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October 2006 | Vol. V - No. 10




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Adults Grab Kids’ Toys

Collectors Buy the Past or Trade It in for Higher End


"I have some adults buying themselves things before they’ll get something for their kids."Anonymous store owner
With reporting by regional correspondents Virginia Davis, Willow Polson and Bonnie Priever

Adults are the biggest collectors “because they have the disposable income and come from a generation that’s very self-centered,” the owner of a successful toy store told TDmonthly Magazine. “I have some adults buying themselves things before they’ll get something for their kids.”

“Adults are trying to buy back a piece of their childhood,” added David Friedlander, owner for 28 years of Children’s Planet in Louisville, Ky. “They look for something they may have had and lost throughout the years, or never had and always wanted but couldn’t afford.”

Higher-end versions of their childhood toys are also bringing in the bucks for retailers. Women who loved Barbie as children are buying high-fashion dolls from the Tonner Doll Company (ToyShow). The collectible Willow Tree Angels from Demdaco are another type of grown-up doll, and two retailers reported that their women customers were collecting them.

Men who played with plastic soldiers as boys “find the little wooden and metal Britains soldiers fascinating,” noted Rick Garlock, owner of Treasured Child in La Grange, Ky.

James Bond and Batman — both icons from the past — are the best-selling Corgi die-cast figure lines at the Lollipop Shop in Jonesborough, Tenn., said owner Jeff Gurley.

What follows are some of the “toys” that adults are buying for themselves, according to 38 retailers across the nation:




MSRP: $149.00
Age Range: 12 and up
Launch Date: August 2006
Gender: Girls
Category: Dolls



Little Duckie by Sheila Michael is an 18" silicone/vinyl mix doll in a limited edition of 350 pieces. He features a duckie snuggly and a duckie receiving blanket. “Adult [collectors] like the babies that look as real as possible,” noted Sherry Grisham, owner of the 9-year-old Yesterday & Today’s Dolls in Corinth, Miss. "Collectors like a realistic expression of the face as well as the feel of the material we use," Shirley Blackall, president of Blackall Associates, told TDmonthly. "The babies that we're doing look like real babies and are sculpted by the best and most world-renowned artists. Collectors also appreciate that the edition size is only 350. We only bring out our dolls for selection in the United States every 3 months. Once they've been ordered, we no longer sell them after that." Launch date: August 1, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8544      (added 7/11/2006)
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MSRP: $4.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Collectibles



This tin kitty makes a great holiday decoration. Each Penny Toy has a delicate string attached.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8609      (added 7/19/2006)
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MSRP: $159.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: T6-TWDD-06
Gender: Girls
Category: Dolls



City Style Kit has sunset-red hair and brown, forward-glancing eyes. Warm tones complement Kit in this rich melton-style coat over a coordinated long-sleeve, sequined blouse and high-waisted skirt. Kit comes with earrings, hose, shoes, handbag and custom stand. “Mostly adult women,” collect Tonner dolls at Be Beep a Toy Shop in Columbia, S.C., said owner Ava Allen. “They have the most disposable income for fashion dolls.” "Two attributes that make Tonner dolls most sought after by fashion doll collectors are the quality and the ‘feel’ of the dolls," Tom Courtney, visuals and merchandising director for Tonner Dolls told TDmonthly. "The fine-quality 'ingredients' that make up each Tonner doll include hand-painted faces, finely engineered articulation, and beautifully crafted contemporary clothing made from some of the finest fabrics available. ... They feel they own a miniature piece of art with each limited edition doll they add to their collection."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8136      (added 6/5/2006)
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Age Range: Adult
Gender: Girls
Category: Collectibles



Willow Tree is an intimate line of figurative sculptures that speak in quiet ways to heal, comfort, protect and inspire. Artist Susan Lordi hand-carves each original figure. The sculptures reveal their expression with simple, pure gestures. “Our best seller for gifts and adult collectors is the Willow Tree Angels,” Michele Harrison, sales associate at Peanut Butter Kisses in Swanee, Ga., told TDmonthly. Another retailer in the same town agreed.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8603      (added 7/19/2006)
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Launch Date: September 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Collectibles
Action Figures



There's a new category of collectible from Schleich — the American Frontier (Wild West). Like this Cowboy With Lasso, they're based on the United States' westward expansion of the 1800s. "Schleich figurines are meticulously crafted and hand-painted with attention to detail," said Katherine MacLean, sales and marketing coordinator for Schleich North America Inc. "They are realistic without a cartoon feel. The price points are reasonable. Schleich is becoming a brand." Launch date: September 2006.
— "We have a line of animals from Schleich that does extremely well. There are all types of animals from frogs to horses to elephants," said Holly Reay, owner of Kid’s Corner in Carmel, Ind.
— Bonnie Dodds, owner of Bonnie’s Toys and More in Iowa City, enthusiastically endorsed the brand in the miniature category by exclaiming, "Schleich everything!" sells well.
— Nine of 45 retailers we asked told TDmonthly that these figurines were popular with their customers.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8619      (added 7/19/2006)
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MSRP: $179.95
Gender: Boys
Category: Collectibles



Decorated in the colors of the Virginian Railway, this locomotive can haul coal. It features a precision motor, stamped metal frame, handrails and pantograph, detailed molded body, trucks, pilots and fuel tank. It also features an operator-activated electronic horn, operating headlight and interior illumination. “Mostly men” collect Lionel, said Cynthia Strinich, co-owner of the 60-year-old Phillip’s Toy Mart in Nashville, Tenn.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8605      (added 7/19/2006)
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MSRP: $43.99
SKU or Item #: US77608
Gender: Boys
Category: Die-Cast



A dramatically sculpted Batman figure sits in the driver's seat of this limited-edition 1:18 Roadster. Finished in custom metallic black, the 11.5" x 4.5" vehicle features a hood that lifts up to reveal the engine. A rear compartment lifts to reveal Batman's weapons and gadgets. Batman is a favorite of men who collect, said Jeff Gurley, owner of the Lollipop Shop in Jonesborough, Tenn. “They’ve always wanted something and now they can buy it! They buy either what they once had or once wished they had.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8013      (added 5/26/2006)
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MSRP: $479.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys
Category: Hobby Goods



The prototype for this train was the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway class 52 express locomotive (American Locomotive Company type PA-1. Diesel-electric propulsion. Road number 61L). This locomotive comes with a digital decoder, controlled high-efficiency propulsion and auxiliary functions. Two axles power four traction tires. Headlight and lighted number boards will work in conventional operation and can be controlled digitally. Mars light, diesel motor sound effects, horn sounds as well as the acceleration and braking delay can be controlled digitally with the 6021 Control Unit.  “Men are collecting trains in all scales ... They’re connecting to their past and remembering a favorite car or fighting in a war,” commented Shirley Moore, owner of the 53-year-old Talbot’s Toy Land in San Mateo, Calif. She named Marklin as one of her collectors’ favorite brands. "You have two brands in the world of trains with high collectibility: Lionel in the United States and Marklin in global markets," Fred Gates, president of Marklin told TDmonthly.  "They maintain their value." Each year, Marklin produces limited-run items to commemorate a particular historical anniversary.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5591      (added 11/18/2005)
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MSRP: $55.00
Age Range: 12 and up
SKU or Item #: 10435
Gender: Girls
Category: Fashion & Accessories



The vertical shape of this casual 13½" x 11" x 4½" tote makes it as practical as it is stylish. One outside zip pocket, four interior compartments (one zippered and three slip-in) and a magnetic snap closure keep everything in place. The baseboard is removable.  Vera Bradley handbags are good sellers for women into fashion at Secret Garden in McDounagh, Ga., and Queen’s Gift Shop in Salisbury, N.C.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8604      (added 7/19/2006)
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Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Collectibles



This wheeled toy will appeal to the nostalgic collector. “Tin toys are big in the adult market,” said Jordan Walden, manager of the 31-year-old Finnegan’s Toys and Gifts in Portland, Ore. She added that toys by Benjamin International were one of the three most popular brands. “They’re replicas of old toys that they had when they were younger. They’re not super sturdy and are a bit fragile so they like to display them.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8606      (added 7/19/2006)
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MSRP: $159.99
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction



The Defender Duel has a competitive play pattern: The radio-controlled Defender vehicles enter the arena, facing the spectators in the stands — all constructed of Rokenbok's unique girder, ramp and decking units. Then it's no-holds-barred excitement as the two players try to capture all three flags from their opponent's vehicle or push the vehicle completely out of the arena to win the game. Like the other Rokenbok Start Sets, Defender Duel includes the four-player, eight-vehicle command deck and eight receiver keys, which allow nearly limitless expansion of the system. “Retailers responded enthusiastically because of the proven themes of these new Start Sets; Rokenbok's reputation for imaginative play; the flexible expandability of the Rokenbok construction system; our full-featured, robotic vehicles, and the rock-solid quality of every Rokenbok product, backed by our lifetime warranty,” Christine Norris, marketing for Rokenbok Toys, told TDmonthly. “Men really like the Rokenbok sets and are always adding to them,” said Ed Dodd, manager of Classic Toys in Anchorage, Alaska.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7262      (added 3/20/2006)
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MSRP: $899.99
Gender: Girls
Category: Miniatures



This 12-roomed Victorian-style dollhouse kit is fabricated on a 1:12 scale and measures 58 1/2"W x 27 1/2"D x 39 5/8"H. The kit includes everything needed to finish as shown. Engineered parts are pre-cut. The sturdy construction features 3/8” thick milled clapboard exterior walls and grooved sidewalls for easy, one-step assembly, guaranteed fit and durability. It also features pre-assembled windows and doors, movable room dividers, molded railings and porch posts, hand-split octagonal pine wooden shingles, bold laser-cut gingerbread trims, fancy turned porch and newel posts, full foundation including decorative lattice, interior window and door trim, and step-by-step instructions with detailed drawings. “Our business is largely dollhouses and miniatures,” said Ralph Page, owner for 22 years of The Toy Box in Cocoa, FL. “We have about an equal number of adult and children collectors…they start at around six or seven years old and go to 90.” Real Good Toys dollhouses are one of his staples. "Our products are thicker than most of the competition's and are built more sturdily. There's more attention to detail and they're easier to build," explained Jim Abrams, president of Real Good Toys. "Our dollhouses stand up to play and last for generations."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8607      (added 7/19/2006)
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MSRP: $9.95
Gender: Girls
Category: Collectibles



When the string is pulled, Hello Kitty shakes to release salt or pepper. Each shaker measures 2.25” x 2.25” x 3.25”. “Women like the Sanrio Hello Kitty stuff, like checkbook covers and mugs — you can tell they’re marketing to adults,” said Margaret James, manager of Child’s Play in Gresham, Ore.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8608      (added 7/19/2006)
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MSRP: $64.00
Launch Date: December 2005
Gender: Boys
Category: Collectibles



This historically accurate set features the first two Victoria Cross (British equivalent of the Medal of Honor) winners of WWI and sandbag emplacement, Mons, 1914. W. Britain is the oldest toy soldier company in continuous production. Presidents (Ronald Reagan), prime ministers (Winston Churchill), movie stars (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) and prominent business people (Malcolm Forbes) have all collected W. Britain figures. "Britain soldiers are still popular because they appeal to the kid in a lot of us ... especially with the older generation that grew up with them as toys," Richard Walker, general manager of W. Britain, told TDmonthly. "With the newer generation of collectors, they appeal because of their artistic quality and the detail in the painting. They think it's interesting to learn about history." Launch date: December 2, 2005.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5671      (added 11/22/2005)
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MSRP: $28.00
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 17763
Gender: Boys
Category: Collectibles



This one-piece set features Alexander Hamilton, who commanded the American Light Infantry during the 1781 Battle of Yorktown.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8710      (added 7/25/2006)
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MSRP: $32.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys
Category: Collectibles



The American Army had adopted this striking Continental flag by the time of the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, commemorated in this 1-piece set.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8711      (added 7/25/2006)
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Alison MarekWriter's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ...  Read more articles by this author

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