: $10.99
Age Range: 4 to 8
Specialty: No
Gender: Girls
Category: Preschool
Play Sets
General Toys



Kids will have fun when they are on the go with the Princess Carrying Case. This easy to take-along playset comes with a figure, unicorn, peacock, swan, vanity, and other accessories.
— Peg Scholtes, owner of Capitol Kids LTD in Madison, Wis., told TDmonthly in a December 2014 interview that Playmobil take-along sets, particularly princess and pirate, are some of their best-selling play sets.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 35363      (added 10/24/2012)
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Specialty: Yes (as of 2014)
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Animal Figures
Collectibles



Father, Richie is a huge sports fan and works as a sports writer for the Cloverleaf Corners newspaper. Sister, Isabella is the most popular girl in school. She is a member of several clubs including gymnastics and tennis. Baby girl, Katie loves to take a lot of naps and listen to lullabies.
— Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barstons Childs Play in Rockville, Md., told TDmonthly in a December 2014 interview that the Calico Critters Hopper Kangaroo Family was a best-selling play set at their store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 37109      (added 12/30/2014)
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MSRP: $59.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Specialty: Yes (as of 2013)
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Wooden Toys
Rail Roads & Trains
Preschool



This rural railway set has the classic Brio quality and features a barn with loading crane, farm engine with wagon, farm tractor with trailer, farm animals and hay bale.
— In a February 2014 survey, two out of 10 retailers told TDmonthly that Brio Trains were among their best-selling wooden toys.
— Patti Tepper-Rasmussen, owner of Learning Tree Toys, Games & Books, Inc. in Oklahoma City, Ok., told TDmonthly in an August 2014 survey that Brio was one of the store's best-selling brand of collectibles.
— In a February 2015 survey, Sue Hottel, co-owner of No Kidding (aka Sand Castle Toys Inc) in Mattapoisett, Mass., told TDmonthly that Brio trains are her some of her store's best-selling wooden toys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 36162      (added 4/29/2013)
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MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 3 to 5
Gender: Girls
Category: Play Sets



This doll house folds up neatly into a carrying case, allowing your child to play with her new best friends anywhere. The house is fully stocked with accessories, such as chairs, toys, beds, tables and even pets. The dolls included are durable, cheerful and fully poseable.
— Syd Clarke, owner of Ali-Cat in Carrboro, N.C., told TDmonthly in a December 2014 interview that the Take-Along Doll House by Playmobil is one of their best-selling play sets.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4787      (added 9/23/2005)
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MSRP: $49.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: CC2780
Gender: Girls
Category: Play Sets
Animal Figures
Dolls - Accessories



This cozy cottage comes fully assembled and ready to play with everything you need for hours of pretend play fun with Calico Critters. This play set comes equipped with over 10 furniture pieces & accessories including: Bell Hopscotch Rabbit, bed with matching sheets, round table with chairs, kitchen counter with sink & oven, movable ladder for easy access to each floor, cookware and food. Launch date: 2010.
— "We also see a lot of interest in the Calico Critter playhouses - there is quite a variety of them," Suzi McMullen, manager of e-commerce at Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., told TDmonthly in a June 2013 survey.
— Syd Clarke, owner of Ali-Cat in Carrboro, N.C., told TDmonthly in a December 2014 interview that the Calico Critters Cozy Cottage is one of their best-selling play sets.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27718      (added 3/24/2010)
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MSRP: $99.99
Age Range: 5 to 7
Specialty: No
Gender: Boys
Category: Construction
Pretend Play
General Toys



Stop the prisoners from escaping the police station through the pipe drain. They won't get far on foot. Use the police car to chase them down and transport them back to prison in the police van. Help keep LEGO City safe with this feature-packed set. The LEGO City Police Station (7498) features: Set Contains 783 Pieces; Includes 4 police officers, 2 robbers, a police dog and lots of accessories; Modular building make building easy; Includes police car, prisoner transport van, and bicycle; Station features 2 jail cells, command center with computers, helicopter landing pad on the roof, garage for two vehicles.
— As of 11/07/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 11 reviews on ToysRUs.com. Pros: Lots of accessories; fun to build; very detailed. Cons: Expensive; took one reviewer two days to assemble completely.
— As of 11/07/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 15 reviews on Amazon.com.
— Paul Sahagian, owner of Learning Express in Needham, Mass., told TDmonthly in a December 2014 interview that this Frozen Coloring book is one of the best-selling books at their store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 33116      (added 11/7/2011)
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MSRP: $59.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
Science & Nature
Kits



Snap Circuits make learning electronics easy and fun. Kids follow the colorful pictures in the manual to build exciting projects, such as FM radios, burglar alarms, doorbells and more. Parts are mounted on plastic modules and snap together with ease. “Children can play with this kit for hours and hours and still have not completed all the projects the snap circuit kits have to offer,” Walter Larsen, national sales manager for Elenco, told TDmonthly.
— One retailer said in summer 2007 his store sells 25 Elenco units monthly. Five percent of 64 retailers said in August 2008 that Snap Circuits are a best-selling science product, reporting average sales of six units per month. Four of 38 retailers echoed the same a year later. “They’ve gone back to this game six or seven times,” between January and July 2006, said TDmonthly's homeschooling mom Susan Ledford.
— Any time TDmonthly asks specialty storeowners about top-selling science toys, Elenco's Snap Circuits heads the list. This simple electronics kit appeals to both girls and boys. By making science fun and easy, Snap Circuits earned a TDmonthly Classic Toy 2007 award.
—  As of 12/17/2012 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 575 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: One user said that her grandchildren were "not all that interested" in the Snap Circuits, and told her that they would prefer LEGOs on their birthday.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5252      (added 10/27/2005)
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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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