This year the Penguin Gift Shop at Penguin Place has a whole rookery of penguin graduation plush, t-shirts, cards and toys. Our plush penguin grads range from 6″ tall with a cap and diploma to a giant near life size Emperor Chick and adult Emperor. We’ve even created our own Penguin Graduation Section of our website.
Posts Tagged ‘Penguin Toys’
At some point in our lives we’ve all spent time talking to our stuffed penguins. Unfortunately, this was always a one way conversation. Now, we have a penguin that actually talks back. Well, sort of, as our new Chitter Chatter Penguin Plush will talk to you whenever you feel like talking to him. We first came across this chatty pengy about four months ago at the N.Y. Toy Show and really liked this whimsical looking little penguin even before we found out he spoke. Once we started having a conversation we immediately ordered a bunch, then of course after a couple of months went by we totally forgot about C.C. until the box arrived this morning. I’m happy to say that I’ve been having fun with my Chitter Chatter ever since, and I can’t wait for my kids to get home from school. The penguin doesn’t talk as much as he parrots what you say right back to you. Switch him on and say something. Anything. Chitter Chatter Penguin will repeat it back to you, but not in your voice, but in a slightly speeded up kind of Alvin and the Chipmunks voice, which makes even the most mundane sentence sound fun. Even saying, “I have to go throw out the garbage” sounds hilarious. Plus, to make him even more animated (fun) C.C. moves his head up and down while speaking. This little five inch tall penguin may be the most fun new penguin item since the legendary Penguin Pooper waddled in a decade ago.
About halfway through the recent N.Y. Toy Show, a point known by fellow attendees as “the wall” by veteran Toy Show buyers like myself, who courageously attempt to walk the entire 15 miles of Javits Center rows in one day, I was hit in the side of my head by a soft, golf ball sized projectile. Things like this happen from time to time at the Toy Show as various vendors try to get your attention by any means necessary, so I wasn’t all that surprised to be clocked. During the course of any show remote control helicopters may inadvertently land on your head, a stray “super-curving” whiffle ball may whiz by your ear, so when I turned in the direction of where this little nerf bullet had emanated from I was stunned and overjoyed to see it was shot by a woman wearing an over-sized penguin costume, and not only that, she was holding some sort of penguin toy with what appeared to be a snub nosed muzzle for a mouth. The shooter and the weapon had been found, and they were penguins! How she knew to shoot me of all people can only be called fate or her penguin instinct, but it’s a good thing she did. Funny thing is her company are the same folks that Penguin Place gets our penguin ear buds from, but I had no idea about this other penguin item they were also offering. Turns out this little guy is called a Penguin Popper which makes perfect sense unless you’re dyslexic and end up calling it a Popper Penguin which sounds very much like a classic book or an o.k. movie. I immediately asked to try out the Popper and found it to be the perfect penguin indoor toy, and a good, safe way to vent as I drilled one customer rep after another with little black nerf ball projectiles ( part of the customer reps job description is getting verbally abused and at times shot at). Each Popper comes with a half-dozen balls, which are soft foam, golf ball sized projectiles, but have just enough heft to them that they can be shot for a fairly respectable distance and speed. The penguin itself looks a little weird with its beak frozen in a perpetual pucker, but if you want a penguin to shoot little balls out of his mouth he needs to locked in a pucker. There are no batteries involved, just air and pressure. The six-inch penguin is hallow and made of a soft plastic. Inserting the foam ball in his mouth creates a seal and a bit of a vacuum. Point, aim and quick squeeze of the penguins belly and the ball shoots out. The harder you squeeze the faster the ball shoots. This toy has become an instant hit at home with both my 8 and 4-year-old. Last night we had a Penguin Popper Olympics which involved shooting the balls into a basket from about 6 feet away, hitting a target, catching balls in your hands, shooting for distance. Good fun, no one gets hurt, the toy is virtually indestructible, the balls can’t break anything and if our cat was still alive he’d be having the time of his life chasing the balls. Plus, it comes with six balls so there’s no anxiety if you lose one or two. We’ve been playing with it for about two weeks now and it’s made an appearance about a half-dozen times, which is pretty good for a kids toy, and to top it all off it retails for under $10. So, we’re giving this toy two flippers up.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the brass at Penguin Place returned from the N.Y. Toy and Gift Show triumphant with lots of new penguin products ordered, and this past week we’ve had a mini avalanche of new penguins waddling in. From plush, to toys, nightlights, bath gels, wrapping paper, greeting cards, earrings, key chains, bottle stoppers, i-phone skins, purses, mugs, lip balm, picture frames, you name it. All penguins, all cute and believe it or not more are on the way.
It’s the RIP time of the year for many a beloved penguin goodie here at Penguin Place, with the last of discontinued penguin items waddling out the door. In the past 10 days alone we’ve lost penguin oven mitts, hair scrunchie, kids sunglasses, cool knit pilot hats, reversible totes, Puffsicle plush, penguin bowling game, 3-D luggage tags, bathtub buddy, Wildkin backpack, 4 port USB hub, black penguin socks, penguin toilet handles, kids books, earrings, two piece loungewear sets, cufflinks and penguin chicks garden flags. This is just in the past week, so if there’s a penguin you’re thinking about and it’s in stock act now for tomorrow may be too late. Some may be back in 2012, but most are gone for good. RIPP (Rest In Peace Penguins).
With the official start of the holiday season a mere few days away (we like to call it black & white Friday), it seems that a blizzard of new penguin goodies have been arriving each day with more scheduled to turn up during the next week. Some of our latest penguins to come waddling are some great stocking stuffers like a cool inflatable penguin beach ball, penguin lollypops, a kids penguin sippy cup, fun and festive penguin window gels, an elegant Emperor penguin plush and a Santa Penguin Chick Christmas Card with more in the penguin pipeline.
When folks ask me what I do I usually pause a bit. I know that the simple response of I sell penguins will no doubt elicit a puzzled look, and then an onslaught of follow-up questions. It seems that over the years I’ve become use to such an exchange and I’ve learned that the term most people can wrap their minds around is “I sell penguin stuff.“ If you think about it it’s much more appropriate than I sell penguin toys, or gifts or even I sell everything to do with penguins. Everyone knows stuff, and I sell penguin stuff seems to do the trick for a starting point. 9 times out of 10 by saying “penguin stuff”, people almost immediately get it, and start ticking off the penguin sub-categories on their own in an attempt to find something that I don’t have (which may be a shorter list). They’ll ask with a grin if I carry socks, earrings, salt and pepper shakers, flags, hats, puzzles, night lights, wind ups, slippers…? Got it, got it, got it, I’ll reply. Finally, when they tire of their list of things I do have they’ll usually ask if I have a real penguin? Well, yes and no I say to their surprise. I do have a real one, but he’s no longer alive referring to the taxidermied Adelie that was willed to me by a long time customer and is in my P-Bay Section. So, with almost 800 different penguin items (new and used) at Penguin Place, I guess the best short answer to the age old busy body question of what I do is, I sell penguin stuff.
Well, it’s that time of the year again for Penguin Place. About a month after the biggie N.Y. Gift Show the flow of our new penguin items that the UPS (lady) and Fed Ex (man) go from a trickle to Hurricane Irene. Monday there were 10 boxes left at the bottom of my stairs (8 were penguin Halloween costumes), Tuesday 6, Wednesday 5 and yesterday 9 boxes of penguin goodies. Figure on average each box has 2 or three different penguin plush, toys, figurines, books, jewelry, etc for me to carry up four flights of stairs, unpack, fold, inventory, put on the shelves, scan, take pictures, photoshop, write copy and add to the website. So you want to have your own penguin store? Just off the top of my head this week alone we’ve added penguin baby booties, plush, fancy schmancy embroidered pillows and dish towels, pencil sharpeners, kids slippers, five different types of penguin bags from Bungalow 360, a pewter picture frame, a table lamp, an oven mitt, baby bib, penguin spreader set and a penguin rescue helicopter toy, with more on the way.
As much as we love penguins and penguin stuff, we hate being forced to take cool penguin merchandise in assorted colors. Case and point, the cool, hand held penguin fan for years was only available as an assortment, pink and white, purple and white and black and white. Of course whenever I put a shipment up on Penguin Place, the black and white fan outsold the other colors 5-1. So, inevitably I’ve become saddled with dozens of pink and purple penguin fans. Well, finally my distributor has seen the light and these cool penguin fans are now being offered to me (and you) in black and white only. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Everyone loves to complain. Unless you’re Jimmy Stewart or Mother Teresa it’s one of the things we do best as a species, and I’m sure you’re very good at it. For me, I got lots to complain about, be it the Mets or my three-year-old daughter peeing on the carpet this morning. But, on a professional level regarding Penguin Place I’ve been pretty fortunate. I love penguins, and how many people get to make a living at what they love? If you’re curious, you can see the story of Penguin Place in this link. About 25 years ago I began my penguin odyssey in a little shop in downtown N.Y. at South St. Seaport, and obviously as with everything in life there were some bumps along the way, but all in all, no major complaints. I left my brick and mortar penguin existence about 10 years ago dedicating myself to Penguin-Place.com as my full time gig. I ran it out of a windowless, former art studio attached to my downtown Brooklyn loft. No complaints there. Then about 5 years ago I realized I needed a new, improved, upgraded version of PP.com as it been about the same site for 8 years or so, and the world of on-line retail was passing me by at warp speed. The only people I had ever worked with regarding Penguin Place.com were the folks who designed and maintained my site since its inception way back in 1997. So, I naturally went to them for the upgrade. Sure thing, they said. We can do this for you and then some. Unfortunately, there had been lots of turnover at this company, and all the folks who worked with the initial PP.com start-up were gone. The company had downsized lots, and my new designer was working on his first commercial website (found this out after the fact). Not good. Over budget, and way behind schedule it launched months late, with an iceberg of problems at the worst possible time of the year. Right at the beginning of the holiday season. It was a disaster, and it appeared that my designer, who was in way over his head when it came to commercial website construction, was incapable of fixing this. In a panic as October was turning in November I desperately searched for someone, some company who could fix this and fast, and through a friend I found a west coast developer that specialized with Joomla based websites (which is what I had). They came to my rescue, patched things up in short order, and in turn gained my trust and gratitude. All good for the time being, but PP.com site still needed an upgrade, a new look and some big time changes. My west coast peeps now had my confidence as they helped me in my hour of need, and they impressed me with their organizational skills, cool tech lingo and the multiple on-line teleconference meetings. They seemed committed and were taking the time to put an upgrade plan together. But, as one deadline after another came and went, the Penguin-Place.com upgrade never came. Weeks, turned into months and then the months turned into, well you get the picture. Then this fall, with traffic and sales down, yet another holiday season approaching, and all talk, no action coming from my web developer, I had a feeling no changes were going to happen and was desperate once again. Because of the antiquated look and feel of Penguin Place, sales were down and the future looked bleak. So, fed up with all the delays and broken promises, I turned to a local web designer who I liked and talked a good talk. She was enthusiastic and had great ideas. But, in the end she turned out to be a wonderful designer, with bad communication skills, and as was the case of my original designer back in N.Y. she also did not have the skills to put together a commercial website, and without it sales and traffic continued to drop. The check out page / shopping cart, and many nuanced, yet crucial customer service aspects of Penguin Place were still lacking. Some aspects of the website were even worse than before. I was frustrated beyond words, as I’m sure many of my long time customers were as they tried to navigate the many speed bumps and dead ends that they faced on penguin place. We limped through this holiday season, and I knew I needed to find a professional web design company to turn this around once and for all. My Penguin Place Igloo needed to be righted. After interviewing a half dozen companies around the world, in the end I choose a local company called Left Click right here in my adopted home town of Northampton. In fact their office is only about 150 feet from Penguin Place. Let, me say first off they’ve been great. The first step to making Penguin Place whole again was not cosmetic, but only to get penguin place to act and interact like a 21st century commercial website. Including all the things shoppers take for granted. Get the check out page and shopping cart to work properly, easy customer login, install multi-tiered shipping options in plain sight on the check out page, a home page slide show, working pagination arrows (that means you can go from one page to the next within a category), customer service friendly e-mail confirmations and working links, etc. All the basics. Next came the cosmetic changes and adding things like customer wish lists and even a penguin birthday club, which takes us to our new look PP.com which I’m happy to say we re-launched a few days ago. All this they did within budget and on time. Great communication, easy to reach, nice people, they know what their doing, good listeners, with good ideas who actually act like they care. And all the time right next door. So, what I’m saying is as easy as it is to complain, I wanted to say thanks to Left Click. I wish Penguin Place had found you sooner.