February 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 2
With additional reporting by Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Chris Lundy, Claudia Newcorn and Brenda Ruggiero
In January, TDmonthly Magazine interviewed 47 specialty retailers around the country (and another in Canada) to find out the latest trends in arts and crafts for kids. This diverse staple category is an important cornerstone of developmental children's products, drawing shoppers from teachers looking for educational tools and classroom supplies to parents hoping to ward off rainy day doldrums.
TDmonthly's survey uncovered creative products encompassing a wide range of ages and interests, from crafty kits, such as Sticky Mosaics by The Orb Factory and Klutz's Fuzzimals, to household necessities, such as Melissa & Doug's Deluxe Easel. Here are the top-10 best-selling arts and crafts items.
No manufacturer paid to be included in this article. All products listed were designated by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with TOYDIRECTORY.com/TDmonthly Magazine.
Sticky Mosaics Enchanted Forest by THE ORB FACTORY LIMITED
Numbered 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)
Pop Up Scrapbook by CREATIVITY FOR KIDS
Photographs of a girl's friends, family and self mixed with a little creativity turn this kit into a bright colored, highly personalized scrapbook. Kids can collect and celebrate their favorite memories by creating beautiful pages that retell the story with decorative paper, rhinestones, stickers, and exciting pop-up pieces. The hardcover scrapbook measures 9” x 11.5”.
— “Creativity for Kids Scrapbook kit, that's a good one,” stated David Hesel, owner of The Toy Shop of Concord in Concord, Mass., when asked about his best-selling craft items in early 2010.
— Greg Larson, owner of Larson's Toys and Games in Columbus, Ohio, told TDmonthly Creativity for Kids supplies his best selling craft items. “The whole new line from Creativity for Kids, we got it in in September  and it’s been doing very well.”
— Twenty-five percent of 48 retailers surveyed in January 2010 named Creativity for Kids as their top-selling craft line. 1/28/2010 (MSRP: $24.99; Age: 7 and Up)
Giant Weaving Loom by ALEX BRANDS
The Giant Weaving Loom kit from Alex comes with everything a girl needs to learn how to weave yarn into fabric. Chunky, rainbow colored yarn is provided to make the process easy to handle and quick, even for a beginner, while the changing colors of the yarn allow a child to see each stitch individually and understand how woven fabric is made. The loom measures 10.25” x 11.5”, allowing room to make plenty of different projects like scarves, purses, belts and more. The kit includes the loom, 100 yards of yarn, a weaving needle, stitching needle, loom comb, and accessories to embellish finished works.
— “Anything by Alex sells well for us,” said Sue Robb, owner of Oakridge Hobbies and Toys in Downer's Grove, Ill., in January 2010. “They have more general topics and all kids seem to like them.”
— “People are home right now doing indoor activities, so I've had a good surge in the Giant Weaving Loom from Alex. Kids make scarves and pocketbooks and things, and it's 7 and up so it's a nice handy-craft for older kids,” Charles Brauer, owner of Cloud 9 Toys in Sudbury, Mass., told TDmonthly in early 2010 of what makes Alex a top-selling line in his store.
— Eleven of 48 retailers surveyed in January 2010 listed Alex as a best-selling supplier of arts and crafts supplies. 1/28/2010 (MSRP: $44.99; Age: 7 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)
Do-A-Dot Art! Markers – 5-Pack Fluorescent by DO-A-DOT ART!
Do-A-Dot Art Markers combine the ease of a marker, the bright color of paints, and the fun of a stamp into a low-mess art supply that appeals to a wide range of ages. A gentle squeeze moistens the circular sponge tip with paint. Kids can create free-form works of impressionist art by stamping dots of paint on paper, or use this technique to fill in special coloring books designed for Do-A-Dot markers. This pack contains five colors — pink, yellow, orange, green and purple — in 2.5-oz. bottles.
— “Things like Do-A-Dot, which are reasonably inexpensive compared to a $20 to $30 craft kit,” said Chris Kusy, owner of Rhyme 'N Reason Toys in Pembroke, Mass., of top-selling arts and crafts items in early 2010.
— Out of 48 retailers who participated in a January 2010 survey of arts and crafts best sellers, five named Do-A-Dot Art Markers. 1/28/2010 (MSRP: $15.99; Age: 3 and Up)
Fuzzimal Puppies by KLUTZ
Kids can make five shaggy canines with this kit that includes pipe cleaners, novelty yarn and materials for decoration, as well as instructions, style and grooming tips, and punch-out dog carriers. The book was written by Theresa Hutnick and Megan Smith.
— When asked about the best-selling arts and crafts items in her store, Amy Barrett, owner of Lasso the Moon Wonderful Toys in Helena, Mont., told TDmonthly, “Klutz books are definitely up there.”
— “All of the Klutz kits do really well,” said Julie Vaughan, manager of Village Toy Shop in North Easton, Mass., when asked of their top selling craft kits in January 2010.
— “Klutz books are still really, really popular,” said Steve Ellerhoff, manager of Finnegan's Toys and Gifts in Portland, Ore. Ellerhoff was one of five retailers, out of 48, who listed Klutz as their top-selling craft supplier at the beginning of 2010. 10/28/2009 (MSRP: $16.95; Age: 8 and Up)
Shrinky Dinks Pirates by ALEX BRANDS
This mini kit comes with pre-printed, pre-punched Shrinky Dinks plastic pieces ready to color and shrink. Colored pencils are included for kids to personalize their pirates however they see fit. Once colored, parents just pop them in the oven and watch them shrink to pint-sized versions of their former selves, perfect for embellishments, charms, tiny play figures and more.
— Three of 48 retailers surveyed by TDmonthly in January 2010 listed Shrinky Dinks as their top-selling arts and crafts items. 1/28/2010 (MSRP: $5.10; Age: 5 and Up)
Wikki Stix Tons of Fun! Kit by WIKKI STIX
This set includes 96 colorful Wikki Stix one-of-a-kind creatables, wooden shapes, feathers, pompoms, four blank faces and more. The re-usable, non-toxic Wikki Stix stick with just fingertip pressure; no glue is necessary. This product is made in the USA. “The thing that sets it apart from other kits is that there are so many different and varied things you can make, and most of the components are included,” President Kem Clark of Wikki Stix told TDmonthly.
— During a January 2010 TDmonthly survey, two of 48 retailers said Wikki Stix are a top-selling arts and crafts item in their stores, with sales averaging three dozen per month. 8/22/2007 (MSRP: $14.95; Age: 3 and Up)
Boat Ride Sketchbook by eeBoo corp.
This spiral-bound book with 60 pages of unlined sketch paper is the perfect place to create. The 7” by 9” notebook features a whimsical illustration on the front, and eeBoo offers other art items to match, such as colored pencil sets and journals.
— “Eeboo drawing pads have been a big hit. Every time we get them in, they are gone immediately; good quality and good price,” said Casey Sartain, buyer for Tutoring Toy in Salt Lake City, Utah, during a January 2010 survey of best-selling art items. 1/28/2010 (MSRP: $5.95)