ToyDirectory
January 17, 2020

TDmonthly Magazine

June 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 6


TDmonthly Goes Inside … Puzzle Zoo, Santa Monica, Calif.

Specialty and Mass Market Blend in Neighborhood Icon

By Alison Marek
June 2009

“We’ve seen some customers start out as kids, then come in as boyfriend and girlfriend.” Linda Tsukamoto, Puzzle Zoo
Since 1993, Puzzle Zoo has been tempting pedestrians on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to release their inner children and buy something cool. Find out why by watching interviews with kids (below) and seeing the toys the store carries (scroll down to see all the videos). You can also see the storefront, windows and interior by clicking on this brief intro video. 


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Starting out with puzzles only, the store expanded its inventory to include toys of all kinds and then broadened its reach to encompass five other branches in California and Texas. Founder Jay Demircift and his brother Sean pay close attention to customer requests when deciding what toys to bring in. On the April afternoon when TDmonthly Magazine’s video crew visited the flagship store, customer mix varied from newborns on their first strolls down the aisles to gangs of teens and young adults ogling the designer toys.

Manager Linda Tsukamoto told TDmonthly the local customer base is not only faithful, but regenerative: “We’ve seen some customers start out as kids, then come in as boyfriend and girlfriend. Soon enough, they're married and have a little dog with them (we welcome dogs in the store), and then she’s pregnant and we watch that baby grow up, too.”

Watch videos of individual projects in the store below. A few more toy videos can be seen here.

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Fea Bea™ by PRETTY UGLY LLC

Fea Bea™ by PRETTY UGLY LLCFea Bea: The Ugly Stick. Ugly Sticks are sort of the perfect sidekicks to have with you at all times in the Uglyverse. They are there for you. Feeling sad? Ugly Sticks will knock that right out of you. Happy now? No, wait ... feeling really ugly? Good! Ugly means unique! Anyone can retouch a photo to look beautiful, but you can't fake ugly. Launch date: March 2009. (Watch the Fea Bea™ Video Watch Video) 3/12/2009 (MSRP: $20.00; Age: All Ages)


Yomiko Classics - Cow by RUSS BERRIE

Yomiko Classics - Cow by RUSS BERRIEThis cute little Yomiko Classics Cow stands 12" high. (Watch the Yomiko Classics - Cow Video Watch Video) 5/5/2009 (MSRP: $12.00)


Domo - Medium by JAKKS PACIFIC INC.

Domo - Medium by JAKKS PACIFIC INC.This Domo is not too small and not too big... he's just right. Confide in him, play with him, listen to him - he's the perfect everyday companion. (Watch the Domo - Medium Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009 (MSRP: $16.99; Age: 3 and Up)


Kookeys - Lion by 10VOX ENTERTAINMENT INC.

Kookeys - Lion by 10VOX ENTERTAINMENT INC.This lion's king of the jungle, both online and off. While he seems to be an adorable, snuggly plush animal, he also has a secret code that allows kids to access the Kookeys website for fun and educational games. (Watch the Kookeys - Lion Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009 (MSRP: $14.99; Age: 3 and Up)


Sammy Woodchuck by ANNA CHAMBERS

Sammy Woodchuck by ANNA CHAMBERSThe follow-up to Anna Chambers' Lucy Owl, each twin brother and sister Woodchuck is limited to 400 pieces.Suzy (Orange) is friendly, and loves to sleep in. She's a lazy one, and loves to dream.
Sammy (Blue) is fast, and loves to climb trees. (Watch the Sammy Woodchuck Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009 (MSRP: $29.99)


Shining Stars Alligator by RUSS BERRIE

Shining Stars Alligator by RUSS BERRIEThis 8" long Shining Stars Alligator is more than a cuddly plush. He comes with a code that allows kids to go online and play educational games. In addition, they can sign up for their own star on the National Star Registry. (Watch the Shining Stars Alligator Video Watch Video) 5/5/2009 (MSRP: $15.00)


Plush Internal Organs Set - Heart, Lungs, Liver and Kidney by I HEART GUTS

Plush Internal Organs Set - Heart, Lungs, Liver and Kidney by I HEART GUTSThis entire guts set can be yours to cuddle or to give away (donate organs without having surgery). It includes a heart (6" x 8.5"), lungs (9" x 9"), a liver (8" x 6.5") and a kidney (5" x 6.5"). It is made in China. (Watch the Plush Internal Organs Set - Heart, Lungs, Liver and Kidney Video Watch Video) 12/13/2007 (MSRP: $67.00; Age: 3 and Up)


Ernie by GUND INC.

Ernie by GUND INC. Ernie, one of the most playful characters on Sesame Street is an 11"  character with his trademark jeans and striped jersey, red sneakers, and a big wide smile. Launch date: December 2002. (Watch the Ernie Video Watch Video) 4/27/2009 (MSRP: $16.00; Age: 0 and Up)


Cookie Cutters Pig by GANZ

Cookie Cutters Pig by GANZThis floppy pig is super soft and cuddly. (Watch the Cookie Cutters Pig Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009 (MSRP: $18.95)


GUNDFun's Arnold the Snoring Pig™ by GUND INC.

GUNDFunKids can go hog-wild with Arnold the Snoring Pig, a cute, quirky companion sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. Arnold’s oversized snout, curly pink tail and sleepy expression make him a cheerful gift for animal lovers of all ages. Press Arnold’s hoof and the 16” snuggly swine comes to life, moving his ears, mouth and body as he happily snores the day away. Arnold includes 3 AA batteries. “Like all GUNDFun characters, Arnold stands apart from other animated plush because of the quality of his design – his movements are impressively fluid, and he is still a soft, huggable companion,” GUND Marketing & Licensing Manager Shallu Chhabra told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 2007.

Past Videos: Puzzle Zoo Video (Watch the GUNDFun's Arnold the Snoring Pig™ Video Watch Video) 2/27/2007 (MSRP: $36.00; Age: 3 and Up)


Curious George in Pajamas by RUSS BERRIE

Curious George in Pajamas by RUSS BERRIEGeorge stands 12" tall in his striped pajamas. Like any little boy, he needs his own teddy to get a good night's sleep. (Watch the Curious George in Pajamas Video Watch Video) 5/5/2009 (MSRP: $15.00)


Broken Heart Doll - Susiee by BROKEN HEART DOLLS

Broken Heart Doll - Susiee by BROKEN HEART DOLLSBroken Heart Dolls are soft, plush dolls that are in the shape of hearts. Each character has a story and a fun fact. Susiee's story reads: "Why was life such a struggle? Would Susiee never find love? She tried putting on a happy face but negativity followed her everywhere. Luckily she had enough black eyeliner, black polish, black fishnets, black boots and black hair dye to cheer her up - at least temporarily." Her fun fact states: "Once wore pink and tried out for cheerleading as a joke." This Broken Heart Doll is 7" high and very plump. (Watch the Broken Heart Doll - Susiee Video Watch Video) 11/3/2008


Simply Natural - Elephant by RUSS BERRIE

Simply Natural - Elephant by RUSS BERRIEGoing green takes a whole new hands-on approach with new Simply Natural plush.  Made using 100% all natural cotton, 100% recycled paper hangtag and vegetable dyes for coloring, what could be more eco-friendly... or fun! The Elephant is 7" tall. (Watch the Simply Natural - Elephant Video Watch Video) 5/5/2009 (MSRP: $8.00)


Webkinz - Pink Googles by GANZ

Webkinz - Pink Googles by GANZThis super-soft plush toy comes with a code that gives kids access to an online world of fun and games. (Watch the Webkinz - Pink Googles Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009 (MSRP: $14.99)


Beanie Baby - Kicks the Bear by TY INC.

Beanie Baby - Kicks the Bear by TY INC.The world cup is his dream. Kicks the bear is the best on his team. He hopes that one day he'll be the pick. First he needs to improve his kick. THIS PRODUCT HAS BEEN RETIRED. (Watch the Beanie Baby - Kicks the Bear Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009


BB2.0 - Maiden by TY INC.

BB2.0 - Maiden by TY INC.One of the Beanie Babies 2.0, this ladylike plush ladybug comes with a secret code that lets kids play games on the web. (Watch the BB2.0 - Maiden Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009


Ty Girlz - Totally Trish by TY INC.

Ty Girlz - Totally Trish by TY INC.Trish's purple hair can be styled with her own little comb. She's posable and flexible — she can even wander onto the web, thanks to a secret code that lets little girls access an online Ty Girlz world. (Watch the Ty Girlz - Totally Trish Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009


Groovy Girls - Lakinzie by MANHATTAN TOY

Groovy Girls - Lakinzie by MANHATTAN TOYGlamorous all around, Lakinzie is ready to take on anything. Stylin' in pink, purple and green, her outfit features: purple shoes, pink polka dot orange tights, a cute shiny patterned dress accented with lime green fur and beautiful bright highlighted blonde hair.
— Manhattan Toy’s products were listed as best sellers in spring 2009 by Steve Melody, owner of Melody’s Choices in Fayetteville, Ark. “Groovy Girls make up a good portion of the sales here, but the line offers much more,” he said. (Watch the Groovy Girls - Lakinzie Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009 (MSRP: $20.00; Age: 3 and Up)


Mademoiselle Rose by COROLLE DOLLS

Mademoiselle Rose by COROLLE DOLLSMademoiselle Rose makes a perfectly snuggly first companion for Baby. (Watch the Mademoiselle Rose Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009 (Age: 0 and Up)


Groovy Girls Luckie by MANHATTAN TOY

Groovy Girls Luckie by MANHATTAN TOYPerfectly playful, the Groovy Girls sensational pets have many lives - in person and online. This sweet 5" long dog is dressed in its party best and comes with an exclusive web-access code to unlock virtual fun and games. (Watch the Groovy Girls Luckie Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009 (MSRP: $12.00; Age: 3 and Up)


Oball Stranz Football by RHINO TOYS INC.

Oball Stranz Football by RHINO TOYS INC.The Oball Stranz Football is made with yards of soft strands and may be used for any indoor or outdoor tossing activity. Just like the original Oball, it can be crushed, stomped or kicked, and it bounces right back to a perfectly formed sphere. It's an all-around ball that is designed to be soft, durable and super catchable. Launch date: August 2008. (Watch the Oball Stranz Football Video Watch Video) 4/28/2009 (MSRP: $8.99; Age: 1 and Up)


VikingToys Cute Cars Mom & Baby Assortment by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC

VikingToys Cute Cars Mom & Baby Assortment by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLCThe VikingToys Cute Cars Mom & Baby Assortment feature cute big "Mom" and small "Baby" car sets in four different themes: Frog, Pig, Cat and Bear. Featuring new colors, VikingToys are sized just right for little hands, and their smooth, soft edges are safe for teething toddlers. "VikingToys Cute Cars are designed to be safe for young children to mouth. They are sanitary, allowing for top dishwasher rack cleaning. Additionally, they are made of soft, pliable plastic with smooth, round forms," Nicole Tiedemann, PR account executive for International Playthings, told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 15, 2009. (Watch the VikingToys Cute Cars Mom & Baby Assortment Video Watch Video) 2/27/2009 (MSRP: $12.99; Age: 1 and Up)


Lamaze - Kerry the Fairy by LEARNING CURVE

Lamaze - Kerry the Fairy by LEARNING CURVEKerry the Fairy will flutter anywhere ..her portable clip means take-along fun "on the fly". This plush toy's interactive features include a multi-colored rattle and crinkle wings for endless discovery play. High-contrast patterns stimulate vision. Perfect for baby's first doll. (Watch the Lamaze - Kerry the Fairy Video Watch Video) 5/6/2009 (MSRP: $13.99; Age: 0 to 2)


Tolo First Friends - Lamb by SMALL WORLD TOYS

Tolo First Friends - Lamb by SMALL WORLD TOYSTolo First Friends Lamb has a movable head and squeaky legs. (Watch the Tolo First Friends - Lamb Video Watch Video) 5/7/2009 (MSRP: $7.99; Age: 0 to 2)


Rubbabu by RUBBABU

Rubbabu by RUBBABUMade of rubber and covered with colorful flocking, these fun, easy to handle activity vehicles are as durable as they are soft. Available in micro, mini and large sizes and an assortment of colors – collect them all. (Product was formerly dist. by PlaSmart)
Past Videos: ABC Kids Expo 2008 (Watch the Rubbabu Video Watch Video) 10/2/2007 (Age: 2 and Up)


Switch Pitch by HOBERMAN DESIGNS INC.

Switch Pitch by HOBERMAN DESIGNS INC.Toss it in the air and watch the colors magically flip! Handheld, magical color-flipping balls make a fun, portable toy. Collect all four cool color combinations. Toss just one or try to juggle with three. (Watch the Switch Pitch Video Watch Video) 5/7/2009 (Age: 4 and Up)


Rodeo Bull by SCHLEICH NORTH AMERICA, INC.

Rodeo Bull by SCHLEICH NORTH AMERICA, INC.Part of the Farm Life series, this Rodeo Bull is ready to buck. He measures 14.3 x 6.9 x 6.8 cm.
— Schleich’s small animal figures are consistent best sellers at Melody’s Choices in Fayetteville, Ark., as reported by Owner Steve Melody in April 2009. (Watch the Rodeo Bull Video Watch Video) 5/7/2009 (MSRP: $5.49)


Kuromi by SANRIO

Kuromi by SANRIOThis 8" plush Kuromi is ready to charm, with her exciting new polka dot hood with pink accents and pompoms. (Watch the Kuromi Video Watch Video) 4/30/2009 (MSRP: $15.00; Age: 6 and Up)


Toy demonstration by Lizette Orozco. Direction and videography by Alison Marek. Editing by Osvaldo Cuevas. Hairbrush "microphone handle" provided by Herdoos: Cheerleader Funky Folks ™ Gift Set





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