Holiday Price Wars: Toys for $10 and Under
Specialty Toy Shops Have Affordable Treasures Ready for Battle
Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Toys “R” Us and other mass merchandisers have embarked on their usual seasonal price cuts on toys and other items for holiday sales. Just take a glance at the daily news, a source of continuous hype about toys for $10 or less and discounts even deeper than last year’s specials.
But whose to say that the specialty market can’t compete with such prices? Jeff Oslick of The Enchanted Toy Store in Fullerton, Calif., told TDmonthly Magazine his store carries more than 500 toys, games and puzzles under the $10 price tag. Independent toy stores around the country may not be selling MGA’s Moxie Girlz or Cepia’s suddenly popular Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters. But they do have fun and creative price-conscious toys, including bugs, UFOs, cupcakes, sleek wooden cars and action figures galore.
If you’re watching your wallet this season but want to stick with that neighborhood store you’ve come to trust for quality and service, check out some of these great gift items suggested by toy-store owners, especially if you’re looking to fill some stockings!
Also check out TDmonthly’s own Holiday Gift Guide!
MSRP: $6.99Age Range: 3 and upLaunch Date: January 2009Gender: Boys And Girls
This zebra is part of Schleich’s extensive collection of wild animal figurines. Launch date: January 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25817 (added 10/29/2009)
Wholesale Price: (Log in to view) MSRP: $4.50Age Range: 5 and upSKU or Item #: 763332015356Gender: Boys And Girls
This unique skipping toy is swung around the ankle and hopped over by the opposite foot, creating an ongoing motion. It provides active play, improves agility and coordination, features colorful balls that jingle and is heavy enough to give a good spin. It comes in red, green, raspberry, purple, yellow and blue. “Our skipper is found to be the most durable of all similar products at its very competitive price,” CFO Michelle Kalberer of Just Jump It told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11533 (added 2/21/2007)
The 24 large, interlocking pieces of this wooden jigsaw puzzle fit together to reveal a brightly colored African landscape populated with friendly cartoon animals. Underneath the setting sun, children will recognize the faces of a giraffe, lion, elephant, hippo, zebra and pink flamingo. The puzzle builds and stores in the tray, allowing children to recreate the image over and over again.
― “Melissa & Doug overall does really well,” said Fred Meyer, owner of Meyer's Toy World
in Battle Creek, Mich., when asked about his top-selling puzzle in June 2009.
― Seventeen of 47 retailers told TDmonthly
in early summer 2009 that Melissa & Doug is their top-selling puzzle line, reporting sales between 15 and 30 pieces per month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 24702 (added 7/21/2009)
MSRP: $5.99Age Range: 3 and upSKU or Item #: 38959Launch Date: April 2009Gender: Boys And Girls
This hand-painted figure has an intricate suit of armor and wields a broad sword and battle ax. Launch date: April 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23202 (added 4/9/2009)
Scramble Squares® are nine-piece puzzles that feature original art and only one solution. They're great for everyone from age 4 to 104. Interesting fact: Modern football had its start in the mid 1800s, when Webb Ellis of England’s Rugby School scored a goal in a game of English soccer football by picking up the ball and running it over the goal line in a desperate attempt to win the game before the school’s five o’clock curfew bell. From that day forward, English football divided into two distinct games: the “handling game,” rugby, where the ball could be advanced by carrying it, and the “dribbling game,” soccer, where the ball must be advanced by kicking it.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25325 (added 9/10/2009)
This see-through tube features a collection of small river animals, all of which are phthalate free and sized from 1.5” to 3” H. It includes a beaver, bald eagle, snapping turtle, salamander, frog, snake, river otter, alligator, mallard and cottonmouth snake.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25818 (added 10/29/2009)
Designed with a realistic appearance, this soft, plush panda measures 8.5” H.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25819 (added 10/29/2009)
Give your kids a reason to save! Enjoy one of life's crafting pleasures and create a "U-Paint-It!" Jumbo Piggy Bank for all of your kids coins. This jumbo piggy pottery bank is ready to decorate and display! Kit comes with everything you need to paint one bank.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25422 (added 9/25/2009)
This pair of elephants is outfitted in baby clothing. Sweet Ellie loves to be around her family, and Evan has tons of energy and loves to play outside.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25820 (added 10/29/2009)
Available in a variety of shimmering shades, this 65mm glitter ball is fun to bounce and features colorful effects on the interior.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25821 (added 10/29/2009)
This bright set features 30 multi-colored balloons plus a pump.
— Randy Austin reported that Rocket Balloons were popular sellers during the summer of 2008 at her store, The Gifted Child, in Lenox, Mass.
— “Rocket Balloons were fabulous [last year] and we have people waiting for them now,” said Eric Masoncup, owner of Geppettos Toy Box
in Oak Park, Ill., of his top-selling outdoor item during a March 2010 survey of best sellers.
— Two of 37 retailers named Rocket Balloons are a best-selling outdoor toy in spring 2010.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20435 (added 9/9/2008)
With a future-retro design, and connectable, interchangeable parts, this sleek toy vehicle can fit in the palm of a hand. Automoblox Minis received a TDmonthly Top Toy Award 2007
— Automoblox has been a best-selling line, according to retailers surveyed by TDmonthly
, since 2007.
— "That little three-piece Automoblox set sold extremely well. I've sold about 40 of them in two months," Janet Gregory, owner of Over the Rainbow in Anchorage, Alaska, told TDmonthly
leading up to Christmas 2009. Two of 44 specialty retailers named Automoblox as an overall best seller in late 2009.
— In a February 2012 survey about wooden toys, two out of 14 retailers said that Automoblox were their bestseller in the category. Pam Byrd, manager and buyer at The Little Cottage Toy Shop
in Franklin, Tenn., told TDmonthly
that "Automoblox is still strong."
Where to Buy: Blue Turtle Toys; Camelot Kids; The Satin Button
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25822 (added 10/29/2009)
MSRP: $5.99Age Range: 3 and upSpecialty: Yes (as of 2012)Gender: Boys And Girls
The sheer wings of this finger puppet, silk screened with the realistic orange and black markings of the Monarch Butterfly, flutter gracefully up and down with the motion of your hand. Its stretchy nylon fabric body fits fingers of many sizes.
— In a May 2012 survey, three out of 11 retailers said that Folkmanis Butterfly finger puppets were their best selling plus or puppet item. Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barstons's Childs Play
in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly
that they sell approximately 23 each month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22901 (added 3/20/2009)
Wholesale Price: (Log in to view) MSRP: $4.99Age Range: 5 and upSKU or Item #: MSTLaunch Date: June 2004Gender: Boys And Girls
An LED light rotates inside to create many patterns. The 7”-tall novelty features an on/off button, and three AAA batteries are included. “Meteor Storms are a visual delight. By holding the button you can create several different patterns,” Sales & Marketing Coordinator Jaime Edry of Schylling told TDmonthly. And they’re “always great for summer night and outdoor festivals,” she added. Launch date: June 2004.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13148 (added 5/25/2007)
These mini vinyl uglies come as a Blind Box assortment in fancy schmancy display box!es. Kids can join the thrill of the chase to collect all 13 figures. Launch date: March 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22123 (added 1/22/2009)
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)
Available in blue, pink and yellow, baby paper is a soft fabric that makes a paper sound when babies touch it. Baby Paper is machine washable.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25823 (added 10/29/2009)
MSRP: $7.00Age Range: 1 and upSKU or Item #: HZTSLaunch Date: July 2008Gender: Boys And Girls
Kids can turn the knob of this spinning toy and watch the Spinny go round and round. The simple design is available in a variety of colors and can provide hours of fun. Aside from toddler use, it also has application for adults in physical therapy rehab (grasp handle and turning action), stroke victims and alzheimer patients. Launch date: July 2008. Display Ideas: It should be featured with other Holgate toys. The clear acrylic toy box provides for maximum visibility for consumers and keeps toys well protected.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20287 (added 8/27/2008)
This addictive, fast-paced dice game is now available in a blue tin box. This edition includes three specially marked LCR® cubes. The game itself retains its original simplicity where the roll of the dice determines which players to the left, right or center get the chips; the winner being the player with the chips at the end. Simple, fun and even educational for growing minds. L-C-R also comes with 24 playing chips and game instructions. The game is designed for three or more players.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18409 (added 4/15/2008)
The micro-robotic HEXBUG is a tiny, obedient insect that features bump-sensor feelers that help it avoid objects in its path. It responds to clapping or other loud noise by backing up or changing direction. The HEXBUG is small enough to fit in the hand and comes in five different body types and colors including pink, blue, green, yellow and orange. Awards: TDmonthly Innovations 2008.
— According to more than 60 reviews on Amazon.com and Radioshack.com, this fun, durable toy has been rated 4 out of 5 stars due to its entertaining and educational features. It is portable for any occasion and appropriate for any age. Consumers should be careful though, as they have been known to be flimsy and easily breakable, like real bugs! (09.12.08)
— "Everyone wants one, from adults to kids," Charles Bonner, owner of Heights Toy Center in Little Rock, Ark., told TDmonthly of this best seller in April 2009. "I sell 200 to 250 a month." Three of 44 retailers tagged Hexbugs as an overall best seller in late fall 2009.
— During a September 2010 survey, two of 44 retailers listed Hexbugs as their top-seller for tweens.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17476 (added 2/12/2008)
Available in various “flavors” of ice cream, this 7” cone has a button that, when pressed, pops out the soft, spongy ice cream ball that’s connected to the cone by a string.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25824 (added 10/29/2009)
The PhD flying disk is made with Fair Trade labor and is 100% cotton. An alternative to plastic and vinyl flying disks, it can be thrown indoors or out. "PhD" stands for "perfectly harmless device" because it "prevents home destruction." In other words, it won't knock over vases or lamps. It can even be stuffed in your pocket for easy portability.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19850 (added 7/18/2008)
Ideal for both indoor and outdoor play, ZARTZ feature a safe, SOFTEK foam suction cup that sticks to windows, metal, walls, asphalt or nearly anything with a smooth surface. The self-releasing suction cup allows the ZARTZ to fall just a few seconds after adhering to a ceiling or other hard-to-reach place. ZARTZ are available in 7" and 9" forms, and come packaged in a durable carry case. There's also a Fun Pack that includes two hand-target catchers and a 9" ZART, which can be launched as far as 100'. Launch date: 2009.
— “The Zing Air Zartz are really good right now,” Emily Bieritz, manager of My Favorite Toy Store
in Downers Grove, Ill., told TDmonthly
in June 2009 when asked about her best-selling gift for boys.
— “Zartz are definitely No. 1,” said Steve Banducci, owner of Games Unlimited
in Danville, Calif., when TDmonthly
asked about his best-selling sports and outdoor items in March 2010. Banducci reported sales of at least one Zartz per day.
— Four of 37 retailers surveyed in spring 2010 listed Zing as their top-selling brand of outdoor products.
Past videos: WTHRA 2009
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 22640 (added 2/27/2009)
MSRP: $8.00Age Range: 3 and upSKU or Item #: JDD-1075Launch Date: January 2009Gender: Girls
Each handcrafted box is shaped like a cupcake and embellished with sequins and pink jewels. "The Jewel Cupcake Boxes are unique in style and design and have a broad age appeal from 3 years old to mature women," Veesha Knight, sales and marketing manager for Creative Education of Canada, told TDmonthly. Launch date: 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23270 (added 4/15/2009)
The rocket is interchangeable with other D&L Company squeeze rockets. Simply squeeze the handle and six rockets will launch consecutively.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16790 (added 12/28/2007)
This set comes with 150 bright, interlocking pieces that are flexible and can form a farmhouse, a rooster and a 3-D baby chicken, as well as various other imaginative designs.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25825 (added 10/29/2009)
The Roomarang is a soft indoor/outdoor boomerang that features a patented 4-wing design. It measures 26cm x 26cm. Available in various colors.
— Mary Porter Green, owner of Curiosity Zone
in Ashburn, Va., told TDmonthly
in a Fall 2012 survey that they sell dozens of roomarangs each month, making them a best selling aircraft/flying toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17235 (added 1/29/2008)
In this word game activity book, kids fill in the blanks about their own family members on topics such as “Family Ghost Stories” and “Famous Ancestors.”
— Barbara Paeth Haas, owner of The Durango Kid
in Durango, Colo., said in spring 2009 that Mad Libs sell so well she can’t keep them in stock.
— “A lot of people choose things like Mad Libs for travel specifically because they're very compact and they're entertaining for a while, and they just seem to be one of those perennially popular items,” Gini Wingard-Phillips, owner of Math ‘n’ Stuff
in Seattle, told TDmonthly
in March 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 23240 (added 4/9/2009)
Listed below are websites of specialty toy stores where you can purchase some of the items above, and other great gifts this holiday season!
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Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author
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