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ASTRA in Nashville - The toy industry comes together June 16 to 19


Here’s to 50 more years of making kids smile

wordplay •••••

Play It Again by Kevin Fahy


hen I’m on vacation, I always tell myself that I’m not going to think about business. I mean that’s the point, right? The problem is, I tend to go shopping more often when I’m on vacation, partly because I have the time and partly because I’m doing different things and need different stuff. Visiting stores, regardless of what they sell, always brings me back to my job. My last vacation included some golf, and a friend of mine told me about a golf shop where he had recently purchased a slightly used driver. The store sold new gear, but he said it also had the largest selection of used clubs he had ever seen, at great prices. I’m a sucker for a bargain, so I was all over it. Now there are plenty of golf shops that sell used clubs, but it is usually just a bin that you can sort through on the off chance that there may be something you can use. This place had hundreds of clubs, and they were organized and displayed just like the new ones, nicely refurbished, and you could try them out in their virtual driving range. A fancy new driver will set you back $400 or more, but I am way too cheap, and too much of a hacker, to even think about it. I was able to walk out of this store, on the other hand, with a slightly scuffed 2011 model for about 20 percent of that cost. Of course I also picked up a couple of new shirts, some golf balls, a glove and so forth. Afterwards, as I was out hitting a bucket of balls with my new old driver, I got to thinking about the whole idea of buying used versus new merchandise, and how it seems so natural to me for some things but not others. I don’t even know where I got these attitudes. Historically, the necessities of life

were considered to be food, shelter and clothing, which were consequently the majority of economic activity. In the 20th century we added transportation to the list, as apparently it was no longer possible to live one’s life without moving around a lot, if only to get to work. The new necessity for the current century seems to be communication, now that people feel the need to share every thought in their heads with the rest of humanity. “Used” food is off the table, so to speak, and communication in itself is not what you would call merchandise (that’s an issue we can discuss some other time) but the other three pillars of the economy all include the sale of both new and used inventory into the hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Houses other than mobile homes are not sold through a retail system, and we don’t refer to them as “used,” but most of them are. Of the 5 million homes sold last year, more than 90 percent were what are referred to as “pre-existing,” the remainder being new construction. Personally, I have owned seven homes over the years, two of which were new. Of the five pre-existing places, three were already pre-existing at the time of the Civil War and one dated back to 1809. Although I will acknowledge that there is a certain cachet to a custom-made new home, I don’t think I was any less enthusiastic about the older ones. There were 15 million new cars and trucks purchased last year in the U.S., at a total cost of about $400 billion. The market for used vehicles is even bigger, with 40 million units changing hands for nearly $600 billion. Unlike houses, we do have some sort of social stigma attached to used cars, (continued on page 8) may/june 2013 ••••• 3

may/june 2013 Volume 20, No. 3

Publisher J. KEVIN FAHY Editorial Director TINA MANZER


Senior Editor BRADLEY G. GORDNER Production Manager MARK STASH Senior Graphic Artist JENNIFER SRMACK





Graphic Artist LINDSEY WILLIAMSON Assistant Editor ALYSSA LAFARO Director of Sales and Marketing TIM BRADEN Advertising Sales RICK KAUDER Advertising Production Manager CHRISTIE McCONNELL Circulation TRICIA McKENNA



Why Doylestown Parents Shop Local Pennsylvania toy store owner Nerice Kendter uses smart business tactics to delight customers during tough times Trekking with Toys Manufacturers discuss travel toys

edplay’s Guide to ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy


A Dozen Reasons Not to Miss the ASTRA Show

26 28

A Day-to-Day Schedule Visit edplay Advertisers at the Show

38 42

Retailers Recommend Fabulous Products Lots of tattoos, outdoor toys, a garden kit and more Buy and Sell Better with These Three Toy Trends Ellen Metrick from Lekotek explains what toys are trending for children with special needs


Business Buyers Jump Sales of small businesses spiked in the first quarter as sellers start taking the leap


edplay’s Fabulous Awards 10 products from our 2012 “Retailers Recommend” articles will win based on your votes (continued on page 6)

4 ••••• may/june 2013

edplay is published by Fahy-Williams Publishing, Inc. President: J. Kevin Fahy; Vice President: Tim Braden. 2013 Closing Dates The First Annual Toy Awards Issue..............Jun. 7 The Holiday Issue ......................................Aug. 2 The Annual Buyers’ Guide Issue ........................Oct. 4 Back issues may be obtained by sending $8.00 (per copy) to Fahy-Williams Publishing P.O. Box 1080 Geneva, NY 14456 Phone: 800-344-0559 Fax: 315-789-4263 Copyright © 2013 by Fahy-Williams Publishing, Inc.

(Table of Contents continued from page 4)

About the Cover Kids delight in Busy Bee Toy’s large demo area. This space in the Doylestown, Pennsylvania, store is open for play time on Wednesdays, and is utilized often by homeschooled children and their families.

New Products

departments •••••

14 32 34 46 58


For Your Business Information NYIGF has a new name, gift cards from Twitter and more


Industry News The Alexander Doll Company celebrates 90 years, FS-USA sponsors an indie film and more


Index of Advertisers

Stretch the Imagination Creature Comforts No Dice Between the Lines Piece by Piece


6 ••••• may/june 2013


Wordplay Play It Again By Kevin Fahy


Endcap Thanks for the Ride – BERG Toys focuses on customers’ wants and needs By Tina Manzer


wordplay••••• (continued from page 3)

FRACTILES-7 Magnetic Tiling Toy Award WinningParents Choice Award Winner Versatile- Easy to manipulate, MAGNETIC pieces stay put! Wide AppealAges 6-Adult Three VersionsOriginal, Travel and Fridge Size!

Call Today! (303) 541-0930 Fax: (303) 442-7776

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Made in the USA CPSIA Compliant

8 ••••• march/april 2013

and particularly the people who sell them for a living, as though there is something sketchy about them. If memory serves me properly, I have bought 12 new cars over the years and nine used ones, in spite of my mother warning me that “You will just be buying someone else’s problems.” Sometimes the price break is too good to resist, or it’s a hard-to-find model, or it isn’t really very used. A couple of my used cars were only a few months old. The funny thing about cars is that eventually the oldest ones are no longer considered “used,” because after 25 years they get upgraded to “classic.” The same process operates in the furniture business, where merchandise moves from new to second-hand to antique, usually over the span of 100 years. In that case, the retail outlets are pretty strictly segregated according to the three categories. Clothing retailers are also divided distinctly into new and used, with new taking the lion’s share of a $200 billion U.S. market. Second-hand shops do a respectable business, however, especially thrift shops operated by charitable organizations. Goodwill Industries leads that segment with 2,200 stores, followed by the Salvation Army with 1,370. There are high-end second-hand shops as well, particularly in cities like New York, where well-heeled fashionistas buy or sell last year’s designer trappings. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but somehow the idea of wearing clothes that were formerly worn by a stranger seems vaguely creepy to me. At any rate, there are a wide variety of retailers who offer new and used merchandise side by side, whether they acquire used inventory from trade-ins or auction or whatever. A jeweler will often have a display case of “estate” jewelry, a guitar store might have a classic Gibson Les Paul up on the wall, and a gun shop will show you a 1911 model Colt 45. In many ways I am a typical






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anything else. I think that reducing clutter was

any other euphemistical1y styled used toys in a toy store. When I ran a

ucts for new ones. Last year, for exam­

more important to me, since I some­

Google search, the only store I found

ple, I traded in my ancient Schwinn

times feel that my life is one long los­

that put a real emphasis on used toys

cruiser for a fancy new hybrid bicycle,

ing struggle to fight back a sea of junk.

was in England.

and I probably wouldn't have bought a

If they didn't take my oId bike, after

new bike if the store had not taken

al1, what would I do with it? It certain­

toy retailer in Great Britain. Maybe


ly wouldn't feel right to throw it out.

they're on to something.

Why? Wel1, I suppose money is the obvious answer but probably the

When you trade something in, you can congratulate yourself for

least significant, because they didn't

your environmental stewardship. Even

give me al1 that much and I probably

better, you can hope that someone

could have negotiated a better price

who real1y needs that product will

on the new bike without the trade-in.

end up with it.

If the money made any difference, it was probably more in principle than

The store claimed to be the largest

For some reason, though, I rarely

You cane-mail

see any "classic," or "pre-loved," or

may/june 2013··· 9

Why Doylestown Parents

Shop Local


by Alyssa LaFaro

“Love what you do, and if you don’t love it, don’t do it,” recommends specialty toy retailer Nerice Kendter. “I think the key to surviving the past six, tough, years has been that I genuinely love this industry.” Inspired by a toy store she visited in Belgium, Nerice opened Busy Bee Toys in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in 2006. Parents and kids in the area embraced the store and made it their own. “I am really lucky that a large portion of the community truly values what I am doing,” she says. “People continue to tell me they shop here because they want to see me stay open.” Close attention to price points A stay-at-home mom with a background in social work, Nerice and her family shopped for toys in Europe eight years ago. “The company my husband worked for sent him to Belgium regularly,” she explains. “My son and I would go and wander around. One day, we stumbled across this beautiful specialty toy store, Krokodil, part of a small chain of stores in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. “We started bringing beautiful European toys home to the states,” she continues. “Eventually, when we stopped traveling there, I lamented the loss of these wonderful toys. Then, all of a sudden, a light bulb went off in my head. I decided to open a toy store.”

Her first inventory focused on wooden toys and other play items from Europe. “I quickly learned I couldn’t only carry European toys,” she says. “Not every family in our community could afford them. Not every family wanted them.” A lot of shoppers there look for “made in the USA” toys and are willing to pay higher prices for them, compared to similar toys made in Asia. Doylestown, located 27 miles north of Philadelphia, is perceived as an upscale community. In reality, it’s a town like any other with people of all economic levels and a lot of working moms, says Nerice. The Busy Bee is one of two toy stores in town, and she doesn’t want it to be known as “the expensive toy store.” “I work hard to find items I can sell for a $5 price point, and $10 and $15,” she says. “I also carry some items that are $50 or higher. I try to have a broad range of price points within the confines of a smaller store. “Every year, I adjust what I’ve brought in and look very carefully at price points,” she adds. “I may see items at Toy Fair that I absolutely love, but if the pricing is not where it needs to be, I pass.”

The owner of Busy Bee Toys gets down on the floor to play with small customers.

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TOLL FREE 1 (800) 225-1017 Fax (253) 833-2349 The toy store celebrates “first Fridays” with family friendly events like free crafts and musical performances.

Birthday gifts are a staple of her business. “People come in Friday evenings and Saturday mornings before a birthday party to pick up a gift,” Nerice notes. “They know they can get it wrapped for free and be on their way. If I didn’t have consistent birthday party traffic every week, my business would not be viable.” In addition to the games and puzzles, infant/preschool items, outdoor toys and more that she carries, Nerice is seeing a renewed interest in gag gifts. “Everything from the fake poop to stick-on mustaches to magic kits seems to be coming back. More companies are carrying them, and what’s great is that they appeal to everyone – children, tweens, teens and adults.” TRU-SQUARE METAL PRODUCTS / PO BOX 585 • AUBURN, WA 98071


Room to play, and a great opportunity While she tweaked the store’s product mix, she stayed true to her vision of its atmosphere. “The beauty of that European store we visited was the demoing and the playing, so I always keep a wide range of toys open to be played with. I have play tables and a big, classic toy demo area,” she says. On Wednesday mornings, she opens the area to the public – not just shoppers – for open play time. “Doylestown has a vibrant homeschool community, and many homeschooled families come then. I’ve also hosted private play groups for moms who have requested it,” says Nerice. “I’m getting ready to do a game night in a local elementary school. It’s a really fun way to get families together to try out new games and expose them to my store.” About a year ago, Nerice was contacted by the Bucks County Children’s Museum about 20 minutes away in New Hope. “The executive director invited me to open a second store in the small retail area that exists in the museum,” she says. “I may/june 2013 ••••• 11

The Buzz Two stores: 1. Doylestown (27 miles North of Philadelphia), 1,800 square feet, 2006 2. New Hope (20 minutes northeast of Doylestown), 120 square feet, 2012 Number of employees: “I am the only full-timer, and I’m here a lot. We are open seven days a week,” says Nerice. “I have five part-time employees right now, and I tell them, ‘I can’t pay you big bucks, but I can give you a lot of flexibility.’” Core customers: Locals who come into the store specifically to purchase gifts for birthday parties. “We are walkable from nearby neighborhoods, and we offer free gift wrap year-round,” she points out. “That’s something that really speaks to my customers.” There is also tourist traffic, thanks to the store’s downtown location in “a sweet historic district,” and to its proximity to New Hope, a former artist community known today for its vibrant restaurants, shops and night life. Biggest season: Certainly Christmas. “Summers can be hit or miss. As tourists are coming in to visit, townspeople are exiting for vacation.” Current product recommendation: Lottie Dolls from British company Arklu. “These dolls are sweet, with a body more like an 8-year-old girl. The styling is appropriate for a child.” Troubling trend: A downward shift in the sales of board games. “It’s been interesting. Construction toys are selling great, puzzles have been slow but steady, but our games have not been selling well. I blame it on cell phones, and how they’ve changed everyone’s attention span.” Community outreach: “I’m willing to do special events for any school,” says Nerice. The store hosts free playtimes on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.; private play groups for moms are hosted upon request. Each first Friday of the month features fun activities. Biggest competitor: The Internet. “There is another toy store nearby, but I don’t view him as my competition,” says Nerice. “We refer customers to each other. I honestly believe each toy store is a little different, and there is room for all of us.” Store hours: 1. Doylestown: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday noon to 4 p.m. 2. New Hope: Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays 12 ••••• may/june 2013

Stick-on moustaches and other impulse items are experiencing a renaissance, notes Nerice.

pay a set fee every month to utilize the 120-square-foot space, and provide all the goods and enter the inventory into the computer. The museum pays their staff to run it.” Since visiting families have already paid admission to the museum, they are looking for inexpensive items. Nerice stocks the store with toys priced $15 or less. If something isn’t selling well there, she can swap it out for other items from her Doylestown location. “What’s also great,” she notes, “is that people who know my original store but live closer to this one stop here for quick birthday gifts.” She loves the second store’s small size because it doesn’t overextend her reach. “It allows me to still focus on my main shop. It was the perfect mini-step to having a second store.” Aggressive local marketing Earlier this year, the borough of Doylestown was approached by local marketing company Fig Media, who pitched a unique promotional program that promised “a hyper-local, super-social communications package that reflects the soul of a city.” A contract between the town and Fig was recently signed, a step that Nerice feels is very positive for area businesses. “Fig offers this beautiful, multi-tiered program for small towns like Doylestown,” she explains. “They will promote our small businesses year-round using social media and Facebook.” As part of the program, local bloggers write about Doylestown on its designated website The site also includes a community events calendar, maps, business pages and an interactive portal that allows users “around the world to become part of the Fig community.” The package is accompanied by a quarterly printed publication. “Each new issue features new businesses coming to town and people doing innovative things in their city, with special attention paid to those who give back and make a difference,” says the Fig website. “Doylestown’s small businesses couldn’t afford this on their

A website that promotes all things Doylestown is only part of Fig’s “hyper-local” marketing package.

own,” says Nerice, who doesn’t do much advertising outside of Facebook and her website. “The whole town is really excited about it.” To grandmother’s house we go While the reality is that Nerice’s customers can purchase everything her

Homeschool families are among the regulars who use the store’s demo area to play, teach and learn.

store offers from someone else online, they make purchases at Busy Bee Toys because they like her, her store and its products. “I care about my customers,” she notes. “They know that, and come here because they know my staff and I will guide them through the store. It’s the whole shopping experience that

makes a difference.” Because the business is so personally gratifying, she can envision herself operating it for as long as she can. “I can see myself being this grandmotherly toy store owner,” she laughs. “I enjoy the families and that contact immensely.”

may/june 2013 ••••• 13




Curiosity Kits Lava Rock Volcano uses plaster and paint to turn a domed base into a realistic volcano, while vinegar and baking soda help create the frothing mixture. Add fake gravel and red coloring to make foaming lava.

Six models, including a working hovercraft, teach about air pressure and air flow. Air-Stream Machines are driven by a unique blower motor and a safe, soft-bladed fan using an impeller to increase the air pressure under the hovercraft.

With the Sci-Fi kit, kids can blast off in a Transatmospheric Fighter, or make peace with the Worldly Walker. There are 16 models to build, with 20 Laser Pegs and 82 construction pieces.

Snap Circuits SOUND has 185 exciting projects and over 40 parts, along with a colorful picture manual. It connects to a smart phone to analyze sound with apps and more.

STRETCH THE IMAGINATION Fun Ride zip lines have an unblemished safety record, have been safety tested to meet or exceed both toy and ASTM home playground standards, and are made in the U.S.

With PlushCraft Superstar Pillow, little superstars follow a simple numbered legend, and use the stylus to punch glittering fabric – no sewing required! 14 ••••• may/june 2013

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by Alyssa LaFaro

s summer approaches, the prospects increase for family vacations, otherwise known as car/boat/airplane rides from hell, especially when there are small children to keep entertained. Parents will be shopping for toys, games and books that offer quiet, long-lasting, non-messy fun to get kids from place to place. What would you recommend they buy at your store? Specialty toy retailer Nancy Teed from Once Upon a Time Toys in popular tourist destination Stowe, Vermont, makes sure to offer portable versions of popular games such as travel-sized chess, checkers and bingo. “There are miniature versions of a lot of games – Apples to Apples To Go is new this year,” she reminded us. “And don’t forget about traditional coloring books and crayons.” (More of Nancy’s recommendations are on page 22.) To find out what else is new, we spoke with manufacturers about what’s hot and fun this summer for on-the-go toys, and what parents need for stress-free travel.


Compact and reusable from Stephanie Carver, marketing manager at The Orb Factory When we make a craft kit with travel in mind, we want to make sure that it doesn’t cause a mess, is simple to store and can be used in a small space. Our purse kits and sunglass kits fit the bill. Plus, little jetsetters can actually use the completed projects during their vacation. Reusable travel toys are great, too. Magnetic Mosaics come in their own magnetic tins, meaning the pieces aren’t going to get stuck between seat cushions. Several parents have told me they always keep a set in the car so they can be used no matter how long – or short – the trip. Parents also appreciate that Magnetic Mosaic kits aren’t electronic. While it may be easy to sit a child in front of a screen for several hours, they still get tired and antsy. Travel toys that require creativity and engagement are better and more stimulating for children. Magnetic Mosaics let children create and experiment with colors and patterns. Retailers should always have a selection of compact, portable, non-messy toys that kids 16 ••••• may/june 2013

can play with independently. It just gives parents more options – not only when they’re on the move but also at their destination. Parents have always been more likely to buy toys and trinkets for their children when they’re on vacation. Make sure to ask customers for the details of their specific trip so that you can best match the trip to the toy. Certain products work better for plane travel as opposed to car travel. Also, point out products that have simple instructions. There’s nothing worse than getting everyone buckled in, only to have to unbuckle to help someone in the back seat with instructions. The majority of The Orb Factory kits are mess-free, and can be completed with little to no parental help. (continued on page 18)

Clean, calm and focused from Kem Clark, president of Wikki Stix A good travel toy needs to be clean, and free of any elaborate preparation or a unique work environment. It should have the ability to be used in virtually any setting. Travel is tough on kids – they are out of their normal environment with all its regular stimulation and activity. They get bored and restless under these circumstances, and a good travel toy provides focus. Retailers should offer travel toys all year. Unlike many toys which fulfill a desire, a travel toy fulfills a need. Traveling kids need to have something to keep them occupied so that parents don’t have to keep answering the question, “Are we there yet?”

18 ••••• may/june 2013

Trekking With Toys


Long-lasting independent play when there’s no wiggle room from Kateva Rosato, social networking specialist at Safari Ltd. The best travel toys are easy to transport, and engage kids without requiring them to move around. Storage potential, transportability and the capacity to quickly supply entertainment are all important when you need to make a toy compatible with an on-the-go atmosphere. Travel doesn’t have to mean a long-distance trip – it can simply be a car ride from home to Grandma’s house in the next town. Travel toys are useful in the doctor’s office and other waiting rooms. Families always need convenient toys for such situations, and retailers should take advantage of the opportunity to supply this demand. TOOBS are our most popular

travel product. Each one contains different figures on a theme – Galapagos animals, Powhaten Indians, Sue and Her Friends dinosaurs, and more. The clear, acetate TOOB with a locking cap provides convenient storage and features a carrying cord. Children have short attention spans, so having multiple and different figures in each TOOB captivates children for longer periods of time. The TOOB is clear so the figures can be viewed without even removing them from the container.

3+ Texo™ is the award-winning 3 dimensional design and construction system by architect, author and designer Lester Walker. At its most basic level, Texo™ is about stacking, sorting and sequencing, and grows in its complexity as a child grows. Solid wood rods and planks coupled with the geometric precision of molded plastic connectors enhance the design and construction potential. Also included is a deluxe Activity Guide with how-to’s, commentary and step-by-step instructions on maximizing the potential of Texo™. Ages 3+


G9501 Â 100 pc set

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may/june 2013 ••••• 19


Keep it together while in motion from Tim Paczesny, founder of Education Outdoors

Debbie Dubrow, mom of three and writer for, says “We bring several books – and look for more on the road,” when she talked about travelling with little kids on her popular blog Delicious Baby. Retailer John MacDougal from The Golden Apple Learning store in Pleasanton, California, recently listed his favorite children’s books on ASTRA’s website for consumers, Discover the Woohoo! Factor ( “Each one is a book with a lesson,” he writes. “I learned so much from books growing up, and I’m glad I have them around me still.” John is successfully selling these titles in his specialty toy store; perhaps you can, too. Here are four of his eight recommendations. To see the complete list, visit yourneighbor and look for the article entitled “My Favorite Children’s Books.”

Georgie is a rebel, and by saving baseball, he saves the world.”

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame “My first favorite is a classic,” John notes. “The wisdom in this book stays with you throughout your life. Each character – Mole, Rat, Badger, Otter, even Toad – presents a blueprint for how to make sense of the world, told in the gentlest way possible.”

ASTRA developed as a must-read resource for parents. It offers them up-to-date information on creative and educational play, toy trends and news, child development, and where to find the best merchandise on the market. The site encourages them to play and shop locally. It has turned out to be a successful direct-to-consumer marketing tool for the specialty toy industry. ASTRA members are encouraged to contribute articles to the site, add comments to existing articles, and use articles on their blogs with a link to the Whoohoo! Factor site. To find out how, see the Woohoo Factor Guide for ASTRA members at

How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball by David Shannon John thinks kids leave picture books behind way too early. “They miss out on the power and drama of illustration,” he says. When he talks about books at schools, to fifth and sixth graders, he always brings this book. “It never fails to hook them.

20 ••••• may/june 2013

Stuart Little by E. B. White “E.B. White wrote at least two of the best books I’ve read in my life,” he writes. “Stuart Little has always been my favorite. While matter-of-factly exploring the world of a mouse born into a human family, he makes your heart ache to explore and experience life. Like Wind in the Willows, this is a book for reading aloud.”

We consider several factors when we make games for travel. Size is number one; they need to be compact because there’s not a lot of room in the seat of a plane or car. Even more important than that, though, is a way to prevent game pieces or parts from getting lost during the travel. Our CAMP travel game was designed to be played inside a car, RV or other moving vehicle. All the parts except the cards are mounted to the game so they can’t be lost or fall off when playing.

The Mystery of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg “Chris Van Allsburg’s portfolio of title, first line and image gives your imagination a hard shove! Many books end with the reader wanting more, but each page in this book forces you to want more, and create it yourself.” John uses this book in the store’s writing workshops for kids.

Make sure you explain the educational benefits of a travel toy to parents. The CAMP travel edition, for example, teaches kids about all 50 states. Hit the Trail is more of a destination game. It is meant to be clipped to your backpack or purse and taken to your destination to play. The packaging is actually a miniature backpack. (continued on page 22)

Hook Chalktrail® to a bike or scooter­ in a heartbeat. Then get riding! Draw figure eights, wavy meandering paths, perfect circles, fascinating designs by retracing the same route again and again in succession. It's freshly invigorating, healthy play.

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Trekking With Toys


Impulse friendly from Paul Weibel, sales manager at Jax Ltd.

It’s good to look beyond traditional travel products to point out small, fun impulse/pocket items like our new boys’ action line SkaZooms. Among its accessories is a travel “Clip Case” for fun on the go. The Game of Chips comes in a satin travel pouch that holds dice, numbered chips and several wonderful card games. All of them are designed to pick up and play with; they require very little explanation. Travel Sequence is a popular version of our Sequence game. Sequence has been around for 30 years, and it is a mainstay for retailers who sell games. In terms of card games for travel, Rock Paper Scissors transforms the popular finger play into a fast-paced game where players can track their score by winning hands. All of these games are great for travel and are impulse friendly, especially in terms of price points.

More travel toy tips and trends At least 50 percent of the business at Once Upon a Time Toys in Stowe, Vermont, comes from tourists, says owner Nancy Teed. That’s why she makes sure that the quaint 1,000-square-foot toy store carries a wide variety of travel toys that have certain characteristics. “The toys I list here and others like them are all winners in my store,” notes Nancy. “Customers – not just travelers – love them. If small parts are a bane for a lot of parents, these are the lifesavers.” 22 ••••• may/june 2013

Magnetic “Magnetic toys are great for travel because the pieces don’t go rolling,” she says. “Lots of companies – like Janod, eeBoo and Imaginatics – make them for kids of all ages.” Self-enclosed “Self-enclosed toys, like the Scratch ’n Sketch from Peter Pauper Press, or the sealed tubes from Find It Games, work well for travel,” explains Nancy. “The clear tubes are filled with beads, and contain tiny toys to find. There are tubes for birdwatchers, for sports and one called ‘Glitz and Glamour’ for teenage girls.” Games and puzzles for drawing, writing and thinking “Mindware and Dover both make some great drawing books geared toward older, artsy kids. They are similar to color-by-number, but without the numbers. Another one of my favorites is the World’s Greatest Dot-to-Dot Books from Monkeying Around, which take dot-to-dot play to a whole new level. This is a great item for older kids.”

Single-player games promote learning and independence from Lauren Burke, representing Smart Toys and Games A big benefit of our travel games is that children don’t need a sibling, parent or friend to play. Many of our games are compact, selfcontained, single-player logic games, and consumers tell us that they are so engrossing that long trips just fly by. Our IQ Fit, IQ Twist and Bend-It are compact and self-contained. We also offer a line of magnetic travel games: Travel Noah’s Ark, Travel WaterWorld, Travel Busy Bugs and Travel Magic Forest. Each one has a booklet that features 48 challenges. The booklets button shut to safely hold the magnetic puzzle pieces. Our Travel Tangoes deliver all the fun of traditional Tangrams in a compact form. There’s Travel Tangoes People puzzles, Object puzzles and Animal puzzles. Our numberone seller to date is IQ Twist – a logic game with more than 100 challenges.

Safariology® Solar System

4 Language Educational Copy Included

Hand Ha d-PPaiintted d PPlla lane lane netts ts o off ou ourr Un Univ Uni iver iver erse se

Over 100 New 2013 Introductions at ASTRA June 16 - 19 | Nashville, TN Nashville Conv. Ctr. Booth 823

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Replicas designed by Safari Ltd® in the US since 1982 Shop our entire collection at or call 800.554.5414 for a free color catalog.

may/june 2013 ••••• 23


1. Everyone will be there. It’s the largest show designed just for the specialty toy industry. For the last three years, attendance numbers have broken the record set the year before. Expect to see about 1,500 of your industry peers. 2. It’s easy to get to. Nashville is within 600 miles of 50 percent of the U.S. population. No matter what mode of transportation you take, it’s easily accessible. The convention center is right in the heart of the city, and only 8 miles from the airport. 3. There will be lots of good music. Some of the best music and fun anywhere. Nashville was recently named among the top five best places to visit in the world this year by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. 4. You’ll see products for your store that no one else has seen before. There are 85 new or first-time exhibitors who are launching brand new, revealed-forthe-first-time products.


5. The majority of exhibitors offer show specials and discounts that are not available anywhere else. There are 350 exhibitors, people. You will save money! 6. You will not believe the amount of how-to information you will take home and actually do to make your business better. Here’s a partial list of what you’ll learn: How to change business-as-usual to achieve better results, how to build better business relationships, how to save money, how to improve staff meetings, how to create beautiful displays, how to improve inventory performance to increase profitability, how to create an online storefront, how to play the best new games, how to match children with special needs to products on your store’s shelves, how to master self promotion, how to motivate your staff, how to plan better, and more! 7. Everyone is nice. And they don’t want you to feel left out, especially if this is your first ASTRA show. If you’re new, don’t miss “The breakfast is on us!” on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Veteran ASTRA members will teach you how to get the most out of the show. 8. ASTRA knows how to throw a party (or two or three). In addition to a meet-and-greet on Saturday night, there are cocktails in the exhibit hall on Monday. The famous Opening Reception will be held Sunday.




Dress like a cowboy and get your picture taken in the photo booth. There will be line dancing and a giant moustache matching game. 9. You can play new board games with hundreds of fellow retailers. At Game Night on Monday, you and your staff will rotate through a ballroom set up with 45 different new games. Play and have fun, then go home and sell them. 10. ASTRA members will recognize and honor excellence. The names of people you do business with every day may be called: an excellent manufacturer, retailer and sales rep, plus a lifetime achiever. Maybe they’ll call your name. Find out how high these people set the bar. 11. For every order you write, you receive a ticket for a raffle of special prizes. Drop your tickets in the drum at ASTRA’s booth 722. The drawing takes place Wednesday. You have to be there to win. 12. The exhibit hall is open two full days so you can see all the products. You don’t even have to leave for lunch.

(continued on page 26)

Marketplace & Academy, presented by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association Sunday, June 16 through Wednesday, June 19 Nashville Convention Center

(“ASTRA SHOW” continued from page 24)

Think outside the box!

SCHEDULE Saturday, June 15 Noon to 6 p.m. Registration

Noon to 1 p.m. Lunch

6 to 8 p.m. Meet and Greet at the Bridge Bar at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. Just show up and have fun.


Sunday, June 16 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration

1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Connect Children with Special Needs to Toys and Games on Your Shelves, Ellen Metrick, National Lekotek Center Establish Your Online Storefront, Don Hays, Specialty Toys Network

7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. New to ASTRA and Marketplace? Then “The Breakfast is On Us!” 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Opening Keynote: Escape Ordinary and Choose to be Extraordinary, Jon Acuff, The Lampo Group

Made in U.S.A.!!

Find your store! 26 ••••• may/june 2013

Sessions 11 a.m. to Noon Staff Meetings Everyone Wants To Attend, Phil Wrzesinski, Toy House and Baby Too

Technology and The Balance of Power Between Retailers and Consumers, Paul Erickson, RMSA Retail Solutions Understanding Your Brand, Phil Wrzesinski, Toy House and Baby Too New Inventors and Manufacturers: Licensing, Social Media, Gamification, Marketing and International Markets, panel discussion moderated by Mary Couzins, Chicago Toy & Game Group

The 5 Cs of Social Media Dominance, Jon Acuff, The Lampo Group

3 to 4 p.m. Roundtable Discussion for Reps – Leading from the Middle, Lillian Davis, Diverse Marketing and Nicole Bortnick, BGN Sales Group

Retail panel: How to Create Beautiful Store Windows and Effective Displays

3 to 5 p.m. Kits, Kits and More Kits (Retailers Only)

Improve Inventory Performance and Increase Profitability, Paul Erickson, RMSA Retail Solutions

5 to 6 p.m. MAP, MSRP and RPM – What’s Legal and How Do You Enforce It? A panel discussion for all members moderated by Todd R. Seelman, Lathrop & Gage LLC

For New Inventors and Manufacturers – Packaging, Production, Trends, Working with Retailers and Reps, panel discussion moderated by Mary Couzins, Chicago Toy & Game Group

7 to 11 p.m. Opening Reception

Monday, June 17 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registration 7:30 to 8 a.m. Breakfast Buffet 8 to 9:30 a.m. ASTRA’s Annual Business Meeting and Awards Presentation


9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Exhibit Floor Open Best Toys for Kids 2013 Finalists Display & Voting Noon to 1 p.m. Lunch in the Exhibit Hall 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Ice Cream Social 5 to 6 p.m. Cocktail Reception 7 to 10 p.m. Game Night (Retailers Only)

Tuesday, June 18 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration Open 8 to 9 a.m. Continental Breakfast 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Exhibit Floor Open Best Toys for Kids 2013 Finalists Display & Voting Noon to 1 p.m. Lunch in the Exhibit Hall

Wednesday, June 19

Ask about our Discounts, Freight, Deals, and FREE Merchandising Materials

7:30 a.m. to Noon Registration Open

The Orb Factor y Limited Toll Free Tel: 800-741-0089 Toll Free Fax: 888-807-7979

8 to 8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast i n f o @ o r b f a c t o r y. c o m w w w. o r b f a c t o r y. c o m

Sessions 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Small Store Roundtables – Good Ideas That Are Just Your Size, Idanna Smith, The Good Toy Group Master Self-Promotion For Your Store, Tim Holliday, Children’s World & Children’s World Uniform Supply Shifting Opinions: Buy Local Campaign 101, Lily Brislen for the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA)

Vote for your Favorite Products

Tactical Steps for Strategic Success, Chris Hogan, The Lampo Group 10 a.m. to Noon Closing Keynote: Playing, Leading, and Succeeding, Chris Hogan, The Lampo Group

“Like” us on Facebook to vote!

edplay’s Fabulous Awards may/june 2013 ••••• 27

VISIT OUR ADVERTISERS at MARKETPLACE Adora by Charisma booth 1015 See ad on page 30 1 1

1 1 1

Asmodee booth 934 12 games for the price of 11, plus 50% off demo copy. Free shipping for orders over $500. See ad on page 53

BERG USA booth 546 See ad on page 56

Blue Orange Games booth 733 Free freight with $750. Free freight and net 60 with $1,000. See ad on page 18





Chicago Toy and Gift booth 837 Sampler – Order 3 each of any 20 different SKUs = FFA. $400 = Receive extra $50 free merch – new customers. See ad on page 9

Elenco booth 1001 With an $800 net order, net 60 days dating, 5% discount, FFA. All orders written at the ASTRA Convention. See ad on page 8

Endless Games booth 619 See ad on page 11

Family Games America FGA booth 1242 See ad on page 7, 51

Fat Brain Toy Co. booth 1222 Free freight on orders $500+. Mention promo code: ASTRA-2. Expires June 24, 2013. See ad on page 21

Folkmanis booth 817 See ad on page 64

28 ••••• may/june 2013

FS-USA booth 916 See ad on page 45

HABA booth 1106 FFA at $500 See ad on page 15

Jax Ltd. booth 709 See ad on page 13, 52

Mayfair Games Inc. booth 217 See ad on page 26, 44

Merchant Technologies booth 707 See ad on page 45

Monkeez Makes a Difference – Goofballz booth 219 Free freight on all orders over $250. Free Monkeez or Goofballz fixture for orders over $500. 90 day terms for orders over $1,000. See ad on page 17

PATCH Products booth 1342 Stop by to find out how you can save 20+% on our exciting NEW brands, Mirari and Planet Sock Monkey! Additional specials available also! See ad on page 43

PlaSmart booth 1000

OgoSport LLC booth 1014

See ad on page 6

See ad on page 55

The Reading Game/ Allsaid & Dunn LLC booth 1018

The Orb Factory booth 906 $250 = FFA, net 30. $1,000 = FFA, 5%, net 60. $1,500 = FFA, 5%, net 90. $2,500 = FFA, 7%, 1/1/14 dating. See ad on page 27

See ad on page 28

Reindeer Magic/ Kavik Publishing booth 1316 Stop by booth #1316 to take advantage of our specially priced Gift Box and Gift Bag Packages! See ad on page 61

may/june 2013 ••••• 29

Safari Ltd. booth 823 $100 – FFA. $350 – net 30 FFA. $750 – net 90, FFA, 5% discount. See ad on page 23 Small World Toys booth 900 See ad on page 2

Smart Toys and Games Inc. booth 125 See ad on page 37

Specialty Toys Network booth 427 New signups get FREE membership and hosting through 2013! Save up to $600. Attend our retail session at ASTRA,1:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 16, “Establish Your Online Storefront.” See ad on page 58

30 ••••• may/june 2013

Talicor Inc. booth 326

Wiggity Bang Games booth 320

See ad on page 58

See ad on page 3

Thames & Kosmos booth 724 $500 = net 60, 1 free E&M ($50 retail value);$1000 = Net60, 2%, free E&M ($50 retail value); $2,000 = net 60, FFA, 2f free E&M ($100 retail value) – Plus: FFA on reorders $500+ through 12/31/13. See ad on page 25

Wikki Stix booth 1114 Free freight with orders of $250 or more. See ad on page 29

TMI Toymarketing International booth 1216

WoolPets booth 339 FFA on all show orders. $200 = 3% discount; $500 = 5% discount. Free sample kits sent with all new orders.

See ad on page 28

See ad on page 54

USAopoly Inc. booth 924 Low minimum and display rack with purchase of 24 games. Centrally located Midwest shipping location. Free demos available. 8% off orders placed at show. See ad on page 5




Life-like PlayTime Babies are created in a baby powder-scented, GentleTouch vinyl. They have a cuddly, silky-smooth body similar to the trim on a child’s blanket, and a bean bag-weighted bottom.

New Monkeez Makes a Difference knit characters include Punkin Penguin, Flora Flamingo and Barnaby Polar Bear. When one is purchased, kids choose one of three charity options to receive a 10 percent donation.

CREATURE COMFORTS Gromos is a big, snugly bear despite his moodos. Sometimes even bears need a little hug to cheer them up! A perfect new character to leave a melancholy winter and spring into warm weather.

Planet Sock Monkey is a daring, new soft doll line that explores self-expression through a variety of bold characters. Each 10-inch knit sock monkey comes clothed in a signature style, and is only available for a limited time.

BathTime Babies are perfect for the bath and pool! Each comes with its own washcloth and animal-themed bathrobe. The exclusive “QuikDri” body dries in no time.

34 ••••• may/june 2013

Buki Books

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••••• CHARADES IN-A-CAN includes movie musicals, movie villains, movie heroes and holiday charades. Helpful hints and instructions are included.

Spot it! Party injects a new factor of frenzied fun into the hit game, and features all new symbols to rev up the challenge. With six mini-games to master, this party box will hook everyone for hours of electrifying fun!

NO DICE It’s a race to the top, but beware of the drop. In the game of Drop Shot, roll the die and strategically move past the gates. Be the first to reach the top and survive the last chance drop! For two to four players ages 6 and up.

Was the light bulb invented before or after glasses? Timeline features 109 cards that depict different inventions with their dates on the opposite side. Players try to place all of their cards in the correct chronological order on the timeline before their challengers to win.

A game of skill, precision, braggadocio and bravado, Mumbly’s combines “Pitching Pennies” with “Darts,” while adding the collect-ability of Pogs. Each set features uniquely designed, funky and cool magnetic game characters.

In Tapple, players choose a category card and, in just 10 seconds, have to name a word matching the category. Then, press the first letter of the word on the Tapple wheel, hit the button to reset the timer and pass the wheel to the next player. Whoever collects the most cards wins. For two to eight players ages 8 and up. 36 ••••• may/june 2013

Smart Toys and Games 2822 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94109 *…œ˜iÊ­nää®Êx{ӇÈÎÇxÊUÊ>ÝÊ­{£x®Ê™Î£‡ÈÎÇx Ê Ê Ê Ê Ê Ê ->iÃJ-“>ÀÌ/œÞÃ>˜`>“iðVœ“



G A M E S ,

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retailers recommend



Fabulous Products by Alyssa LaFaro




5 by Alyssa LaFaro

Margaret Spicer from Distinctive Toys in Fair Haven, New Jersey “Tattoos from a bunch of different companies – Hot Focus (1), ALEX (2), and Creativity for Kids/ Faber-Castell (3) – are doing well. ‘Peace & Love’ from Alex’s Sparkle Tattoo Parlor is very popular. “There’s a new company, Bike Brightz, that makes lights for bicycles. Glow Brightz (4), a flexible light tube that works on a battery pack, is revolutionary. When you wrap the tube around 38 ••••• may/june 2013

the body of the bike, it makes it visible 360 degrees. The original Bike Brightz (5) that uses LED technology also sells well. It’s a light stick that attaches to the bottom bar on a bicycle. “Boogie Board E-Writers (6) from Improv Electronics blow out of the store. The premise is the same as the old-fashioned sketching boards that had a waxy base – there was a piece of plastic on top that you could draw on and then lift it up to erase. Kids write on the Boogie Board itself, and then press a

button when they want to erase it and start over. The possibilities with this toy are endless. A mom can keep these lightweight LCD writing tablets in her purse, and take it in the car, to a restaurant or to the grocery store. “The week of Easter, I got in 48 Mini Flyers (7) from MukikiM. They are foam balls in the form of smiley faces, soccer balls and more, attached to helicopter blades. They are powered by a battery pack, and are sensory, so kids guide it where they want it to go simply




8 10


11 by moving their hand under it. “The OgoSport Volo Hok Dart (8) can be used indoors and outside. It’s a throwing toy that has adjustable wings so kids can change its speed and trajectory. “Universal Toys just came out with an air-powered stomp rocket called Skylight Rocket (9). There are two lighted rockets and three daytime rockets in the package, and it has a good price point considering you get five rockets. “Sticker books (10) from Usborne are another really big seller

for me. The line for girls, which includes everything from fairies to travel to ballerinas to bridesmaids, sells well. There’s a line for boys, too, that features themes like heroes, exploration and sports. “I can’t seem to keep Foil It! (11), a foam sticker activity kit from Peter Pauper Press, in stock. It involves applying glittery foils to adhesive foam stickers. It is similar to the old-fashioned sand art, where you’d peel off certain sections of the sticker and then apply

sand to them. This is the same premise, except with foil paper. It’s great because it creates absolutely no mess.” Melissa Tennille from Teaching Toys & Books in Tacoma, Washington “There’s a toy made by Schylling called Twinkle Twist Wand (12). It is a stick with a Mylar bubble on it. You spin it back and forth on your fingers to make the bubble on top do all these crazy, trippy things. I could sell a million of those if I had them. may/june 2013 ••••• 39



Puppet-on-a-Stick, incorporating a vari­

the players are. Each one has an animal

terned, 12-inch wooden pinwheels

ety of sea animals. There is an octopus

burned into the handle.

"Forever Garden makes pat­

"We carry a young adult book called

called SPINwheels (13). They're

(Dipper), shark (Chomper) and clam

shaped like flowers. We made a big

(Bob), but my personal favorite is the

Cinder (17) by Marissa Meyer (pub­

window display with them, so they

angler fish (Flipper).

lished by Macmillan), and it has done real­

"Kendama USA's new Spirit

ly well for us. The sequel, Scarlet (18),

Animal Series (16) are pro models, so

just released, has been huge. It's kind of

have been selling like hot cakes. The company also makes wonderful

gardening kits for kids (14). "Educational Insi ghts Sea Squad (15) is an evolved version of its

each one stands for one of the USA pro

an alien, futuristic retelling of Cinderella.

team players. Kendama is really popular

The main characters are Vietnamese,

in Washington, and people know who

which also make it cool and unique."

. 1.

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is a domestic, 3rd party independent testing laboratory specializing in CPSIA, ASTM F963, Canadian CCPSA Toys Regulations, and California Proposition 65 compliance testing. ToyTestingLab is accredited by A2LA and is accepted by the CPSC as an accredited laboratory. We provide compliance testing services for toys and games, jewelry, and a wide range of consumer products.

CPSIA TEST METHODS: CPSC-CH-E1003-09 Determining Lead in Paint and Surface Coatings CPSC-CH-E1002-08 Determining Total Lead in Non-Metal Children’s Products CPSC-CH-E1001-08 Determining Total Lead in Children’s Metal Products CPSC-CH-C1001-09.3 Phthalate Analysis

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Accurate Results, Knowledgeable Staff Our state-of-the-art laboratory offers all the capabilities you’ll need to ensure that your products are safe for children. You’re in good hands with over 75 trained technicians on staff to analyze raw materials, intermediary parts or finished goods.

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Buy and Sell Better with These

Three Toy Trends All of the toy categories mentioned here have special applications for children with special needs. Kids with cognitive delays can benefit greatly from toys that have neuro-benefits. Certain collections can also help kids with individual special needs develop certain skills, whether they are physical, social or communicative. Manipulatives are ideal for children who need a little help with their small-motor skills, or need to keep their hands busy. When you are buying your inventory and selling in your stores, keep these trends in mind.

by Ellen Metrick


STRA’s Marketplace & Academy is coming up, and among the eight reasons to attend, says the association, are trend spotting and advice. They’re right. The conference is a great opportunity to find out what’s happening in the general toy marketplace. I plan on attending, and will be conducting a presentation entitled, “Connect Children with Special Needs to Toys and Games on Your Shelves.” Trend spotting is a big reason I attend ASTRA’s Marketplace. In looking through my toy industry crystal ball, I see three trends to consider when you purchase inventory: 1. 2. 3.

products with neuro-benefits, products from collections and manipulatives.

They’re great trends to talk about with customers on your selling floor, especially the ones who ask, “What’s new?” Here are some details you can share.

Neuro-Benefits • • • • More toy manufacturers are promoting the value of their products for helping children’s brains develop social, emotional and intellectual skills. The logos and brand images of companies like Fat Brain Toys and Funnybones literally feature a graphic of the brain, further emphasizing their product position. Fortunately, the research on the benefits of play on brain development is substantial. In fact, some powerhouse organizations like the National Institute of Play, the Association of Childhood Education International and the American Academy of Pediatrics have made it their cause to disseminate the research on the neuro-benefits of play. Here are four more manufacturers with products that have neuro-benefits. 42 ••••• may/june 2013

1. SmartNoggin Toys’ NogginStik It helps develop eye tracking, face recognition and focus, starting at infancy. It can be used as a guide to assess a child, and as a tool for brain stimulation. It enhances visual tracking needed to reach, crawl, walk and read. 2. Marble Ball Tracks by HABA Open-ended ball tracks help children learn through trial and error. In doing so, they are learning problem-solving skills, as well as developing eye tracking and controlling eye movements that directly relate to reading and comprehension. (continued on page 44)



3. Speed Stacks by Speed Stacks Inc. Kids love to “sport stack” (also known as cup stacking or speed stacking), and proponents claim if done regularly it improves cognitive, affective and psychomotor abilities. The theory is that when using both sides of the body by crossing the “midline,” both sides of the brain are utilized. It results in increased concentration and academic results. 4. Bananagrams The mere exploration of letters helps children make the connection that letters make words and words are used to communicate with others. The game further enhances this by having children play together, developing social awareness and interaction.


FIND YOUR STORE! 44 ••••• may/june 2013

5. GoldieBlox Perhaps there’s a reason only 11 percent of engineers are women. One theory is that the majority of toys that develop cognitive spatial skills and the types of problemsolving abilities engineers need are marketed to boys. GoldieBlox was invented by Debbie Sterling, a Stanford engineer. The toy is designed, she says, to “inspire girls the way LEGOs and Erector sets have inspired boys, for over 100 years, to develop an early interest and skill set in engineering,” she says.

Collections • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • When you put a product into a collection, it does a couple of things for retailers. First, it allows you to tell a story when positioning this product with consumers. For example, if you have a bunch of toys organized into an “imaginary play collection,” you can talk to customers about the important role this type of play has in a child’s development. Lean on research to support those claims. Here’s a quote about collections from a March 6 issue of Psychology Today: “Over the last 75 years, a number of theorists and researchers have identified the value of such imaginative play as a vital component to the normal development of a child.” Second, merchandising by collections allows you to sell several items

within a collection. If a mom is inter­ ested in developing a particular skill in her child - say, physical fitness - she might be more willing to purchase an item that develops strong legs, and another to develop strong arm muscles. That's why manufacturers like Little Tikes market collection segmenting such as DiscoverSounds and Clearly Sports. Melissa & Doug reflect this trend by organizing a collection of their products by skill development in their "Shop by Skill" category, added to their website in 2012.



Manipulatives are toys that help children develop fine-motor skills by making them use the small muscles in their fingers and hands. Fine-motor skills are crucial for mastering tasks like dressing themselves, developing eye-hand coordination and learning to

• Easy to inflate Indoor or outdoor play Furniture and floor friendly • Easy to clean •

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write or draw. Manipulatives like blocks assist a child in developing cause and effect. Blocks lay the groundwork for under­ standing the rudimentary elements of math, like prediction and order; and sci­ ence, like trial and error and the effects of gravity, weight distribution and bal­ ance. Examples of great manipulatives include Pop Arty by B.Toys, Band in a Box by Schoenhut, and puzzles, blocks and activity houses.

��Empowering America's Retailers"


Ellen Metrick is the



director of industry relations & partner­ ships for the

Notional Lekotek

Center. Lekotek is

a not-for-profit,

leading authority

on toys and ploy for children with disabilities. It is dedicated to providing


children of all abilities access to the benefits of ploy experiences. Visit ableplayorg for a complete listing of toys for children with special needs. You can e-mail Ellen,, and follow Lekotek on Facebook.

may/june 2013··· 45




Reindeer Magic is a

beautifully illustrated Christmas storybook that comes with a red velvet bag of reindeer magic and an adoptable 6-inch plush reindeer toy.

The colorful and lively PLAY-DOH illustrations of My First Words teach youngsters more than 50 vocabulary words in categories like animals, clothing and transportation. Kids delight in seeing everyday items in the vivid colors and funky texture of PLAY-DOH.

BETWEEN THE LINES The world has changed since the days when children played outside and baseball was a national pastime. Author Kevin Christofora’s Woodstock All Stars brings those days to life again, taking children on a journey through the eyes of young Nick and his very first baseball season.

The machine-washable Magic Leaf picture book is made of the highest quality organically farmed cotton. Sewn-on fabrics to tug on, peek-through windows and smiling faces make it easy for a parent to make up a story. Plus, the visuals are self-stimulating for solo play. The Greatest Dot-toDot Adventure (the 17th book in the Greatest Dot-toDot series) skillfully utilizes dots to create amazingly complex and artistic dot-to-dot puzzles.

46 ••••• may/june 2013

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Business Buyers


Sales of small businesses spiked in the first quarter as sellers start taking the leap.


he number of small businesses sold in the first quarter of 2013 increased by 56 percent compared to the first quarter of 2012, says BizBuySell, the Internet’s largest business-for-sale marketplace. It represents the highest number of businesses sold in a single quarter since mid-year 2008, when small business sales bottomed out. In total, 1,897 closed transactions were reported, a dramatic bump over last year’s 1,218. The results are included in’s First Quarter 2013 “Insight Report” that aggregates business-for-sale transactions reported by participating business brokers nationwide. Why the sharp rise? The spike can be attributed to a number of factors. For a few years now, small business financials have been improving as the economy slowly recovers. Business owners who have been looking to exit their business, particularly baby boomers ready to retire, finally have their businesses in sellable shape and are more confident that they will receive an appropriate financial return on their sale. This proved true in the first quarter of 2013 as the median sale price of a sold business was $180,000, the highest level since 2009. Business transaction fundamentals are strong with a latent supply of owners ready to sell, and improving buyer demand

48 ••••• may/june 2013

due to ongoing unemployment, recovering stock portfolios and the slowly improving lending situation. Just last month, 75.2 percent of respondents to a survey of national business brokers said they are seeing the same or more deals getting done as compared to 2012. When the survey asked about the number-one factor causing the increase, the top two answers were “the increase in the number of interested buyers” and “the increase in the number of owners looking to sell.” The Fiscal Cliff factor In addition to strengthening business results and fundamentals, other factors are also contributing to the strong year-overyear growth. At the end of 2012, small business transactions rose dramatically as owners rushed to complete the sale of their businesses before the potential Fiscal Cliff and new tax rates. data showed that over the final three weeks of December, small business sales climbed 43.4 percent over the same period in 2011. It is likely that many additional such deals carried over to the first quarter of 2013. Brokers in March echoed this sentiment as survey respondents attributed the 2013 increase to a backlog of transactions, spurred by the Fiscal Cliff, that didn’t get done in 2012 and are closing now. “Since the economic downturn in 2008, we’ve been waiting for a time when buyers and sellers finally felt ready to re-enter

the business-for-sale market,” Curtis Kroeker, group general manager of and, said. “The continued strengthening of business performance, the resolution of the uncertainty of both the Presidential election and (to a large degree) the Fiscal Cliff, and the strong stock market appear to be creating such an environment.” Good looking numbers As the stock market and overall economy have improved, so have the financials of small businesses across the country. According to the Insight data, the median cash flow of a small business sold in Q1 reached $100,000, a 20.45 percent increase over Q1 of 2012. Median revenue also improved, jumping from $360,000 in Q1 2012 to $401,213 in Q1 2013, an 11.45 percent increase. The improved financial health of small businesses is enabling sellers to ask for more money from buyers. The median asking price for businesses sold in the first quarter was $199,000, a 10.6 percent increase over Q1 2012. Encouragingly, the median sale price rose even more (20 percent year-overyear) in Q1 2013 to $180,000 – a level not seen since Q4 2009. Small business financial indicators have been on the rise for some time now and with many of the metrics reaching levels not seen since the 2008/2009 downturn, there is little doubt the improved health is helping push the jump in small business exit transactions,” Kroeker said. “Hopefully this trend continues to increase owner confidence that they can get a good sale price, and gets buyers excited about joining an improving small business market.” What’s next? While the large jump in small business transactions is a great sign for the future, there is still some uncertainty regarding the remainder of 2013. Business brokers were cautiously optimistic in the survey last month, with 54.2 percent of brokers expecting slight to significant improvement going forward. Another 13.4 percent expected no change from

the current activity level. When asked what factor most endangers economic recovery, 31.8 percent cited the national debt and ongoing political gridlock. Small business and personal tax rates came in second, cited by 17.5 percent of respondents, while both small business health care costs and ongoing long-term unemployment received 12.3 percent of votes each. The next few quarters of 2013 will be very telling regarding the status of the business-for-sale market. The resolution of the Presidential election and fear of the pending Fiscal Cliff appear to have accelerated business-for-sale transactions at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. If improving business fundamentals and improved access to capital also play a significant role, activity levels will likely stay high in the second quarter. Decreased activity in the second quarter would suggest that the spike in activity was temporary, and largely related to the carryover transactions driven by concerns about the Fiscal Cliff at the end of 2012. “A number of factors appeared to have fueled a spike in business sales this quarter,” Kroeker said. “We expect small business health to continue to improve. However, time will tell if it will result in high transaction volumes for the rest of the year or if the market will return to the slow, but steady road to recovery we saw in 2012.” releases its Insight Report on a quarterly basis, reporting changes in closed transaction rates, valuation multiples and other economic indicators for the small business transaction market. Closed transactions are reported to on a voluntary basis by business brokers nationwide. For more information, or to find a qualified broker, visit The company has an inventory of approximately 45,000 businesses spanning 80 countries for sale at any one time, and receives more than 910,000 monthly visits. features an extensive franchise directory and an easy-to-use business valuation tool. The company was founded in 1996, and in 2012 became a division of CoStar Group Inc.

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New York International Gift Fair Re-Brands In August, the New York International Gift Fair in Manhattan will be called “NY NOW, the Market for Home & Lifestyle.” The new name will be accompanied by a new floor plan; and four broad market categories – Home, Lifestyle, Handmade and New – will replace the show’s 10 divisions. The popular Baby + Child division of previous shows will become part of the larger Lifestyle category, which will present an array of merchandise from giftware to personal care to fashion accessories. Its 1,100 exhibitors will be located on Level 1 of New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Center. The Home category will showcase over 1,200 home furnishings, textiles, decorative accessories, and tabletop and gourmet housewares on Level 3. Five hundred handcrafted resources “representing all home and lifestyle categories and crafted in all types of media” will be found in the Handmade category on Level 4, and the New collection will focus on 250 newcomers in the New York market grouped together at Pier 94. “The show’s reorganization into four collections and the repositioning of related resources not only will reinforce the depth and breadth of resources in the New York market, but also will better reflect the way retailers are shopping and sourcing today,” says Christian Falkenberg, the show’s director and GLM vice president. NY NOW will run Saturday, August 17, through Wednesday, August 21. For more information on the event, visit

Get Noticed on Facebook Fee Free


If you thought social media companies would make their user base available free of charge forever, think again. Facebook, with more than 1 billion monthly users some 618 million daily users, and 680 million mobile users, is learning it can generate revenue from its user base. It’s bad news for small businesses that have utilized the social media platform to promote their companies. “Although Facebook denies that it has tweaked its algorithm to force people into paying for more exposure, independent studies appear to indicate that recent changes have had an impact on overall reach,” wrote Intuit Small Business blogger Tim Parker. To avoid paying for sponsored content, but still increase your Facebook exposure, he offered these four tips. 1. Turn on “get notifications.” EdgeRank is Facebook’s algorithm that decides which posts will be in front of the (continued on page 52)

50 ••••• may/june 2013



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2. Use images. You’ve probably noticed that since Facebook changed its newsfeed to make images more prominent, their use has taken off. A HubSpot study found that when photos are posted on pages, they receive 53 percent more “likes” than the average post. It also found that the average number of comments per post on images is 104 percent higher than on other types of content.

eyes of your fans and which won’t. Remember the days when the little red number at the top of your page would alert you to a new posting on pages you liked? That’s now turned off by default when a person likes your page. Have your fans turn it on by going to your business’s page, hovering over the “like” box and clicking “get notifications.” Then, pin the post to the top of your page so it stays within view of your new fans.

52 ••••• may/june 2013

3. Don’t abandon text. “Regardless of the medium, you’ll still need to have text in your posts that draws users in,” says Brandon Duncombe, social media manager at “Asking open-ended questions and encouraging debate grabs eyeballs. But always make it relevant to what you want the user to ultimately do (click on an image, watch a video, click on a link, etc.).” 4. “Like” other pages. View other business and nonprofit pages while using Facebook as your business instead of as an individual. Share their interesting posts or announcements on your page. This may prompt others to share your content, which means fans of other pages will

Twitter Offers Gift Cards, Too

Retail Therapy Works

In February, we learned that Facebook was releasing a physical gift card that its users could order through the social media platform to use at the physical retail locations of participating brands. Twitter also launched a program in February, partnering with American Express along the way. The service lets members with an Amex credit card sync it to their Twitter account. They can then make purchases by tweeting special hashtags for the products they’d like to buy. “For example, last month American Express offered $25 Amex gift cards for $15. By using #BuyAmexGiftCard25 in a tweet, customers received a reply tweet from the @AmexSync account containing a confirmation hashtag. The customers had to tweet that hashtag within 15 minutes to purchase the product, which was subsequently shipped to their billing address,” explains an article from U.S. News & World Report. Amex believes social networks are the next big market for online shopping. “We know that retailers are very engaged on the Twitter platform,” notes Senior Vice President of Digital Partnerships and Development Leslie Berland. “Many of them are advertising promotions and building their brand on the platform, but they haven’t been able to keep business transactions on the Twitter platform.” Amex believes that the younger generation will be key here, because they are more actively engaged with Twitter. “Those are the customers who can help us spread this virally.”

Research findings from a national survey conducted by TNS Global on behalf of online shopping website show that 51.8 percent of Americans engage in retail therapy to improve their mood. This group is further characterized by gender, with 63.9 percent being women and 39.8 percent being men. One thousand people participated in the survey. Clothing at 57.9 percent is the number-one item that women purchase when treating themselves to some retail therapy. This was followed by food, shoes, accessories and books/magazines. Most men, on the other hand, indulge in food. This was followed by electronics, music/movies, clothes and games/toys. Additional findings showed that 66.6 percent of Americans believe online shopping provides better retail therapy than physical shopping, and that getting a deal makes 80.7 percent of Americans feel best when indulging in retail therapy.

may/june 2013 ••••• 53

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Advanstar Licensing, organizers of

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Alexander Doll Company is celebrating its 90th anniver­ sary. Founded in 1923, the company was acquired by Pennsylvania-based Kahn Lucas last year.


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pioneer, and have helped shape the doll world. "Beatrice Alexander started her company at a time when very few women even worked outside the home, and we believe she would be very pleased with the limited-edition dolls celebrating this anniversary milestone," says Gale Jarvis, company president. Here is a list of the 2013 commemorative dolls. •

21-inch Cissy is designed to emulate a 1920s photo of Madame Alexander.

12-inch Lissy harkens back to the original McGuffey Ana dolls of the 1930s and '40s.

penguin Learn the art and process of sculptural needle felting and create an adorable. cute and fuzzy little animal. Our fun and easy kits are great for both beginners and experienced felter>. Step-by-step c o lor photographs make this addictive craft a snap. For ages 10 & up!

lO-inch Cisette is dressed in a pink celebration gown.

8-inch Wendy, Cisette's companion doll, comes with a marionette theater.

8-inch Maggie brings her own doll, Funny, to the celebration.

Other dolls were also introduced to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the movies"Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz." Kahn Lucas was founded in 1889 and continues to operate in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in addition to running showrooms in New York City. It's a privately held, fourth-generation, family-led company focused on age­ appropriate girls' fashions for sizes newborn to 16. The company has been


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The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) says that updated information on pricing regulations will be available for retailers and man­ ufacturers at its annual convention in Nashville in June. The educational session "MAP, MSRP and RPM - What's Legal and How DoYou Enforce It?" will be

offered on Sunday, June 16, from 5 to 6 p.m. It will cover minimum advertised pricing (MAP) rules, antitrust laws and related issues. “Minimum pricing requirements are good for specialty toy manufacturers because they protect their brand image from being tarnished by discounting,” notes Kathleen McHugh, ASTRA president. “They are good for specialty toy retailers because they support the actual costs of offering consumers a fun, hands-on shopping experience at a bricks-and-mortar store. Yet mastering all the rules and regulations that manufacturers and retailers need to know can be challenging for a small business. ASTRA is committed to providing resources for our members to help them understand the regulations and how to compete within the rules.” Leading the MAP session will be attorney Todd R. Seelman, co-chair of the Antitrust and Competition practice group at Lathrop & Gage. He will be joined by representatives from International Playthings, Neat-Oh! International and The Creditors Network for a lively discussion of pricing pitfalls for manufacturers and retailers. The discussion is designed to provide clear guidance on antitrust laws and what constitutes price fixing. It will help manufacturers and retailers understand how to avoid pricing behaviors that are prohibited. In March, ASTRA moved to a different suite, number 205, in the same building in Chicago. The complete new address is: ASTRA, 432 N. Clark St. Suite 205, Chicago, Illinois 60654. The phone and fax numbers remain 312222-0984 (phone) and 312-222-0986 (fax).

Bobby Susser, founder of early childhood music label New Hope Records, has received the prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award from Teachers College, Columbia University. With 12 children’s albums in the marketplace and more than 5 million albums sold, Susser has written and produced original, award-winning songs for children since 1972. His latest album “WO!” won two Dr. Toy Awards and a Parents’ Choice award. Susser says a special highlight of his career was recording the official theme song for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

may/june 2013 ••••• 55

industry news•••••

Residents of Marlboro Township, New Jersey, who use their Shop Marlboro card to make purchases at the mom-and-pop stores in their neighborhood earn discounts on their property taxes. It is believed to be the first program in the country to encourage residents to shop at local businesses by offering such deductions. It works like this: residents sign up for the program for free, and receive the card that can be swiped at a number of area businesses (currently around 40). But rather than save money at the business, residents earn credits (based on a percentage of the amount purchased) that are deducted from their annual tax invoice. If someone spends $100 at a restaurant that has a corresponding tax credit of 10 percent, his taxes will be $10 less when the bill comes. Since last September, 1,200 of Marlboro’s 40,000 residents have signed on to the program. Not surprisingly, several other towns in New Jersey, a state with some of the highest property tax rates in the nation, are considering following Marlboro’s lead.

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The employees of Magic Beans toy and baby gear store, located in the Prudential Center near the Boston Marathon finish line, were praised by customers for their response during the bombings on April 15. “There were about 10 customers, adults and children, and three employees in the store at the time,” says Isaac Judd, CEO of the four-store Boston-area chain. “They heard the blast, but didn’t know what happened because there are no windows in the mall where our store is located. Mall security responded quickly, and led everyone to a ‘safe room’ where they stayed for about 30 minutes. Our staff helped entertain the children during this very stressful time, and it was much appreciated by their parents.” When it was deemed safe, they were escorted out of the mall via an exit away from the bombing site. The store was not damaged, but remained closed until Saturday, April 20. As a result, sales at Magic Beans’ Prudential Center location were only 25 percent of the sales during the same week the previous year, Judd reports. On Friday during the city’s lockdown, his three other stores in Cambridge, Brookline and Wellesley were also closed. Judd hopes the incident won’t scare people away from shopping downtown.

FS-USA, a veteran of the toy and gift industry, makers of the popular Mega Marbles Brand of toy marbles, has been named official marble sponsor for the short indie film, “All the Marbles,” scheduled to be released in December. The main character, Jamison, is a short 10-year-old boy with cute cheeks and glasses. The story begins when he’s dropped off by his mom in front of a towering old warehouse. A weathered sign reads “Wolf Marble Co.” Wolf is a creepy collector of marbles, and Jamison has arrived to regain his treasured Steely marble, given to him by his father. Wolf has no intention of relinquishing it and the challenge is set – a rematch – but this time they’ll play for all the marbles. Award-winning actor and producer of the film Carl

Petersen and director Michael Swingler wrote a story that combines the atmosphere of films like “Edward Scissorhands” with the words of a favorite Dr. Seuss book. It captures the magic of every child’s love of marbles while also celebrating the spooky fears we all had as kids. For more information, visit the “All The Marbles” Facebook page, or or FS-USA (Fabricas Selectas USA) is North America’s largest toy marble manufacturer and one of the world’s leading providers of marbles. The company specializes in top-of-the-line toy marbles and games made in Mexico. With offices in Jalisco, Mexico, and Wichita, Kansas, FS-USA offers more than 70 different marble styles and themes.



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The ogoBILD line offers stimulating opportunities for constructive play and imaginative exploration. The collectible and interchangeable BITS are alive and seeking adventure. Look for Hitch, Blink, Crank, Leap and Blee to join them on their exciting journey! With SmartMax Build & Light, children can effortlessly create houses, towers and other bright structures thanks to easy-to-manipulate magnetic balls and multicolored bars, two of which are lit with LED lights. Will be available in stores and online this June.

PIECE BY PIECE This toy really sucks! SQUIGZ will stick to virtually any flat surface with no residue. Just push them together, then pop them apart. Using “suction construction” and a little imagination, these fun little suckers will provide hours of creative play for boys and girls alike.

58 ••••• may/june 2013

Build endless models with PowerClix. A superstring magnetic force creates a quick connect for fast, simple and powerful 3-D modeling. Build bridges, skyscrapers, animals and more.

Janod World Puzzle, Ring Stix, Tugboat Bath Toy, Drawing a Fashion Show Craft Kit, Spikeletz Bracelets

Little Squirts Drink bottles, Indestructibles baby books, Pentago, Tobbles, Roll & Play, Trucky 3, Rollors

EcoAquariums, WOW Toys Penny’s Pooch n Ride, Kid Galaxy Robot RC toy, Darda cars, Battat Take-A-Part Roadster

More than 70 products were featured last year in our popular “Retailers Recommend” column. Before each issue, we telephone random edplay readers from across the country – specialty toy retailers just like you – to ask, “What’s selling well in your store right now?” Often, while we have them on the phone, they browse through their aisles and study their shelves to spot current trends. Just like Share the Fair-type retailer meetings that take place at trade shows, the information they give us is fresh and anecdotal, and you can trust it, because it comes from a reliable source. Back to those 70-or-so products from 2012, the “Fabulous Finalists” in our first-ever contest. They were not necessarily new (many were) because we asked specifically for best sellers. “I’d like to mention the Djubi,” California retailer Anna Chow told us last summer. “It’s always been a great toy, but the price has come down recently, and it’s become a great option for a birthday party gift.” So instead of being simply brand new, edplay’s Fabulous Products are proven winners. They represent every toy-store category and price point, from manufacturers large and small. They are among the best toys for fun, open-ended play for every age group and both genders. All of the Fabulous Finalists are winners in their own right, but we would like you to pick your favorites – 10 in all, for first, second and third prize and seven honorable mentions. To vote, “like” edplay on Facebook, and view the products in our album entitled “edplay’s Fabulous Awards.” “LIKE” 10 BY MONDAY, JUNE 10. We’ll feature the Fabulous Award winners in our next issue, along with the winners of other industry awards, to give you a helpful resource to use as you stock your shelves for the fourth quarter.

Douglas Stuffed Dogs & Cats, Model, Estes Model Rockets, Shoozit Learn & Play Cube, Press N Go Inchworms

Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100-piece set, Magic Milk Flavoring Straws, Yummy Desert Keychains, LEGO Minifigures Series, Djubi

100-piece SnapCircuits set, Do-A-Dot markers, the Mini Kick scooter, Plan Toys train sets, Steppers, the Rockboard, WhatZ’it, Auto Bingo Cards

Thinking Putty, Jumbo Magnifiers, Blast Pads, Flash Flyer, HEXBUG Nano Zip Line, Duct Tape Kits, Loopdedoo Friendship Bracelet Maker, Army vs. Aliens, Q-BA-MAZE, Folkmanis Little Puppets

“Like” us on Facebook and vote for your favorites

Spooner Boards, Pirate and Fairy Series, Waboba Ball, Suspend, The Elf on the Shelf, Schwings, Wool Pets, Magformers, Uglydoll Mugs & Cookie Jars, Perfect Petzzz, Zippy Flyer, Kendama, RingStix

Recognize Best Sellers

Press Here, Das Modeling Clay, Tatoo & Sticker Activity Books, Poke-A-Dot Books, Beautiful Butterflies Sticky Mosaics, Educational Development Corp. Sticker Books, Poke-A-Dot Books

edplay’s Fabulous Awards

may/june 2013 ••••• 59

Tell our advertisers that you saw their products in edplay magazine INDEX OF ADVERTISERS may/june 2013 Company

Page Web Site


Page Web Site

ABC Kids Expo






Mayfair Games Inc.


Asmodee Editions


Merchant Technologies


Automoblox Company


Monkeez Makes a Difference


Bag O Blocks


Monkeying Around


Berg USA


OgoSport LLC


Blue Orange Games


The Orb Factory


Chicago Toy and Gift


PATCH Products Inc.


DeLano/EPI Printing Inc.




Elenco Electronics


The Reading Game


Endless Games


Reindeer Magic / Kavik Publishing 61

Family Games America FGA Inc


Rubens Barn


Fat Brain Toy Co.


Safari Ltd




Small World Toys




Smart Toys and Games, Inc.




Specialty Toys Network




Spring Swings LLC




Talicor Inc.


Guidecraft USA


Thames & Kosmos


HABA / Habermaass Corp.


Thumler’s Tumbler


Hollow Woodworks


TMI Toymarketing Int’l


Jax Ltd, Inc.


Toy Testing Lab


John N Hansen Co.


USAopoly Inc.


Koplow Games


Wiggity Bang Games


Laser Pegs Ventures LLC


Wikki Stix


Little Colorado Inc.




60 ••••• may/june 2013

endcap••••• (continued from page 62)

many different full-sized toys – then take their model outside for a spin – captures people’s attention. Then, when they’re tired of that model, they can take it apart and build something new with the same durable components. I can stand on a floor model, and I am 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weigh 200 pounds! When retailers told us that customers respond to it like this: “Cool – what is it?” we worked to better communicate the product. BERG created packaging that’s visually stimulating and BERG USA created a quad-fold brochure that details the product in a “take-home” promotional piece. The most effective tool, however, is letting people pick up and play with the building components – axels, planks and O-rings. What’s stopping consumers from testing your products in toy stores and buying them cheaper on line? We have a Minimum Advertised Price policy that allows all retailers to sell a quality product at a profitable margin reflective of the product. The Internet is a reality; it’s how North America shops. But consumers need to experience products like ours. Seeing, touching and playing with them powerfully communicates the value proposition to the consumer. We do a lot of demo events, and make sure they are in support of our dealers. We hear from our retailers that these factors lead to sales. 1. The product needs to be out on the floor. 2. People need to literally kick the tires of the karts (they are MOOV inflatable), adjust the seat and feel the steel.

Part of the BERG USA team. From left to right: Frank Bewersdorff, Daniel Snader, Anne Monroe, Kent Julye and Gary Landis.

3. With MOOV, kids and parents need to put some pieces together. They need to visit to see photos of what people around the world have created with the kits. 4. Consumers appreciate a BERG catalog that features the store’s name and address. 5. Let them ride the toys and have fun with the products. Consumers “get it.” They tell us “Wow! You can see that these toys are built really well.” Is there anything else you would like retailers to know about BERG USA? Three things. First, we are an ethical company that does business with people in an ethical fashion: good products at a fair price, good service, good information and resources, and a good opportunity for specialty toy retailers to grow their business. Second, we want to establish a relationship to demonstrate that our commitment is ongoing; not just one sale and done. We want to make sure we are doing right by our retailers – they’re partners rather than customers. We appreciate their business, whether they buy a single unit or many karts and kits. Third, we’re committed to play and people having fun. That’s ultimately what our business comes down to. We’d like to thank retailers for purchasing our products and offering them to their customers. It’s incredibly important, and I don’t think we say it enough. For more information about BERG Toys and MOOV, see the ad on page 56.

NATURAL & SAFE! PROUDLY HANDCRAFTED IN THE USA! Enforced MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) Policy


Call (888)894-1902 • may/june 2013 ••••• 61


Thanks for the Ride Kent Julye, vice president of marketing & sales at BERG USA, discusses the appeal of ride-on toys and the importance of listening to customers. by Tina Manzer


ast year about this time, when Kent Julye was in Massachusetts demoing BERG pedal karts, a 72-yearold woman hopped on for a ride before joining her family for Mother’s Day brunch. After her meal, she went back to the toy store with her son-in-law and pedaled some more. “What can I say? The karts are just fun to ride,” laughs Julye. “You see people get on them and have rides, and they have big smiles on their faces. The older you are, the bigger the smile, because I think it releases the inner child.” But BERG karts, after all, are not so much for grandmothers but for children. That’s why they’re not only fun, but sturdy, safe and easy to adjust. We asked Julye to tell us more about these European-made toys that everyone wants to ride.

Which ones sell best in a specialty toy store? Our brands are BERG Toys – pedal go-karts and ride-on toys – and MOOV construction kits for kids. With MOOV, kids don’t need tools to assemble childsized bikes, scooters, a crane, helicopter and more. The assembly models gets them started and then the creativity takes off. Our junior line, Buddy and Biky, along with the Rally/Jeep Adventure, are a great fit for specialty toy stores

because of their size and age targets. The three-kart vertical display fits comfortably in a small store. MOOV has its own unique, vertical display.

ment, farm, camping and auto shows, and also at ASTRA. I think this is our fifth year there. ASTRA has been very welcoming to us.

Where and when did BERG karts originate? The first kart was made 28 years ago by Henk van den Berg. He grew up on a farm where there are a lot of things lying around like wheels and gadgets, so with a few pipes, wooden planks, wheelbarrow wheels, and a chain Buddy Rally/Jeep Adventure with trailer (left) and pedals, he made a kart. He sold it and Buddy White (right) before it was even finished. Today, The Buddy is the best seller in speBERG Toy’s factory, warehouse and cialty toy stores. It’s a pedal go-kart for corporate headquarters are in Wekerom kids ages 3 to 8. That range refers to the in the Netherlands, and its products are child’s size; his ability to fit into the kart. sold in 56 countries. The Rally/Jeep Adventure for kids ages 4 In 2010, Frank Bewersdorff purto 12 is the next size up, and the City chased the U.S. distributorship and Compact is for kids 5 to 14 years of age. formed BERG USA. In 2012, BERG All BERG products are designed for Toys purchased BERG USA. I was an children to have fun with their bodies independent dealer, and joined the comand their minds, in both independent play pany last year. and with other children. They are able to challenge themselves at their own pace, When were the MOOV construction which I believe is in concert with what kits introduced? specialty toy stores are all about. In 2008, after three years of develOur products are also available in opment. They originated from a request bike stores, farm stores, general stores BERG Toys received for wheels to and occasionally in the club channel. build a go-kart. We introduce new products each year at There’s a lot of interest in MOOV. A Toy Fair, and we exhibit at entertainconstruction toy that allows kids to build (continued on page 61)

62 ••••• may/june 2013

An essential ingredient to every toybox, every childhood, every generation. See more puppets at 0r call 1-800-654-8922 for a free catalog.

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EdPlay May-June 2013  
EdPlay May-June 2013  

Magazine for educational play products