TDmonthly Magazine!
June 2012 | Vol. XI - No. 6


Top-10 Most-Wanted Construction Toys

LEGO Lays Foundation for Construction Toy Sales

With additional reporting from Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero

In April 2012, LEGO was named the best selling construction brand by five of 13 retailers surveyed by TDmonthly Magazine.

However, several of the specialty stores interviewed seemed to have a love-hate relationship with the brand. When asked about his best selling brand of construction toys, Danny Givens, owner of Little Dickens Toys in Lynchburg, Va., said, "LEGO - I hate to say it, but it is."

Melissa McCollum, owner of Learning Express in Hoover, Ala., told TDmonthly that she is constantly running out of her best selling products from the company, since "LEGO's shipping record to independent stores is spotty."

Frustrating though the company may be, three retailers reported selling between 75 and 200 LEGO sets each month.

Runners up to LEGO were light-up construction toys from LASER PEGS VENTURES LLC and magnetic Magnatiles from VALTECH. Learn more about these and the other best selling construction toys, 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: $14.99
Age Range: 8 to 14
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction
Play Sets

On a dangerous journey aboard Destiny's Bounty, an ancient shipwreck, Sensei Wu and the ninja have located the powerful golden Hypnobrai staff deep inside of the secret snake shrine. As they land the flying ship in the water to seize the staff, Zane and Jay get a scaly surprise from Hynobrai General Skales and his accomplice warrior, Slithraa. Sensei Wu fires the ship's cannon into the battle until his ancient enemy, Lord Garmadon, appears. Can Sensei Wu protect the Ninjago treasures onboard without the help of the ninjas? Choose the battle in an epic showdown where the fate of the Ninjago world hangs in the balance. Includes 6 minifigures: Sensei Wu, Kendo Zane, Kendo Jay, Lord Garmadon, Skales and Slithraa; Destiny's Bounty ninja ship, snake staff shrine, golden Hypnobrai staff and 16 weapons.
— As of 4/11/2012 this product had 4.7 out of 5 stars from 9 reviews on Pros: Lots of minifigs; sets are sturdy enough to play with after building.
— In an April 2012 survey, five of 13 retailers said that LEGO is their best selling construction brand. Melissa McCollum, owner of Learning Express in Hoover, Ala., told TDmonthly that they sell about 150 LEGO sets each month, especially from the Ninjago and DC Universe lines.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 34067      (added 4/11/2012)

This 32-piece set of transparent tiles in various shapes makes for a colorful building project. It comes with 14 small squares, two large squares, four isosceles triangles, four right triangles and eight equilateral triangles.
— Four of 44 retailers told TDmonthly in late fall 2009 that Magna-Tiles is one of their best-selling products. Isaac Judd, CEO of Magic Beans in Brookline, Mass., estimated his store sold about 100 Magna-Tiles sets in November 2009.
― “[An] item I do very well with is from Valtech, their Magna-Tiles,” said Deran Muckjian, owner of Catch a Falling Star  in Lexington, Mass., of best-selling construction toys in April 2010.
― Three of 43 retailers surveyed in spring 2010 told TDmonthly Magna-Tiles are a best-selling construction item in their stores.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 26258      (added 12/3/2009)

MSRP: $49.95
Age Range: 7 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction
Wooden Toys

This kit gives some structure to free-form building with planks, including an idea book with instructions for building ball-track structures, ramps, funnels and more. It allows for scientific experimentation as kids test rolling the two included lightweight balls to see if they move as anticipated.
— "A new concept kit will help kids build bigger and better — simple, open-ended and smart," said John MacDougall, owner of Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., at Toy Fair 2010.
— It was also a top-two favorite at ASTRA's Share the Fair event during Toy Fair 2010.
— In an April 2012 survey, Elmer Carranza, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., told TDmonthly that KEVA blocks are their best selling construction toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 27299      (added 2/19/2010)

MSRP: $120.00
Age Range: 8 and up
Target Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction

With more than 600 pieces, the 50 Model Set from Erector offers kid builders a multitude of creative options. The kit is packed with detailed instructions for 50 complete models, 38 of which are taken from favorites in the 10 to 40 model kits, plus 12 new designs. From that springboard of projects, children can leap into inventing their own creations with the tools and parts provided in the box. This kit also includes a small, hand-held power tool to make assembly easy and fast.
— Melodie Ingwersen, owner of Creative Kids Inc. in Columbia, Ill. said Erector sets were one of her best-selling construction toys in late Spring 2011.
― “Erector sets do really well for us,” Chris Cahalane, owner of Cape Cod Toys  in Mashpee, Mass., told TDmonthly when asked about top-selling construction toys in spring 2010.
― “Erector sets have made a comeback,” said Lance Ghulam, manager of Handlebar Toys in Lafayette, Calif., during an April 2010 survey.
— Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at Creative Kids Inc.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 28450      (added 5/6/2010)

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MSRP: $20.00
Age Range: 6 to 9
Specialty: Yes (as of 2011)
Made in: China
SKU or Item #: 15
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction
Creative Activities
Pretend Play

Junglemorphs, new for 2011, is part of the Zoomorphs pop-together building system.  The child can build animals that exist or have existed in nature; or easily pop the pieces apart to make all sorts of friendly, poseable fantasy creatures.  There are four characters in this set:  Tree Python, Bird of Paradise, Tiger and Tropical Beetle.  All sets are interchangeable.  Some animals have hinged jaws. Launch date: August 2011.
— Karin Evick, manager of Kids' Ketch in Lewes, Del., told TDmonthly in an April 2012 survey that Zoomorphs are one of their best selling construction toys.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 32868      (added 9/8/2011)

MSRP: $59.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Educational
Science & Nature

Snap Circuits make learning electronics easy and fun. Kids follow the colorful pictures in the manual to build exciting projects, such as FM radios, burglar alarms, doorbells and more. Parts are mounted on plastic modules and snap together with ease. “Children can play with this kit for hours and hours and still have not completed all the projects the snap circuit kits have to offer,” Walter Larsen, national sales manager for Elenco, told TDmonthly.
— One retailer said in summer 2007 his store sells 25 Elenco units monthly. Five percent of 64 retailers said in August 2008 that Snap Circuits are a best-selling science product, reporting average sales of six units per month. Four of 38 retailers echoed the same a year later. “They’ve gone back to this game six or seven times,” between January and July 2006, said TDmonthly's homeschooling mom Susan Ledford.
— Any time TDmonthly asks specialty storeowners about top-selling science toys, Elenco's Snap Circuits heads the list. This simple electronics kit appeals to both girls and boys. By making science fun and easy, Snap Circuits earned a TDmonthly Classic Toy 2007 award.
—  As of 12/17/2012 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 575 reviews on Cons: One user said that her grandchildren were "not all that interested" in the Snap Circuits, and told her that they would prefer LEGOs on their birthday.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5252      (added 10/27/2005)

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MSRP: $49.99
Age Range: 8 and up
SKU or Item #: QA6588
Launch Date: February 2007
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction
Puzzles & Skill
General Toys

The 200-piece marble run set features a vortex chamber, a large, double-entrance funnel, two exclusive spiral tracks, real marbles, extra long bridges for building larger structures and base pieces for sturdy construction. Launch date: February 2007.
— Jennifer Dees, assistant manager of Harbour Town Toys in Hilton Head, S.C., told TDmonthly that, "If it's in the window," they sell 4-6 units of this item each month.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18907      (added 5/19/2008)

MSRP: $49.99
Age Range: 3 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Construction

Block sets are a classic that never go out of style, and notes that blocks allow kids to “master math concepts about shapes, space, balancing and gravity.”
— “Wooden blocks by Melissa & Doug” were expected to be a 2006 holiday hit at The Name Dropper in Montgomery, Ala., owner Shea Schroll told TDmonthly.
— “Standard building blocks by Melissa & Doug … we sell those every day,” Peter (Mr. Toad), owner of Mr. Toad’s Toy Company in Naples, Fla., told TDmonthly in April 2008. Erica Welton, manager of Bedford Falls Toy Store in Charlotte, N.C., said her store sells “two or three sets a day.”
— More than 17 percent of retailers who spoke with TDmonthly in spring 2008 named this item as their best-selling construction toy.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 2283      (added 1/31/2005)

MSRP: $33.00
Age Range: 4 and up
Specialty: No
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Play Sets
Pretend Play
Action Figures

Complete with secret hiding place for storing buried treasure, the Super Set Pirates Cove is the perfect set for young swashbucklers looking for the next adventure. Set includes two figures, a fortress with secret compartment, a working cannon, dinghy and oars, and additional accessories.
— In an April 2012 survey, Ming Yang co-owner of Richard's Variety Store in Atlanta, Ga., told TDmonthly that Playmobil is "always a stable item" in the construction category.
— In a Summer 2012 survey, Cynthia Phillips Strinich, owner of Phillip's Toy Mart in Nashville, Tenn., told TDmonthly that Playmobil was an overall bestselling brand at her store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 34082      (added 4/11/2012)

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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