Dear Learning Expressions Readers,
Can you believe it’s October already? Though you might be preoccupied with apple picking and jack-o-lantern carving this time of year (we certainly are!) the holidays are just around the corner.
Over the next few weeks, Learning Express is going to be sharing our very favorite holiday toys with you. We’ve compiled a list of 20 Hot Holiday Toys that we believe the kids in your life will love. The list consists of 12 Top Toys (bestselling products our store owners really enjoy demo-ing in store) as well as eight Exclusives that you can find only at Learning Express. Here’s the best part. Each week, we’ll be featuring two of these toys on the blog, and giving a couple of them away on our Facebook page! As part of this, Learning Express stores around the country will also be demoing the toys of the week in store for you.
I am currently on the road visiting stores, and my travel companion is our Home Office buyer, Rob. Rob is part of a team who scours the country (and lots of toy shows) to bring to you the very best in toys, books, and games each year. Rob has four boys at home who function as his toy testers, and I sat down with him (well, sat in the passenger seat of the car next to him) and picked his brain about this week’s Top Toys. So without further ado, let’s move on and take a look at look at our first featured toys: Magnatiles and Tenzi!
Kathryn: Okay, let’s start with the basics. For those who don’t know, what are Magnatiles?
Rob: Magnatiles are colorful building tiles with built in magnets. The pieces always attract at their
edges, and the geometric shapes can be used to construct various 3D objects. They are ideal for open ended play and provide hours of amusement for the preschool crowd.
Kathryn: How about the history of Magnatiles?
Rob: Magnatiles are made by a small family-run company called Valtech. They really started out with grassroots marketing efforts, providing Magnatiles to preschools and daycare centers around the country. Kids played with them and then came home and told their parents all about them. Parents saw how they engaged the children were by this building toy, and naturally wanted to find out where they could buy it. They are now available in specialty retailers, but not in the mass market.
Kathryn: So what made you pick them as a Top Toy this year?
Rob: Bottom line, it’s wonderful product. The tiles are simple, hardy, and great quality—and kids are fascinated by them. They have been a best seller at our stores ever since we put them on the shelves, and they are consistently one of our most sought after toys in the holiday season. They also have a special place in my heart because they are one of the first products that I recommended for Learning Express when I joined as a buyer over six years ago. I got the tip from one of our store owners out in Illinois, who told me they were a product I just had to check out. My four boys/ toy testers tried them out and loved them, so it was a no-brainer.
Kathryn: Okay, so Magnatiles is an old favorite but our next toy, Tenzi, is new on the scene. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Rob: I love games I can understand how to play in a matter of seconds, and Tenzi certainly falls into
that category. The package is pretty simple: it includes forty colored dice in four different colors. The goal of the game is to be the first player to get all ten of your dice to show the same number. To play, each person gets ten dice. Someone says “go” and then everyone rolls at the same time. Players look at their first roll and see what number they want to go with – if you have more 3’s than any other number, that’s what you want to go for. Put all your dice with that number aside, collect the remaining dice and quickly roll again. Keep rolling until all ten of your dice show the same number.
Kathryn: So why did you choose Tenzi as a Top Toy?
Rob: I like a lighthearted challenge with my children and my wife and this game is it. It appeals to virtually everyone—it can be played between children, played between adults, or played between a child and a grandparent. It’s also one of our store owners’ favorite games to demo for customers in store. If you hear dice rolling and kids shouting when you’re walking into a Learning Express, you know they’re busy Tenzi-ing!
Kathryn: So how did you discover Tenzi?
Rob: I became aware of the game about a year ago. One of our storeowners in Connecticut had real success with the product and suggested that the vendor contact the home office. I think this kind of collaboration is one of our greatest assets. We have over 100 owners that scour the toy market to find the best out there in terms of new product, and that’s essential to getting the very best products into the hands of our customers.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about our Top Toys of the week. Look out for a lot more posts about our favorite toys this holiday season.
Don't forget to head over to our Facebook page for your chance to win these prizes, enter from 10/12-10/14 and winners will be announced on Monday, October 15!