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Show Update: Toy Fair 2008

BY Yelena Moroz

NEW YORK ‘Fun’ is an understatement when it comes to describing the Toy Fair 2008 that is taking place at the Javits Center in New York City. The trade show looks very much like a gigantic toy store for attendees to play in. Each booth, big or small, exhibited a certain panache that awakened the child within.

The toys ranged from classics, like rag dolls from Best Pals, to technologically driven projects, like Playmates’ Draw & Dream, an interactive art studio. Among traditional plush toys, dolls and board games, a new generation are born and growing – traditional toys with a high technological component.

Hasbro has redefined the definition of plush with its FurReal collection that includes a cat, pony and golden retriever that are voice and touch activated creating an illusion of a real animal. Mattel’s Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Gotta Go Doll is programmed to demonstrate proper bathroom etiquette. When it comes to games, companies are working hard to incorporate video games into an offline lifestyle. IToys is working to perfect ME2, a cell-phone sized electronic game that encourages kids to walk around, as it gathers points that can be used when playing online.

Licensing is a huge factor when it comes to releasing new toys. With multiple movie releases, brands are not missing a beat to incorporate the characters into play: from Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Speed Racer to Batman. Kids can play with Hulk Operation board game or Sponge Bob LEGOs.

This year also marks a few notable milestones. LEGO is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a unique set that mimics the original building blocks and includes a golden block. My Little Pony, Hasbro, is also nodding to 25 years.

Although fun and games are the backbone of the show, the Toy Fair has a serious side. The subject of toy safety was thoroughly discussed at the Safety Update Seminar that was lead by TIA experts and government officials.

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Patrican leaving Maxell

BY Doug Desjardins

FAIR LAWN, N.J. Industry veteran Dan Patrican is leaving Maxell Corp. of America next month “to pursue other opportunities.”

According to published reports, the company issued an internal memo on Feb. 19 that said Patrican would stay with Maxell until March 31 “to ensure a smooth transition.”

Patrican is currently VP of branded sales for Maxell and is on the company’s board of directors. He first joined Maxell in 1979 and left in 1986 only to return in 1997. In addition to serving on the Maxell board, he serves on the Board of Industry Leaders for the Consumer Electronics Association.

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Hepfinger named president, COO of Weis Markets

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. Weis Markets on Wednesday named David Hepfinger president and chief operating officer.

In his new role, Hepfinger will oversee the company’s day-to-day store operations, perishable and center store marketing, merchandising and procurement, pharmacy, distribution, human resources and store support services.

“Dave Hepfinger has a broad and varied background in food retailing which is particularly well-suited to our company,” stated Jonathan Weis, Weis Markets’ vice chairman. “He has a strong combination of operational and executive skills which will be essential to our company’s growth and success in the coming years.”

Hepfinger will report to Weis Markets’ chairman Robert Weis, vice chairman Jonathan Weis and Norman Rich, who will continue as chief executive officer.

Prior to joining Weis Markets, Hepfinger was senior vice president of retailing and administration at Price Chopper, a 116-store supermarket company based in Rotterdam, N.Y.

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