Creative Kidstuff, Wishes 1997

The Creative Kidstuff catalog is like a toy chest. The Wishes 1997 edition is not super-organized, stolid, and adult; it’s jam-packed with multicolored toys, from fairy costumes to loom kits to chemistry sets. And without a table of contents, the catalog doesn’t tell you where each item can be found, but then again, do your kids know where their toys are?

The catalog shows scores of real-life customers’ kids having fun and learning from these educational toys. This is far better than plonking your child in front of a TV, according to customer testimonials. “We’re usually wary of ‘educational toys’ that turn out to be high-priced gimmicks, but we found this phonics system to be kid friendly, well designed, and definitely worthwhile,” one customer comments.

The judges found the merchandising to be “brimming, busy, full, creative.” Toys are sold for all age groups, from infants to adolescents, with offerings ranging from crib mobiles to Fun Rides, a contraption involving a steel cable and handlebars that can be set up to traverse a yard.

As one judge says, the copy “speaks to the kid and talks to the adult.” Or perhaps the copy speaks to the kid in the adult, with descriptions like this one for a toy called the Flash ball: “No, it’s not a UFO below, it’s the magical Flash ball. We love the physics involved here: conservation of momentum, potential energy, and that whole inertia thing!” Imagination is an important theme that is frequently emphasized. For example, the copy for a toy called Toobers & Zots Aliens urges the reader to “expand your universe with your imagination.”

Fun is also communicated in the catalog’s design. Opening the catalog is like stepping into a day-care center-toys and kids are everywhere. The catalog “mirrors the busy, hectic ebb and flow of life with children,” says a judge.

“What kid doesn’t want all this stuff?” one panelist wonders. And judging by the response rate, which beat company expectations by almost a full percentage point, these children’s offerings are hard to resist. According to one judge, the Creative Kidstuff Wishes catalog teaches us that “busy can be beautiful.” From the friendly copy to the exciting, colored-in photos of children playing, the catalog “has impact,” judges agree, and is effective enough as both a syndicated mail order and a retail tool to garner a Gold Award.

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