Toys and novelties are in high demand this holiday season, as long as they represent good value for dollars spent on fun. So say suppliers, who are assembling inventories and configuring packages that promise healthy profits for retailers.
Radio controlled helicopters have been among the most popular toys for both kids and adults over the past three years, and remain in high demand. "New technology promises to make helicopters, especially the mini versions, even more in demand this year," says Eduardo Perl, president and CEO of Emirimage Corp. in Miami, who also operates another full warehouse in Los Angeles. Emirimage has been in the radio controlled toy vehicle market for the past 23 years. "Radio controlled helicopters that can fly with acceptable maneuverability were once only available at 10 to 50 times more than their current cost," Perl says. "Technology has provided models that are now both smaller and more affordable," he reports. "As a result, sales are not limited to collectors."
The company has brought in 15 new models for the coming holiday season, "And nearly all of them are exclusive to us," Perl says. Among the patented and trademarked styles exclusive to Emirimage are the D-Fly, Tiger and Shark lines. "All are ready to fly and include batteries, so consumers don't have an additional expenditure, and there are no disappointments when they're taken from under the tree and unwrapped." Most of the units include rechargeable batteries.
The most popular units, according to Perl, are the three channel styles. Channels indicate the number of movements an RC helicopter can make. The three channel styles go up, down, backward and forward. Some designs in this range now include, "more fancy lights," he says, "with LED lights on blades and tails." In all, wholesale prices for radio controlled helicopters range from as little as $8 to as much as $250. Suggested retail prices start at $19.99 and reach to $600 and $700. "The prices depend on the size (mini, medium and large) and the number of channels and bells and whistles," Perl notes. Some have just two channels for up and down movement, while others have as many as six channels. The latter are multi directional, and can even fly upside down.
Perl and his staff talk with every new retailer, in order to guide them to a top selling assortment for an individual market. "We help them choose models that meet each store's demographics and pricepoints," he explains. Emirimage also has extended lines of radio controlled stunt cars, boats and motorcycles. Popular exclusive lines are Stuner X and Ramper. The latter, according to Perl, "contained the most popular RC cars for three years in a row." These also come ready to use with rechargeable batteries. Wholesale prices are $9 to $18, and suggested retail prices are $29.99 to $69.99. There is no dollar minimum, but units are sold by the box. Styles come 24 to a box and 12 to a box. All are individually packaged, and all have full instructions.
Noting that many retailers were faced with recalls during the past holiday season, Perl says his company's products have all been tested and meet the newest American Standard Toy Manufacturer's standards, and ads have been approved by the FCC. "All of our products comply with the most rigid rules, so there's no risk to the retailer or a store's customers," he says. While in-store demonstrations are recommended, Perl recognizes that demonstrations are not possible in all retail locations. Emirimage will provide a DVD, so merchants can show how the vehicles work. "The action DVD also helps draw attention to this department," he notes.
Y Weng Trading in Canton, OH has also begun stocking up on affordable toys that have winning appeal. Chief among them, according to Shannon Miller, manager, is a variety of skateboards and kits containing helmets, and wrist and knee pads. The kits, she notes, make for a good add-on sale that raises the overall retail ticket. "There are small skateboards that wholesale for as little as $2.25 and retail for $5 to $10," Miller says. "Larger units are available at wholesale prices of as little as $10, to retail for up to $24.99. The price variation is mainly because of different quality wheels."
Another innovative product from Y Weng Trading is a blast from the past with a new, handy twist. "It's a Hula Hoop that comes packaged flat in eight pieces, which fit together to form the hoop," she explains. "It's easy to ship and store, and can be assembled easily, then disassembled when not in use." These are available at a wholesale cost as low as $2.25, and carry suggested retail prices of $6 to $8. For toddlers, there is a series of musical instruments in fruit shapes, such as a piano shaped like a strawberry or apple. "We're increasing orders for Christmas," Miller reports. "They can actually be played to make music." Wholesale cost is as low as $3.35, and retail reaches to $12.99.
Toy police sets that contain pretend guns, handcuffs, walkie talkies, badges and whistles are designed for kids above the age of three, and are consistent good sellers, according to Miller. Toy phones that light up and ring are also popular for toddlers aged two through four, she says. Y Weng Trading calls for a minimum order of $100, that can include an assortment of any of the company's toys and novelties. Pictures, prices and descriptions are contained on the firm's website. "It's a strictly wholesale site, and retailers can order online without logging in," says Miller. "Most orders are shipped the same day; all are shipped by the next day."
Rubber band guns are expected to be a hit this holiday season. The Wild Wild Woodworks Co. in Morganton, NC offers eight different versions, all made at the company's plant in the U.S., and all replicas of familiar guns and rifles. They contain a gear, and each unit includes a quantity of rubber bands. The rubber band hitches to the gear, which can expel up to 12 in rapid fire, explains Jan Pollard, manager. The smallest is a Derringer handgun that wholesales for $5.15 and has a suggested retail of $9.99. The largest and most expensive is the Thompson machine gun, which wholesales for $17.95 and has a suggested retail price of about $35.
In between are the 1911 Colt and a Musket Pirate Pistol, both of which wholesale for $7.15 and have a suggested retail of $14.95. There is an Uzzi that wholesales for $8.15 and retails in the range of $16.95. The other three styles are an M-16 rifle, Kentucky long rifle and Carbine Lever Action rifle. Each wholesales for $12.95 and has a suggested retail of $25.95. All units are of natural wood with plastic components. The minimum order is $200. The company offers a variety of display options. Pollard says, "There's a fold down display box for the smaller guns, which can hold a mix. If used only for the Derringer, it would hold between 60 and 70 units," she says. There is also a six foot high graduated display with signage on the top. "It has pegs, and a retailer can hang any assortment of gun designs on the unit, typically with the smaller ones on top." "With an order for $700 in guns, a retailer can pay $75 for the display, and that cost is offset with some free guns," Pollard adds. While a generous quantity of rubber bands, sized for each unit, are included with each gun, The Wild Wild Woodworks Co. also wholesales bagged rubber bands, designated for particular gun designs and noted on the label. They wholesale for $1.35 and have a suggested retail of $3, representing an easy add-on to a gun sale.
The fourth quarter holds two top holiday selling seasons for retailers that carry novelties: Halloween and the December holidays. OBI Imports in Indianapolis has a variety of handpainted polyresin figurines with designs highly suitable for both, and as home décor any time. This company designs and makes its own products, which Ian Flanagan, sales manager, points out, "Enables us to eliminate the middleman and offer low prices to retailers." The majority of figurines range from about five inches to 14 inches. Most are sold by the case, which typically holds 12 units. The smallest and least expensive designs wholesale for $5.75, with a suggested retail of $12.99. There are also about 24 different designs of wind chime figurines.
The design themes are wide ranging. "Witch figurines, very popular in Europe, are ideal for Halloween," Flanagan says. "We also have a great dragon line, and candle warmers with Halloween designs. There is also a witch figurine holding a tiny jack o lantern. Fairies in different poses are very popular for the holidays," he adds. "Many of ours have soft poly wings, which makes them easy to ship and eliminates breakage." There is a Christmas fairy and several fairies on glass balls. The most expensive figurine in the fairy line is a 25 inch unit of a fairy with a dragon. It wholesales for $65, with a suggested retail of $139.99.
"We always talk with a new (retailer) customer to guide them to an assortment of best sellers," Flanagan says. "We don't stick to a strict minimum and have no piece minimum, so a dealer can get a sample order." Display is important, and he suggests retailers wire the wind chimes and hang them to demonstrate how they look and sound. Using a collection of fairies, "one of our customers created a complete Christmas scene around a mirror, which acted as a lake. Sales just blew away," he adds.
Toyops in Pensacola carries its own versions of all the popular novelties that kids and their parents love to buy for Halloween, and also for holiday stocking stuffers. Slime and Glow takes a new fun twist from this company, with do it yourself kits. The Hyper Launch Gravi Bounce Factory, for example, "is a make your own hyper ball launcher," explains Gene Hull, owner. "These come in kits covering a choice of small, medium or high bouncing balls. The kits contain the ingredients and a mold. The user pours the polymer into the mold to produce the ball." Toyops is currently offering them at 50 percent off original wholesale. That takes the wholesale cost to $4.20. Suggested retail is $16.95. "The kits are the display," Hull says. "They attract interest and attention." The minimum order is a case of six units.
Another kit, Krazy Krystal, from which users actually grow their own crystals, wholesales for $4 and has a suggested retail price of $16. There are two Soap Science Labs, one each for girls and boys. The Scary Soap Science unit for boys is used to produce a soap bar shaped like a brain. The Luxury Soap Science unit for girls produces more traditional bar soaps, with perfumed scents. The boys' kit wholesales for $4.50 and retails for $17.95. The girls' wholesales for $5, with a retail of $19.95. A Glo-Slime Laboratory, well described by its name, currently wholesales for $3.75 and has a suggested retail of $14.95.
New to the company is Triassic Triops, which actually grow fish. They come in three forms: A Creature Tube, which wholesales for $4.50 (retail $9.95). It is offered in a display pack of 12 units; an envelope version contains only the eggs and food and wholesales for $2.75 (suggested retail $5.95). At the top of the line are two versions that add tanks to the egg/food components. The smaller version wholesales for $5 and has a suggested retail of $9.95. The larger unit, which glows and has a rigid tank with a cover, wholesales for $8.95 (retail of $18.95). In all cases, Triassic Triops, "are live dinosaur shrimp," Hull says. "These literally scream off the shelf," he adds. The minimum order for Toyops is $100, and can contain an assortment of products, "as long as they conform to the case size indicated for each item," Hull says.
When it comes to stocking stuffers, Esco Import Toy Company in San Antonio carries approximately 600 different items at very affordable prices, "and we are adding 100 additional new items for fourth quarter," says Jack Steinfeld, an owner. He describes them as, "five and dime type toys." They include cap guns, small friction pullback vehicles, vinyl animals of every species, balls and cowboys and Indians in a bag. "The packaging is very appealing," Steinfeld says. Among the steadiest of sellers is the bag of dinosaurs and bag of horses.
"The average wholesale price is under $1," Steinfeld says, adding, "we have units that wholesale for as little as 10 cents and as much as $15, but the majority are between 80 and 90 cents." The suggested retail in all cases, he reports, "is at least double the wholesale." The minimum is $150, "and it can include an assortment of anything. We sell by the box pack versus the case, in order to sell in small quantities," he explains. On average, there are two dozen units in a box. Many boxes are self contained, illustrated countertop displayers.
"The key to building sales in the season ahead," Steinfeld suggests, "is to be well stocked with a lot of variety, so consumers have a choice of items with high impulse appeal." Variety is a strategy for keeping the Grinch away this holiday.
The following were interviewed for this article:
Eduardo Perl, president and CEO
5269 Northwest 161st Street
Miami, FL 33014
(also has fully stocked warehouse in Los Angeles)
Toll Free: 866-628-3090
Jack Steinfeld, an owner
Esco Import Toy Company
6055 Woodlake Center
San Antonio, TX 78244
Toll Free: 888-671-9023
Ian Flanagan, sales manager
Div. of Opportunity Buys Inc.
1515 Brookville Crossing Way
Indianapolis, IN 46239
Toll Free: 800-894-2816
Gene Hull, an owner
P.O. Box 11369
Pensacola, FL 32524-1369
(also ships from a warehouse in Pennsylvania)
Toll Free: 800-200-3466
Jan Pollard, a principal
The Wild Wild Woodworks Co.
P.O. Box 9207
Morganton, NC 28680
Shannon Miller, a principal
Y Weng Trading
4770 Navarre Road SW, Unit B
Canton, OH 44706
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