TDmonthly Magazine!
December 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 12


Regional Reports: What’s Selling … And Where

Find Out What’s Going on in Stores Near You

Only interested in what’s going on in your market? Take a peek by region to see what to stock and when to think twice:

New England Trends by Chris Lundy

Uglydolls by Pretty Ugly, Iwako Japanese erasers from BC Industries, and Ganz’s Webkinz are still strong. Schleich and Breyer lines are doing well, but air guns and other outside toys seem to be waning as the temperature cools.

In the hobby arena, remote-controlled helicopters still rule the air. One storeowner attributed this to television ads for the toys. Storeowners that have a sense of trends noticed that people want more bang for their buck. They want to make sure that the toy they buy inspires creativity and is used for a long time.

"More and more people are buying kits as opposed to ready-to-run. I think that has to do with the economy," said Craig Trachten, owner of HobbyTown USA in New Milford, Conn.

Toy stores that carry electronics said they focus on the creative kind, such as Snap Circuits by Elenco.

Mid-Atlantic Trends by Brenda Ruggiero

Most toy stores said they don’t carry hobby items. Dean Smith of JaZams in Pennington and Princeton, N.J., noted that there were fewer people working with hobby items, and they weren’t requesting these things at his store.

The flying toy that stood out was the Backyard Flyer by Kid Galaxy, mentioned by six of the 10 retailers interviewed. In addition, the majority of the retailers stated that they don’t really carry electronic items, and recommend board games to customers instead.

Southeastern Trends by Sharri Hefner

In the Southeast specialty toy market, Kid Galaxy Morphibians tops the RC arena, even though one owner thinks a newcomer called Extreme Wall Climber will take over soon. Thomas the Train has made a comeback in the train field. Due to the current economy, many owners believe customers are buying more games for the whole family rather than individual gifts for each child. Educational Insight’s Kanoodle, Mayfair’s Settlers of Catan and Bananagrams seem to be the strongest performers. Additionally, toys that can be accessorized are popular, as a child’s interest can renew with each new accessory.

Midwestern Trends by Terri Hughes-Lazzell

Most specialty toy stores are not in the hobby business. This area seems to be difficult to handle with limited space and so many high-end items. Electronics are also not popular in most specialty toy stores, where the focus is more on toys that require imagination and analytical thinking. Webkinz remain a hot commodity.

Western Trends by Claudia Newcorn

The majority of 13 toy-store owners interviewed said they don’t have a hobby section. One mentioned that cloud b toys are becoming more popular.

Aircraft and flying toys are not the most popular items, but mentions included Jet Hawks, SkyBlades, Kid Galaxy, Stomp Rockets, Pump Rockets, Aerocopters, and Guillow’s balsa wood planes. Almost no store claimed to carry electronic toys, but three shops said they stock LeapFrog products and Radica’s 20Q.

Retailers sometimes try to steer customers in an alternate direction, although several observed that customers coming in for an electronic game are often “set” on getting that type of game. Suggestions include eeBoo’s Towers, BearyTales plush bears, Uncle Milton’s remote-controlled snake and spider, and Learning Curve educational toys.

No one toy or game received more than one mention with regard to being a current best seller.

West Coast Trends by Marie Raven

In terms of hobby product, most retailers said they did not sell very much that they would consider “hobby level” RC or trains. Kid Galaxy’s RC line had good representation particularly with the Morphibian, as well as with its Backyard Fliers in the aircraft/flying category. Specialty retailers also tend to stay away from electronics, preferring more kid-driven toys.

Here are some of the toys retailers across the nation talked about last month:

MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush

This fuzzy creature comes with a code to access Webkinz World online. The bear’s special item in the virtual world is the cave bed, and it’s special food is honey bee roast.
—  Seven of 68 specialty retailers named Webkinz as a best seller in their stores in October 2008.
—  Mary Walsh-Martel, owner of Magical Child in Greenfield, Mass., cited sales of about 80 units per month.
— "Even though it's slowing down, it's still on top, with about 150 a month," Pam Byrd, manager of The Little Cottage Toy Shop in Franklin, Tenn., told TDmonthly about the best-selling Webkinz in her store in early 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21504      (added 11/26/2008)

MSRP: $18.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Aircraft

This light, Styrofoam airplane is simple enough for easy flight and durable enough for an eventual nosedive. It has the distinctive double wings of biplanes, and a bright red color detailed with checkered stripes on the wings and tail. Charging off its launcher in less than a minute, the plane is just a trigger-pull away from flight. The charger-controller requires six AA batteries.
— “[It's] Kid Galaxy by far. The Backyard Flyer,” said Kate Tanner, owner of Kidstop Toys & Books Store in Scottsdale, Ariz., when asked about best-selling flying toys in October 2008.
— “The Red Biplane is actually our best seller,” Ava Allen, owner of Be Beep a Toy Shop in Columbia, S.C., told TDmonthly.
— About 25 percent of 68 retailers named the Backyard Flyer from Kid Galaxy as a top-selling toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20931      (added 10/10/2008)

MSRP: $25.00
Age Range: 5 and up
Launch Date: July 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Remote Controlled

Kid Galaxy’s Morphibians unite a wide variety of play types as they are safe not only for land, but also for water. Battery-operated and remote-controlled, a Morphibian is an all-terrain vehicle, going from driveway to living room to bathtub easily. Simple controls and aggressive styling make this chunky, four-wheel-drive vehicle appealing to a wide range of ages. Morphibians are available in two frequencies to allow two cars to be driven at once without interfering with one another’s signal.
— “For RC toys, we turn to Kid Galaxy for dependable electronics and age-appropriate play value,” said Sallie Kashiwa, manager of Timbuk Toys in Denver, who noted the Morphibian as a best seller for older boys.
— Ten percent of 68 retailers named the Morphibian as a best-selling hobby toy in October 2008, citing average sales of eight to 10 per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20599      (added 9/19/2008)

MSRP: $38.00
Age Range: 2 and up
Launch Date: February 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush

The plush is also a nightlight that projects an entire night sky onto the ceiling and side walls of any room. Additionally, it brings awareness to five endangered wildlife creatures, each highlighted on the turtle’s shell. Simply press on each button to learn about a different creature, such as the California sea otter and the blue whale. A little storybook is included to provide facts about each endangered creature. Launch date: February 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18346      (added 4/11/2008)

MSRP: $6.00
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Key Chains

This 4" mini version of Plunko, who's a businessman and owner of a car wash and tire store, is ideal for toting around on a purse or backpack.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21166      (added 10/30/2008)

MSRP: $1.00
Age Range: 5 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Novelties
School Supplies

These hamster-themed erasers are available in six assorted colors. They can be taken apart and put back together like a puzzle.
—  As of 05/13/2011 this product had 5 out of 5 stars from 10 reviews on Cons: Not suitable for younger children because the small pieces constitute a choking hazard.
—  Belmont Toys in Belmont, Mass., sells from 800 to 1,000 Iwako erasers monthly, Manager Gage Brownell told TDmonthly in October 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19975      (added 8/1/2008)

MSRP: $15.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Rockets
Outdoor Fun

As a creative, educational action toy, it’s loads of fun — kids jump on the air bladder to launch a 9" all-foam rocket into the air. The Junior Stomp Rocket is used by science teachers to help children learn about trajectory, force and motion. It is also valued by psychologists, physical therapists, special-ed teachers and parents of children with special needs. “Stomp Rockets are recognized for their positive contribution to the lives of millions of children and adults around the world,” Frank Reed, of D & L Company, told TDmonthly. Awards: Top Toy of the Year 2005, Creative Child Magazine; Excellent Product 2005, iParenting Media.
— “Our top selling flying toy is The Stomp Rocket Jr.,” confirmed Sallie Kashiwa, manager of Timbuk Toys in Denver, in October 2008. “We go through about four cases (40) a month.”
— Six of 68 retailers said in fall 2008 that the Stomp Rocket is their best-selling flying toy. Holly Anvers, manager of Ages & Stages Toy Box in Golden, Colo., cited sales of about 40 units per month in late fall 2009.
— Eighteen percent of 38 specialty retailers named Stomp Rockets an overall best-selling toy in July 2010. Scott Loveless, owner of Toys That Teach in Bothell, Wash., told TDmonthly in summer 2010 that his store sells “somewhere along the lines of 40 to 60” Stomp Rockets each month. “Stomp Rockets … are always a summer favorite.”
— In autumn 2010, Marc Holcomb, owner of Toys & Co. In Greensboro, S.C., said he sold approximately 50 per month per store. “It's our #1 gift item,'' he told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1089

MSRP: $60.00
Age Range: 7 to 14
Launch Date: September 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
School Supplies

The unit functions as a database of virtual flash cards, displayed on a 2-1/2 screen. One GB of information can be stored on the unit’s built-in flash memory drive. The system also features music-playback, language translation and software download capability. Launch date: Fall 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17781      (added 2/27/2008)

MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Electronic Games

This game is a friendlier version of the classic 20 questions game, created with younger children in mind. The game itself features simplified questions and answers and is built to better fit in small hands. To play, kids simply think of an object and then answer a series of 20 questions about the object. 20Q Junior is programmed to engage in child-friendly banter and enthusiastic encouragement. Kids can use color-illustrated and themed picture cards to help them identify an object. 
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13829      (added 6/29/2007)

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 Watch her nefarious villains in the web series Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at Phew! And then ...  Read more articles by this author


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