TDmonthly Magazine!
October 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 10


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Good Company/Bad Company: Who Plays Nice With Toys

Toy Stores Speak Up About Who's Fair and Who's Not


“Ravensburger is a great company to deal with.” Dan Willis, Communique Toys
With additional reporting by regional correspondent Dennis Furlan

Via phone and email, 129 specialty toy- and gift-store owners named for TDmonthly Magazine their favorite and least favorite toy companies. If you're interested in supporting quality toys and games, read their remarks to find out which companies operate ethically and which may have policies that leave something to be desired.


Here’s who retailers said were fair: (Percentages are rounded up or down to the nearest integer. Owing to the nature of the survey, some retailers requested anonymity):

ToySmith
Fair: 8 percent
“They're fast,” lauded Shirley Reilly, owner of Let's Play in Hillsboro, Ore. “They always have a pretty good deal to get low freight. They take a percentage off the price. We don't have to order very much to get it.”
Unfair: 0 percent

Schylling
Fair: 6 percent
“Schylling is fantastic. [The company] treats me like a professional,” said another retailer.
Unfair: 0 percent

Ravensburger
Fair: 5 percent
“Ravensburger is a great company to deal with. They have a ramp-up buy at the beginning of the year. They have the ability to place re-orders for free freight at a lesser volume,” raved Dan Willis, owner of Communique Toys in Seattle.
Unfair: 0 percent

Folkmanis
Fair: 4 percent
“I do really like Folkmanis. They are a good company that really understands what it takes to keep a strong specialty line working over the long haul. They never have sales, they never have freight deals, but they've almost never screwed an order up. One of the hallmarks of the 'big boys' is we have to watch our invoices like hawks for errors,” offered a practical Frances Finfrock, owner of Aunt Franny's Toys in Richland, Wash.
Unfair: 0 percent

Gund
Fair: 4 percent
“Best by far: Gund,” stated another retailer.
Unfair: 0 percent

HABA USA
Fair: 4 percent
“The quality is very good, the prices are moderate, and the toys have learning value,” Marilyn Sipila, owner of Toys Etc. in Poulsbo, Wash., said of the company.
Unfair: 0 percent

Manhattan Toy
Fair: 4 percent
“Manhattan Toy seems to be very easy to get along with. They tried a few times to do the ‘you have to buy this to get this’ push, but they realized that since they were targeting the small toy retailer, that it just wasn't worth the hassle and let us order what we want and not what they think we need,” shared an anonymous retailer. “Thank you, Manhattan Toy!”
Unfair: 0 percent

A few of the toys made by these favored companies can be seen below. To see more products from these and other companies toy-store owners like working with, click here.

To find out which companies haven’t been making the grade with some retailers, see Who Makes Specialty Storeowners Weep?

And to see who’s simultaneously “good” and “bad,” depending on the retailer, see Those Love/Hate Relationships.




Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $4.99
Age Range: 5 and up
SKU or Item #: 3449
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Science & Nature
Novelties
General Toys



Kids simply add baking soda to this mini volcano and place it inside a glass filled with water. They will be amazed by the bubbly reaction, which is similar to an underwater volcanic eruption.
— When asked about best selling novelty toys in a September 2011 survey, Mary Porter Green, owner of The Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va., told TDmonthly that Pocket Volcanoes from Toysmith were one of her top-two novelty items.
— Two of 32 specialty retailers mentioned Toysmith in summer 2007 when discussing their best-selling science and nature toys.
— This product is “safe, fun [and] educational,” Debra Ashley of Toysmith told TDmonthly. It “entertains while educating.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14859      (added 8/23/2007)
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MSRP: $1.00
Age Range: 7 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Fashion & Accessories



These cool rings are completely flexible and come in a rainbow of colors and designs. Made of tiny, colorful beads, they are soft and fit comfortably on the fingers. Sturdy design allows for constant wear, even in water. Several styles are available.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15369      (added 9/25/2007)
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MSRP: $5.99
Age Range: 3 and up
SKU or Item #: CTK
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Toys



The end of this classic kaleidoscope rotates to create color explosions.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15091      (added 9/7/2007)
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MSRP: $4.99
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Action Figures
Collectibles



Get set to sail on the high seas with this boxed set of pirate fun! This complete set of fun comes with three pirate figurines, a boat and two chests of booty. Sturdy plastic figurines are brightly painted so that young collectors can act out their favorite pirate scenes. Sturdy construction means hours of fun, and these figures can be used with other Schylling pirates and accessories. Young collectors can set up the pirates in dioramas or still poses, or use them as play figures. Schylling offers “lots of nice incentives for retailers, such as with shipping,” Donna Sedgwick of Toy Mill in Tiverton, R.I., told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14756      (added 8/20/2007)
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MSRP: $11.95
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Board Games



In this game, players randomly place the 48 picture cards face down around the game board. As each player chooses a picture card, which shows an object that also appears on the board, the others try to guess what it is by asking “yes” or “no” questions. The one who guesses correctly gets to keep the card, and the player with the most picture cards at the end of the game wins.
— This game is a best seller for Diane Robinson, owner of Silly Goose in Essex, Mass. Ravensburger games tend to be popular at her store, she said.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15570      (added 10/2/2007)
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MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games



Funny Bunny combines fun, learning and educational play all into one game. Players lay the cards facing down, and then select cards in order from youngest to oldest. The player bunnies make their way up the hill, avoiding holes along the way, in order to capture the carrot waiting at the top. Esteem and social interaction are also learned as players cooperate to execute the game rules. While one player wins, no one really loses.
— "Funny Bunny by Ravensburger" was cited as a best-selling game by Danny Givens, owner of Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Va.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11454      (added 2/19/2007)
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MSRP: $41.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Puppets
Plush



Put side-by-side with a real, live cat, it would be hard to tell the difference from this puppet. True to its breed, this cat looks and feels like the living feline — floppy, relaxed and almost boneless. It is made of long, spiky plush in browns and tans with white paws and face, and has a long, fluffy tail.
— This relaxed feline garnered a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award for its realistic fur and overall appearance, as well as its friendly persona. It’s a loveable creature that kids can carry around while “speaking” to others by manipulating its mouth.
—  As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.7 out of 5 stars from 13 reviews on Amazon.com. Cons: One user said that the eyes looked "demented and pretty scary" and that "Its little mouth is red and open, as though ready to take little nips out of me while I sleep."

Where to Buy: Really Great Toys
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14608      (added 8/13/2007)
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MSRP: $29.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush



Bouncing babes will fall in love with the 24" Tender Beginnings Comfy Cozy Giraffe. Made with GUND's softest, most huggable plush, this furry friend has a blanket body, soft pillow head and tiny giraffe tail. Comfy Cozy Giraffe comes in creamy yellow plush and is available with pink or blue accents and features a full satin bottom. The detail in features makes this Giraffe stand out as part of Gund's classic line of plush toy animals.
— Gund Comfy Cozies are among the most popular baby items for customers of Learning Tree Toys in Oklahoma City, Okla.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15073      (added 9/6/2007)
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MSRP: $27.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls



Girls will be tickled pink at the newest collection from GUNDKids®, the Twirly Girly™ collection is filled with whimsical, ballerina-inspired keepsakes perfect for tiny dancers. Twirly Girly Doll is a soft, snuggly friend sure to win over little hearts. Available in three styles, the golden-haired doll is outfitted in a pink body suit, tutu and ballet slippers. The 25" Twirly Girly Large Doll has a pocket-skirted tutu embroidered with the words "dream," "dance," and "twirl."
— "Gund dancing dolls called Twirly Girls by Gunn," said Betsy Justings, owner of Betsy's On Ross in Auburn, Ala., when asked by TDmonthly about top-selling gift items for girls in her store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14505      (added 8/7/2007)
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Age Range: 2 and up
SKU or Item #: 1973
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler
General Games
Preschool



This lacing toy and dice game includes six caterpillar pieces, one head, one cord and one wooden threader. It is designed to teach colors and comes in a compact, round container for convenient storage and travel.
— Products by HABA account for the third best-selling line at Silly Goose in Essex, Mass., store owner Diane Robinson told TDmonthly.
— "Pretty much anything from Germany," sells well right now, said Amy Barrett, owner pf Lasso the Moon Wonderful Toys in Last Chance Gulch  in Helena, Mont. HABA is a customer favorite. "Because of all the Mattel recalls, people are really concerned about children's toys in particular."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15568      (added 10/2/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $2000.00
Age Range: 2 and up
SKU or Item #: H0514
Launch Date: September 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Furniture & Decor



Made in Germany, this bed designed to fit the USA twin mattress. Cozy cabin offers an option to have a twin bed under the canopy or use it alone and the cabin is a play area.. Or for the younger child, simply put a mattress on the floor inside the cabin! What a great way to transition from crib to “big bed”. The wooden dowels hold the decorative blue striped fabric rooftop; or sew your own fabric. Ships knocked down, easy to assemble instructions included. Launch date: September 1, 2007
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15161      (added 9/14/2007)
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MSRP: $25.00
Age Range: 1 to 3
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls
Developmental Toys
Plush



Suitable for ages 18 months and up, this 15” soft doll helps kids learn to dress with the following colorful components: a button, a snap, a hook-and-loop closure, a zipper and a shoe tie. He’s accompanied by a parrot.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15516      (added 9/28/2007)
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