December 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 12
With additional research by Virginia Davis, Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Christine Lebednik and Brenda Ruggiero.
Dec. 13, 2007 – With the holiday season in full swing, TDmonthly Magazine spoke with 29 specialty retailers to find out the latest in sales news. Many admitted that they are facing a problem — not being able to keep products in stock!
Another 20 percent of retailers named Webkinz by Ganz as a hot seller. However, unlike Bananagrams, sales of Webkinz are both exceptionally strong and exceptionally weak. Some retailers said the toys are practically jumping off shelves — the owner of Treasure Hunt Toys in Bristol, Va., told TDmonthly the store sells “at least 10 Webkinz every day” — but others are witnessing a different phenomenon: “They have almost quit selling completely,” Owner Joyce Matthews of Just 4 Fun in St. Simon’s Island, Ga., told TDmonthly.
Also controversial is Rubik’s Revolution by Techno Source. Mary Walsh, owner of Magical Child in Greenfield, Mass., told TDmonthly the product is “selling like an impulse item,” but Owner Terri Bracken of Earth Explorer Toys in Zionsville, Ind., said, “It’s just not doing well.” Two stores expressed disappointment in Kidsgive’s Karito Kids, which they said just aren’t selling.
Rounding out the family of hot-selling items are playsets by Kid Galaxy Bumper Cars, the old Rubik's Cube, Playmobil, Plasma Cars by Plasmart, Calico Critters by International Playthings, games by Educational Insights and others.
View the list below to see which toys are popular with Christmas just around the corner, and click here to see other popular toys.
BANANAGRAMS® by BANANAGRAMS
The fast-moving word game consists of 144 ivory-like letter tiles in a zippered banana pouch. Players place the tiles face down on the table and randomly select 21 tiles. They turn their letters right-side up simultaneously and proceed to form as many intersecting and interconnecting words as possible, rearranging their own letters as many times as desired throughout the game. Awards: TDmonthly Top Seller 2007; 2009 TOTY Game of the YEAR, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal; 2007 iParenting; 2007 Parents' Choice Recommended; 2007 Dr. Toy Best Products. (Read Review)
— This product has been making the TDmonthly Best-sellers lists since 2007.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 456 reviews on Amazon.com.
— Eight of 66 retailers vouched for its best-selling status in May 2008; seven of 63 did in Sept. 2008. Shani Watmough of Planet Toys in Rockland, Maine, said her store sells 60 per month. Fifteen of 38 named it a top-selling game in Feb. 2010.
— As of April 5, 2010, Bananagrams had spent 570 days in the top-100 best-selling toys and games on Amazon.com.
— According to owner Brett Sommer of Figpickels Toy Emporium in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, “It was the 2009 game of the year. The brilliant packaging definitely helps this product." ( Watch Video) 6/19/2006 (MSRP: $14.99; Age: 7 and Up)
Webkinz Black Stallion by GANZ
This black horse is gentle, mysterious and beautiful — the perfect pal to share secrets and stories with. In the online Webkinz World, the Black Stallion loves to cook. Its special item is the hay bale sofa and its special food is the horseshoe huckleberry hotcakes.
— Lynn Robillard, owner of Toys in the Attic in Manchester, Vt., told TDmonthly that when they’re available, Webkinz are one of her top-10 best-selling product lines.
— These computer-savvy plush pals take fourth place for best-selling toys at Red Wagon Toy Co. in Woodstock, Vt., according to Owner Kim Smith, who spoke with TDmonthly in summer 2007. 7/27/2007 (MSRP: $10.99; Age: 6 and Up)
Rubik's Revolution by TECHNO SOURCE
The Rubik's® Cube is an icon recognized around the world, selling over 350 million units. Now there's an all new spin on the world's #1 Cube—the Rubik's Revolution™. Packed with speed games and brainteasers everyone can play, the award-winning Rubik's Revolution is an all new spin on the world's #1 Cube. Six addictive, fast paced electronic games are easy to learn, but will push your skills to the limit with multiple challenging levels to unlock. Fun for ages 5 or 105, play by yourself or compete against your friends in both single and multiplayer games to become master of the Cube. “Rubik’s Revolution was designed as the electronic sequel to one of the best-selling toys in history ... It provides a whole new take on cubing. It is about speed. It is about smarts,” said Eric Levin, executive vice president of Techno Source. “Techno Source is also offering a Professor Rubik’s Signature Edition for the specialty market.” Winner of 10 Awards including the TIA 2008 T.O.T.Y. Game of the Year, Rubik's Revolution won a 2008 iParenting Media Award, a 2007 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval Award, a Dr. Toy Summer 2007 Best Products Award and a 2007 NAPPA Gold Award. Launch date: Summer 2007.
― “I think it will do very well,” Debbie Wurzburger, owner of Toy Chest in Pikesville, Md., told TDmonthly.
— Four out of 58 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly cited Rubik’s Revolution as their most popular “big-kid” item.
— When asked what he would most recommend for older kids and adults, Bill DeFusco, owner of Toyz Toy Store in Chesire, Conn., told TDmonthly, “The first one that comes to my mind [is] Rubik’s Revolution.” ( Watch Video) 2/21/2007 (MSRP: $19.99; Age: 5 and Up)
Roman Warriors by PLAYMOBIL INC.
This fully armed squad of Roman Centurions is ready for all invaders. The set includes five distinctive warriors armed with spears, sword and shields, a battle flag and even a powerful firing catapult. If this band of brave fighters can't win the battle, then none can.
— "Playmobil Romans — we’re expecting it to be big [for Christmas 2007]. ...We always do well with Playmobil," said Cathy Foland, manager at Imagination Station in Fenton, Mich.
— "It’s supposed to be featured in November on one of the early news shows: ‘Today’ or one of the others," Foland added in anticipation of the popularity of the new line.
— "Playmobil's Roman Warriors bring the past into the future," said Michelle Winfrey, marketing and public relations manager for Playmobil USA. "The new Roman play world [including the arena] allows children to learn about the history of ancient Rome while playing," 9/20/2007 (MSRP: $12.99)
PlasmaCar® by PLASMART INC.
The Original PlasmaCar continues to intrigue and fascinate. Powered by kid power; no batteries, gears, or pedals needed. Just sit, put your feet up, and turn the steering wheel to propel yourself forward. The patented safety seat design places riders in a safe, comfortable position and minimizes tipping. Moves up to 6 mph on any smooth, flat surface. Supports up to 220 lbs. Visit www.plasmacar.com to see all the wonderful colors available.
— In a March 2015 survey, two out of 10 retailers told TDmonthly that Plasmacar is a best-selling outdoor toy.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 122 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Does not work well on surfaces that aren't completely smooth.
— This top-seller in specialty stores earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for its distinctive aerodynamic design and ease-of-use. TDmonthly believes it has the potential to become a classic due to its fresh, contemporary appeal and application in a child’s formative years.
Awards: 2012 Parents Choice Awards Recommended, 2009 Green Parents List Check Mark, 2009 DisneyFamily.com Top Action Figures and Toys for Toddlers, 2009+2008+2005 The National Parenting Centre Seal of Approval, 2008 iParenting Media Toy Award, 2008 Fat Brain Toy Award Active Play, 2006 TIA Outdoor Toy of the Year - Specialty Toy of the Year, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, 2005 Dr. Toy Best Vacation Products, 2005 Creative Child Seal of Excellence, 2001 International Patent Fair, Hong Kong Gold Medal 6/28/2005 (MSRP: $69.99; Age: 3 and Up)
Calico Critters - A Carriage Ride for Connor & Kerri by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC
Connor and Kerri Snow-Warren bounce happily in their carriage as Mother Shannon takes them for a stroll to Cloverleaf Corners’ Community Park. The Carriage Ride for the Connor & Kerri set includes Mother Shannon Snow-Warren Rabbit, the Snow-Warren Rabbit twins Connor and Kerri, a pram with a pillow and blanket, a rattle and a bottle. This playset also comes with a storybook about the Snow-Warren family.
— "You know what? Calico Critters do great in [the 4 to 8] age range," said Linda Hays, owner of Hopscotch Inc. in McMinnville, Ore., when sharing her Christmas 2007 predictions with TDmonthly. Six of 54 retailers agreed.
— "Calico Critters: It’s been crazy and I expect it to continue," said Cathy Foland, manager for Imagination Station in Fenton, Mich., when discussing the upcoming 2007 holiday season.
— "The carriage is highly detailed with moving wheels, sun shade, pillow and blanket," said Sue Tice for International Playthings. 9/20/2007 (MSRP: $16.99; Age: 3 and Up)
The Flybar 1200 by SBI ENTERPRISES
This mechanical bouncing machine includes a newly developed spring system that creates a sensation similar to that of jumping on a trampoline. This updated version of the classic pogo stick introduces a new generation of kids to hopping fun, propelling them into the air higher than they were able to go with the original toy. It is suitable for a weight of 120 to 250 pounds.
— “SBI makes a great pogo stick and they are doing really well right now here with 9- to 12-year-old boys,” Karen Fox, owner of Woodbury Mountain Toys in Montpelier, Vt., told TDmonthly.
— "We’re selling a ton of pogo sticks by Fly Bar," Patty Meyer, owner of Meyer's Toy World/USA Baby, told TDmonthly. "The pogo sticks are a surprise, but I think it might go to the obese kid news we’re hearing, as well as the get back-to-basics, and this is one of those items."
— SBI invented the pogo stick back in 1918 and brought out the multiple award-winning Flybar 1200 in 2004. “We wanted to come out the gate with the best showing,” David Jargowsky, principal of SBI, told TDmonthly. “The 1200 is a high-performance model … People can jump six or seven feet, do backflips, tricks, etc.” Starting in June, the Flybar 800 for kids 80 to 180 pounds will be available. Right now, “The retailers who sell Flybars steadily say they have kids coming in all day, staring at the 1200, waiting for the 800.” Jargowsky said that many 800s have been presold and they expect a six-to-one or eight-to-one sales increase over the adult-sized 1200. 12/7/2004 (MSRP: $379.00; Age: 14 and Up)
North Pole Camouflage by EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS INC.
Using snow and ice to camouflage the polar bear and blue water to conceal the whale and fish, players arrange and rearrange six transparent puzzle pieces so that the animals are camouflaged in their correct environments. The single-player game gets progressively more difficult after each game, with four levels of difficulty. Puzzle pieces and cards store in the game board’s pull-out drawer, making this the perfect on-the-go game. The game comes with a game board, 48 challenging puzzle cards, six puzzle pieces and a solution book.
— Camouflage is a highly popular game at Evan’s Toy Shoppe in Hamden, Conn. Owner Lori Hershman told TDmonthly in December 2007 that they sold “close to 300” in a single month. 12/13/2007 (MSRP: $19.99; Age: 7 and Up)
5x5 Rubik's Cube by WINNING MOVES GAMES
An expanded version of the mind-boggling classic, Rubik’s 5x5 is the most challenging Rubik’s Cube ever made. Rubik’s 5x5, also known as Rubik’s Professor, has more than 10 billion combinations, more combinations than any other puzzle in the world. Featuring the iconic Rubik’s Cube design and color concept, Rubik’s 5x5 is a real handful. It comes with a black plastic cube stand.
— “Rubik’s Cube,” Denis Hofsetter told TDmonthly, when asked which item was his 2007 best-seller. “We sold out.” Dennis is the owner of The Toy Store in Atlanta, Ga.
— Manny Rocha, general manager of Mr. G’s Toys & Expressions in Los Angeles, Calif., said that his store “sold four gross” of Winnning Moves’ Rubik’s Cube.
— Five percent of 62 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly singled out this item as their store’s 2007 best-seller. 2/26/2007 (MSRP: $29.99; Age: 8 and Up)
Interactive R/C Bump N Chuck Space Bumper Cars by KID GALAXY INC.
Each futuristic vehicle is controlled by a simple, two-button control. Upon impact, the cars emit a cool sound and eject the matching space-age driver from the vehicle. The cars come in bright, bold color schemes, such as turquoise and silver. 7/19/2007 (MSRP: $34.99; Age: 6 and Up)
Male Dalmatian by SCHLEICH NORTH AMERICA, INC.
Made in Germany, this 1:12-scale dog is meticulously hand painted. All Schleich dog figurines are developed through a very thorough process, and the resulting figurines are realistic and detailed.
“The Schleich little animals — little kids collect all of them,” shared Dalene Lockhart, owner of Toy Town in Casper, Wyo. I would say we sell at least 100 a month.
James Burdette, owner of LB Toys in Media, Pa., estimates he sells between 60 and 80 Schleich figurines per month.
— "Any child would love this durable Dalmatian toy figurine," said Katherine MacLean, sales and marketing coordinator for Schleich, after explaining to TDmonthly the extensive process the company’s dog figurines go through before being released to the public. 8/20/2007 (MSRP: $3.25; Age: 3 and Up)
Khet: The Laser Game by INNOVENTION TOYS
Khet combines lasers with cstrategy in an award-winning game that takes minutes to learn but yields infinite possibilities. Players move Egyptian-themed, mirrored pieces around the playing field, ending each turn by firing a laser that bounces around with the goal of knocking out an opponent’s pharaoh. The silver player wins the game by deflecting his laser around the field and hitting the red player’s pharaoh. With the addition of fog or smoke, the laser beam becomes visible for more high-tech excitement. Khet (formerly known as Deflexion) caused a stir in 2006 at Toy Fair and Pomona. “The game truly spans the generation gap, with enough technology to interest the 'video-gamers' of the younger crowd while maintaining enough classic strategy ... to interest their grandparents and everyone in between,” Luke Hooper of Innovention Toys told TDmonthly. It received a 2006 MENSA Select Award and was a 2007 T.O.T.Y. Game-of-the-Year Nominee. Launch date: 2006. Read Review
— "Khet ... is great seller for us. It's new and did well — even at $50," summed up Danny Givens, owner of Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Va.
— "I put my money on Khet," Co-owner Michele Gietz of Where'd You Get That? in Williamstown, Mass., said in October 2008 about anticipated holiday best sellers. "We only bring in 15 at a time, but the price doesn't scare anybody off — just have to hit the right people."
― Taka Andrews, owner of Miller's Toy Store in Mamaroneck, N.Y., said Khet is a top seller for tween boys, despite the allure of video games. Seven of 39 retailers told TDmonthly in October 2009 that board games are their go-to items for tween-aged boys.
( Watch Video) 5/27/2005 (MSRP: $44.95; Age: 9 and Up)
Twilight Turtle by CLOUD B
Each Twilight Turtle and Friends character from the collection projects constellation nightlights that create a magical sleep-time environment. Each “shell” illuminates the night with three soothing color options to help ease fear of the dark. The Twilight Collection includes Twilight Turtle and Twilight Ladybug, each available in three colors and a Twilight Sea Turtle that also has five illuminated windows projecting images of sea life.
— Retailers surveyed by TDmonthly have been naming the Twilight Turtle as a best-seller since 2006.
— Six of 66 retailers mentioned one of the Twilight Turtles as a top-selling item for baby gifts in July 2008. Four of 47 retailers named Twilight Turtle as a top-selling baby gift in June 2009. Three of 64 retailers cited it as a top-selling infant and toddler toy in March 2009, and eight of 39 said the same in March 2010.
— In a 2012 survey, Erika Evers, owner of Dancing Bear Toys in Hendersonville, N.C., told TDmonthly that their best selling infant & toddler product is the "Twilight Turtle from Cloud B, and it's spin-offs, like the ladybug." They sell about 20 units each month.
— Want this? As of 05/06/2011, this product was available for purchase at Toys & Co.
AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller ( Watch Video) 3/30/2006 (MSRP: $34.00; Age: 2 and Up)
You've Been Sentenced! by McNEILL DESIGNS FOR BRIGHTER MINDS LLC
Using a deck of cards containing conjugations of funny words, famous names, places and wild cards, players make grammatically correct, justifiable sentences. They then read these aloud and explain their meaning to the jury (other players). The jury votes on whether the sentence and justification stand and then scores. The 540 cards, with more than 2,500 words, insure billions of possible sentences and laughs. “This is truly the first patented game in history to turn language into a seriously hilarious game,” Chairman Don McNeill of McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds told TDmonthly. The game received the 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal and the iParenting Media “HOT” Award, and was a winner of the FAO Schwarz Inventors Toy Audition. Launch date: May 5, 2005. Read Review
Awards: 2015 TDmonthly Top Toy Award ( Watch Video) 10/25/2006 (MSRP: $24.95; Age: 8 and Up)
Moon in My Room by UNCLE MILTON INDUSTRIES INC.
This authentically sculpted and detailed moon hemisphere attaches to any wall and lights up internally to illuminate any room. A remote control allows the user to display 12 different realistic moon phases (full moon, crescent, etc.). Also included is a 15-minute CD Audio Tour so kids can learn about the moon, its effect on the Earth, where humans landed and all of the age-old myths and legends about it. It works great as a sophisticated nightlight, too.
— As of 8.03.2010, this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 162 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 49 in the top 100 best-selling toys and games. PROS: Engaging for all ages. Turns off automatically. CONS: LED lights are not replaceable, and batteries wear out quickly. 1/10/2006 (Age: 6 and Up)
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Easel by MELISSA & DOUG
Kids can paint with sweeping gestures when they use this generous-sized easel. One side is a chalkboard, the other´s a dry-erase board. Load a piece of paper into the paper holder and kids can paint and scribble to their heart’s content. Each side of the easel features a colorful tray that can hold paints, cups, chalk, erasers, clips and more. “Our Deluxe Easel has become one of our best-selling items because of its great value, high-quality construction and versatility,” said Rick Davis, part of the marketing team at Melissa & Doug. It has two adjustable boards that allow children of all sizes to enjoy painting and creating, and the easy-to-clean trays are removable in seconds.”
— This product has been making the TDmonthly Best-sellers lists since 2005.
— As of 1.06.2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 647 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 18 on the top 100 bestselling toys and games. Pros: Double Sided; easy to clean. Cons: Supplies must be purchased separately.
— "The Melissa & Doug Easel, hands-down, beats everything in terms of dollars. It's well-made and good value," was the praise given by David Campbell, owner of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont.
— “Our easel, from Melissa & Doug, just blows out of here,” said Nishan Shepard, owner of Rockridge Kids in Oakland, Calif., in early 2010.
— Seven of 48 retailers named the easel as their top-selling art item in January 2010, reporting average sales of three per month.
— This easel has been a consistent best seller for Jillie Beans Toys & More of Westminster, Colo., since the store opened in 2006. (April 2010) ( Watch Video) 9/29/2005 (MSRP: $49.99; Age: 4 and Up)
My Little Sandbox - Big Builder by BE GOOD COMPANY
Help little ones build a foundation for expanding their imaginations. This little sandbox is a junior construction worker’s dream. In the 10” x 10” box filled with ultra fine sand, they'll find two die-cast construction vehicles, mini boulders, a bag of gravel, safety cones, a digging shovel, a construction crew and builder blocks, plus, a 20" x 20" construction play mat. It’s a great way for kids to have creative fun, all packed in a neat little box. The My Little Sandbox line features tabletop play sets encouraging creativity, imagination and fun. So dig in. 12/13/2007 (MSRP: $26.99; Age: 3 and Up)