February 1, 2023

TDmonthly Magazine

January 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 1

Did You Order the Right Toys for Christmas?

Buckyballs Brought in the Bucks

By Julie L. Jones
January 2010

Twelve of 32 specialty toy retailers told TDmonthly Magazine their 2009 Christmas sales were up over last year’s, seeing anywhere from 4- to 40-percent increases, with the majority in the 10- to 20-percent range. Seven others, however, were down by 7 to as much as 30 percent, and eight retailers indicated sales were on par with the holidays 2008.

What products did the trick?

Newcomer Buckyballs, from Maxfield & Oberton, ranked at the top with longtime favorites Playmobil, Bananagrams, and holiday must-have Elf on the Shelf from CCA & B.

Learning Tree Toys, Games & Books in Oklahoma City, in fact, sold about 100 Buckyballs sets in three weeks’ time, according to Storeowner Patti Tepper-Rasmussen. An attractive manipulative marketed for teens and adults, Buckyballs walked away as the ideal office gift at some stores.

Magnatiles from Valtech, the EzyRoller ride-on, Pretty Ugly’s Uglydolls and the eco-friendly Sprig Toys line also performed well. See a complete list below of the best-selling specialty toys and games for the holidays.


Keep the Pyramid from being invaded by releasing various traps with your very own amulet.  Intruders will have to overcome the collapsible staircase, chute, and scorpion trap.  There is also a secret treasure chamber, trapdoor with slide, and rotary secret chamber. The pyramid walls are removable. Set includes 4 figures, tomb, and many other accessories. Dimensions: 21 x 21 x 14 inches (L x W x H). Recommended for ages 5 and up. Choking Hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

— "We sold out and are taking orders for it," Mike DiAndrea, manager of Hardware Center Inc. in Paoli, Pa., told TDmonthly of this high-ticket item in late November 2009. He cited unit sales of about 25 per week.

— Eight of 44 retailers surveyed in late fall 2009 named the Playmobil Pyramid as one of their top sellers. Seven others cited the Playmobil line in general as a popular purchase.
(Watch the Pyramid Video Watch Video) 12/8/2008 (MSRP: $104.99; Age: 5 and Up)


BANANAGRAMS® by BANANAGRAMSThe 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." (Watch the BANANAGRAMS® Video Watch Video) 6/19/2006 (MSRP: $14.99; Age: 7 and Up)

Buckyballs™ by Zoomdoggle by MAXFIELD & OBERTON

Buckyballs™ by Zoomdoggle by MAXFIELD & OBERTONThis set includes 216 powerful rare earth magnets that can be molded, shaped and snapped together in an endless variety of configurations. Each Buckyball has two poles — one repels, one attracts. Not intended for children. Watch video
— ''Pun's has sold about four dozen in the last month alone,'' Joe Berardoni, Sr., owner of Pun's Toy Shop in Bryn Mawr, Pa., shared with TDmonthly in the fall of 2010.
—Jeanette Lauture, owner of Aunt Jean's Toys & Treats in Montclair, N.J., sold nine of 24 units in two days after opening a box for display, she told TDmonthly. Two of 39 retailers named Buckyballs as a best-selling travel toy in March 2010.
— Dean Smith, Co-owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly in a Summer 2011 survey that he sells "probably 50" sets of Buckyballs each month.
— May 27, 2010 RECALL of 175,000 sets (prior to March 2010) with 13+ labeling violating a federal standard that powerful magnets not be sold to children under 14. (Watch the Buckyballs™ by Zoomdoggle Video Watch Video) 11/25/2009 (MSRP: $29.95; Age: 14 and Up)

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition™ - With Dark-Skinned Pixie Elf by CCA and B LLC

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition™ - With Dark-Skinned Pixie Elf by CCA and B LLCSanta's biggest secret is revealed in The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition gift set, with a North Pole pixie-elf (available with light skin or dark skin and dark eyes, as pictured), a hardbound children's book and a keepsake box. Launch date: October 15, 2009.
— Owner Diana Nelson of Kazoo & Co. in Denver told TDmonthly in fall 2009 that her store sells about 36 Elf on the Shelf sets per month. 6/3/2009 (MSRP: $29.95; Age: 2 to 12)

Clear Colors Magna-Tiles® by VALTECH CO.

Clear Colors Magna-Tiles® by VALTECH CO.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. 12/3/2009

EzyRoller - Pink by EZYROLLER LLC

EzyRoller - Pink by EZYROLLER LLCThis 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 (Watch the EzyRoller - Pink Video Watch Video) 11/3/2009 (MSRP: $99.95; Age: 3 and Up)

Uglydoll Ox Collection – Uglyverse Edition - Yellow by PRETTY UGLY LLC

Uglydoll Ox Collection – Uglyverse Edition - Yellow by PRETTY UGLY LLCThis 14” Uglydoll is a limited edition produced for one year. Five other colors of Ox are available.
— Three of 39 retailers named Uglydolls as a best seller for tween girls in October 2009, citing sales of 24 to 30 per month. 10/12/2009 (MSRP: $20.00)

Dolphin Explorer Boat by SPRIG TOYS, INC.

Dolphin Explorer Boat by SPRIG TOYS, INC.This rugged playset is constructed of Sprigwood, which is a bio-composite material that blends reclaimed wood and recycled plastic, and is dyed with safe pigments. The set includes explorer and rescue boats, Captain Owen the adventure guide, an interchangeable adventure hat, a life preserver, mother and baby dolphins, and a backpack accessory. (Watch the Dolphin Explorer Boat Video Watch Video) 11/20/2009 (MSRP: $29.99; Age: 3 and Up)

Automoblox S9 Mini Sedan by AUTOMOBLOX

Automoblox S9 Mini Sedan by AUTOMOBLOXWith 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 (Watch the Automoblox S9 Mini Sedan Video Watch Video) 10/29/2009 (MSRP: $10.00; Age: 3 and Up)


YAMSLAM, Roll to Win by BLUE ORANGE GAMESCalculated chances and strategic choices will place the odds in favor of players as they let the five dice roll them to a win with Yamslam. After each roll, a player chooses the dice that will get the best combination. Each combination is worth a different value and has only four chips, so it's important to take the best ones before they run out. Players race to get special bonuses before their friends do, keeping the suspense rolling until the end. The game has appeal for all ages and is convenient for travel, as it is "self contained in a beautiful tin box," Adeline Bertrix, sales manager for Blue Orange Games, told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 15, 2009.
Awards: Dr. Toy's 100 Best Children's Products 2009; 2012 TDmonthly Top Toy Award. Why it won: This dice-rolling game from Blue Orange is fun for both kids and adults. With each roll of the dice players must strategize how they can win the chip with the highest point value. Without even realizing it, kids are learning basic math skills like addition and probability. The game is self-contained in a red tin, making it easy to play on the road or tote along to a party.  
— Yamslam is on the best-seller list at Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., Owner John MacDougall told TDmonthly in summer 2009.     
— "Right now, a game called Yamslam is our best-selling game," said Sue Banducci of Games Unlimited in Danville, Calif., in late 2009. She was anticipating sales of about 250 units during December.    
— Three of 38 retailers cited Yamslam as a best-selling game in Feb. 2010.
(Watch the YAMSLAM, Roll to Win Video Watch Video) 1/23/2009 (MSRP: $19.99; Age: 7 and Up)

CHICKYBOOM, The Rocking Rolling Roost! by BLUE ORANGE GAMES

CHICKYBOOM, The Rocking Rolling Roost! by BLUE ORANGE GAMESThe chickens are hanging out on their colorful wooden perch. But if one of them decides to leave, the whole perch will teeter. The goal is to collect as many chickens, hay bales and wagon wheels before the rocking perch topples. The chickens, hay bales and wagon wheels have different weights, meaning different point values. The player with the highest score wins the game. Selecting a heavier piece receives more points but entails more risk of making the perch topple. If a player causes the perch to topple, five points will be deducted from his or her total. "Two trees are planted for every tree used in the creation of this game," Adeline Bertrix, sales manager at Blue Orange Games, told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 15, 2009.
— Chickyboom is a top seller at Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, Calif., Owner John MacDougall told TDmonthly in summer 2009.
— Three of 44 retailers named this game as an overall best seller in late fall 2009. (Watch the CHICKYBOOM, The Rocking Rolling Roost! Video Watch Video) 4/28/2009 (MSRP: $24.99; Age: 4 and Up)


Build It Big by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLCThis set contains more than 40 pieces, including sizeable tools, nuts and bolts, that little builders can use to construct creative figures and objects. 12/31/2009 (MSRP: $34.99; Age: 2 and Up)

Calico Critters Ellwoods Elephant Twins by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLC

Calico Critters Ellwoods Elephant Twins by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLCThis 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. 10/29/2009 (MSRP: $7.99)

Star Wars Darth Vader's TIE Fighter by LEGO

Star Wars Darth VaderDarth Vader pilots this vehicle that first appeared in Episode IV: A New Hope. The original LEGO model debuted a decade ago, and this mold incorporates a new style, coloration and firing action. Includes Darth Vader and 250 other pieces.
— Two of 44 specialty retailers named LEGO when asked about overall best sellers leading up to Christmas 2009.
— Star Wars Legos are top sellers at the Toy Shop of Concord in Concord, Mass., Owner David Hesel told TDmonthly in late 2009. 10/29/2009 (MSRP: $29.99; Age: 7 and Up)

Grocery Cart by MELISSA & DOUG

Grocery Cart by MELISSA & DOUGThis durable metal shopping cart looks just like those in real stores. Sturdy metal construction includes pivoting front wheels, a folding doll seat and protective corner bumpers to navigate the aisles in style and safety. It measures 18.5" x 13.5" x 22.5" assembled. Contains small parts. Adult assembly required. Launch date: 2009.
— These carts are best sellers at Learning Resources Toy Magic in Fort Walton, Fla. "There are between 25 and 35 on hold for Christmas," Owner Mark Pattison told TDmonthly in late October 2009.
— Jamie Burdette, owner of LB Toys in Media, Pa., said in fall 2009 that his store sells about 60 of these shopping carts per month. (Watch the Grocery Cart Video Watch Video) 7/15/2009 (MSRP: $49.99; Age: 3 and Up)

Doinkit™ Dart Board by MARKY SPARKY TOYS

Doinkit™ Dart Board by MARKY SPARKY TOYSThis dartboard set includes six balanced darts that feature N-35 Neodymium rare earth magnets and the lightweight, durable Doinkit material that keeps the darts flying perfectly true. The darts will work on any magnetic dart board.
— Owner Elaine Hackney of Boing! JP’s Toy Shop in Jamaica Plain, Mass., told TDmonthly in summer 2007 that she has been selling lots of these dart boards for years. “The quality is great. The holding power of the magnets is great. The price is right,” she explained.
— Doinkit Darts have been “unbelievable” for Piccolo Mondo Toys of Portland, Ore., Owner Michelle Smith told TDmonthly at the end of 2008. JoAnn Farrugia, owner of JaZams in Pennington, N.J., reported sales of about three dozen per month of Doinkit Darts in a March 2009 survey of best sellers.
— “The [Doinkit] Darts sell really well for kids and adults,” said Lauren Obenour, manager of Portland, Oregon’s Green Frog Toys, where the product is among the best-selling sports and outdoor toys, as of spring 2009.
— Doinkit Darts are a “longtime best seller” at Totally Thomas Toy Depot in San Diego, as reported in July 2010 by President Cynthia Wyatt. “The rare earth magnets in the darts are super strong, stay put, and don’t bounce off. They’re very safe and don’t damage your walls. Nothing but fun!” she said.

Past Videos: ASTRA 2008 (Watch the Doinkit™ Dart Board Video Watch Video) 8/13/2007 (MSRP: $22.95; Age: 3 and Up)

Pentago Cruise Edition by MINDTWISTER USA

Pentago Cruise Edition by MINDTWISTER USAThis "cruise edition" of the quick-play, easy-to-learn strategy game Pentago is ideal for portability and travel. Launch date: 2007.
Awards: May 2012 TDmonthly Top Toy Award. Why it won: Not only is this game a proven best seller; it also earned a high rating from TDmonthly's panel of reviewers, as well as users on
— Brooke Andrews, owner of Millers Toy Store in Mamoroneck, N.Y., told TDmonthly in late fall 2009 that her store sells about 12 Pentago games per week. Erika Evers, owner of Dancing Bear Toys in Hendersonville, N.C., estimated sales of about 8 to 12 units per month.
— As of 4/12/2012 this product had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 24 reviews on 8/20/2008 (MSRP: $19.95; Age: 6 and Up)

Mix 'n' Fix Mike by WOW TOYS

Mix This friction-powered cement truck has an automatic revolving mixer. Mike’s motor rotates his inner cement drum, tossing and turning all the mix of cement ingredients with real cement-making sounds. He is operated by a friendly removable construction driver figure who can either drive him to his next job or watch the mixing process from the top of his truck. A detachable bollard can be fixed to the back for easy storage. "Mix ‘n’ Fix Mike, as with all other vehicles from WOW’s toy range, has been designed to help children make sense of the world around them through imaginative play. Every WOW toy is compatible with others from the range, [and] they are extremely resilient, don’t require batteries, and exceed all toy safety regulations," Tanya Laperouse, PR manager for WOW Toys, told TDmonthly. Launch date: July 9, 2009. 6/29/2009 (MSRP: $50; Age: 1 to 5)


HEXBUG Inchworm by INNOVATION FIRST LABS, INC.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. (Watch the HEXBUG Inchworm Video Watch Video) 10/2/2008 (MSRP: $19.99; Age: 8 and Up)

Magnificent Manicure Kit by SCIENTIFIC EXPLORER

Magnificent Manicure Kit by SCIENTIFIC EXPLORERDesigned to teach girls about cosmetic chemistry, this kit includes ingredients to make custom scents and indulge in a crystal mud treatment and a sea salt scrub. Girls can also buff and shine their nails for a finished look.
— Two of 40 retailers cited Scientific Explorer as a best-selling educational brand in fall 2009. The Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va., sells dozens of Scientific Explorer kits per month, Owner Mary Porter told TDmonthly. 11/24/2009 (Age: 8 and Up)

Sophie the Giraffe by CALISSON INC.

Sophie the Giraffe by CALISSON INC.Suitable for babies 0 to 3 months and up, this teether and discovery toy features a contrasting spot pattern that offers visual stimulation, plus a squeaker for amusement. It is made of natural rubber from Hevea tree and colored with food paint. Sophie is distributed in the United States by Calisson.
— Retailers surveyed by TDmonthly have been naming Sophie the Giraffe as a best-seller since 2009.
― Nicole Boomhover, assistant manager of Learning Express in Cahaba Heights, Ala. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that they sold between five and ten Sophies a month.
— In an April 2012 survey, three out of 11 retailers told TDmonthly that Sophie the Giraffe was their best selling infant & toddler product.
― “Sophie giraffe is a great baby product that we order over and over again,” Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Company in Denver, Co., told TDmonthly in June 2010. “I can't keep them on the shelf,” agreed Keith Schumacker, general manager at Talbot’s Toyland in San Mateo, Calif.
― During a March 2010 survey of 39 retailers, seven said Sophie the Giraffe is a top-selling toy for infants. Sales averaged 24 per month.
— Want this? As of 05/06/2011, this product was available for purchase at Learning Express of Cahaba Heights, Ala.
AWARDS: 2014 TDmonthly Magazine Top Toy Award, 2010 TDmonthly Top Seller (Watch the Sophie the Giraffe Video Watch Video) 4/10/2009 (Age: 0 to 1)

Flitter Fairies by WILLIAM MARK CORP

Flitter Fairies by WILLIAM MARK CORPThese small, sparkling fairies can be guided around via a magic wand and seem to magically flutter and float in the air. There are three characters: Daria, Eva and Alexa. A demo DVD is also available. Launch date: February 2009. (Watch the Flitter Fairies Video Watch Video) 2/17/2009 (MSRP: $19.99)

Saba the Snail by ZOOBIES

Saba the Snail by ZOOBIES Saba is not only an adorable snail, but also a comfy pillow and super-soft blanket all in one. Perfect for road excursions or just cuddling in bed. Suishy Saba also makes a perfect baby shower gift. Launch date: 2009. (Watch the Saba the Snail Video Watch Video) 8/25/2009 (MSRP: $34.00; Age: All Ages)

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