With reporting from regional correspondents Virginia Davis, Pennie Hoover, Terri Lazzell and Marie Rossiter
This month, 11 of 28 retailers told TDmonthly Magazine that outdoor toys were burning up. Boys were especially hot for rockets, planes and anything that hurtles through the air. Here’s what retailers said the kids can’t live without this spring:
As a creative, educational action toy, it’s loads of fun — kids jump on the air bladder to launch a 9" all-foam rocket into the air. The Junior Stomp Rocket is used by science teachers to help children learn about trajectory, force and motion. It is also valued by psychologists, physical therapists, special-ed teachers and parents of children with special needs. “Stomp Rockets are recognized for their positive contribution to the lives of millions of children and adults around the world,” Frank Reed, of D & L Company, told TDmonthly. Awards: Top Toy of the Year 2005, Creative Child Magazine; Excellent Product 2005, iParenting Media. — “Our top selling flying toy is The Stomp Rocket Jr.,” confirmed Sallie Kashiwa, manager of Timbuk Toys in Denver, in October 2008. “We go through about four cases (40) a month.” — Six of 68 retailers said in fall 2008 that the Stomp Rocket is their best-selling flying toy. Holly Anvers, manager of Ages & Stages Toy Box in Golden, Colo., cited sales of about 40 units per month in late fall 2009. — Eighteen percent of 38 specialty retailers named Stomp Rockets an overall best-selling toy in July 2010. Scott Loveless, owner of Toys That Teach in Bothell, Wash., told TDmonthlyin summer 2010 that his store sells “somewhere along the lines of 40 to 60” Stomp Rockets each month. “Stomp Rockets … are always a summer favorite.” — In autumn 2010, Marc Holcomb, owner of Toys & Co. In Greensboro, S.C., said he sold approximately 50 per month per store. “It's our #1 gift item,'' he told TDmonthly.
This mechanical bouncing machine includes a newly developed spring system that creates a sensation similar to that of jumping on a trampoline. This updated version of the classic pogo stick introduces a new generation of kids to hopping fun, propelling them into the air higher than they were able to go with the original toy. It is suitable for a weight of 120 to 250 pounds. — “SBI makes a great pogo stick and they are doing really well right now here with 9- to 12-year-old boys,” Karen Fox, owner of Woodbury Mountain Toys in Montpelier, Vt., told TDmonthly. — "We’re selling a ton of pogo sticks by Fly Bar," Patty Meyer, owner of Meyer's Toy World/USA Baby, told TDmonthly. "The pogo sticks are a surprise, but I think it might go to the obese kid news we’re hearing, as well as the get back-to-basics, and this is one of those items." — SBI invented the pogo stick back in 1918 and brought out the multiple award-winning Flybar 1200 in 2004. “We wanted to come out the gate with the best showing,” David Jargowsky, principal of SBI, told TDmonthly. “The 1200 is a high-performance model … People can jump six or seven feet, do backflips, tricks, etc.” Starting in June, the Flybar 800 for kids 80 to 180 pounds will be available. Right now, “The retailers who sell Flybars steadily say they have kids coming in all day, staring at the 1200, waiting for the 800.” Jargowsky said that many 800s have been presold and they expect a six-to-one or eight-to-one sales increase over the adult-sized 1200.
The Blast Pad Advanced Missile Launch System comes with telescoping technology that expands to almost 3'. The carrying case holds up to six soft-tipped missiles and the Flex Launch tube can’t kink to restrict airflow. Mark Rappaport, founder of Marky Sparky, invented his first toy when he was 9, according to his website. The Blast Pad was the winner of the 2003 Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award. — “We sold more than 500 during Christmas  alone,” said Lee Ann Stern, general manager for the 11-year-old Village Toy Shop in Easton, Mass. Amanda Toupes, manager of Magic Box in New Orleans, added, “Some of [the missiles] get 200' in the air.” — This toy is "sans pareil," according to Michael Ziegenhagen, owner of four Playmatters stores in Cleveland. "It has broad appeal as an outdoor boy toy" and has been one of his best sellers for four years. — “These have sold well for us from day one,” Co-owner Jude Larene of Izilla Toys in Seattle told TDmonthly in mid-2007. “It's a kid magnet at the park.”
The Surefire Compound Bow X2 is an accurate‚ high-performance foam bow and arrow. It features dual power cords‚ guide-wire technology and super-safe soft foam arrows. It includes one Compound Bow and four soft foam arrows. The bow can be used indoors and out. — Sarah Evers, owner of Dancing Bears in Rochester, Minn., said that she continually runs out of stock on this popular item. “Kids always want one, but I don’t have any.” “The Compound Bow’s been a phenomenal seller for us last year and this year,” verified Tracy Mumford of Monkey Business Sports. “We have a new Surefire Crossbow 2 that features a lot of the same elements that made the Compound Bow popular, like cool design. There’s a whole new mechanism and the arrows will go over 60'.” — Colleen Nelson, owner of Goodie Gum Drops in Burien, Wash., listed Surefire Compound Bows as a best seller in a March 2009 survey of 60 retailers, reporting sales of between 10 and 15 per month. “They are consistent sellers, and within the birthday party price range,” commented Deborah Smith of Toys That Teach in Richmond, Va. — Eight percent of 60 retailers told TDmonthly in spring 2009 that Monkey Business manufactures their top-selling outdoor and sports toys.
The 20” Eggscaliber is the only rocket that lets kids launch eggs on four different engine sizes using the same rocket! It has a special engine adapter to launch an egg on B and C engines or remove it to launch an egg on D and E engines. The transparent capsule section also lets kids see the egg before and after flights. Estes has also included a set of decals to decorate the egg to look like your favorite 'eggstronaut'. — Estes Rockets are “popular … and kids do these with their parents,” noted Laura Brauer, general manager of Cloud Nine Toys in Sudbury, Mass. — Estes has been helping dads and their kids blast off together since 1958. — Flying toys were named as big sellers right now by six of 11 retailers.
Here´s a step-by-step guide to folding 10 different paper airplanes. This big (10" x 12") book comes complete with 40 sheets of flight-tested, ready-to-fold paper, printed on both sides in a variety of 20 colorful patterns, including leopard print, wood grain, hot rod flames and lose-it-on-the-lawn grass. — Boys love, “Klutz paper airplanes and things that they can do,” reported Kim Walter, manager of 6.5-year-old Giggles in Stoughton, Wis. — Klutz kits are among kids favorite items, indoors and out, all year round, according to retailers nationwide. “The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes helps kids make more than just paper toys. It teaches them to create high performance flying paper machines,” Melissa Bloomfield, publicist for Klutz, told TDmonthly in 2006.
A popular design that holds more water than other small squirt guns, these 4” squirt guns are individually bagged. — Water guns are doing well “now that the weather is changing and getting warmer,” Laura Brauer, general manager for Cloud Nine Toys in Sudbury, Mass., told TDmonthly. — “Outdoor toys are very big right now,” agreed Lee Ann Stern, general manager for the Village Toy Shop in Easton, Mass. — These guns come in a choice of four lollipop colors.
This exclusive ball is designed with air baffles and a Program-A-Pitch ring to adjust airflow. When hit by the 32" Sweet Spot Bat, it rises, falls, curves and floats. It is based on air-resistance technology. — “It’s easy to learn how to throw a curve ball, slider, etc,” using this set, said Rob Slye, owner of Toys Ahoy in Barrington, R.I. His primary customers for the product are 5- to 8-year old boys. — Kids and their parents were stocking up on all kinds of outdoor ball games, noted Laura Brauer, manager of Cloud Nine Toys in Sudbury, Mass. “It really is the season.” — Sales for the Junk Ball Bat and Ball Set have been “unbelievable!” Kirk Bozigian, vice president of marketing for Little Kids told TDmonthly. “It’s been incredibly well received in specialty toy shops and sporting goods stores.” It sells well, he said, because “it has this magic dial that gives anybody the opportunity to throw screwballs, curveballs and knuckle balls just by adjusting the airflow through the ball.” The accompanying bat has a 6-inch sweet spot that lets kids hit far. “They really like that!” he said. New for 2006 is a Homerun Challenge Set with a bat, four balls, home plate, pitcher’s mound, six marker cones and four different ways to play.
Available in red, pink or blue, more than 10 million of these classic balls have been sold. Once inflated, they measure 9” in diameter. “You blow these up with a straw and bounce them on the carpeting and grass,” said Ricki Block, owner of Ariel’s Child in New Windsor, N.Y. — “I do sell a lot of Gertie Balls to people doing physical therapy. Gertie balls are by far number one,” commented Gage Brownell, manager at Belmont Toys in Belmont, Mass. — “A lot of Gertie Balls. They’re great. They travel well. Kids like the texture,” seconded Karen Williams-Fox, manager of Woodbury Mountain Toys in Montpelier, Vt. — Lisa Orman, public relations rep for Small World Toys, explained toTDmonthly, “Gertie balls have a unique, slightly sticky surface that makes them extra easy to throw and catch — even for the youngest kids. Because Gertie balls are light and soft, they can be used for both indoor and outdoor play. It is also the only ball that travels small: Deflate for easy packing, then re-inflate quickly with the included straw.”