With additional reporting by regional correspondents Virginia Davis, Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Krista Lebednik, Bonnie Priever, Ted Rabinowitz, Brenda Ruggiero and Donna Sacks.
Hands down, painting easels are the best-selling art toys, 45 retailers told TDmonthly Magazine. Melissa & Doug came out on top, followed closely behind by Alex. Interactive painting tasks were also popular. Here’s what’s selling:
Kids can paint with sweeping gestures when they use this generous-sized easel. One side is a chalkboard, the other´s a dry-erase board. Load a piece of paper into the paper holder and kids can paint and scribble to their heart’s content. Each side of the easel features a colorful tray that can hold paints, cups, chalk, erasers, clips and more. “Our Deluxe Easel has become one of our best-selling items because of its great value, high-quality construction and versatility,” said Rick Davis, part of the marketing team at Melissa & Doug. It has two adjustable boards that allow children of all sizes to enjoy painting and creating, and the easy-to-clean trays are removable in seconds.” — This product has been making the TDmonthly Best-sellers lists since 2005. — As of 1.06.2011 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 647 reviews on Amazon.com and was No. 18 on the top 100 bestselling toys and games. Pros: Double Sided; easy to clean. Cons: Supplies must be purchased separately. — "The Melissa & Doug Easel, hands-down, beats everything in terms of dollars. It's well-made and good value," was the praise given by David Campbell, owner of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Mont. — “Our easel, from Melissa & Doug, just blows out of here,” said Nishan Shepard, owner of Rockridge Kids in Oakland, Calif., in early 2010. — Seven of 48 retailers named the easel as their top-selling art item in January 2010, reporting average sales of three per month. — This easel has been a consistent best seller for Jillie Beans Toys & More of Westminster, Colo., since the store opened in 2006. (April 2010)
This hardwood 48-inch easel is height adjustable for growing kids and also collapses for storage. One side is for chalks, and the other side is for paints. It comes with 4 paint or water cups, 6-3/4oz. paint jars, 6 brushes and 2 easel clips. — When Grafton Stine, owner of Toys on the Square in Hummelstown, Pa., was asked about his best-selling painting toy, he quickly replied, "That would have to be the Easel by Alex." — "We also have a lot of Alex things. They’re good sellers, especially at Christmas," was the assessment of the brand given by Linda Laramy, owner of Crackerjacks Inc. in Easton, Md. — "We have paint sets by Alex. We sell a lot of things by Alex," was the brand endorsement provided by Helen Noland, owner of Father Goose in Macon, Ga.
This kit allows kids to spread nonpermanent, kid-friendly paint on a blank page with a foam brush that is designed to soak up just the right amount of water and paint. A paint palette is handily built right into the cover of the book. Pictures that have already been drawn in white on the pages appear when painted. — " I would just say that Klutz always sells well because they have a good product," noted Jean Schwartz, owner of Broadway Toys & Togs in Jackson, Wyo. — "Klutz Magic Painting," was the best-selling painting toy at the Pumpkin Patch in Ames, Iowa, according to manager Barbara Wulkow. — Klutz Publicist Melissa Goldner Bloomfield talked to TDmonthly about Chicken Socks: “Art meets abracadabra with Magic Painting. Any kid can instantly become an artist as hidden designs come out of each page with just the touch of a paintbrush!”
This basic set includes four 2.5 oz. markers in red, yellow, blue and green. The marker tips are round and flat. Artists make pictures by stamping the dots close to each to each other, creating impressionist works of art. — "One of our best selling art project items is the Do-A-Dot Art. Those are fantastic," was the enthusiastic response from Judy Bielewicz, manager at Imagination Toys Inc. in St. Louis, Mo. — "Art supplies, like Do-A-Dot, which is an ink-filled foam-tipped brush," was how Linda Laramy, owner of Crackerjacks, Inc. in Easton, M.D, described her best-sellers in this category. — This unique product allows kids to experiment with paints but with a "brush" designed like a marker.
Breyer - My Dream Horse Customizing Kit by REEVES INTL. INC.
This is a unique alternative to the various lines of horse models Breyer offers to customers. Instead of getting a completely finished product, users of all ages can add their own finishing details, including adding mohair for the mane and the tail. It comes with paints, brushes and a detailed instruction booklet. — "The Breyer models, especially My Dream Horse Customizing Kit," was the specific thumbs-up given by Linda Meyer, manager of Timbuk Toys in Denver. — "That’s been a good seller," noted Gayle Grabish, of Unique Toy and Game in Grover, Mo. — Breyer bases its model horses on the real thing.
Personalize this special handcrafted star-shaped wooden box with quality paints, then glue the included gems on top and add your own photos, gems (included), beads or other decorations on top. Brush on the glow-in-the-dark finish to make this your favorite treasure box day and night! It's a beautiful and useful gift for yourself or your loved one. This kit includes a solid wood star box with open frame (6" x 6" x 2.5"), 6 quality acrylic paints, star-shaped and round jewels, glow-in-the-dark paint, glue, 2 artist-quality wooden paintbrushes, Painting Guide and stencil. — "They do a whole line of wood objects that you paint, everything from bird feeders to jewelry boxes to horses," was the endorsement this line of products received from John Middelkamp, owner of Unique Toy and Game in Grover, Mo. — "Balitono makes handmade wooden boxes that sell well," noted Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Company in Denver, C.O — Balitono makes unique wooden painting kits that capitalize on the trend for self-design.
Kids can have fun personalizing the look of this pair of Bobble Head Dogs from Creativity for Kids. The paints come in realistic colors, and can be used along with a dog tag to give each of the toys a name. Launch Date: Spring 2003. — "Creativity for Kids is very popular," is the experience of Priscilla More, owner of Fub’s Party/Toys and More in Yellow Springs, Ohio. — "All from Creativity — paint your own alarm clock, butterfly, paint by number, bobble heads, etc.," said Debbie Wurzburger, owner of the Toy Chest in Pikesville, Md., when naming her top-selling painting toys. — “This kit started our Bobble Head series, which now includes Poodles, Kool Kats and Dinos,” Lisa Ritchey of Faber-Castell told TDmonthly.
This neat little craft set allows kids to combine creativity with structure to make a work of art. The crown comes in a plaque, but it's up to the kids to decide how they want to personalize it. It comes with paint, glitter, gems, glue and stickers that are included in a sectioned wooden box. — "We sell a lot of crafts from Melissa & Doug," Cindy Nelson, owner of J. Skylark Co. in Duluth, Minn., told TDmonthly. — An insightful observation came from Natalie Reese, manager of Angel’s Toy Barn in Greensburg, Pa., who said of the toy, "They have a small price [sic], and kids will often buy it as a gift for their brother or sister." — Specialty retailers continually report Melissa & Doug as a top seller.
Paint by Number Farm Friends Painting Activity Kit by ALEX BRANDS
You simply add a few drops of water to the paints and the kids can paint-by-numbers four pictures related to the popular Farm Friends theme. It's easy to use, as are all paint-by-numbers made by Alex. — "We sell quite a few Alex Paint by Number [kits]. These are popular for younger kids," was the response to this kit observed by Holly Reay, owner of Kid’s Corner in Carmel, Ind. — "Paint by Number from Alex is very popular," remarked Samuel Cox, owner of My Favorite Toys in Carbondale, Ill. — The kit includes 2 color-coordinated picture frames in which to display finished “masterpieces.”
Writer's Bio: Dennis Furlan is a freelance writer who lives just outside of Toronto, Canada. He works on a variety of writing and editorial jobs with clients and publications worldwide. Dennis is proud to be part of the TDmonthly team, serving as a regional correspondent for the northwestern U.S. Read more articles by this author