By Emily Williams
OTMJ: Do you remember your first day working in the toy Biz?
George Jones: “We opened in 1988, primarily as a children’s bookstore with only a small section of toys. It was very exciting, as we were already in the book business but were so happy to have a store in our neighborhood. We soon learned that, although our customers loved books, they were really craving toys!”
OTMJ: If you were an elf working in Santa’s workshop, what would your job be?
GJ: “If I were working in Santa’s workshop I would like to be in charge of product development. I can’t wait to go to our markets each year and see all the new and innovative toys.”
OTMJ: What is a toy that has stood the test of time?
GJ: Toys that continue to keep on giving include Lego, Barbie, Hot Wheels, Nerf products and any movie-related items.
OTMJ: If your younger self time-traveled to 2019, what would be the first toy on your list?
GJ: “My Christmas list would include the Glowstriker, the Steam-Breathing Dragon, the Tumbling Hedgehog kit, and I would really, really want the Nerf Blaster Scooter!”
The hottest toy of the season, Jones said, is the Owleez, $54.99.
“We’ve already seen them selling on eBay,” he said. These interactive baby owls are the most recent take on the classic Furby-style robot. They respond to touch and movement, their eyes change colors with their mood and, best of all, they can fly. At the time of publication, Snoozy’s only had a few left in stock.
Bringing a dose of education, My Robotic Pet Tumbling Hedgehog, $39.99, is a great substitute if you can’t get your hands on Owleez. This robot includes an element of STEM experimentation.
“You build your own robot and he responds to clap commands,” Jones said. “Two means to roll over, one might mean go to the left or the right.”
The latest and greatest take on karaoke is the Kids Singing Machine Karaoke Pedestal, $69.99.
“It’s bluetooth compatible. It works with all music apps. It has a voice-altering feature. It’s just fun, fun, fun stuff,” Jones said. It also comes with two microphones, in case a duet is in order.
You can never go wrong with an action figure, and Jones’ current favorite is Hearthsong’s Steam-Breathing Dragon, $42.99.
“His wings move, his eyes glow, he stomps around; but the coolest thing about him is that real steam comes out of his mouth,” Jones said.
To get kids moving, Jones suggests Spyder Pong, $129.99. The netted ping-pong-style game includes a smaller ball to be used with paddles, or a larger ball you can hit with your hands.
“We set one up outside the store the other day, and it is really light and easy to transport,” he said.
Another great game to get moving is Hearthsong’s Inflatable Balance Jousting set, $35.99, Jones said, which builds core strength and balancing skills while kids are playing a fun game.
The AirFort, $49.99, is the perfect hideaway that can be inflated and dismantled inside the home.
“These will make a big statement at Christmas, and they’re great for boys and girls,” Jones said. “We have one style in camo, one looks like a circus tent and we also have one in pink.”
Blinger, $29.99, is made for kids who love to experiment with style. The tool clips rhinestones onto hair, accessories, clothing and more.
“When you run out of bling, we have refill packs that are $12.99 each,” Jones said.
“We have a brand new stroller from Carolle ($59.99),” Jones said. “Who wouldn’t want to see this set up as you walk down the stairs on Christmas morning.” Both the stroller and carrier feature Carolle’s signature patterns and French design.
When it comes to foam darts, said Jones, “the Blaster Scooter ($159.99) is the top of the line, for sure.” The latest Nerf creation features a three-wheel scooter outfitted with a dual-barrel blaster that fires darts up to 40 feet.
“Paw Patrol is huge,” Jones said. “We’ve got some exclusive pieces that you can’t get just anywhere.” The store has stocked a range of Paw Patrol toy sets, from $14.99 up, inspired by the popular children’s television show. “Each character has a cute name inspired by their job, like Marshall, who is a firefighter. They are just regular dogs, but then they go around town saving the city and making it better.”
In terms of stuffed animals, Jones is talking Ty, and he doesn’t mean beanie babies.
“Ty has released their Frozen line (available in a variety of sizes and prices), in honor of Frozen 2, which comes out later this month,” Jones said. “When we went to look at these at market, they had them hidden behind a curtain. You could only look at them, you couldn’t even touch them.”
Older kids can be difficult to shop for, Jones said, but you can never go wrong with tech. He suggests Type, a sleek and portable wireless keyboard, $49.99. The product folds in half and comes with a carrying case, so it slips easily into a purse, backpack or even coat pocket.
A great game for families with oleo tweens and teens is (May Cause) Side Effects, $24.99.
“It’s a little bit like charades,” Jones said, but one person draws a pill and acts out the side effects described while the other team member has to guess a word or phrase.
Finally, if you are looking to stuff stockings, it’s all about the element of surprise.
“All of the blind packages are fun, because you don’t know what you are going to get” Jones said. “They keep coming out with new ones, and they are just getting bigger and better.” One of Jones’ top picks for ages 3 and up is the Baby Born Surprise series, $18.99, which includes a surprise baby doll.
Snoozy’s Kids is at 228 Country Club Park in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village. For more information, call 205-871-2662 or visit the store’s Facebook page.