July 16, 2018

TDmonthly Magazine

March 2011 | Vol. X - No. 3

Top-10 Most-Wanted Wooden Toys

Melissa & Doug Is Still the Favorite

By Alison Marek
March 2011

With additional reporting by Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggerio

In early 2011, TDmonthly Magazine's regional correspondents spoke with 12 specialty toy retailers from around the country about their best-selling wooden products. Not surprisingly, Melissa & Doug had the most mentions, though few products were specified.

Here are the rest of the best-selling wooden things:

Automoblox Minis 3-Pack (Hot Rods) by AUTOMOBLOX

Automoblox Minis 3-Pack (Hot Rods) by AUTOMOBLOXThis Automoblox pack is designed to make playtime fun and creative. The Automoblox hot rod minis feature a universal connector system that enables the rapid interchange of parts, and are conveniently sized for on-the-go car design. The set includes a red/black HR1, a black/gray HRw and a red/chrome HR3.
— Jeanette Lauture, owner of Aunt Jean’s Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., sells approximately 4 to 10 per month. 9/7/2010 (MSRP: $40.00; Age: 3 and Up)

Chess and Checkers Set by WOOD EXPRESSIONS INC.

Chess and Checkers Set by WOOD EXPRESSIONS INC.Can’t choose which game you want? Want to buy them all? Well now you don’t have to because we have the answer. It’s a combination game set. This particular 15” one is beautifully made in black stained wood with storage and 3” king, hand-painted, hand-polished, black stained/kari wood chessmen, containing your favorite pastime games, chess and checkers. It’s great to play with, and even when you’re not playing with it, looks absolutely gorgeous on your coffee table.
— Dustin Gilliland, owner of Crimson Castle Chess & Games in Tuscaloosa, Ala., sells a few chess sets per month, and more around the holidays. 5/2/2007

Slice and Bake Cookie Set by MELISSA & DOUG

Slice and Bake Cookie Set by MELISSA & DOUGThe Melissa & Doug Wooden Slice and Bake Cookie Set lets children ages three and up pretend to bake, decorate, and serve cookies, all while practicing fine motor skills, learning number concepts, and more. The set includes a dozen wooden cookies, a dozen wooden decorating pieces, and toy wooden kitchen utensils.
— As of 10.25.2010, this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 81 reviews on and was No. 22 on the top 100 best-selling toys and games. PROS:  Durable and fun.  CONS:  Recalled in Canada for barium in the paint.
— The Slice and Bake Cookie Set was one of only two wooden items that sells well for Tracie Meadows, owner of Whippersnappers on St. Simons Island, Ga. 10/25/2010 (MSRP: $19.99; Age: 3 and Up)


Fruit Set by HABA USA/HABERMAASS CORP.An apple a day keeps the dolly doctor away! Especially a wooden apple, made in Germany.  Load that cart with fresh wooden fruit. (Watch the Fruit Set Video Watch Video) 2/19/2010 (MSRP: $20.00; Age: 3 and Up)

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Easel by MELISSA & DOUG

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Easel by MELISSA & DOUGKids 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 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 the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Easel Video Watch Video) 9/29/2005 (MSRP: $49.99; Age: 4 and Up)


Simple ABC Blocks by MAPLE LANDMARK WOODCRAFT CO.Crafted from locally harvested hardwood maple, this set of 16, 1 3/4" blocks can spell more than 250 words, phrases and names. Each letter is engraved using a clean, simple font for ease of reading. The Simple ABC Blocks are sanded smooth to the touch but left unfinished for a truly eco-friendly toy. They are made in Vermont. Launch date: January 25, 2009.
Awards: 2009 Creative Child Magazine Toy of the Year Award, Classic Wooden Toys category.
— Any kind of stacking alphabet blocks, no matter the maker, do well for James Dello Stritto, manager of Magic Box, Ltd., in New Orleans. (Watch the Simple ABC Blocks Video Watch Video) 6/29/2009 (MSRP: $23.00; Age: All Ages)

Shut-the-Box Bookshelf Edition by FRONT PORCH CLASSICS

Shut-the-Box Bookshelf Edition by FRONT PORCH CLASSICSYes, another Front Porch Classic finds itself in a beautifully designed "Bookshelf Edition." Play it, then pack it up and place it on the shelf alongside other Front Porch Classics such as Sortie, Valley of the Pharaohs and Dread Pirate. Just as with the Old Century version, this vintage game from England involves matching the tiles as players roll the dice. They keep rolling until they’ve matched all the tiles. Players lay down all the tiles and "Shut the Box" to win. It's easy to learn, comes with a classic wooden box, and involves fun play for the entire family.
— "The Bookshelf games by Front Porch Classics are really great," said Miles Altman, owner of King Arthur’s Court Toys in Cincinnati, Ohio.
―Front Porch Classics is “the greatest company to deal with. They provide quality. … They’re a huge company, but still look out for the little guys,” Tom England, owner of Dancing Bear Toys & Gifts in Frederick, Md., told TDmonthly in spring 2007. “They were a specialty shop — that’s what made them popular. They do sell to mass market, but have the greatest group of people.” 2/19/2007 (MSRP: $28.00; Age: 8 and Up)

Big Drum by PLANTOYS

Big Drum by PLANTOYSThis large drum comes with an adjustable lanyard and toddler hand size's drumsticks that are perfect for beating on the big drum.
— "We are all occasionally guilty of under rating the value of simpler toys, but you can't do better for gross motor planning, grasping, or cause and effect for your toddler than a drum like the natural wood Big Drum from Plan Toys. The drum sticks are the right size for toddlers and the drum has a really nice woody sort of sound. Another great product from Plan Toys," Jennifer Shuman, owner of 1SmartNoodle, told TDmonthly at Toy Fair 2010.
— Plan Toys is one of Owner Donna Fredericks’ best-selling wooden lines at The Play House Toy Store in Durham, N.C.
— Gary Green, owner of The Toy Box of Asheville in Asheville, N.C., told TDmonthly in a January 2012 survey about musical products that they sold 30 of this item each month during the holiday shopping season. (Watch the Big Drum Video Watch Video) 2/16/2010

Rapping Kangaroo Sound Producing Push Toy by WONDERWORLD

Rapping Kangaroo Sound Producing Push Toy by WONDERWORLDThe Wonderworld Rapping Kangaroo Sound Producing Push Toy makes a rapping-snappin­g sound and bobs its head up and down when it is pushed. The handle and wheels are wooden and the rapping giraffe is plush.
— The Rapping Kangaroo is a best seller in the wooden toys category for Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper for Kids in Springfield, Va. 2/2/2011 (MSRP: $24.95)

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