How long have you been in business? Snoozy’s has been in business for 30 years, as of August, in the same location. What is the best thing about being a part of the toy biz? Seeing our second generation of shoppers, that’s what is most rewarding. If you were stranded at the North Pole, pick one toy you would want with you. I would pick our biggest, largest Lego set so I could create a bunch of different things. What is the biggest toy phenomenon that you have experienced? Beanie Babies. We would have people lined up all the way around Otey’s at 7 a.m., and we opened at nine. What is the best toy Santa ever surprised you with? A Tonka truck that was big, yellow and metal. I remember it was metal because I cut my finger on it. If you were transformed into a toy, what do you think you would be? Our Auto Moto remote control car that transforms into a robot, so I could speed down the highway and have fun as a somewhat humanoid.
A few of George Jones’ top picks this year:
An Elephant or Bunny Plush chair by Tag, $129.99, is the best spot for a toddler to pop a squat. “It’s completely filled with the most comfortable, squishy material,” Jones said.
The Wee Baby Stella ballerina set, $29.99, is brand-new this year, Jones said, and is the perfect choice for a child’s first baby doll. Baby Stella and her accessories are soft and safe for little ones.
Toby’s Toy Gidygo unicorns and ponies, small $199.99 and large $249.99, are comfortably plush and easy for kids ages 3 to 9. “You can go on the streets on these and if you go up a hill, it doesn’t go backwards, it only goes forwards,” Jones said.
“Let’s Cheer with Big Al” and “Let’s Cheer with Aubie,” $19.95 each, features a pop-out plush mascot that follows you through the book. “These are written by a Homewood author and are a great gift for your younger sports lover,” Jones said.
Fat Brain Toy’s Pencil Nose, $24.99, is sure to be the hottest game this season, Jones said, and is fun for everyone in the family. Players put on a pair of glasses that hold a pencil at the level of their nose and draw the image stated on whatever card they choose.
Zategy, $19.99, one of Jones’ new favorite games, “is like playing connect four, but you can play it anywhere, on the floor or on the table top.” In addition to nine game variations provided, kids can make up their own rules and submit them to the company for a chance to win free games and have their game published on the company’s website.
The Game of Space, $24.99, can be as difficult as you want it to be. “I can’t tell you how many we’ve sold,” Jones said, but it is most likely because there are so many ways to play. Pick your board from a variety of tiles and try to place your magnetic “space rocks” without attracting others.
The V-1 Flying Car, $59.99, is a remote-controlled toy that offers the best of both worlds. “I love my flying car,” Jones said. “It starts out as a car, then you press a button, the propellers start up and it flies.”
iScream’s plush shorts, $19.99, in sizes XS to XL, come in a variety of adorable patterns and feel like wearing your softest stuffed animal. They also come in boys and girls pants. “The fabric just melts in your hand,” he said. “Even in the middle of the summer, we were selling out of these.”
iScream’s new llama furry lounge pillow, $54.99, and the sloth furry sleeping bag, $109.99, are taking on the hottest trend for girls, Jones said. Unicorns are still on top, but llamas, sloths and the occasional narwhal are closing in.
Lil’ Gleemerz, $29.99, are a colorful, little lemur-type creature and the newest play on the Furby’s of yester-year. “She says 100 different phrases, and we’ve never had a toy like this that uses all of these multicolored lights, either,” Jones said. “It’s just plain cute, a cute little companion.”
Horizon’s Auto Moto Transformer, $64.99, is the perfect gift for the kid who loves remote-controlled cars. As a bonus, it can be voice-activated. It’s two-in-one, Jones said, just press a button and the car transforms into a robot.
L.O.L. Surprise! 15-surprise pack, $22.99, is Jones’ top pick when it comes to the popular blind-bag doll brand. “It has 15 surprises all rolled up into one package, so there is plenty to play with,” he said. Each pack includes a collectible doll and a variety of accessories.
STMT craft kits, $17.99-$29.99, are great for that hard-to-buy-for 9-12 age range, with projects such as decorating water bottles, making jewelry or mixing scents, candles and bath bombs. “All of these projects are useful and youthful at the same time,” Jones said.
Boom Brick speaker, $34.99, is Jones’ favorite tech item in store because, “It’s so easy to use,” he said. “There are no wires or Bluetooth to deal with.” Simply turn it on, play a song on your phone, rest it on the brick and the sound is instantly amplified with stereo quality.
Plus-Plus Mini Maker tubes, $7.99, are filled with 70+ bricks and step-by-step instructions to build a featured creature. After you’re done, download the app and find hundreds of other designs or just use your imagination. “I love the Plus Plus as a stocking stuffer or gift topper,” he said, and they come in everything from unicorn or llama to tigers and superheroes.
Lego Minifigures, $3.99, in Batman or Harry Potter styles are another little gift you can’t go wrong with. “Each package is a surprise character,” Jones said. “Children never know what they’re going to get.”
The Needoh stress ball, $3.99, has a signature silky texture that anyone ages 3 to adults will enjoy smushing, pulling or squeezing. “It’s all about having things glow in the dark, so they just came out with this new one that glows,” Jones said.
Da Bomb Bath Fizzers, $7.99, are one of Jones’ favorite brands, created by two teenage girls when they were 10 and 11 years old. “Each one has a surprise in the middle that you get to keep after it fizzes out,” Jones said.
Galexie Glister, $12.99, is festively-colored, wearable glitter that is a big hit with girls of all ages. “They can put it in their hair, on their cheek or put it anywhere on their face,” Jones said.