TDmonthly Magazine!
November 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 11


My Best Sellers: Pufferbellies Toys & Books

Balls, Bugs and Blankets Bring Money to Downtown

At Pufferbellies Toys & Books for Children in downtown Staunton, Va., customers can find a distinctive blend of the “good old days” along with some fresh and innovative toys. Susan Blanton, who owns the store with her daughter, Erin, recently shared with TDmonthly Magazine what customers can’t leave without.

Designed to help young children learn balance and coordination, the inflatable Rody Horse is made of strong, latex-free vinyl. Its ride-on qualities and softness make it suitable for therapy, too.
— “The Rody is good for little guys — definitely No. 1 there,” Linda Hamm, owner of Early Work Toy Station in Petaluma, Calif., told TDmonthly in spring 2009 of the top-selling ride-on toys in her store.
— “People love them for the age range,” added Lauren Obenour, manager of Green Frog Toys in Portland, Ore., noting that Rody’s high weight limit contributes to its status as a customer favorite. It’s been a best seller for a year at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., Co-owner Susan Blanton in fall 2009.
— Of 60 retailers surveyed in March 2009, seven named the Rody Horse as a best-selling ride-on. Three of 64 retailers named Rody as a top-selling infant and toddler toy in March 2009.

Where to buy:

ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23041      (added 3/27/2009)

MSRP: $14.99
Age Range: 7 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Award Winners

The fast-moving word game consists of 144 ivory-like letter tiles in a zippered banana pouch. Players place the tiles face down on the table and randomly select 21 tiles. They turn their letters right-side up simultaneously and proceed to form as many intersecting and interconnecting words as possible, rearranging their own letters as many times as desired throughout the game. Awards: TDmonthly Top Seller 2007; 2009 TOTY Game of the YEAR, 2006 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal; 2007 iParenting; 2007 Parents' Choice Recommended; 2007 Dr. Toy Best Products. (Read Review)
— This product has been making the TDmonthly Best-sellers lists since 2007.
— As of 05/13/2011 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 456 reviews on
— Eight of 66 retailers vouched for its best-selling status in May 2008; seven of 63 did in Sept. 2008. Shani Watmough of Planet Toys in Rockland, Maine, said her store sells 60 per month.  Fifteen of 38 named it a top-selling game in Feb. 2010.
— As of April 5, 2010, Bananagrams had spent 570 days in the top-100 best-selling toys and games on
— According to owner Brett Sommer of Figpickels Toy Emporium in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,  “It was the 2009 game of the year. The brilliant packaging definitely helps this product."
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8301      (added 6/19/2006)

Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Launch Date: October 2008
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Remote Controlled
General Toys

The HEXBUG Inchworm is the first Micro Robotic Creature in the HEXBUG line to feature a full-function IR remote control. Users drive the Inchworm forward, back, left and right. A and B control bands allow users to control two Inchworms at once or multiple Inchworms on the same band. The product features a unique crawling and pirouette motion around its center pod foot. "This unique HEXBUG Micro Robotic impulse item is offered in a five-pack impulse counter display with five-color variety assortment," Joel Carter, VP of marketing for Innovation First, told TDmonthly. Launch date: October 15, 2008.
— The Inchworm has been a top seller at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., for at least a year, according to co-owner Susan Blanton in fall 2009.
— The Hexbug Inchworm is a popular item at the Toy Shop of Concord in Concord, Mass., Owner David Hesel told TDmonthly in late 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20882      (added 10/2/2008)

MSRP: $9.99
Gender: Girls
Category: Eco-Friendly

This environmentally friendly, 13-oz. drinking bottle is made from food-grade stainless steel and measures 7" H x 2.5" D. For use with water, juice or milk, the bottle is lead safe and free from BPA and phthalates. It is completely recyclable, and various designs are available.
— These water bottles have been recent best sellers at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., according to co-owner Susan Blanton in September 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 24732      (added 7/22/2009)

MSRP: $29.95
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler

These swaddling blankets are designed to stay in place without Velcro or zippers to help babies sleep longer and stay on their backs to help prevent SIDS. They are also guaranteed to stop colic. "The Miracle Blanket is the only true swaddling blanket successfully designed to help a baby sleep, Rusty Gatten, owner of Rusty Can Enterprises LLC, told TDmonthly.
This product won a Mom's Best Award in January 2011. Mom's Best Award winning product evaluators are moms, dads, grandparents, childcare givers and teachers who use these products in real life situations and then offer valuable feedback on how these products performed in everyday living for families. 
— Miracle Blankets have been recent best sellers at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., Co-owner Susan Blanton told TDmonthly in fall 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25579      (added 10/9/2009)

MSRP: $15.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Rockets
Outdoor Fun

Stomp on the launch pad and a blast of air propels the Ultra Stomp Rocket over 200' in the air. The kit contains four rockets with the OG-1 Nosecone. “We are the original creator. Stomp Rockets started the "stompin' revolution," Cynthia Peeks of D&L Co. told TDmonthly, stressing that Stomp Rockets are known for their name, quality and safety.
Awards: TDmonthly Top Seller 2008
; iParenting Media, iParenting Hot; Dr. Toy Best Children´s Vacation Toy.
— Retailers surveyed by TDmonthly have been naming Ultra Stomp Rocket as a best-seller since 2006.
— Four of 45 retailers who spoke to TDmonthly in summer 2007 said the Stomp Rocket's success makes it a choice gift, reporting unit sales figures from four to dozens a month. Nine percent of 66 retailers named the Stomp Rocket as a best-selling gift for boys in July 2008. "We sell about 75 a month," Marilyn Walker, owner of Play Fair Toys in Boulder, Colo., told TDmonthly in early 2009. Thirteen percent of 47 retailers told TDmonthly in June 2009 that Stomp Rockets are a best seller for boys. “It's probably been the dang Stomp Rocket for about 15 years now. They just fly out,” Tye Steinbach, owner of Thinker Toys in Portland, Ore., said when asked about his most popular outdoor toy. Nine of 37 retailers named Stomp Rockets as a best-selling outdoor item in spring 2010.
— Despite multiple complaints about its durability, the Ultra Stomp Rocket received an average of 4.5 stars among 217 customers for being fun for all ages and pleasantly surprising when it comes to the distance the rockets can be launched. The toy is best used in open areas. Rockets are easy to lose and break, but refills are easy and cheap to find! (12.17.2012)
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 1088

Age Range: All Ages
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Infant & Toddler
Developmental Toys

This 4"-diameter ball features not only the colorful, clutchable design of the original Oball, but is also outfitted with beads that add a rattling dimension to the product when shaken.
— These spherical rattles have been consistent best sellers for over a year at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., as reported by Co-owner Susan Blanton in September 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22697      (added 3/4/2009)

MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 3 to 7
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Wooden Toys

This set of 12 wooden, sliceable cookies offers creative play for young bakers. The realistic-looking cookies come in a durable dough tube.
— The set was listed as a best seller in spring 2009 at Green Frog Toys in Portland, Ore. “The set is good for fun, educational and creative play,” Owner Patricia Fiedler told TDmonthly.
— This cookie set has been on the top-10 best seller list at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., for at least a year, Co-owner Susan Blanton told TDmonthly in fall 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23232      (added 4/9/2009)

MSRP: $34.98
Age Range: 5 to 11
Launch Date: April 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction

This magnetic construction set features 108 powerful magnets permanently encapsulated inside 18 jewel-toned square Magformers and 12 triangle Magformers. The magnets rotate to their attraction position upon contact, so Magformers always connect regardless of their polarity. Watch in amazement as Magformers "form" into three-dimensional structures. Magformers received an Oppenheim Gold Award as well as the 2007 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. The product’s “magnetic connector concept allows the end user to create quick, magical 3-D models,” President Larry Hunt of Rainbow Products told TDmonthly. Launch date: April 2006.
— Lynda Blankenship, owner of Smart Toys & Books in Knoxville, Tenn. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that Magformers were a best-selling construction toy.
— Magformers are a best seller at Piccolo Mondo Toys in Portland, Ore., Owner Michelle Smith told TDmonthly in Dec. 2008. “We have them on a play table,” she said. Magformers have been best sellers for at least a year at Pufferbellies in Staunton, Va., Co-owner Susan Blanton said in September 2009.
— Mike DiAndrea, manager of Hardware Centre in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly during an April 2009 survey that he sells between 100 and 150 sets of Magformers per month. Magformers are also a best seller at Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., Owner John MacDougall told TDmonthly in August 2009.
— Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at Smart Toys & Books
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7571      (added 4/14/2006)

Brenda RuggieroWriter's Bio: Brenda Ruggiero is a freelance writer from western Maryland. Read more articles by this author


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