By Ingrid Schnader
OTMJ: Do you remember your first day working in the toy Biz?
Jim Glazner: 1976. It was back-to-school, so you had all the kids coming in.
OTMJ: If you were an elf in Santa’s workshop, what would your job be?
JG: I’d probably organize everything.
OTMJ: What is a toy that has stood the test of time?
JG: Hot Wheels and Barbie. Trucks never go away.
OTMJ: If your younger self time-traveled to 2019, what toy would be on your Christmas shopping list?
JG: The animal bluetooth speakers.
We asked Glazner and Steve Sudduth, toy department manager at Smith’s, to give us their top toys for the holiday season:
Pet Care Centers, $29.99, are fun, educational gifts for animal lovers. “There are several different kinds of pet care centers, even horse care centers,” Sudduth said. “They’re wonderful teaching tools.”
Knuckle Headz, $24.99, reminds Sudduth of the toys he had when he was a kid. “You run them into each other,” he said. “And when they hit each other, the heads pop off. Every kid loves these.”
Circuit Blox come in multiple sizes and prices. “These are a take on the old Radio Shack electronic toys,” Sudduth said. “It’s an easier way to build things.” Depending on which kit you buy, your child could build an FM radio, nerve tester, flying saucer and more.
How to Be a Great Sibling, $29.99, is ideal for an only child who is expecting a new baby brother or sister soon. This teaching toy includes a real stethoscope and information about how to play with a baby. “If you’re an only child and somebody’s invading your space, maybe that would help a lot,” Sudduth said.
Last year’s Ax Throwing Kits were a hit, so this year’s Throwing Star Kits, $19.99, are the perfect alternative to buying your child actual throwing stars. “Back in the ‘80s when I was a kid, we had throwing stars,” Sudduth said. “We didn’t have the kit. This is much safer.”
Y’Art, $14.99, takes creativity to a new dimension. “You run the string through a hollow pen,” Sudduth said. “And this is sticky, and you follow the colors by the number and draw a picture.”
D-Dart Tempest Gun, $49.99, looks like something a superhero or a soldier would wear. “D-Dart goes on your wrist and shoots out foam darts,” Sudduth said. “It’s awesome.”
Tabletop Tiki Toss, $39.99, brings a popular game indoors. “Tiki Toss goes on the wall of your garage, outside, or whatever, but this is Tabletop Tiki Toss,” Sudduth said. “So, you can play it in your house. Four players can play at a time. It’s pretty neat.”
Last year’s iPlay iLearn Animal Bouncers, $29.99, are back, and this time they’re plush-covered. “They’re very cool,” Sudduth said. “And they’ve got an awesome face on them.”
For those who would rather bounce on their team’s logo, the Team Hoppers, $14.99, come in Alabama and Auburn styles. “I love them,” Sudduth said. “But it is only Alabama and Auburn, nobody else.”
Glazner said the Kids’ Bean Bags, starting at $49.99, make a cute addition to any bedroom. “If you’re like me and you’re a cartoon fan, that burger bean bag – I definitely would want that, because I just love Bob’s Burgers.”
Bounce Battle, $24.99, has multiple ways for the family to get together and play. “I fell in love with this when I saw it because it reminds me of a family edition of beer pong,” Sudduth said. “And there’s several different ways to play, such as tic-tac-toe and connect four.”
The Gund Peek-A-Boo Bear and Elephant, $39.99, is an interactive stuffed animal for babies and toddlers. It can read nursery rhymes and play peek-a-boo with your child.
Stardust Walking Unicorn, $29.99, is just like a pet, but much cuter and without the added responsibility. “It has a little leash, and it walks, gallops, neighs and sparkles,” Sudduth said.
Neato has another great assortment this year, and “they’re just great stocking stuffers all around,” Sudduth said. These toys are retro-styled and come in a variety of sizes and prices to match any child’s interests.
Fozzi’s Bath Foam, $9.99, helps keep bath time fun. “You can spray it on your walls in your bathtub and play with it,” Sudduth said. “You can actually use it as a soap or just play around in the tub.”
On-the-Go books have several different puzzles, coloring pages and more to keep children busy while they’re on the go. “They’re good for the car or anywhere,” Sudduth said.
Sudduth said the Dragonfly Copter, $9.99, is good for children of all ages. “The actual pack has three different launchers with six different flyers, so you could actually get it and break it up between three kids,” he said. “You shoot it straight up, and it helicopters down. At night, it looks like fireworks.”
SMITH’S VARIETY is at 45 Church St. in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village. For more information, call 205- 871-0841 or visit the store’s Facebook page.