Showbox is shaping up to be one of fall's hottest gift items. At first glance, it appears to be a high-tech picture frame. But it's also a photo viewer with a concealed drawer that holds up to 40 photos.
You can use it as a viewer, looking at the snapshots one at a time by opening and closing the drawer, or for storing photos. It comes with a sleeve so you can stack it on a shelf like a videotape. The sleeve also protects your snaps from dust, fingerprints or turned corners. Inside the sleeve is a pocket for negatives and labels for identification.
When using it as a picture frame for home or office, you can change the photo in the frame anytime you want without even touching it. A movable easel on the back lets you display photos either vertically or horizontally.
Developed by Swiss designers and produced by Burnes of Boston, the nation's leading manufacturer of photo albums and frames, Showbox comes in two colors, charcoal or white, and two sizes, for 3 1/2-by-5-inch or 4-by-6-inch prints.
Showbox ($19.99) is available nationwide in camera, gift and major department stores. It is carried locally by Bullock's, JC Penney, Broadway, May Co. and Robinson's. For a location in your area, call Burnes of Boston's toll-free number, (800) 998-8090.
Table-Setting Theme Added to 'Mat' Series
The Straight Edge Inc., the Brooklyn-based company that produces Read a Mat educational place mats for children, has just introduced its latest, the I Can Set the Table mat. Its colorful graphics are easy to follow and will make setting a table a snap for children.
There are now 57 themes in the Read a Mat series, designed by Amy Kallman Epstein, a former New York architect who developed her educational place-mat line in 1983 for her children. Mat themes include animals, the alphabet, math and science, nature and geography, sports, performing arts and politics. There also are musical versions that play songs such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "This Old Man," a Braille model and a handwriting one that comes with a marker and has a wipe-off surface. Information on the mats is updated to accommodate world changes.
Each mat measures 11 1/2 by 17 1/2 inches and is made of washable vinyl. The color illustrations will not fade. Most of the mats retail for $4 each; the Braille one is $5; handwriting and musical ones are $6.50.
Read a Mats are available nationwide through toy, gift, children's, gourmet and linen shops as well as bookstores. Locally, the mats are available at the California Museum of Science and Industry Gift Center in Los Angeles, Cook 'n Things in South Pasadena and A Child's Room in Beverly Hills. Call (800) READMAT for other locations.
New Way to Resolve Excess-Packaging Issue
L & F Products, a unit of Eastman Kodak Co. and the maker of Lysol, is the latest major manufacturer to introduce environmentally friendly packaging.
Two of its products, Direct multipurpose cleaner and Resolve carpet cleaner, now come in flexible refill packages called Smart Packs, in addition to the regular trigger-spray bottle.
Each Smart Pack refill uses 75% less packaging than the trigger bottle and will take up 65% less space in landfills, says a company spokesman. And L & F is marketing them at 40 cents to 60 cents less than the spray bottles. The 22-ounce refills stand upright, just like a regular bottle, and have reclosable screw-top spouts.
A Smart Pack refill of Direct costs $1.69, 40 cents less than the bottle; Resolve, $3.59, 60 cents less. They are sold nationwide in supermarkets and mass merchandising firms. In Southern California, they are available at Ralphs, Stater Bros., Wal-Mart, K mart and Target.