TDmonthly Magazine!
June 2011 | Vol. X - No. 6


Top-10 Most-Wanted Activity Kits and Playsets

Calico Critters Crushed the Competition

With additional reporting by Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero

In a survey of twelve retailers in late Spring 2011, TDmonthly found that Calico Critters from International Playthings LLC was the best-selling playset line for a third of respondents. Arts & Crafts kits also proved to be popular, with 25 percent of retailers saying that craft kits from The Orb Factory were most popular, along with classic activities like a potholder weaving set from Harrisville Designs. See these and other best-sellers below.

No manufacturer paid to be included in this article. All products listed were designated by editorial staff without regard to the company's relationship with Magazine.

MSRP: $23.99
Gender: Girls
Category: Play Sets
Animal Figures
Pretend Play

This set allows girls to take their critter babies for a fun tea cup ride again and again. The base rotates and each individual cup spins when the handle is turned. The tea pot also spins and lifts its lid. Puppy babies Chubby and Spottie are included.
— In late Spring 2011, 4 out of 12 retailers said toys from Calico Critters were their best-selling play sets. Barb Stein, owner of Toys on the Square in Hummelstown, Pa., said she sells between 30-40 Calico Critter products each month.
— “Calico Critters is one of our best sellers as a brand,” Kristen Dolle, owner of Playthings Toy Shoppe in Louisville, Ky., told TDmonthly in early summer 2010.
— In a June 2010 survey, five percent of 40 retailers named Calico Critters as a best-selling toy for girls.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 29828      (added 7/29/2010)

MSRP: $24.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Play Sets
Animal Figures

This set for critter families includes more than 40 furniture pieces and accessories, including a light-up fire place complete with tools and fire logs, a comfortable couch, arm chairs, a coffee maker, a telephone, a clock, newspapers and more. Cons: Lots of little pieces that are hard to assemble.
— In late Spring 2011, 4 out of 12 retailers said toys from Calico Critters were their best-selling play sets.
— Calico Critters made the top-10 best-seller list at Totally Thomas Toy Depot in San Diego in July 2010. “We sell a ton of critters and accessories of all sorts, but the Deluxe Living Room Set seems to be on everybody’s list,” President Cynthia Wyatt told TDmonthly. “These precious critters are absolutely irresistible as are the homes and accessories.”
AWARDS: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller (entire Calico Critters line)
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 29825      (added 7/28/2010)

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MSRP: $17.00
Age Range: 5 to 11
Target Age Range: 6 to 8
Specialty: Yes (as of 2011)
Made in: China
SKU or Item #: 64273
Launch Date: March 2011
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts

Sticky Mosaics Owl Pals comes with 4 sparkling projects, 4 plastic wall hangers and over 2500 sparkling tiles and jewel pieces. Follow a simple numbered legend and stick on the colorful tiles and jewels to create a stunning masterpiece every time. This no mess, no fuss kit features little owls peeking out of trees, snuggling under the moonlight and reading a book. "Sticky Mosaics are not just crafts; they are works of art!  Just because a craft is completed doesn't mean the fun is done; display these mosaic masterpieces for years to come with the special wall hangers included in each kit," Stephanie Carver, from The Orb Factory, told TDmonthly.
Retailers surveyed by TDmonthly have been naming The Orb Factory's Sticky Mosaics kits as a best-selling line since 2009.
In late Spring 2011, 25% of retailers surveyed said Sticky Mosaics were their best-selling line of activity kits.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31854      (added 3/4/2011)

MSRP: $21.95
Age Range: 7 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction
General Toys

LEGO Crazy Action Contraptions is a brand-new book of brand-new, high-performance projects. From the supercharged Speedster to the Squeezeclaw Grabber to the Wall Rocket Racer — all these contraptions spin, stretch, speed, or otherwise spring into action. And all of them are totally buildable thanks to super-clear instructions and step-by-step diagrams. Every single one of the 16 projects can be constructed using just the custom selection of LEGO® bricks that come with the book.
— As of 05/12/2011 this product had 4.7 out of 5 stars from 15 reviews on Cons: Some contraptions run slowly; the included rubber bands wear out with time.
— "Klutz Lego contraptions is by far our biggest seller," Mary Porter Green, owner of The Curiosity Zone in Asburn, Va., told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011.
— Want this? As of 05/11/2011 this product was available at The Curiosity Zone.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32269      (added 5/11/2011)

MSRP: $39.99
SKU or Item #: 4858
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Pretend Play

Playmobil figures in their swimming gear can have fun and enjoy a refreshing swim in the Pool with Water Slide. The pool can be filled with water and comes with a functioning shower. The set includes six figures and many other accessories. Dimensions: 22.4 x 14.2 x 7.7 inches (L x W x H). Recommended for ages four to ten. Suggested Retail Price: $39.99. Warning. Choking Hazard. Contains a small ball and small parts. Not for children under 3 years.
— Brooke Andrews, owner of Miller's Toys in Mamaroneck, N.Y. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that it doesn't matter which Playmobil items she is carrying- they are consistently her bestselling playset.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31533      (added 1/21/2011)

MSRP: $11.99
Age Range: 7 to 11
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts
Creative Activities
Outdoor Fun

This pine bird feeder kit includes four paint pots, 5" brush and a chain for hanging. Birdseed not included. When kids have completed their creation, they can fill it with seed and set it outside for bird-watching fun.
— Michelle Bears, owner of The Toy Store in Highlands, N.C., told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that she sells 30 of these bird feeders each month.
— As of 05/20/2011 this product had 2 out of 5 stars from 1 review on Pros: Fun to paint. Cons: The opening at the bottom of the feeder is too large, so too much seed spills out of the tray.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32270      (added 5/11/2011)

MSRP: $12.95
Age Range: 6 and up
SKU or Item #: F550
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts

Kids can make colorful potholders for home, as gifts or to sell as a fund-raiser for school, church or a club. Potholder looms are one of those wonderful old-fashioned inventions still popular and useful today. The project is fun and easy to do for all ages. Cons: Colors are not vibrant; loops fray easily which makes finishing the edges especially difficult.
— Owner Bob Breneman listed traditional craft kits in sixth place for best-sellers at G. Willikers in Portsmouth, N.H. In particular, Harrisville Designs’ traditional Pot Holder Loom kits sell well.
— In late Spring 2011, Michelle Bears, owner of The Toy Store in Highlands, N.C., told TDmonthly that these looms were a best-selling activity kit at her store.
— Greg Larson, owner of Larson's Toys and Games in Columbus, Ohio, told TDmonthly in a January 2015 survey that the classic Pot Holder Loom was one of their best-selling arts & crafts items.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11903      (added 3/13/2007)

Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $40.00
Age Range: 2 and up
SKU or Item #: G02232
Launch Date: March 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Preschool
Infant & Toddler
General Toys

Suitable for children 18 months and up, this rocket lights up and emits realistic rocket sounds with the push of a button. It has a handle for take-along play and comes with an alien, a moon crate, a dune buggy, a space puppy dog and two astronauts. The rocket features a cargo hold, a Murphy bed and toilet, a cockpit and an on/off switch and volume control. "The Lift-Off Rocket by iPlay is designed to encourage young imaginations and introduce them to new worlds. This high-quality playset has a space theme with an at-home-feel," Sue Tice, public relations director and product manager at International Playthings Inc., told TDmonthly. Awards: TDmonthly Top Seller 2007. Launch date: March 2007.
— As of 5/12/2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars on from 98 reviews. Cons: Doors fall off too easily; the dog and alien figurines are too large to fit in the rover.
— Lynda Blankenship, owner of Smart Toys & Books in Knoxville, Tenn., told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that Lift Off Rockets were among her best-selling activity kits and playsets.
— “One of my favorite toys this season, for 18 months and up, is the iPlay Lift-Off Rocket," said Deb Necker, owner of Necker’s in Simsbury, Conn., when discussing hot-selling infant toys in her store.
— The Lift-Off Rocket is popular at LB Toys in Media, Pa., according to Owner Jamie Burdette. “It’s a great 1- to 2-year-old toy for a boy,” he said in April 2008. “Rocket ship toys for this age are hard to find.”
— Want this? As of 05/11/2011 this product was available at Smart Toys & Books

ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13798      (added 6/28/2007)

MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: 224
Launch Date: January 2010
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Science & Nature

Ideal for the budding scientist, this slime lab allows kids to make some of the strangest, most anomalous slime they have ever encountered - weird slime that changes color with body heat, magnetic slime that slithers towards magnets, and even slime that glows eerily in the dark. Kids can learn the science behind these amazing hydrophilic polymers while mixing up gobs and gobs of slime.
— As of 05/12/2012 this product had 4.3 out of 5 stars from 15 reviews on Cons: Too messy; supplies run out too quickly; does not come with containers for the slime.
— John Blair, owner of Science Safari in Cary, N.C., told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that he sells 3-4 kits from Scientific Explorer each month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28712      (added 5/28/2010)

MSRP: $27.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Kits
Fashion & Accessories

This kit contains materials for making up to 22 friendship bracelets. It includes four looms for two styles and eight patterns, along with 22 colors of floss, beads, a beading needle and a convenient storage case.
— As of 05/12/2012 this product has 3.9 out of 5 stars from 54 reviews on Cons: Instructions are not helpful enough; not enough designs included.
— Kim Myers, co-owner of Hobbytown USA in Murfreesboro, Tenn., told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that ALEX arts and crafts were best-sellers in their category, especially among older girls.
― As of 9.21.2010, this product had 4 out of 5 stars from 24 reviews on and was No. 33 on the top 100 best-selling toys and games. 
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30599      (added 9/21/2010)

Justina HuddlestonWriter's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author


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