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CONSUMERS : Colors Move to Head of Class : Children: Bright hues on notebooks and backpacks make for a stylish return to school. Does your third-grader have a personal planner?


If you're shopping for back-to-school supplies, think trolls and holographs and bright, bright colors. Or perhaps you'd prefer movie, environmental or cowboy themes.

All are doing well as youngsters and parents alike snap up a variety of notebooks, pens and lunch boxes so students can make a stylish return to their classes. And, as always, this year's fads reflect a mixture of the forward-looking and the traditional.

Consider the troll. The funny little long-haired dolls, first on the market 30 years ago, were reintroduced some months back by three toy companies. Now, they've invaded the school-supply market: Indeed, the hottest ticket in town is Ace Novelty Co.'s Treasure Troll lunch box ($6-$9), which features the dolls frolicking in the woods.

After trolls, movie-theme items also are enormously popular with children, reports Freddie Vareene, manager of a Thrifty store in Hollywood. Lunch boxes ($5-$8) and backpacks ($11-$15) featuring "Beauty and the Beast," "Batman" and "The Little Mermaid" top the list of bestsellers. But Vareene gives the highest marks to the "Batman" locker bags ($6.99), which include a hairbrush and comb, tissue, soap and a toothbrush. On a more futuristic note, holographic products seem to have taken over where last year's neons left off. Binders, notebooks and pens from several manufacturers all feature the 3-D images. A & W Products in Port Jervis, N.Y., has even introduced a holographic clipboard ($5).

Then there are those astonishing colors. For paper products, raspberries and teals are proving popular. And if if you want an indication of what the hot colors will be in school supplies for 1993, watch what colors show up in bedding items, advises Stuart Taub, vice president of sales for A & W Products.

"Stationery mimics party goods, which mimic bedding," Taub explains. He adds: "Fashion is a major driving force behind the stationery industry. But the toy industry dictates a lot of what goes on in stationery too."

Over at Day Runner in Fullerton, brightly colored personal planners for elementary and junior high students contain a note pad and pen; a daily calendar through January, 1994, and a directory for phone numbers, homework assignments and important birthdays. The Way Out West model ($10), includes--you guessed it--images of cowboy boots on the cover; Alphabet Jazz ($10) features an assortment of hearts, fish, dinosaurs, dolphins and unicorns; and Jots ($10) has a party theme.

Meanwhile, Lisa Frank's bright colors--yellow, pink, purple, blue, green and orange--are combined in portfolios featuring leopards ($1-2) and pencils showcasing kittens and dots ($1.29). The Tucson company also has added backpacks, rubber stamps and NeatPens to its line.

Even Elmer's Glue has gone back to school with hues. Its new GluColors feature six eye-catching colors ($2.99 for a three-pack). You can decorate most anything with the colored nontoxic glue--so if you can't find a troll lunch box, you could make your own design.

Bic's Wavelengths line includes five colorful looks--Tribals, Illusions, City Writes, Amebas and Color Bursts ($1.30 to $2.99)--created by a team of international designers.

But perhaps the most exciting news for parents is in the realm of the colors they won't see--in unwanted places like the living-room wall. Kodak offers washable markers (eight for $1.80) and poster paints (six for $2.99) and--yes!--Crayola now manufactures washable crayons. Unlike the billions of non-washable crayons that Crayola has been producing since 1903, the new ones wash off most surfaces, including walls and fabric.

"Washable crayons address our No. 1 consumer complaint--getting crayon marks off different surfaces," says Mark O'Brien of Binney & Smith, Crayola's parent company. According to O'Brien, soap and water will take off the new crayon marks from most surfaces, even a month or two after the mark has been made. But it is best to remove it as soon as possible.

Washable crayons are nontoxic and come in two sizes--So Big ($2.99 for a six-pack) for younger children and regular crayons (8 for $2.59). And you liked the old Crayola colors? Well, the company has retired eight of them and replaced them with jazzier, brighter ones. You can doodle in vivid tangerine, jungle green, fuchsia, dandelion, teal blue, royal purple, wild strawberry and cerulean.

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