TDmonthly Magazine!
October 2011 | Vol. X - No. 10


October Holiday Preview - Specialty Retailers' 15 Anticipated Hits

Construction, Ride-Ons, and Games Lead the Pack

Big box stores around the country are releasing their hot toy lists for the 2011 holiday season, but if you sell specialty, lists featuring high-ticket mass-market items aren't helpful for your store. That's why we decided to ask other specialty store owners about the items they anticipate will be bestsellers for the upcoming holiday season.

June Hargrove, co-owner of Black Forest Books & Toys in Charlotte, N.C., told TDmonthly that in the months leading up to the holidays, Christmas-themed books are one of her best sellers. Other Christmas-themed items that sell well are toys from CCA and B LLC’s Elf on the Shelf line. Andrea Scartozzi, from Hardware Toys in Paoli, Pa., said that "Elf on the Shelf usually sells well. We got 48 last year, and we sold them all. It's a precursor to Christmas."

Nine of 13 retailers surveyed mentioned a construction toy as their anticipated best seller. The Laser Pegs line from LASER PEGS VENTURES LLC, which had items on three of our Top-10 Most-Wanted lists in 2011, was mentioned by two of the thirteen retailers we spoke to. "I think the Laser Pegs line will continue to do well here," Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Brynn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly. Lisa LeStrange, owner of Lucky Duck Toys in Wayne, Pa., agreed. "Laser Pegs are new and cool," she said. LeStrange also has a good feeling about Automoblocks from MANHATTAN TOY, Magnatiles from VALTECH CO., and Snap Circuits from ELENCO, which are currently selling well at her store.

Active and ride-on toys that can be demoed in-store are also being hailed as future hits. Nathan McKelvey, manager of Toy Castle, LLC in Jonesboro, Ar., said that he expects to sell between 250-300 EzyRollers by EZYROLLER LLC this year. "Traditionally, it's the holiday season's best seller in terms of dollars. We demo it heavily, and kids ride it inside the mall," he told TDmonthly. Elmer Carranza, assistant manager at Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Falls Church, Va., agreed. "They're really fun to ride on," he said, estimating that they'll sell 2-3 dozen this holiday season.

Another active toy that is expected to be a hit is Ready, Set, Stilts by ALEX-PANLINE USA. “They have sold well through the summer, and every kid has put it on their 'wish list' in the store," Mary Hornem, owner of J. Christopher Toys & Gifts in Jonesboro, Ar., told TDmonthly.

Games make great gifts, and BLUE ORANGE's unstoppable hit Spot It is expected to be a best seller this season. Spot It has been on eight of TDmonthly’s Top-10 Most-Wanted lists since its release in 2010 and has continued to be a best seller. "Spot It is still going super strong... It's price is perfect and it's packaging is great. You can slip it into a handbag. It's everything you want in a card game. I have people who buy it for the kids and grandkids, then come back and buy it for themselves. I'll probably sell half the year's sales (160) in December," Dean Smith, co-owner of JaZams in Pennington, N.J., told TDmonthly.

Screwball Scramble from TOMY is expected to be a holiday hit at Science Safari in Cary, N.C., according to Owner John Blair. He expects to sell 18-20 units of the game, which is similar to a manual pinball machine. Blair also anticipates that toys from mass-market brand PLAYMOBIL will be best sellers.

Another mass-market line that often does well in specialty is LEGO. “I've had a good year with LEGO. We've more than doubled our year-to-date with LEGO so far,” Marc Holcomb, owner of Toys & Co. in Greensboro, N.C. said. Mary Porter Green, owner of The Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va., also predicts that LEGO will do well this holiday season. "We are in a convenient location, and they are consistently strong sellers," she told TDmonthly.

Other items that were mentioned include Zibits by SENARIO LLC. "I've sold so many of them already. We're a heavy tourist area. We get an idea of what the trends are going to be," Ginger Milligan, co-owner of Fantasy Island Toys in Fairhope, Al., said. Meanwhile, Holcomb of Toys & Co. anticipates that Angry Birds Plush items from COMMONWEALTH TOY & NOVELTY CO, though a mass-market item, will do well at his store. He expects to sell 1,000 units in each of his three stores during the holidays. Berardoni of Pun's Toys said that in addition to Laser Pegs, he expects Fashion Headbands from CREATIVITY FOR KIDS will continue to sell well through the holidays.

Some specialty retailers, however, aren't putting all their eggs in one basket this season. "Last year, people bought their big gifts online, going to smaller stores for 'fill-in' stuff," Hargrove of Black Forest Books & Toys said. So, she will be stocking up on mid-to-low priced science and craft items. Betsy Ordemann, owner of Magic Box LTD in New Orleans, La. has a similar strategy. "Never have a number one best seller...My theory is not to have one hot toy. Let's sell them all!" she told TDmonthly.

To learn more about the toys mentioned by the specialty retailers in this article, look below.

Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $29.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Launch Date: September 2005
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Dolls

This set includes an 8" vintage-style pixie elf, a keepsake storage box and a children's picture book with a rhyming story that tells how the elf helps Santa out by watching children's behavior by day and reporting it to Santa at night. The elf is designed to be placed throughout the house during the Christmas season, creating a hide-and-seek activity for the whole family. Launch date: September 2005.
— “Elf on the Shelf is doing really well since we put those out five or six weeks ago,” remarked Janet Gregory, owner of Over the Rainbow Toys in Anchorage, Alaska, in November 2008. “We just brought them in in November. [We] sold 24 last month, and 24 already this month,” Terry Myers, owner of Kaleidoscope Toys in Round Rock, Texas, told TDmonthly.
— In a December 2011 survey about books, 2 out of 12 retailers named Elf on the Shelf their best-seller. "We sold 18 already, in just a couple weeks," Andrea Scartozzi from Hardware Toy Center in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly. William Meredith, owner of Learning Express in Cary, N.C., agreed. "Elf on a Shelf is our number one item. It has been for years!" he told TDmonthly.

Where to Buy: Smart Kids Toys; Kazoo Toys; Escapade Direct

ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17594      (added 2/18/2008)

Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
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Dropship Available?: (Log in to view)
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MSRP: $24.00
Age Range: 3 to 10
Specialty: Yes (as of 2011)
Made in: Parts in the USA and parts in CHina
SKU or Item #: 978-0-9833662-0-1
Launch Date: October 2011
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books

"The Magical Tale of Santa Dust - A Christmas Tradition" is the Christmas book of 2011. It is the magical tale of two small children who, on Christmas Eve, sit by their window eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa, only to be bypassed on his yearly journey. Save for the antics of a giggling, bungling Elf and some magical dust, their Christmas dreams come true. "There has never been a book written about the lure of magical Santa Dust. Each book will be packaged with one pouch of Santa Dust," Patricia Cardello, owner of Magic Dusts, told TDmonthly. Launch date: October 2011.
Awards: Santa Dust - 2008 National Stationery Show in New York City "Best New Product of the Year" Nominee; 2009 Seal of Excellence Award from Creative Child Magazine.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31456      (added 1/12/2011)

MSRP: $10.00
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Wooden Toys
Vehicles - Small Toy
General Toys

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)

This 48-piece set includes solid colored pieces, along with pieces with holes, curved pieces, a magnetic door and a wheeled piece. Magna-Tiles DX contains 12 small squares, four large squares, six isosceles triangles, 10 right triangles, 11 equilateral triangles, a wheeled piece, and arch and three special shapes. An idea guide is included.
— In late summer 2010, five percent of 43 specialty retailers told TDmonthly Magna-Tiles are an overall best-selling product.
— In late Spring 2011, 25% of retailers mentioned Magna-Tiles as a best-selling construction toy.
— As of 05/12/2011, this product had 5 out of 5 stars from 23 reviews on
— In a Summer 2012 survey, Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Company in Denver, Col., told TDmonthly that Magnatiles were their overall best-selling toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30619      (added 9/22/2010)

MSRP: $99.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Girls
Category: Vehicles - Riding
Outdoor Fun

This sleek ride-on is fueled by cambering motion — the rider pushing his or her legs against the front bar, to the left and right. It has a hand brake and features an extendable design to host riders up to 6' tall. Maximum recommended weight is 150 lbs.
— Learning Tree Toys, Games & Books in Oklahoma City, Okla., sells about a dozen EzyRollers per month, Owner Patti Tepper-Rasmussen told TDmonthly in fall 2009.
— Jackie Roy, owner of Learning Resources Toy Magic in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., told TDmonthly in late 2009 that she brought in five EzyRollers on trial on sold out in a week and a half.
— Two of 37 specialty retailers cited the EzyRoller as a top-selling ride-on in spring 2010. “The EzyRoller, by far, continues to be the best,” Christine Osborne of Wonder Works in Charleston, S.C., told TDmonthly in March 2010, reporting sales of a couple dozen per month.

Past Videos: WTHRA 2008
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25944      (added 11/3/2009)

MSRP: $35.95
Age Range: 5 to 12
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Outdoor Fun
Sporting Goods & Accessories
General Toys

These fully adjustable stilts feature soft grip handles. Kids can practice walking on their stilts using the sturdier big foot trainers. Once their balance skills have improved, they replace the trainers with no-skid caps. Fits kids up to 110 lbs.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32331      (added 5/24/2011)

Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: General Games
Card Games

Spot It is a party game for two to eight players. It's played by laying a random assortment of cards on the table and all players racing to find one image that matches between two cards. This fast-paced game is designed to never be the same twice, and though it has very few rules to remember it requires a sharp eye to master. The set of 55 round cards transports in its own carry tin. Watch Spot It: Top-5 Video, Toy Fair 2010
— Spot It has been been a top seller for retailers surveyed by TDmonthly since early Spring 2010.
— In a March 2012 survey, 3 out of 12 retailers told TDmonthly that Spot It was their overall best selling product, and had been for more than a year.
— Dean Smith, Co-owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that he sells 50-60 copies of Spot It each month.
Awards: 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children's Products - 2010

Where to buy:
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27018      (added 2/11/2010)

MSRP: $39.99
SKU or Item #: 4851
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Pretend Play
Animal Figures

The Children’s Zoo allows children to role-play petting and feeding animals at the zoo. This set includes four figures, piglets, goats, sheep, and lamb. Also comes with fences for the animal enclosure, rock formation with water fall, birdfeeder, and many other accessories. Recommended for ages four to ten. Warning. Choking Hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.
— Rebecca Goblish, owner of Picayune Toys in Dunwoody, Ga., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that Playmobil is one of her top-three best-selling brands of toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31537      (added 1/21/2011)

MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 7 to 14
Gender: Boys
Category: Action Games
Action Figures

Kids build the Spinjitzu Arena, pick their character and play the cards to influence the outcome between Jay, the Master of Lightning, and Frakjaw, the toughest warrior in the Skeleton Army. Set includes 2 minifigures, 2 spinners, 6 weapons, 2 character cards, 8 battle cards, and enough LEGO® bricks to make the Spinjitzu Arena.
— In late Spring 2011, 5 of 12 retailers surveyed said that LEGO was their best-selling brand of licensed products. Brooke Andrews, Owner of Miller's Toys in Mamaroneck, N.Y., said that LEGO Ninjago was their best-selling licensed product. "We sold out our whole LEGO order, and there are also books, games, and accessories," she told TDmonthly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31711      (added 2/18/2011)

MSRP: $11.99
Age Range: 1 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Plush
Licensed Products

Angry Birds is the #1 app worldwide and has been downloaded over 100 million times. Angry Birds plush bring the characters from on-screen into the real world. These soft plush Angry Birds make sounds from the game when squeezed, and are an officially licensed product.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32332      (added 5/24/2011)

MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 5 and up
Specialty: No
Gender: Girls
Category: Fashion & Accessories
Arts & Crafts

Create 10 accessories with this ultimate headband set. The Fashion Headbands craft kit includes a rainbow array of satin headbands, rhinestone, flowers, feathers a butterfly, yards of ribbon and more. Includes: 10 Colorful Satin Headbands, Sparkling Butterfly, Elastic Felt Pieces, 2 Fabric Flowers, Assorted Ribbons, Craft Glue, Craft Thread, Colorful Feathers, Assorted Colorful Rhinestones, Instructions and Ideas.
— Elmer Carranza, assistant manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Falls Church, Va., told TDmonthly in a January 2012 survey that Fashion Headbands from Creativity for Kids was a best selling arts and crafts toy. They sell about 15 each month.
— In a May 2012 survey, Taka Andrews, owner of Miller's Toys in Mamaroneck, N.Y., told TDmonthly that they sell two dozen of this item each month.
— Kim Emigh, VP of E-commerce at Growing Tree Toys in State College, Penn., told TDmonthly in a Fall 2012 survey that this was a top-2 best selling jewelry item at their store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32961      (added 9/28/2011)

MSRP: $94.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Science & Nature

Snap Circuits allow children to create electronic projects including AM and FM radios, digital voice recorders, burglar alarms, doorbells and more. All pieces are mounted on plastic modules and snap together with ease. This Pro version contains over 75 parts and an illustrated manual for building over 500 experiments. The set uses four AA batteries.
— In late summer 2010, six of 43 retailers named Snap Circuits a science and nature best seller.
— In August 2010, Jim and Retha Davis, owners of Kid’s Center in Tucson, Ariz., told TDmonthly their store sells “about 100 (Snap Circuits) a month.”
— In a late Summer 2012 survey, four out of 12 retailers said that Elenco was one of their best selling Science & Nature toy brands.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 30502      (added 9/9/2010)

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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