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September 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 9




Tools:

How to Find the Coolest Christmas Toys

Off-beat Choices Make Your Gifts Memorable


If you want to know how to find the best quality, most innovative toys in the market, take some tips from the people who do that for a living: specialty toy-store owners.

They’re the folks down the block who run that amazing toy store filled with toys you’ve never seen before.

So, if you want to surprise and impress the people on your gift list this year, learn from the pros. This is how they find the best toys, and how you can shop, too:

Stay Away From Well-Known Brands. “I’m looking for that odd company that no one knows about,” explained Pamela Buars, owner of The Ark www.thearktoys.com toy store in San Francisco, Calif.

Instead of Mattel’s Barbie or MGA’s Bratz, you could try the brand new mixed-race Mixis fashion dolls from YNU Group or Karito Kids multicultural dolls by KidsGive. In place of Hot Wheels, go for authentic models from AutoArt or Toy Wonders.

Trust Your Heart.
“If I fall in love with a doll or toy, I’m sure that the customer will, too,” said Allison Cox, owner of Animal Quackers in Raleigh, N.C. Even old-fashioned toys such as Jack-in-the-boxes by Jack Rabbit or Schylling may appeal to kids of today.

Look for Something Unique. Just a year ago, almost no one had heard of Ganz’s Webkinz. But I bet you know about them now! Small mom-and-pop toy stores realized kids might want a toy that paired traditional play with online fun, and suddenly a new toy craze was born. Maybe you can spot the next great hit, too!

Look for Stores That Play. A great toy store will have some of its toys out of the box so you can check them out before the holidays. Try riding a PlasmaCar by PlaSmart or getting down on the floor to joust with Papo Knights, Safari fantasy characters or Schleich Elves.

Go for Great Gift Wrap. One of the bonuses of shopping at a local toy store is that you’ll probably receive free gift wrapping, so your present will attract attention even before it’s opened. But shop early! During the holiday rush, some toy stores might be too busy to wrap!

Research! Almost as much fun as buying a toy is looking for the right one to buy. You can use TDmonthly.com and playzak.com’s TOY PRODUCT SEARCH to find toys by category, price, gender or age — just like the toy stores do!

Use Our Holiday Gift Guide. You can even buy some of the coolest toys straight from playzak! Just go to our Holiday Gift Guide and start shopping.




SKU or Item #: 36402
Gender: Girls
Category: Dolls
Christmas



Mini Kathy and Janet Christmas rag dolls dressed in Christmas velvet dresses in a mini Best Pals tote bag. The Minis are 5" each. Available September 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13720      (added 6/26/2007)
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Gender: Girls
Category: Dolls
Educational



BoogieBaby Dolls make great playmates for dancing and physical fitness with BusyBee Exercises. They provide children with non-threatening objects to identify with or use to display observed feelings without feeling guilty about being "bad." Each doll is a limited edition and comes with a certificate of "Born to Boogie." The dolls can be customized.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13223      (added 6/5/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $164.00
Launch Date: December 2006
Gender: Girls
Category: Dolls



Sixteen-inch-tall Makeda, The Queen of Sheba is the first doll in EthiDolls' African Signature Educational Doll Collection. Her authentic costume is hand woven in Ethiopia, and her dress features a traditional border design of gold, lapis lazuli, ruby red and emerald green. Makeda's lustrous hair is braided in a long natural wave, and she is adorned with gold-plated jewelry and a classic neck tattoo. Queen Makeda's beautifully illustrated storybook and CD narration portray her rise to the throne and her legendary journey to visit King Solomon. “EthiDolls has introduced the first authentic collector-quality educational doll based on African women leaders from antiquity, and has imbued the product with the principles of fair trade,” Patti Gindoff, SVP of marketing for EthiDolls, told TDmonthly. Launch date: December 6, 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11586      (added 2/23/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $44.00
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: 38770
Launch Date: February 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls



Forever looking for a treasure is Käthe Kruse’s little Pirate Boy, who is always in a good mood and loves to play. His hand-embroidered face has fun little freckles and his red hair is made of genuine wool. Standing 7” high, this handcrafted doll is dressed in cropped, red pirate pants, while a white shirt with pirate logo and black cap complete his pirate look. Wherever he goes, he always first places his flag. He is stuffed with 100-percent sheep wool and covered with cotton stockinet. Käthe Kruse Waldorf dolls are individually handcrafted and not mass produced. They are “little individuals that stimulate the child's fantasy and imagination,” Marion Hohmann of Europlay told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 2007.
— “[My customers] love Waldorf school philosophy,” said Kristen Pollard, co-owner of Mud Puddle Toys in Marblehead, Mass.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13943      (added 7/5/2007)
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Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Dolls



Mixis™ collectible play dolls have been delicately designed with varying skin tones, realistically painted eyes, unique facial characteristics, fully articulated body parts and a naturally proportioned body. The focus is on the blending and fusion of races, ethnicities and cultures, encouraging a dialogue between children and their families that explores the richness and diversity of their individual backgrounds.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11294      (added 1/30/2007)
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Gender: Girls
Category: Play Sets
Dolls



Only Hearts Club introduces its newest line, the Only Hearts Horse and Pony Club™. This exciting brand features a complete equestrian line, from horses, to riders, to stables and tack-room accessories. The Only Hearts Horse & Pony Club features both Western and English riding lines, and is sure to delight horse lovers of all ages. Kids can experience realistic fashions and horse breeds with soft and poseable dolls and horses.
— “Only Hearts Club with the equestrian theme,” is tops for fashion dolls at J.W. Allen and Sons Children’s Provisions in Park City, Utah. Owner Jonathan Allen said, “We sell on the average 15 a month.”
— “Only Hearts Club has done well as far as fashion,” agreed Stephanie Dupuy, owner of Playville in Covington, La.
— Ten percent of retailers surveyed in January 2008 named the Only Hearts Club as their most “stable” fashion line.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11575      (added 2/22/2007)
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Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Trading Cards



Kids can collect, trade and play awesome games with these cards. The first series of Webkinz Trading Cards includes 80 base-set cards featuring favorite Webkinz pets, characters, items and recipes to collect and enjoy. Kids can also collect three exciting subsets of cards: Challenge Cards, Curio Shop Curiosities and Webkinz Doodlez. Each set comes with 10 packs of cards and six cards per pack. Other amounts and booster packs are also available.
— When asked about the current hot-seller in her store, Kate Tanner, owner of Kidstop Toys & Books in Scottsdale, Ariz., said, "Webkinz of all kinds —from the Googles and Chihuahua to the trading card games and booster packs."
— “I would probably have to say any Webkinz by Ganz accessories,” Bill DeFusco, owner of Toyz Toy Store in Chesire, Conn., told TDmonthly, when asked about what he predicted would be his store’s most popular stocking stuffer. “Whatever accessories for Webkinz can be found—lip glosses, body spritz, trading cards.”
—Eleven of 58 retailers who spoke with TDmonthly cited Webkinz accessories as highly popular stocking-stuffer items.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14382      (added 7/27/2007)
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MSRP: $10.99
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Interactive



This black horse is gentle, mysterious and beautiful — the perfect pal to share secrets and stories with. In the online Webkinz World, the Black Stallion loves to cook. Its special item is the hay bale sofa and its special food is the horseshoe huckleberry hotcakes.
— Lynn Robillard, owner of Toys in the Attic in Manchester, Vt., told TDmonthly that when they’re available, Webkinz are one of her top-10 best-selling product lines.
— These computer-savvy plush pals take fourth place for best-selling toys at Red Wagon Toy Co. in Woodstock, Vt., according to Owner Kim Smith, who spoke with TDmonthly in summer 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14379      (added 7/27/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $15.00
Age Range: All Ages
SKU or Item #: 34449
Launch Date: October 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Christmas



The Shining Stars Christmas collection includes this adorable penguin, a reindeer and a snowman. When kids purchase a Shining Stars friend, they can log onto the Shining Stars website and use the secret code inside the plush’s hangtag to register and name a star with the International Star Registry. Children can print a star certificate that gives the exact location of the star, and the site also offers fun games and activities. Launch date: October 15, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13678      (added 6/25/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $12.00
Age Range: 6 and up
Launch Date: July 2007
Gender: Girls
Category: Dolls
Plush
Interactive



This 14” soft-sculpt doll is dressed in the latest trend-setting fashions that can be mixed and matched, and each Ty Girlz outfit comes with complementary accessories. The dolls have soft, realistic hair that can be easily combed and styled in numerous ways. Their clothes, hair and makeup are coordinated in monochromatic hues for a distinctive look, and the dolls are accompanied by a 3-D interactive virtual world. Launch date: July 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14566      (added 8/9/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $5.49
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: 39919
Gender: Boys
Category: Action Figures



Papo is proud to introduce its new line of Weapon Master for 2007. The hand-painted King of Knights is just one of 10 in the series. For added play value, each of the Weapon Master Knights can ride a horse and stand on its own.
— Shirley Reilly, owner of Let's Play in Hillsboro, Ore., discussed with TDmonthly the upcoming 2007 Christmas season, noting that Papo Knights will be big with little boys.
— “Papo has truly outdone themselves creating one of the most detailed knights on the market,” said Brian Shackleton, operations manager for Hotaling Imports, the toy’s U.S. distributor.
— Ask retailers’ advice for how to sell to boys and Papo Knights ride to the rescue again and again, no matter what the season. They’ve been on three TDmonthly Top-10 Most-Wanted Toys lists over the last year, which is why they’ve been named a TDmonthly Top Seller 2007.

Where to Buy: Really Great Toys

ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13301      (added 6/7/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $5.00
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: 61378
Launch Date: May 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Action Figures



The King is one of six figures in Safari’s imaginative Once Upon a Time Collection. The figures range in size from 4” to 5.25” tall (the King is 2.5” long by 5.25” high) and are offered individually or in a POP display for flexible retailing. Pieces in the collection are superbly sculpted by masters for hours of imaginative play. Launch date: May 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13077      (added 5/23/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $13.49
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: 70406
Launch Date: May 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Action Figures
Collectibles



The character of this hand-painted figurine is known as the lost one. Fate separated the sisters Surah and Sera, as one calamitous night Surah fell into the clutches of the princess of darkness. Launch date: May 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13440      (added 6/13/2007)
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MSRP: $27.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



The Teddy Bear Jack in the Box puts a furry and cuddly twist on the classic toy. Kids can wind it up to play the tune “Teddy Bears Picnic.” Then, a cute furry teddy jumps out to greet surprised little ones.
— “Jack in the Boxes by Jack Rabbit” are best-selling infant toys, according to Peter (a.k.a. Mr. Toad), owner of Mr. Toad’s Toy Company in Naples, Fla. Another retailer agreed.
— “Mr. Toad” sells approximately 30 Jack Rabbit Creations Jack in the Boxes per month, he said in spring 2007.
— “We use a great, soft, terry plush,” stated Jim Lancaster of Jack Rabbit Creations. “We create all original artwork for the tin. Maybe most importantly, you won’t see it in the mass market — we sell to specialty retailers only.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12286      (added 4/12/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 2 and up
SKU or Item #: SCJB
Launch Date: February 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler



This tin box features a plush Circus Jester puppet and plays “Pop Goes the Weasel.” It is suitable for children over 18 months. Launch date: February 14, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12151      (added 3/29/2007)
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MSRP: $69.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: PC020
Launch Date: February 2005
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Vehicles - Riding
Preschool
Outdoor Fun



The Original PlasmaCar continues to intrigue and fascinate. Powered by kid power; no batteries, gears, or pedals needed. Just sit, put your feet up, and turn the steering wheel to propel yourself forward. The patented safety seat design places riders in a safe, comfortable position and minimizes tipping. Moves up to 6 mph on any smooth, flat surface. Supports up to 220 lbs. Visit www.plasmacar.com to see all the wonderful colors available.
— In a March 2015 survey, two out of 10 retailers told TDmonthly that Plasmacar is a best-selling outdoor toy.
—  As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 122 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: Does not work well on surfaces that aren't completely smooth.
— This top-seller in specialty stores earned a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for its distinctive aerodynamic design and ease-of-use. TDmonthly believes it has the potential to become a classic due to its fresh, contemporary appeal and application in a child’s formative years.
Awards: 2012 Parents Choice Awards Recommended, 2009 Green Parents List Check Mark, 2009 DisneyFamily.com Top Action Figures and Toys for Toddlers, 2009+2008+2005 The National Parenting Centre Seal of Approval, 2008 iParenting Media Toy Award, 2008 Fat Brain Toy Award Active Play, 2006 TIA Outdoor Toy of the Year - Specialty Toy of the Year, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, 2005 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, 2005 Dr. Toy Best Vacation Products, 2005 Creative Child Seal of Excellence, 2001 International Patent Fair, Hong Kong Gold Medal
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3829      (added 6/28/2005)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $99.95
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: EZY-001
Launch Date: May 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Vehicles - Riding
Outdoor Fun



This self-propelling, three-wheeled ride-on toy cruises smoothly and silently along the ground, similar to the movement of a snake. The rider simply sits in the seat, feet-first, and propels with an easy back-and-forth leg movement, demonstrating a special combination of physics properties that fascinates most first-time observers. There are no chains, no motor and no batteries. The product comes packaged with extendable axis rods (S, M, L), so it can grow with the child. “Awe-inspiring physics” and “the strong, long-lasting steel tube frame and overall quality construction” really set this product apart, according to EzyRoller President Denis Allais. Launch date: May 2007.
— Anyone can sit back and get a workout with this sleek and sporty, three-wheeled ride-on toy that moves fluidly with back-and-forth leg motion. Its long, low-set and adjustable design differentiates it from other ride-ons, as do the properties of physics that bring it to life. Such stats have garnered the Ezyroller a TDmonthly Innovations 2007 award.
— Jeanette Lauture of Aunt Jean’s Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., told TDmonthly in summer 2008 that the Ezyroller is a hot seller in her store. “This New Zealand outdoor ride-on toy is very innovative and has longevity for kids 3 to 14 years of age,” she said. “I’ve been selling it since October of ‘07.”

Where to buy:
SOUTH
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11949      (added 3/16/2007)
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MSRP: $69.95
Age Range: 14 and up
SKU or Item #: 55205
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Die-Cast
Collectibles



This 1:50 scale model features authentic all-metal wheels, articulated steering, oscillating rear wheels and a dozer blade that raises and lowers. It measures 8.12” L x 4” H x 3.75” W.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14079      (added 7/13/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $17.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 91458QI
Launch Date: June 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Die-Cast



Manufactured by Jada Toys, this 1:24 scale die-cast collectible model car measures 8” L x 3.5” W x 2.25” H and has openable doors, hood and trunk. It is detailed and has a chromed-out engine plus stock rims. In includes four pieces per display box in assorted colors and 16 pieces per inner box. Launch date: June 25, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14077      (added 7/13/2007)
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MSRP: $94.95
Age Range: 18 and up
SKU or Item #: 78855
Launch Date: April 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Die-Cast
Vehicles - Small Toy
Collectibles



This model of the 2007 FJ Cruiser by Toyota features realistic design and intricate detail. The real square-shouldered sports utility vehicle features an all-steel body that opens with two full-sized doors, two rear-hinged clamshell doors for backseat access and a side-hinged tailgate. It also has a 245-horsepower 4.0-liter V-6 engine. Launch date: April 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13964      (added 7/6/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $29.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 0997
Launch Date: June 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Remote Controlled
Aircraft



Small in size but big in fun, this infrared-controlled helicopter is easily piloted with a hand held control unit, making it safe for operating indoors. The helicopter comes with a replacement rear rotor, nose weight for high performance flying and a quick battery charger for rapid power-up. “We have tested and experimented with many different helicopter configurations. Our helicopter by far is the easiest to fly and control,” Brian Thille, brand manager at Westminster International Co., told TDmonthly. Launch date: June 15, 2007.
— In a November 2013 survey, Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly that Westminster helicopters are a best-selling flying toy in his store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14655      (added 8/15/2007)
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MSRP: $39.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 11110
Launch Date: May 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Toys
Sporting Goods & Accessories



Stilts have been enjoyed by children and adults for centuries. Perhaps it’s the instant boost in height. Or the physical challenge of balancing and walking. Or the outrageous fun. Whatever the reason, stilts are a perennial favorite around the world. Now, Geospace has taken the basic stilt design and made it a whole lot better — easier to learn, easier to use, more ergonomically correct and more fun. Launch date: May 15, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11382      (added 2/8/2007)
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MSRP: $7.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Collectibles



This friendly-looking ladybug sprung from the imagination of author Stephen Cosgrove. Lily has a huge, welcoming smile and very stretchy, cool hair that can be strung out, tied up or twisted around. With the face of a cartoon character, Lily is sure to inspire a whole collection of Zibbies. Those who adopt Lily can look at the Zibbies website to learn more about her story and her extended Zibbies family.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14758      (added 8/20/2007)
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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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