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Are You Participating in Neighborhood Toy Store Day?

Neighborhood Toy Store Day

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is gearing up for the 7th annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day, encouraging specialty toy retailers across the nation to participate in this year’s event. Neighborhood Toy Store Day, held on the second Saturday of November will take place on November 12 this year.

As ASTRA states, this is a day to come together and celebrate the special role that neighborhood toy stores play in their communities. While Small Business Saturday takes place on November 26, this national initiative is focused specifically on specialty toy retailers and is a unique opportunity to kick start the holiday sales season and connect with the ASTRA network.

For holiday shoppers who don’t like waiting until black Friday to mark items off of their shopping lists, Neighborhood Toy Store Day gives ASTRA members an edge on the competition.

If you’d like to participate in Neighborhood Toy Store Day, join ASTRA today!

EleFriend... The Bendable Toddler Toothbrush

October Cover

Introducing EleFriend, a brand new bendable toothbrush for toddlers from Baby Banana, the company behind the #1 selling baby toothbrush on Amazon. Parents who loved the flexibility of the infant Baby Banana Brush have been looking for a similar safe toddler product, but there wasn't anything available. Enter EleFriend... the only toddler toothbrush that bends.
EleFriend is intended for children ages 2-4 years old, which is a very important time in the development of life long oral health care habits. If brushing is enjoyable, kids are more likely to do it on their own. There is also a high risk of oral injury at this age and learning stage. The risk of oral injury is significantly reduced when a toothbrush bends. If a child falls, the brush will bend instead of impacting the soft tissues of their mouth. The flexible neck of EleFriend also prevents children from pushing down too hard as they learn to brush. The nylon bristles are extra soft yet still effective for plaque removal. The head of the toothbrush is perfectly sized for little mouths. The body of EleFriend is extra wide, ideal for little hands. All of these features combined make for a better option in the world of toddler toothbrushes.
Make sure your little one has a friend that bends when they are learning how to take care of their teeth... the EleFriend!

Why Specialty Toy Retailers Have the Holiday Sales Advantage

Specialty Toy Retailers Have the Holiday Sales Advantage

Manufacturers, retailers, and industry influencers are already beginning to talk to consumers about the holiday season. It’s no secret that October, November, and December are the biggest season for toy sales, and according to cheatsheet.com, overspending is becoming a holiday tradition. Overspending on gifts is especially tempting for parents. A 2015 T. Rowe Price survey that sampled 1,000 parents across the country in January 2015 found that 62% of parents agree with the statement, “I spent more for my kids over the holidays than I should have.”

While we’re not encouraging you to trick your customers into overspending, it’s obvious that holiday shopping is an especially big deal for parents with young and school age children. So, instead of pushing your customers to overspend this holiday season, focus in on toys, gadgets, and kids’ gizmos that have tremendous value, quality, and staying power.

There’s no denying the advantages of online shopping, especially at this time of year. Customers can compare pricing on different websites, products are shipped within days of purchasing, and they don’t have to scour the aisles of some big box store or stand in those awful long lines (we’re looking at you, last minute shoppers). The best part of all? They can do this all from their warm and cozy couch or on their phone during their lunch break.

Specialty toy store retailers do have one big advantage over online retailers, though. When shopping online, decision paralysis (no matter how big or small the decision) can lead parents to making poor spending choices—only to later go back and return the product or buy another one to make up for their buyer’s remorse. As a specialty toy storeowner or manager, your customers can feel confident with their purchases when they’ve consulted an expert.

You can explain the value of one toy over another. You can help them weigh the pros and cons of two competing products. You can emphasize how you saw the product at the Fall Toy Preview and just had to have it in your store because you loved it so much. Going out to shop on a cold winter evening after a day at work, can seem like a taxing endeavor, especially for parents who aren’t well-versed in the latest toy trends.

Holiday gift shopping should not be a chore. Make gift shopping fun, satisfying, and worth the difficult trek in the cold. Your customers will thank you. And their kids will thank Santa.

Playmobil to Launch How to Train Your Dragon Play Sets

Playmobil How to Train Your Dragon

Just 3 months after announcing its foray into the licensed toy market with a Ghostbusters line, Playmobil has announced plans to release a series of How to Train Your Dragon playsets.

The new Playmobil Dragons sets will feature Hiccup, Toothless, and the dragon riders of Berk as 7.5 cm tall figures. They’re set for an autumn 2017 release.

“We are excited to bring the world of How to Train Your Dragon to life as Playmobil toys,” said Silke Heinrich, member of Playmobil’s executive board.

"The epic story with its adorable characters and amazing scenery is just perfect to encourage hours of imaginative role play. We are pleased to be aligning with DreamWorks to launch a new line of toy sets with a strong appeal among our joint target group. We believe the Dragons products will ignite our fans’ passion even more and at the same time invite more children to get to know the play benefits of Playmobil.”

Story courtesy of

Stock Up for Halloween With These Costume Companies

Some folks meticulously plan for Halloween months in advance, picking out just the right fabrics and accessories to create the perfect homemade costume. For those last minute shoppers among us, though, we might find ourselves in a mad dash trying to find a fun and wholesome costume for ourselves or our kids. Make it easy for your customers by offering a wide range of high quality costumes the whole family can enjoy. We’ve picked out some of our favorite costume companies to make Halloween shopping easier for you, too.

Rubies Costume Company

Rubie's Costume Co

Rubie’s Costume Company is the world’s largest designer, manufacturer and distributor of Halloween costumes and accessories. A family owned and operated business celebrating 65 years in business, Rubie’s offers a vast selection of products that extends well beyond Halloween helping people around the world celebrate holidays and special occasions from Easter to Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day to Christmas, New Year’s Eve to bachelorette parties and everything in between. With costumes and accessories from the hottest licensed properties and their stellar in-house design team, Rubie’s offers something for everyone in the family… even your pets!

With their finger on the pulse of pop culture, Rubie’s 2016/2017 license portfolio includes collections from movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Shop the Rubie's Costume Company catalog here.

Fairy Finery

Fairy Finery

Fairy Finery is dedicated to nurturing the imagination and magic that lives in young children. Innocent, sweet and simple, their versatile dress-up clothing and gift items give a child’s imagination room to soar. All of their garments are sewn in the USA for a fair wage, under good working conditions so parents and kids can feel good about these adorable costumes.

Shop the Fairy Finery catalog here.

Aeromax Toys

Aeromax Toys

Aeromax Toys are an award-winning maker of high quality toys and dress up products for both children and adults since 1997. They’re guaranteed to spark imagination at any age. Their Get Real Gear Dress Up for Kids line offers costumes such as astronaut and firefighter suits. They offer costumes in sizes suitable for 6-month-old infants all the way up to adulthood.

Shop Aeromax Toys here.


Elope Costume Co

Elope, which stands for Everybody’s Laughing on Planet Earth, shares love of laughter and style with the world. Their wide range of costume accessories includes whimsical headgear, gloves, and boots. They’re a great way to finish off a homemade costume with a little bit of help.

Shop Elope's whimsical product catalog here.

Dress up your imagination!

Imagine by Rubie’s is a toy division of Rubie’s Costume Company, offering a full line of dress-up apparel and accessories for children in blister sets, boxed sets and separates. Achieving substantial growth over the past 3 years, Imagine continues to provide innovative designs by introducing new products such as light up muscle chest shirts for Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man, as well as an entire line of Wonder Woman light up accessories which include a light up belt, light up tiara, light up necklace and light up gauntlets. Each and every new eye-catching design can be enjoyed by kids 365 days a year!

Available in the toy aisle of most major retailers (Target, Walmart, Toys R Us) as well as online, Imagine by Rubie’s offers today’s younger generation the hottest licenses including Star Wars Rogue One, Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Captain America, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the ever-popular DC Super Hero Girls: Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Bumble Bee and Katana. Embracing “girl power” these new dress-up styles are specially designed to help build character and confidence by empowering girls to discover their true potential. Other popular “girl power” characters include Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Black Widow from Marvels: The Avengers.

In addition to the various licensed properties, Imagine by Rubie’s also offers a variety of non-licensed characters including: Pirates, Ninjas, Fire Fighters, Police Officers, Chefs, Military Men, Fairies and Princesses. Each of these everyday heroes encourages the importance of dress-up and role play by stimulating one's imagination.

With new styles and new characters, every child can be whoever they want to be with Imagine by Rubie’s!


TIA Revamps Categories for Toy Fair 2017


The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has dropped gendered categories from the 2017 TOTY Awards in order to make the event more relevant in the current marketplace. 

To help combat issues of stereotypes around certain toys, the TIA hopes to shake up the industry by removing these categories. Despite the benefits of play being universal, for example, construction toys are often targeted at boys while dolls are often targeted at girls.

In place of these categories, the TIA is adding six new categories:

1. Action Figure of the Year
Toys that include action figures, and their play sets/accessories

2. Collectible of the Year
Toys that compose a set; can include novelty playthings miniature versions of existing lines, licensed collectibles, etc.

3. Construction Toy of the Year
Toys that include building & engineering sets

4. Doll of the Year
Toys that include fashion and plush dolls, and their play sets/accessories

5. Rookie of the Year
A new company (created within the last 2 years) that has brought to market an outstanding toy

6. Vehicle of the Year
Toys that are powered or non-powered vehicles, and their play sets/accessories

Toy, game, and license submissions across all 14 TOTY categories can now be made at the TIA website

Visit http://www.toyfairny.com for more information.

New Kit from Alex Brands Combines Jewelry Making and Storytelling

Lil Lockets

Today Alex Brands announces the launch of Lil Lockitz, a line of lockets that allows kids to express their style, interests and cherished memories by customizing them with different accessories.

Six of the eight products from the initial Lil Lockitz are included below:

1. Memory Studio - Memory Studio provides lots of storage for all the locket supplies, and displays up to 4 lockets. With the turn of the knob, the lights and music infuse the locket with a personal story that can be worn as a necklace, bracelet or keychain. Makes 10 lockets.

2. Best Friend Party Pack - Creating lockets is easier than ever with a storage tray that comes stocked with supplies, tweezers and a photo puncher. Makes 18 lockets for necklaces, bracelets and keychains.

3. Selfie Set – Children can take personalization to the next level with lockets featuring a selfie or photo with friends. Simply cut a photo to the perfect size with the easy photo puncher, and add charms making an extra special memory for them to wear. Makes two locket necklaces.

4. Pets Set – Children can create an adorable locket all about their precious pal that can be worn as a necklace, bracelet or keychain! Makes six lockets. 

5. Sweets Set – The perfect set for children with a sweet tooth. They can choose their favorite sweet treat charms, store them away in a locket with other yummy elements and wear it as a necklace, bracelet or keychain. Makes six lockets. 

6. Vacay, Rock Star or Juice Bar Set– With these separate sets, children can create three keepsake lockets, themed as their favorite vacation, rock n' roll, or adorable fruit charms. 

"We are extremely proud to introduce Lil Lockitz and believe the line depicts incredible innovation in the children's DIY space," said Neil Friedman, CEO of Alex Brands. "Lil Lockitz offers an exceptionally creative experience beyond traditional DIY products, as children are in control to design lockets that portray their personal interests, style, aspirations and dreams."

Press release courtesy of PR Newswire. For more information, visit www.alexbrands.com.

TALK SHOP: Titcomb's Bookshop


In this edition of Talk Shop, we talked with Ellen Speers, Toy Buyer for specialty toy store, Titcomb’s Bookshop. Check out a sneak peak of the feature below! 

SPECIALTY TOY STORE: Titcomb’s Bookshop

LOCATION: East Sandwich, MA

OWNER(S): Ralph and Nancy Titcomb

Origin Story

Titcomb's Bookshop has been in business since 1967 when Ralph and Nancy Titcomb began selling rare and antique books by mail from their home in Connecticut. When Ralph, an engineer, was transferred to Massachusetts in 1969, they opened the bookshop in a carport attached to the 1690s home where they raised their 8 children.

From 1985 to 1986 their sons, Ted and Paul, built the current building. Their daughter, Vicky, joined the business in 1991 and expanded the selection of new books. When the only local specialty toy store closed in 2002, they decided to expand their toy section. Every year the toy section of Titcomb's Bookshop has grown in volume and sales.

Speers joined the Titcomb’s Bookshop team as a toy buyer in January of 2016, and the toy department has grown significantly.

Decisions, Decisions…

“Before making decisions about inventory we weigh out many factors,” says Speers. Questions to ask yourself as a toy buyer include: How much space and storage do we need? How fast do we think this will sell (very important for seasonal items)? Does this product represent our values and goals? “We strive to carry unique, educational, quality items. Sometimes we know a product will sell slowly, but it really represents what we want in our shop. Price can be a factor as well - we want quality items but not necessarily expensive items. A large number of the toys we sell are intended as birthday party gifts, and therefore we really think about how much our customers want to spend.”

Check out the September issue of Creative Play Retailer Magazine for more specialty toy store insights from Ellen Speers and Titcomb’s Bookshop manager, Vicky Titcomb! 

Visit www.titcombsbookshop.com or connect with them on Facebook!

Creativity For Kids® Partners with Spark!Lab™ Smithsonian, Launches New Category of Products: Inventive Creativity™

Spark!Lab™ Smithsonian Inventive Creativity™ Kits are designed to provide children with the same hands-on experience at home as they would enjoy when visiting the Draper Spark!Lab™ at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C..

Think It! Explore It! Sketch It! Create It! Try It! Tweak It! Sell It! This new line introduces kids to the process of invention, the same process used by real inventors, and helps them develop 21st Century skills such as critical thinking and creativity in a fun, open-ended way.

Necessity is often the spark of invention, so each Spark!Lab™ Smithsonian activity presents kids with a unique obstacle to overcome from building a bridge to visit a friend on an island to creating a board game after all the electronic game systems short circuit. With the scenario in front of them and the materials provided as points of inspiration, kids use the Spark!Lab™ invention process to create their own unique solutions.

Watch as their ideas come to life! Spark!Lab™ Smithsonian Inventive Creativity™ Kits show children that they too can be inventors and that the invention process can be fun and exciting even when it is challenging. This product line inspires both analytical and creative thought to show children they can do anything they set their mind to – igniting the spark of invention.


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