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April 2006 | Vol. V - No. 4


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Water on the Runway

H20 Toys Get Fast and Fashionable


“There is a lot to being trendy in style and color.” Scott J. Wisner, CoopSport International
The most difficult hurdle water toy (i.e., beach, pool and snow) producers face is the short selling season. New and flashy items, though, help invigorate the category. Color draws the eye, while fun keeps the buyer’s attention.

When it comes to snow toys, speed has been key for sellers at Meijer stores in Fort Wayne, Ind. A salesman in the toy department of the Maysville Road Meijer store said that snow toys that have a foam interior and hard plastic exterior are faster and therefore sell better. Round saucers were also big sellers during the snow season in this northeastern Indiana area. “Anything that is fast — speed is it,” he said.

In that vein, Mobileation Inc., an online retailer, offers sleds of all types, including foam sleds, snowboards and saucers in just about any price range, from around $30 to hundreds of dollars. However, traditional wooden toboggans are also available.

But with warm weather just around the corner, snow toys will soon be replaced on shelves with water fun. And that market is a hard one to read, at times. According to Scott J. Wisner, vice president of sales for CoopSport International, beach toy trends revolve more around how buying is done rather than what is being purchased. “Many buyers, stung by poor weather in the past, are very cautious about making big changes or taking big chances in this category,” he said. “We see a lot of lower-price items being sold and very few of the more expensive items.” However, he added, the hot weather of this past summer might positively influence purchases. But, for now, he said, there is more caution. When there is such a short season for products, buyers don’t want to take too large of a risk.

In addition, buyers change regularly in this toy category, and they always seem to be looking for something different. “This is not for the sake of uniqueness but from a point of them being able to sell significant quantities in a short selling season,” Wisner said.

“There is a lot to being trendy in style and color,” he added. “It was not long ago when the pool, beach and snow toys were pretty dull looking. Now, they are taking on a look of fashion and showing a lot more color.”

Although beach and snow products companies have long been in the fashion business, making clothing to go with the toys, the toy part of the business wasn’t given the same attention when it came to style and color, and they weren’t seen as key attributes for toys until recently, Wisner said.

Mobileation Inc.’s Web site highlights many water toys, as well as snow toys, in vibrant colors, ranging in prices from about $20 to thousands of dollars — whether it’s an inflatable racecar to float on or traditional tubes. And for those who want to spend thousands, there’s the 8-foot Saturn Planet by Aviva.

Bright colors are part of Swimline Corp.’s water toys. And this year’s newest toys follow the tradition of the past few years — habitat inflatables. These are the large toys that kids can play inside in the water or near the water, said company spokesperson Cynthia Schwimmer.

This year’s starter-pre-pack Maze Play System comes with a connecting piece to two inflatables and can be added to with additional systems. “These types of toys began getting popular a few years ago and have just grown exponentially,” Schwimmer said.

The company also has brought out its Pup Tent and UFO Habitat this year. “We really look for something that will attract the kids,” she said.

From snowboards to water boards, color is in, so those speeding down hills or splashing in water are easily seen in today’s bright colors.

The following is more information on water toys.





MSRP: $79.00
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Water Activities



The Maze Play System allows children and those who are children at heart to climb through the water, or at least on top of the water, while still enjoying its cooling effects.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7113      (added 3/6/2006)
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AD


MSRP: $425.99
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Water Activities



Saturn Planet is the color of the planet and holds up to four for fun in the water.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7114      (added 3/6/2006)
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AD




Terri Hughes-LazzellWriter's Bio: Terri Hughes-Lazzell is a freelance journalist based in Ossian, Ind. After spending nearly a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, she has worked as a freelance journalist for more than ten years, writing about a variety of topics. Her work appears in newspapers, magazines and specialty publications nationwide. Read more articles by this author


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