ToyDirectory
December 17, 2017

TDmonthly Magazine

January 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 1


Regional Reports: What’s Selling … And Where

Find Out What’s Going on in Stores Near You

By Alison Marek
January 2009

New England Trends by Chris Lundy

From Blokus (distributor currently changing as of 12/08) to Wedgits from Imagability, small, easy-to learn games and toys are the winners when it comes to popular sellers. Many toy stores don’t sell movies, but they sell the books on which the films are based: TheTwilight” series is getting big. The latest in the “Eragon” series by Knopf is selling well, perhaps bolstered by a recent movie. They are all series, as well. Even “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Abrams books has several installments. The one store that sold graphic novels named “Bone” by Dark Horse Comics as its top seller, which is a bit of an anomaly. It’s black and white, completed years ago, with no movie or television crossover. Popularity has grown through word of mouth. Halloween is a holiday that some specialty stores let slip by. “There's always a demand, but never enough of a demand” for Halloween items, said Tim Hayes, owner of Learning Express in Sudbury, Mass. Some of the merchandise sold around Halloween is not necessarily Halloween-related, such as Harry Potter hats from Elope. These could be sold year-round, but probably spike in October.


Mid-Atlantic Trends by Brenda Ruggiero

Of 10 retailers, not one listed the same item as their current best seller. This may be because people are beginning their holiday shopping, and are buying things all over the board. Most stores said they do not carry specific Halloween items. They are more likely to keep dress-up items in stock year-round than to have them specifically for Halloween. Several retailers said they do not sell books or comics, and those who do listed different best-selling books than the rest of the stores. While some go to best-seller lists for selection, others base it on personal preference instead.

Southeastern Trends by Chris Lundy

Since it’s not that cold in the southeast, outside toys such as Toysmith’s Hand Blasters or the Step 2 Up and Down Roller Coaster can still be best sellers in October. Inside toys like Sticky Mosaics from The Orb Factory, Find-Its by Find-It Games, and Playmobil were also named. These lines have been named best sellers by other stores during past research. The best-selling books are different in each store, specific to the stores’ needs. For instance, Science to Go is part of the MOSI museum, so a book about gross scientific things (“Oh Yuk…”) sells well. The “Sounds of the Wild” series by Advantage Publishers is a favorite of staff at the Lollipop Toy Store in Dawsonville, Ga. The stores tend to stay away from DVDs. They don’t go wild with Halloween merchandise, either, but there were a few that sell Elope products.

Midwestern Trends by Terri Hughes-Lazzell

Customers are wild about Gallop by Workman Publishing and stores are eager to accommodate that need, if they have a book section. This book, which illustrates motion, is interesting and fun, and customers are asking for it. Green is not only in for building and saving fuel, but also for toys. Plan Toys and Green Toys are two companies that are mentioned often, and feature toys made from environmentally friendly rubberwood and recycled materials.

Western Trends by Claudia Newcorn

Of seven retailers surveyed, all carry books, but not comic books. For most, breadth is limited. They work with book reps and review the caliber of a book such as Newbury Award winner. Only three stores carry DVDs, and they are generally considered to not be big sellers. Halloween is non-event for the retailers. Only one retailer said the store carries any Halloween-related items. No one toy or game received more than one mention in regard to being a current best seller. Mentions included Bananagrams, Shop ‘n’ Go Shopping Cart, and Happy Navigator Trikes by Kettler.

Southwest Trends by Claudia Newcorn

Seven retailers said they carry books (not comics), but they tend to be a minor item and are either educational or humorous. Only three stores carry DVDs, and of these, only one is really promoting them. DVDs are not really an item these specialty retailers stock. Halloween is largely a non-event for the retailers. Only two said they carry any Halloween-related items. Aeromax received two mentions as a company for costumes. No one toy or game received more than one mention in regard to being a current best seller. Mentions included PlasmaCars by PlaSmart, Bananagrams, Rush Hour by Thinkfun and Horse-opoly.

West Coast Trends by Marie Raven

While no stores said they carry comics, picture books seem to be doing particularly well. Retailers favor classic or traditional children's stories, and cited titles they read when they were children, or to their own children. Fancy Nancy by Harper Collins and Dr. Seuss also earned mentions by name as strong sellers, and retailers indicated they prefer to read all — or as many as possible — of the books they bring into their store, and decide on selection that way. No stores carry DVDs. No one bought heavily for Halloween, saying their only costume-like product was dress-up carried year-round from a variety of vendors, particularly Creative Education of Canada. Books and impulse items fill out the rest of the Halloween buying. Elf on the Shelf by CCA & B is taking off, named as a best seller by several storeowners.


(No manufacturer paid to be included in this article. All products listed were chosen by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with ToyDirectory.com/TDmonthly Magazine.)

WEDGITS Starter Set by IMAGABILITY

WEDGITS Starter Set by IMAGABILITYThis open-ended building set introduces kids to the spatial world of angles, color association and unlimited geometric design. With large components, this toddler-safe product offers the same open-ended fun kids find while building with WEDGITS Junior and Deluxe sets. The geometric shapes nest, and each set contains 15 pieces of primary-colored building blocks that can be configured in virtually unlimited configurations. The Starter Set is compatible with all other WEDGITS sets.
— “You can start very young with these,” said Patty Tepper-Rasmussen of Learning Tree in Oklahoma City, Okla. She sells approximately 10 to 12 WEDGITS sets each month. Idanna Smith of Juggles in Wakefield, R.I., named WEDGITS as a top seller in her store.
— “We came up with the starter set to meet the concerns of parents of toddlers regarding choking hazards. The pieces are big, so that all kids in the family can play with them without worrying about the littlest ones,” Rob McKinley, vice-president of sales and marketing for Imagability, told TDmonthly.
— The simple, open-ended play afforded by Wedgits makes it a favorite at toy stores and earned it a TDmonthly Top Seller 2007 award.
Jillie Beans Toys & More in Westminster, Colo., has carried Wedgits, a consistent best seller, since the store’s opening in 2006. “These are an educational toy and parents love that they start at age 1 and you can continue using the early sets even as the child grows older,” reported Storeowner Valerie Elsea in April 2010. 5/2/2007 (MSRP: $20.99; Age: 2 and Up)


The Art of Bone by DARK HORSE COMICS, INC.

Never before and rarely seen artwork, outlines, and entire stories from Jeff Smith's Bone are collected in this full-color hardcover volume. Bone is an international publishing sensation with hundreds of thousands of loyal readers and no end in sight to its growing popularity. Now, for the first time anywhere, see the homemade comics, sketches, and grand plans that set this masterpiece of literary fantasy in motion. From there, take a tour through piles of promotional art, holiday cards, and pivotal storytelling moments from the revolutionary self-publishing years, where Bone went from "the little comic that could" to an industry leader that changed the face of comics. Finally, revel in the wonder of Bone as a complete 1300-page graphic novel, a work for the ages, filled with comedy and tragedy and adventure for generations to come. 11/7/2008 (MSRP: $39.95)


Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book by ABRAMS BOOKS

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book by ABRAMS BOOKSThe interactive journal is based on Greg Heffley’s own “diary,” and encourages children to express themselves in a new way. The book comes complete with a full-color comics section featuring the collected cartoons of Greg Heffley and his best friend, Rowley. Launch date: October 2008. 5/5/2008 (MSRP: $10.95; Age: 8 to 12)


Eragon (Book One of the Inheritance Trilogy) by KNOPF

Eragon (Book One of the Inheritance Trilogy) by KNOPFA farm boy named Eragon finds a “blue” stone and bonds with a dragon, Saphira, who hatches from it. The pair then embark on a quest in a fantastic land.

--The paperback edition of Christopher Paolini´s book, originally published August 2003, is due out on April 26.
--“Eldest” (Inheritance Book Two) will be released in August.
--“Eragon” takes a top-five place on recent New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists.  1/31/2005 (MSRP: $18.95)


Twilight by LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY

Twilight by LITTLE,  BROWN AND COMPANYWritten by Stephenie Meyer, this "New York Times" best selling fantasy novel captures the story of star-crossed teenaged lovers Bella and Edward. Bella learns that Edward, along with several other students at her new school, are rescued vampires. True to his vampiric nature, Edward knows he could kill Bella should his passion for her become too great, and therein lies the central tension of the story. Launch date: October 5, 2005. 11/7/2008 (MSRP: $19.99)


Sorting Hat by ELOPE INC.

Sorting Hat by ELOPE INC.The company’s best-selling puppet hat of all time, the Harry Potter Sorting Hat has eyes, a nose and a mouth that you can see if you look closely. Kids can stick their hand inside the hat to make the mouth move, to tell friends which Hogwarts house they are going to.  The hat is fully lined and size adjustable. Launch date: October 2002.
Display Ideas: On a display head or hanging from the J-hook hang tag. 7/23/2008 (MSRP: $25.00; Age: 6 and Up)


Hand Blasters by TOYSMITH

Hand Blasters by TOYSMITHYou'd think they're just like any other one-inch ball. You'll know they aren't the instant you bang them together. Keep one in your hand. Throw the other. Once they touch, "bang," you hear a blasting sound you won't soon forget. Naturally, they come two per package. They're non-flammable, non-toxic and can be "banged" more than 400 times. Ear plugs are not included. 11/28/2006 (MSRP: $0.98; Age: 7 and Up)


Up & Down Roller Coaster by THE STEP2 COMPANY

Up & Down Roller Coaster by THE STEP2 COMPANYThis coaster rolls on 10' of track and offers safety features like a high back, handrails and a foot rest.
— This toy was a top-selling item on Amazon.com and Walmart.com in March 2005.
— A reviewer on Amazon.com said, “I bought the first Step 2 Up & Down Coaster nine years ago! This toy is still played with every single day.”
— Parents like the fact that this toy offers little thrill seekers fun without the need of batteries. 3/21/2005 (MSRP: $119.99; Age: 2 to 5)


Sticky Mosaics Enchanted Forest by THE ORB FACTORY LIMITED

Sticky Mosaics Enchanted Forest by THE ORB FACTORY LIMITEDNumbered templates and sticky foam allow kids to easily create beautiful mosaics. This particular kit includes 3000+ sticky foam and jewel pieces, four sparkling designs and four wall hangers.
— “Without a doubt, the Orb Sticky Mosaics” are a best-selling girl gift, said Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun’s Toy Shop in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
— “Sticky Mosaics by The Orb Factory. Enchanted Forest in particular. We sold five dozen of that particular one last year,” Kai Rady, owner of Shenanigans Inc in Charlottesville, Va., told TDmonthly during a January 2010 survey regarding best-selling arts and crafts items.
— Eighteen of 48 retailers listed Sticky Mosaics as their best-selling arts and crafts item in early 2010. 8/28/2008 (MSRP: $16.99; Age: 6 and Up)


Find It on a Bird Watch by FIND IT GAMES

Find It on a Bird Watch by FIND IT GAMESThis canister gives players 22 birds and 21 bird watch related items — including a walking stick, a nest, an egg, binoculars, a Mockingbird and more — to find within earthy-colored plastic pellets. It comes with a full-color bird guide and a check-off pad. “Find It Games has clearly combined fun with education with this newest game that includes an educational booklet of facts about each of the birds contained within,” Bob Knight of Find It Games told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 1, 2007.
— Jonathan Cagle of Oh, Toy in Odessa, Fla., told TDmonthly in November 2008 that his store sells 50 to 60 units per month of the Find It games. 2/21/2007 (MSRP: $22.49; Age: 8 and Up)


Sounds of the Wild: Ocean by ADVANTAGE PUBLISHERS GROUP

Plunge into the world's oceans and discover the magic of marine life in these stunning pop-up seascapes accompanied by sounds from the deep. Listen to the playful chattering of dolphins, the boisterous honking of seals, and the haunting echo of the humpback whale's song. Full of in-depth descriptions, each spread identifies several animals, offering a great way to introduce children to the ocean animals of the world. 11/20/2008 (MSRP: $16.95; Age: 5 to Adult)


Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture Book by WORKMAN PUBLISHING

Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture Book by WORKMAN PUBLISHINGA first book of motion for kids, the book shows a variety of animals in motion, including a horse in full gallop, a turtle swimming up the page, a dog running, a cat springing, an eagle soaring and a butterfly fluttering. Scanimation is a state-of-the-art six-phase animation process that combines the "persistence of vision" principle with a striped acetate overlay to give the illusion of movement, reminiscent of the kinetoscope days. Rhyming text full of simple questions and nonsense replies accompany the animations. Launch date: November 2007.
- “They are so cool. …. We've sold so many, people are coming in and asking [for it] because someone they know bought one,” Phil Wrzesinski, owner of Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, Mich., told TDmonthly in November 2008.
- “We're bringing in hundreds,” said Theresa Oppenheim, owner of Toy World in Wayzata, Minn.
- “Everyone is coming in to see these,” agreed Peg Scholtes, owner of Capitol Kids in Madison, Wis. 1/11/2008 (MSRP: $12.95; Age: 4 to 8)


Oval Xylophone by PLANTOYS

Oval Xylophone by PLANTOYSThis colorful, five-note xylophone is solid wood, yielding a gentle sound when struck by the included mallet. Made from sustainably harvested materials and safe for children under 3, the simple instrument is a great first tool for young children to begin exploring tone and rhythm.
— Denis Hofsetter, owner of The Toy Store in Atlanta, told TDmonthly in summer 2008 that Plan Toys is his top supplier of musical instruments for children. “We don't always have them in stock, but they always do well when we have them.”
— “More and more parents are aware of the importance of interaction with sound, both visually and textually,” said Mary Ellen Cerney, owner of Dear Friends and Children in Duncan, Okla.
— Meredith Zellweger, owner of Toy Jungle in Manhattan Beach, said she has noticed an increase in Plan Toys as people search for greener products for their children. Three of 52 retailers named products from Plan as best sellers in their stores when surveyed in November 2008. (Watch the Oval Xylophone Video Watch Video) 8/12/2008 (MSRP: $18.99; Age: 1 and Up)


Indoor Gardening Kit by GREEN TOYS INC.

Indoor Gardening Kit by GREEN TOYS INC.Young green thumbs can watch nature at work by growing an indoor garden in just days with this environmentally friendly Indoor Gardening Kit made of recycled plastic milk jugs. The planting kit comes with a peapod-shaped planter, three planting pots, a trowel, three packages of organic seeds (Teddy Bear Sunflower, Basil and Zinnia) and soil disks. It is made from environmentally friendly materials, helping to reduce fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions in the name of Good Green Fun™. Launch date: September 2007.
— Angel Stahl, owner of Angel's Toy Barn in Greensburg, Pa., thinks these eco-friendly toys will do well for her in 2008. (Watch the Indoor Gardening Kit Video Watch Video) 8/21/2007 (MSRP: $34.99; Age: 5 and Up)


BANANAGRAMS® by BANANAGRAMS

BANANAGRAMS® by BANANAGRAMSThe 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 the BANANAGRAMS® Video Watch Video) 6/19/2006 (MSRP: $14.99; Age: 7 and Up)


Kettrike Happy Navigator by KETTLER INTERNATIONAL INC.

Kettrike Happy Navigator by KETTLER INTERNATIONAL INC.This is the world’s first tricycle equipped with a rear wheel steering system. Loaded with many unique, patented features, the pioneering Happy-Navigator makes it easy for mom or dad to effortlessly guide the trike into any direction, just like a stroller. This tricycle also grows with the child and makes riding safe and fun for many years. 4/22/2005


Jr. Astronaut Backpack by AEROMAX INC.

Jr. Astronaut Backpack by AEROMAX INC.The backpack is a great accessory to the Jr. Astronaut costume. The backpack can hold a helmet, a space suit, space boots and more. 2/26/2008 (MSRP: $37.95)


PlasmaCar® by PLASMART INC.

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)


Fancy Nancy by HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Fancy Nancy by HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERSFor Nancy, there's no such thing as too, too much; she loves her frilly bedroom, her lace-trimmed socks, and her pen with a plume. Nancy teaches her family how to be fancy, too. Then following Nancy's lead, the fancied-up family heads for a festive night out (at the local pizzeria).  A messy food mishap puts a damper on Nancy's joy, but her supportive family and the “I love you” at bedtime smoothes everything out.
- “‘Fancy Nancy’ has done really well — the whole series,” said Merrick Smith, owner of Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore.
- “All the ‘Fancy Nancy’ titles have sold for me,” Jeanette Lauture, owner of Aunt Jean’s Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., told TDmonthly in November 2008.
- Terri Bracken, owner of Earth Explorer Toys Zionsville, Ind., said, “Fancy Nancy is a new one. Yesterday we sold out so we had to reorder.” Bracken said she reorders the books about every two months. 11/7/2006 (MSRP: $15.99; Age: 4 to 8)


Fancy Dancy Skirt and Fairy Top by CREATIVE EDUCATION OF CANADA

The Fancy Dancy Skirt (41413) is absolutely gorgeous with layers and layers of soft pink tricot. It is gathered at the waist with a wide satin band and finished with 3 hot pink satin roses. The Fairy Top (28015) is made of ruched light pink satin and finished with a large hot pink rose.  Pink Poppy necklace and Ballerina Handbag accessories are sold separately. 11/12/2008


The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition™ by CCA and B LLC

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition™ by CCA and B LLC

This set includes an 8" vintage-style pixie elf, a keepsake storage box and a children's picture book with a rhyming story that tells how the elf helps Santa out by watching children's behavior by day and reporting it to Santa at night. The elf is designed to be placed throughout the house during the Christmas season, creating a hide-and-seek activity for the whole family. Launch date: September 2005.
— “Elf on the Shelf is doing really well since we put those out five or six weeks ago,” remarked Janet Gregory, owner of Over the Rainbow Toys in Anchorage, Alaska, in November 2008. “We just brought them in in November. [We] sold 24 last month, and 24 already this month,” Terry Myers, owner of Kaleidoscope Toys in Round Rock, Texas, told TDmonthly.
— In a December 2011 survey about books, 2 out of 12 retailers named Elf on the Shelf their best-seller. "We sold 18 already, in just a couple weeks," Andrea Scartozzi from Hardware Toy Center in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly. William Meredith, owner of Learning Express in Cary, N.C., agreed. "Elf on a Shelf is our number one item. It has been for years!" he told TDmonthly.

Where to Buy: Smart Kids Toys; Kazoo Toys; Escapade Direct (Watch the The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition™ Video Watch Video) 2/18/2008 (MSRP: $29.95; Age: 3 and Up)


Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty by WORKMAN PUBLISHING

Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty by WORKMAN PUBLISHINGThis paperback by Joy Massof and illustrated by Terry Sirrell lets kids indulge their nasty side while getting a bit of education. More than 50 topics are covered, including acne, maggots, halitosis and snot. Cartoons and experiments, such as making fake snot, add to the fun. Paperback, 224 pages. Launch date: January 2000. 12/23/2008 (MSRP: $14.95; Age: 9 to 12)


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by RANDOM HOUSE INC.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by RANDOM HOUSE INC.This classic from Dr. Seuss takes children on a rhyming adventure through riddles and puns. Hardcover, 63 pages. 12/23/2008 (MSRP: $8.99; Age: 4 to 8)


Horse-Opoly by LATE FOR THE SKY PRODUCTION

Horse-Opoly by LATE FOR THE SKY PRODUCTIONInstead of trading houses, horse paraphernalia is the currency in this variation of Monopoly.  Swap bales of hay for barns while moving pieces shaped like saddles, boots and horseflies around the board. 12/23/2008 (MSRP: $24.99; Age: 8 and Up)






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