Emails to the Editor...
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Posted 6/12/17: Ron Grattini comments on "the Hassenfelds" - Normally it might be a reaction of envy, jealousy, or perhaps even anger that a person becomes a " 1 per center" these days, but having read that Alan Hassenfeld recently joined the billionaires club, I have nothing but admiration for him and his family. I recall, with fond memory, that as a buyer for Lionel Leisure, back in the day, we were invited to visit the Hasbro offices and manufacturing facilities in Rhode Island. For a young buyer (28) that was thrill enough but what happen next was a privilege that emanates from the toy industry. We were invited to the Hassenfeld home for dinner. Merrill and Sylvia could not have been more gracious hosts, and I might admit to being open mouthed as we were shown some of the art works and rooms. Alan and Stephen were there as well with young Stephen being mostly in the background and Alan Rigberg and myself sought him out and even then we knew this was "the guy". His story is now legendary and Alan has more than met the challenge of making Hasbro what they are today. Congrats Alan. Ron Grattini, maktoys@aol.com
Posted 3/16/15: Joe Kling Responds to Magic 8 Ball news article (Why the Magic 8 Ball Still Holds Our Fascination) writen by Robert.Klara - Hi Robert, I read your article about Magic 8 Ball and this is my response. The Ball is a great item and will continue for years to come. My name is Joe Kling and I was Pres. of Ideal Toy, division of View-Master-Ideal from 1985-89, manufacturing the Magic 8 Ball. When Ideal was acquired by View-Master the Ball was no longer in production. I decided to relaunch against the advice of our factory manager, as he felt it was too dangerous dealing with the liquid inside the Ball so I moved the production to China. Until we sold to Tyco, the most we sold was 600K units annually, and I doubt very much that Mattel is selling 1 million units. Check with the game division of Mattel. Magna-Doodle outsold the 8 Ball which I also reintroduced after the old Ideal closed-out 5K units, which I ordered not to be shipped. At the end of my rein we were shipping 4 million units per year. I've been in the toy industry for 67 years and still active. Above info is factual. Joe Kling, MLJ Inc. josephkling2530@comcast.net
posted 2/28/14: Conditions in China Toy Factories - I just clicked on one of the links from Mr. Wolf about conditions in the China toy factories. First allow me to say that I have been going to these factories since 1976 with over 125 trips to HK and China, so I feel that I have earned the right to comment. His photos were skewed to show the worse of the worse. What did he do? Take photos of two girls and told them to look frightened? Or just submitted photos of sad faces and tossed out the happy faces? Over the years conditions have greatly improved – thanks to WAL-MART raising the bar as far as working conditions at the factories. Wal-Mart and others inspect the factories and no shipments will be approved for shipments unless the factories meet the standards. Of working conditions, age requirements, fire facilities, etc. etc. Everything that was written and shown in this article was to only show the worse. Not everything is perfect, but some love to kick the toy industry and China. I would happily have a discussion with Mr. Wolf when and whenever he would like to reach out to me. My first questions would be: how many factories did you visit? How many years have you been visiting China factories? Bob Witkin, York-Jersey Underwriters, Inc. bobwitkin@york-jersey.com
posted 3/16/13: ToyFest West Obsevations - I returned from ToyFest West on the red eye Thursday morning; and went right to work at the computer, then a 10 hour nap; and now ready for a few words. The ToyFest West show at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas was the best show that this organization has ever put on. I was one of the original group that started a Western States Toy Show back in the late 60s or 1970s. This show had the best lighting for overall viewing of the toys; in addition the booths were best for the buyers,….all open booths (unlike Javits which has open booths and walled complexes). This gives the buyers “ A WIDE OPEN SHOW” WHERE THEY CAN SEE EVERYTHING, AND SEE ALL THE PRODUCT CLEARLY. The show was well attended; and the hotel had activities for entertainment (plus shuttles to the LV Strip). I recommend it for 2014, not only for people from the West, but for buyers nationally that want to see a show, without bringing their overcoats. Except for the BIG TWO, most heavily used items were exhibited. AND visitors included some well known, successful people on the toy industry. Phil Seltzer, Phil Seltzer Companies pseltzer@toydistributor.com
posted 2/15/13: New York Toy Fair 2013 Obsevations - I just returned from the Toy Fair; and a number of people asked why I am not emailing…so here goes. The Toy Fair really got a good attendance; with many buyers making it in through the bad weather. I phoned some contacts who could not make it with airports closed till Monday or Tuesday. Most of the missing said they would make it to Las Vegas for TOYFEST WEST in March; so that very good show will have greater attendance. There were some complaints that the # 1 bus was parked all the way down,almost out of the Javits; but there seemed to be more frequent travel times. The acoustics at Javits was terrible; the unnecessary HEADACHE musical bands could be heard through the entire lobby…people could not hear, and I do not think a super abundance of noise made the show more interesting. I noticed in this week’s "the Bloom Report" that consumer safety said there were 97 violations this year. This agency who threw fear into the consumers four years ago is still trying to justify its too-large budget. When are they going to stop lumping toys into their numbers, when the violations are heavily in infant, baby furniture, carriages, and clothing. I would guess there might be less than ten toy violations. This is another bureau of government whose budget could be cut. Wishing our industry a great year. Phil Seltzer, Phil Seltzer Companies pseltzer@toydistributor.com