With additional reporting by Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero
Looking for some top-notch preschool toys for your store? Look no further than the ten toys below. TDmonthly Magazine interviewed specialty retailers about their best-selling preschool toys in October 2014, and their list includes everything from puzzle toys to construction. Take a look below and see if any of their top-sellers would be a good fit for your store.
*No manufacturer paid to be included in this list. All products listed were designated by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with TOYDIRECTORY.com/TDmonthly Magazine.
This tractor has a farmer that drives around with five removable plastic farm animals that make their animal sounds when placed on the plastic vehicle. — Out of the Blue Ltd. Store Manager Kara Fichtner, in Albuquerque, N.M., told TDmonthly in May 2006: “It’s one of my favorite toys. It’s something we show customers when they come in looking for a toy for a 1-year-old.” — “We sell 144 tractors a year, and we don’t have many people coming in,” Grafton Stine, owner of Toys on the Square in Hummelstown, Pa, told TDmonthly in summer 2007. — “For a first birthday toy, it’s the Fun Time Tractor from iPlay — it really sells,” noted Teresa Ford, owner of Kids’ Ketch in Lewes, Del., when asked about best-selling baby gifts in July 2008. Six of 39 retailers told TDmonthlyin March 2010 that International Playthings supplies their best-selling infant and toddler toys. Two singled out the Funtime Tractor as a top-selling individual item with sales of four per month. — In a 2012 survey about best selling infant & toddler products, Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa. told TDmonthly, "Pun’s best selling baby toy continues to be the Funtime Tractor from International Playthings. Even though it retails for more than $30, this store sells a disproportional amount- up to 12 a month, even during slow times. Of course, my staff all love it also, so it is usually recommended."
This kit includes everything a child needs to pretend to be a doctor, such as a blood pressure cuff with a spinning gauge, a working stethoscope, a thermometer, and a bandage. — As of 8.16.10, this product had 4 out of 5 stars from 43 reviews on ToysRUs.com and was listed No. 35 in best-selling toys and games. PROS: Durable, realistic, well-priced, entertaining. — Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barston's Child's Play in Baltimore, Md., told TD in October 2014 that this kit was one of her store's best-selling preschool items.
An 8 in 1 land themed construction kit with Laser Pegs, construction parts, and a Triangle Power Base. — In a May 2013 survey about construction toys Joe Berardoni Jr, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa. told TDmonthly that "Here at Pun’s, we continue to sell Laser Pegs very well, mostly the Land, Sea and Air series. Their new design which makes them compatible with other construction bricks has helped boost sales over last year at this time." — In a July 2013 survey Joe Berardoni Jr., owner of Pun's Toy Shop in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly that Laser Pegs is one of the store's best-selling electronic or battery-operated toys. — Karen Laroche, manager of Kid's Ketch in Lews, Del., told TDmonthly in a Fall 2013 survey that Laser Pegs are one of her store's overall best-selling toys.
Get to the airport on time with the 1.2.3 Airport Shuttle Bus. Equipped with a luggage compartment, this shuttle can accommodate three passengers and one driver, all included. This set, with its colorful and rounded pieces, is perfect for toddlers who love toys on wheels. Recommended for ages 18 months and up. — David Stelzer, owner of Shananigans in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly in an October 2014 survey that Playmobil 123 was one of his store's best-selling line of preschool toys.
This 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.
Designed for ages 6 months and up, this toy for bathtubs and mud puddles is made in the USA of recycled plastic milk containers. It floats, is equipped with a spout on the front for scooping and pouring water, and is free of BPA, PVC, phthalates and external coatings. It comes in packaging made of recycled or recyclable materials and featuring soy inks. Launch date: March 2010. — In an April 2012 survey about bath toys, two of eleven retailers told TDmonthly the Tugboat from Green Toys was their best seller. — Kristen Dolle, Manager of Playthings Toy Shoppe in Louisville, Ky. named the Green Toys Tugboat as a best-seller in the bath category when surveyed by TDmonthlyin late Spring 2011. — Want this? As of 05/06/2011, this product was available for purchase at Playthings Toy Shoppe.
This 48-piece set includes solid colored pieces, along with pieces with holes, curved pieces, a magnetic door and a wheeled piece. Magna-Tiles DX contains 12 small squares, four large squares, six isosceles triangles, 10 right triangles, 11 equilateral triangles, a wheeled piece, and arch and three special shapes. An idea guide is included. — In late summer 2010, five percent of 43 specialty retailers toldTDmonthly Magna-Tiles are an overall best-selling product. — In late Spring 2011, 25% of retailers mentioned Magna-Tiles as a best-selling construction toy. — As of 05/12/2011, this product had 5 out of 5 stars from 23 reviews on Amazon.com. — In a Summer 2012 survey, Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Company in Denver, Col., told TDmonthly that Magnatiles were their overall best-selling toy.
The multi-button, electronic cash register features a functional coin reader that correctly identifies real and included plastic play coins and a checkout scanner equipped with sound. The game will teach kids coin identification, addition, subtraction and place-value. — Peg Scholtes, owner of Capitol Kids in Madison, Wis., said this product sells consistently well in her store. — “I would have sold more of [them] had I not run out, but I thought I had ordered [more] and forgot,” Co-owner Mary Sisson of Kazoodles in Vancouver, Wash., told TDmonthlyin early 2008. — This is a best-seller on imaginetoys.com. — Two of 43 retailers named a product by Learning Resources, including this cash register, when discussing best-selling playsets in April 2010.
Featuring detailed images of 8 favorite noisy vehicles, this wooden peg puzzle makes the vehicle sound when a piece is placed correctly in the puzzle board. Eight sounds in all. Full-color, matching picture under each piece. Dimensions: 1.2" x 8.5" x 11.7" Assembled. AAA batteries not included. — Michael O'Dell of Toys from the Attic in Rehoboth Beach, Del., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that he sells 10 Melissa & Doug sound puzzles each month. — As of 7/12/2011 this product had 3 out of 5 stars from 23 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Affordable; engaging. Cons: Many reviewers said the sounds were poor quality. — In a February 2012 survey about wooden toys, three out of 14 retailers said that puzzles from Melissa & Doug were their best sellers in the category. “Melissa and Doug has been a core of the store for years and years," Mike Snyder, owner and manager of Cville's Hobbies, Games and Toys in Charlottesville, Va., told TDmonthly.
Players try to fill their Zingo! cards with matching tiles from the Zingo Zinger. The first player to fill his or her card wins. Rules can be adjusted to favor more or less competition among players, and to vary the length of time each game requires. This game was a 2007 T.O.T.Y. Nominee for Specialty Toy of the Year. "It teaches memory, matching, vocabulary and social interaction skills. Kids have so much fun playing again and again; they don’t realize they’re learning essential thinking skills," Marketing Communications Manager Emily Peters of Thinkfun told TDmonthly. — “Customers use this game as their ‘standard’ party gift,” Owner Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop in Jamaica Plain, Mass. told TDmonthly in summer 2007. — “We sell out as soon as they come in,” added Pam Horwitz, manager of Mr. Toad’s Toy Company in Naples, Fla. Four of 63 retailers singled out Zingo! as the hottest-selling game in their store. Seven percent of 56 retailers listed Zingo as a top-selling game in January 2009. Six of 38 retailers called it a best-selling game in Feb. 2010. — “Zingo is a great game for 4- to 5-year olds,” Jamie Burdette, owner of LB Toys in Media, Pa., told TDmonthly about this game — a top seller in his store — in April 2008. “The basic Bingo concept starts to introduce words and spelling.”
Writer's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author