How about a “Great Toy List” instead of a “Hot Toy List”

Richardblogheader (3) 
ABCBLOCksWR4 Every year, like clockwork, the big retailers announce their “Hot Toy” lists.  These lists are meant to provide gift givers some guidance in what toys children want for Christmas.   My quibble with these guides is that they are based upon what is expected to sell best rather than what might play best.

“Hot Lists” are primarily made up of toys from larger manufacturers who have invested heavily in promoting their products.  As a result, children and their parents are primed to ask for these toys when they come to the store.  These are the toys that are said to have the fabled “WOW” factor.

The only problem with the “WOW” factor is that the after purchase experience does not always match the purchase experience itself.  The toy that seemed so exciting becomes just another toy cluttering a family’s playroom.

Grandmaster_chess_setl600 What if an enterprising retailer created a “Great Toy” list instead of or along with a “Hot Toy” list?  The “Great Toy” list would contain toys that have a proven history of providing a great play experience.  These will be toys that are not just exciting in the shopping cart but in the play-room as well.

A “Great Toy” list would have a number of benefits:

Retailers would make more money.  Why?  Because great toys tend to be classics and classics can typically sell for full margin.  In addition, many classics have higher retail values because they are made out of better materials.  Ramp up the unit volume and the gross profit goes up nicely.

Garfield Manufacturers would make more money as well.  They would generate increased sales of their backlist products and this would provide more dollars to invest in research and development for classics of the future.

The consumer would benefit because they will be given a guide to products that will provide a great deal of pleasure for a very long time.

We would all benefit because consumers would reminded that toys are more than a momentary experience but an ongoing memory.

I have decided to step out and name my “Great Toys” list which you will find below.  Please write in and let us know what is on your “Great Toys” list.

  1. Wooden Alphabet Blocks
  2. Baby Doll
  3. Nok Hockey
  4. Lincoln Logs
  5. Tonka Trucks
  6. Radio Flyer Wagon
  7. Doll House
  8. Bicycle
  9. Microscope
  10. Chess set

12 thoughts

  1. You’re absolutely right that most lists out there at this time of year are predictable and sometimes downright cynical. We’ve been trying for a couple of years to develop an incisive format for producing a list that has a timely element (after all, it has to be if it’s going to be newsworthy) but that has been collated with the aim of “best” rather than “best selling” or “best profit margin” being the key priority.
    This year we surveyed hundreds of the UK’s independent toy retailers and think we’ve hit upon a nice balance; especially since the participants are among the most knowledgeable people you could hope to find on this issue – and also because none of them had anything to directly gain from taking part.

  2. Dear Richard,
    You overlooked Boardgames and card games.My favorite of each would be the original Monopoly and the ‘Wizard” card game.If you are not familiar with Wizard give me your mailing address and I”‘ll send you a deck.(You’ll love playing Wizard)
    Frank (e-mail

  3. I do think the saddest thing about the Hot Toys lists is how completely forgotten the toys on them are by the next year. For all the effort and money that parents put into acquiring hot toys (and chasing the rush of successfully finding them), it would be nice if any of them endured for more than one season.
    I agree with play dough, construction and building sets, and chalk, and I’d add play pretend props, specifically some sort of toy kitchen set and some play food items and accessories, and then definitely dress-up clothes, but not necessarily store bought ones. Our dress-up box growing up was filled with cast-off clothes from older generations.

  4. Frisbee
    Jumprope/Chinese jumprope
    Cardboard Box
    And Richard, I understand you are trying to stay away from brand names, but as the ScrabbleMaster I’m surprised you could keep yourself from naming this classic to your Great list.

  5. This is a great idea! A toy’s play value should always take precedence over hype.
    I would add some active games to my list like crouquet, miniature golf sets, bean bag toss, and mini bowling. Frisbee and a good old fashioned ball and glove as well.

  6. What about large create your own floor puzzle that comes with jumbo crayons and blank pieces so kids can create their own puzzle with their parents! Or I think family puzzles with various sized pieces because it’s cooperative, interactive, and an old pastime before all this technology!
    **The URL for these is at:, but I don’t want to put my URL in the box below because I am giving you a serious comment about how I feel; it just happens to be that I work for this company as well. I truly LOVE doing puzzles with my five year old son. I bring home our Create Your Own Puzzles and we color together and talk about what we’re drawing and afterwards we have the puzzle as an activity. I’m a newly single mom and I have to say it’s not easy finding activities to do with my son that we BOTH can enjoy… I’m just not that into Bakugan or Pokemon !! But we do get on with our Lego’s quite well.

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