Silly Bandz selling like hot cakes

Silly BandzArticle by Tara George, NY Times.

At Michael Casaren’s toy store in South Orange, children from elementary to high school are coming in every day with their wrists and forearms wrapped in a jumble of silicon bracelets, desperate to buy more.

The bracelets are called silly bandz, and they are today’s kid fad. Sold in packs of 12, for about $2.50, or 24 for about $5, they are organized according to theme: animals, princesses, alphabet, Western, for example. Kids stack them on their wrists and trade them. The coveted ones glow in the dark. On a child’s wrist, they look like brightly colored rubber bands, but laid on a lunchroom table for inspection, they revert to their original shape.

“It’s definitely an obsession,” said Mr. Casaren, whose store, Sparkhouse Kids, has sold out and is awaiting a new shipment of 16 cases.

If Sparkhouse Kids is like other stores throughout the region, those cases will also sell out soon after they land on shelves. Kids call stores wanting to know if new bands are in. Parents ask to be put on waiting lists, or even offer to pay more for first dibs on new arrivals.

Teachers have “sillybanned” them from their classrooms for being a distraction. At the After School Program at Tuscan Elementary School in Maplewood, for instance, students were told they couldn’t trade them any longer because the bands were causing arguments and a few children without them were sneaking them away from those with an abundance of them. But like any good craze, interest among the kids only surged when the toy became contraband, or in this case, “contrabandz.”

“It’s totally viral,” said Wendy Bellermann, a mother of three elementary-school children in Maplewood. “It’s the perfect fad from a retail point of view. They are eminently losable. They break.” She added, “If your friend has the princess kind, then you have to have the princess kind, too.”

The Silly bandz craze was first noticed in Birmingham, Ala., late last year, according to one manufacturer, and has steadily spread up the East Coast. Parts of New Jersey, Long Island and Staten Island first started seeing them in November, and those areas are now gripped by the craze. So far the fad has not erupted in the rest of New York City, but one distributor estimates it will in a few weeks when the large toy stores start selling them.

Though they are referred to generically as “silly bandz” by their young collectors, the same product is made by a handful of competing manufacturers and marketed under the names Silly bandz, Zanybandz, and Crazy bandz.

They are popular with boys and girls alike. Students from kindergarten all the way up to high school collect them. There’s a Facebook page with over 83,000 fans and a whole genre of silly bandz videos on You Tube in which kids show off their collections. eBay hosts a lively online auction of the bands where sets can be snapped up at a discount.

The appeal of Silly bandz lies in their perfect combination of being affordable, collectible and tradeable, says Jackie Breyer, editor in chief of The Toy Book, a magazine based in Manhattan. She said they are reminiscent of the Kooky Klicker pens that were popular last year, as well as the Beanie Babies and Webkinz crazes of yore.

“They’re cool to trade, to collect and fun to play with and everyone is, like, going crazy about them,” said Kaitlin Thomas, 8, of Maplewood, who owns between 70 or 80, some of which were bought with money from her piggy bank. “The penguin and golden retriever are my favorites because everyone says the penguin is rare and I think the golden retriever is cute.”

James Howard, president of Oklahoma-based Zanybandz, said he came up with the idea for the bands in the summer of 2009 when he was visiting China, where he manufactures silicone kitchen products. While there, he noticed some shaped silicone bands that were made as office supplies. He said he figured if he made the shapes “cuter,” his nieces and nephews would love them. They did, so he started manufacturing them.

He says the craze took off in Birmingham, where the Learning Express stores started to sell them. Sales quickly went from 25 packs a month to 7,000 a month.

“Pretty soon we were banned in six school districts there, and after we were banned in the first one there was no looking back,” he said. “Getting banned fuels the craze like a five-gallon can of gasoline on a campfire.”

Mr. Howard saw demand hopskotch from Alabama to Florida, then New Jersey and parts of New York. He now sees it heading West. He said his main rival, Silly bandz, was developing the product simultaneously. Their manufacturer, Brainchild Products, based in Toledo, Ohio, could not be reached for comment.

“We’re in about 10,000 stores now,” Mr. Howard said. “We’re hiring eight people a week (to take orders.) The phones are ringing all the time. We have to remind ourselves that we’re selling rubber bands, not body parts for surgery. So if that person doesn’t get their shipment immediately it’s not the end of the world.”

Joel Schreck, whose company, On The Road Reps, is the East Coast distributor for Zanybandz, says the craze is “every bit as big as Webkinz.” He says in 28 years in the business, he’s seen crazes come and go, but what’s unusual about this one is how intense interest suddenly erupts in pockets in one state, rather than spreading uniformly throughout.

Mr. Schreck noted that enthusiasm for a hot product like this can burn out as quickly, so to keep the kids interested, Zanybandz will be bringing out a new set of themes: Circus, Hollywood and A Day At The Beach, which should be available after April 26.

Sean McGowan, an analyst who tracks the toy industry for Needham and Company, said in a high-tech era when children want iPods and iPads and Wii games, it’s refreshing to see something as simple as this get their attention.

“This is the lowest of technologies,” he said.


Silly Bandz Bracelet Craze: School Ban

Silly BandzBy BONNIE ROCHMAN (Time Magazine) – Thu May 27, 2:10 pm ET

The Bandz are now contraband. Schools in several states, including New York, Texas, Florida and Massachusetts, have blacklisted Silly Bandz, those stretchy, colorful bracelets that are creeping up the forearms of school kids across the U.S. And starting this week, all 800-some kids at my son’s elementary school in Raleigh, N.C., were commanded to leave at home their collections of rubber band–like bracelets, which retail for about $5 per pack of 24. What could possibly be so insidious about a cheap silicone bracelet?

“It’s a distraction,” says Jill Wolborsky, a fourth-grade teacher at my son’s school, who banned them from her classroom before the principal implemented a schoolwide ban. One student stole some confiscated Bandz from her desk, choosing them over the cash in her drawer.

Students fiddle with them during class and arrange swaps – trading, say, a bracelet with a mermaid for one with a dragon – when they should be concentrating on schoolwork, teachers say. Sometimes a trade goes bad – kids get buyer’s remorse too – and hard feelings, maybe even scuffles, ensue.

That’s what prompted Karen White, principal of Snow Rogers Elementary School in Gardendale, Ala., in October to become one of the first administrators to forbid students their Bandz. “We try not to limit their freedom of expression and what they wear, but when this became a problem, I knew we had to nip it in the bud pretty quickly,” says White, who has since extended an olive branch in the form of monthly Silly Bandz days.

Silly Bandz are the latest in a long list of kid-centric fads – in the tradition of Cabbage Patch Kids, Beanie Babies, PokÉmon cards and Crocs. BCP Imports LLC, the small business in Toledo, Ohio, that’s behind the bracelets, was not prepared for the frenzy. It’s increased its workforce from 20 employees to 200 in the past year and just this week added 22 phone lines to keep up with inquiries. The company sells millions of packs a month, and Robert Croak, the president, can still hardly believe it. (He took my call after hanging up with Macy’s, which is interested in creating a Silly Bandz float for its storied Thanksgiving Day parade.)

Croak got inspired about three years ago at a product show in China, where a Japanese artist had devised a rubber band cute enough to escape the trash bin. Though Silly Bandz have been out for two years, they began catching on a year ago – Alabama was an early adopter, as were New Jersey and Tennessee. They’re just now gaining traction in California and Texas.

“They’re getting banned because kids play with them so much,” says Croak, who maintains they’re the right product at the right time, a cost-conscious trinket in tough economic times that can even be a learning tool for little ones, kind of like flexible flash cards.

His company receives about 500 fan letters a week. One, signed by a 10-year-old named Logan Librett and a few of his friends in New Rochelle, N.Y., suggested a way to circumvent all the bothersome Silly Bandz restrictions: “Some schools in New York have banned them, but we have ideas that might change that … clear silly bands that teachers can’t see and only glow in the dark.”

Just in case the company bites, Librett offered his address. He’s still waiting.

What is Silly Bandz?

What’s a Silly Bandz,’ you may ask yourself (pausing slightly afterwards to check if your grammar is correct.) Well let me tell you, these things are quite silly but in the best way possible. They are shaped rubber band(z)! These bandz come in the shapes of princess stuff, western stuff, rock ‘n’ roll stuff, the alphabet, underwater animals and so on. They’re really heating up in the states so we figured we’d bring them in to show everyone! Come have a look, ’cause when your kid asks for one, you’ll have a one-up on them and actually know what a Silly Bandz is.
Rock Band Silly Bandz

Silly Bandz

You can buy them from our two retail stores:

Toys on Fire (Montreal)
1539 Van Horne Ave
Outremont, QC H2V 1L4 Canada
(514) 948-2627

Toys on Fire (Ottawa)
130 RioCan Ave, Unit 3
Nepean, ON K2J 5G4 Canada
(613) 825-0688

What?? You don’t live near those locations….then you can always buy them from our online store at

Sideshow’s King Leonidas: 12 Inches from 300

Long before it was a tired meme and some time before it was a fresh meme, “This is Sparta!” was just the awesomest line to be found in Frank Miller’s 300, a film about muscular men directed by Zack Snyder and starring the then-lesser-known Gerard Butler as Sparta’s King Leonidas.

This guy’s already been a 6-inch figure along with some of the other characters from the film, but Sideshow knew that a mere 6 inches could not contain him and thus are releasing a 12-inch model. Check it out:

Here’s a look at the features:
The King Leonidas 12 inch Figure features:

* Over 26 points of articulation
* Authentic likeness of Gerard Butler as King Leonidas
* Switch-out head with alternate expression
* Real fabric cape with harness
* Faux-leather belt, vambraces and greaves
* Helmet features a realistic faux-horsehair crest
* Realistic wolf’s tooth necklace
* Sword and faux-leather scabbard
* Battle damaged Spartan shield with faux-leather handle and removable broken arrows
* Spear
* Two (2) pairs of Interchangeable hands
* Figure stand with 300 movie logo and King Leonidas nameplate

This one’s a great find for anyone who couldn’t get enough of the film, or any fan of the absolutely insane abs that distracted from 300’s admittedly exciting historical inaccuracies.

New from Sideshow: TMNT Raphael Comiquette

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sideshow has released a new pre-orderable comiquette of the team’s hot-headed rebel, Raphael. Wielding a pair of sharpened sai and a grim expression, he crouches stop a building ready to take on whatever evil lurks in the mean streets of New York. The statue can be pre-ordered now and is expected to start shipping later this month! In the 3rd quarter, he’ll be joined by Michelangelo, who can also be ordered ahead of time.

If you’re looking for something smaller and a little more manageable on a budget, though, we’ve also got individual action figures, Batsu figures, three-packs and more in CmdStore’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles section! Everybody from Shredder to General Blanque to the foot soldiers can be found, no matter which character you’re into. If you’re a fan of the franchise, be sure to check it out.

Dirk Benedict on the A-Team Remake

With fans still lamenting the loss of the Battlestar Galactica TV series and others looking forward to the A-Team remake, Dirk Benedict would have something to say on the matter. Unfortunately, though, he’s pretty upset with both. Digital Spy reports…

Benedict starred as Lieutenant Starbuck in the original series, but in the new version the character became a woman, played by Katee Sackhoff.

Speaking about the new A-Team movie, Benedict told Anorak City: “They’ll screw it up. They’ll do it what they did to Battlestar Galactica, probably.”

He continued: “[The Battlestar Galactica remake] wasn’t the show I made. I played an iconic character, but they turned him into a girl!

“When you do Star Wars you don’t turn Han Solo into a girl, Hannah Solo. When you do Rio Bravo you don’t have Madonna get her boots out to play John Wayne. Create another character instead.”

Benedict added that he wishes he hadn’t filmed a cameo for the A-Team movie, saying: “You’ll miss me if you blink. I kind of regret doing it because it’s a non-part. They wanted to be able to say, ‘Oh yeah, the original cast are in it’, but we’re not. It is three seconds. It’s kind of insulting.”

Not sure why he’s so upset–frankly, the world does need more strong female characters and Katee Sackhoff fit the bill while retaining the essence (and name) of Benedict’s character. Oh well. Can’t please everyone!

While we’re on the topic, of course, I’ll put up a link to our Battlestar Galactica section. I’m afraid you’ll find more Katee than Dirk, but given his mood, that might not be a bad thing. at Montreal ToyCon May 16 2010

Figurines BD

It was another great show at the Courtyard Marriott this past Sunday (May 16 2010)…..the Montreal ToyCon was a huge success for fans and dealers. Each week we will showcase a dealer from the toy and comic book show. This week is: A robust store situated in the East end of Montreal. They carry comic book and movie based action figures as well as different kinds of war figurines and statues.

Figurines BD
4144 Jean-Talon East
Montreal, QC H1S-1J6
Ph: (514) 723-6455