The Top 10 Discontinued Toys at Uncle Goose
At Uncle Goose, we have two simple criteria for making our toys:
- We love them and want to continue making them.
- Other people love them enough to actually buy them.
It’s that simple. If even one of the two criteria isn’t in place, we stop making those blocks.
If you see your favorite toy on this list - don’t call. Don’t write. Don’t cry.
Failure is part of the creative process. Making mistakes is how we all learn.
We learned our lesson. We aren’t making these toys anymore.
1. SUDOKU PUZZLE SET
By the time we designed and tested the our Sudoku blocks, worldwide interest in Sudoku diminished. Even we lost interest in playing our own puzzles. This is never a good sign. Can you spell D-U-D? We can, but prefer not to.
2. HIEROGLYPHIC BLOCKS
Who knew there weren’t enough budding Egyptologists in the world to support making this marvelous toy? We did deep research, then vastly overestimated the appeal. And we learned the hard way. No one wanted Hieroglyphic Blocks.
3. GROOVIE MATH AND PATTERNING BLOCKS
Wow. Bright colors, mathematical equations, numbers, and shapes. What’s not to like? It turns out the elves in the Uncle Goose toy shop hated making the grooves in the Groovie blocks. They were too much work, for far too little reward. And no one likes an angry elf.
4. STACK AND SCARE
We loved our collaboration with Invisible Creature on making this ambitious block set. It’s gorgeous, but difficult to craft. If sales were steady, we’d continue to make them. But sales slid, and we couldn’t justify the setup and labor costs on this visually spectacular set. And wouldn't you know it? As soon as we stopped making it, people asked for it. Inconsistent sales scare us, so we won't be revisiting this set.
5. ALL HOUSE INDUSTRY BLOCKS
House Industries pushed us out of our comfort zone with a design-forward approach. Now, we’re going back to our comfort zone with a people-forward approach. We’re keeping the cool Uncle Goose logo they designed for us, though.
6. COUNT & STACK
This was our very first number and math block set. For a while, people snapped them up. But over time, the design became dated. People lost interest. Dare we say it? Their days were, uh, numbered.
We all knew this one had to come to an end. The tray only holds 45 blocks. When sales tanked during and after the cantankerous 2016 election, we couldn’t justify continuing this set. You could say that the Presidential block set didn't win the popular vote.
8. STATES BLOCKS
This is a set people love, but don’t love enough to buy. To paraphrase one angry emailer: “I don’t want to buy these. But I want you to make them so that other people at least have the option of buying them.” However: we can’t stay in business making blocks that people want to buy in theory.
9. CHRISTMAS TREES
These were beautiful. We loved the design, the type, and the delightful Christmas tree illustrations. Our customers loved them, too - these were perennial best-sellers. So why quit a good thing? Because we wanted to challenge ourselves and our customers with a more contemporary Christmas design. As designers and creative people, we need to push ourselves. We want to stay ahead of the curve, not behind it. (See Sudoku blocks, above.)
10. ANTIC ANT BLOCKS
For over 25 years, people itched to get their hands on these. Our ants were massively popular. But many times, mega-popular toys go through a maddening boom-and-bust cycle. When the trend line on the Antic Ants dipped below 10 sets a year — we kissed our beloved ants good-bye.
Plus One Bonus Honorable Mention Discontinued Toy!
11. ODD GALAXY
We loved this set. It was ambitious! It was beautiful! It was odd! It was also our most costly toy to make, as well as the most money we’ve ever lost on a set. We had to jettison the project.
So there you have it: our top 10 failures and one honorable mention. This is our own island of misfit toys.
You might love some of them. So did we, once. But now, it's over. We all need to move on.
If you want to actually buy any of the blocks listed above - maybe try getting them second-hand on eBay or Amazon. Or try going to garage and estate sales. Or Goodwill or consignment shops.
We prefer to focus our efforts on handcrafting wooden block toys that we love to make, and that our customers love enough to actually buy.