War has business booming in hobby shops


DALLAS -- F-117 Stealth fighters slip through the radar to catch Baghdad unawares.

An A-10 "Warthog" keeps Iraqi troops at bay while helicopters rescue a downed American pilot.

B-52s pound Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard. American Patriot missiles knock Scuds out of the sky. Abrams M-1 battle tanks move to the front for the long-awaited land battle.

Can war toys be far behind?

In fact, peace still prevails in most area toy stores. But the gulf war has arrived in hobby shops.

According to toy shop managers, sales of toy planes, tanks, guns and military action figures are about the same as they were before the war.

But in hobby shops the arms race is on, as model builders sweep the shelves bare of F-14s, F-15s, Apache helicopters, Abrams M-1 tanks and other military hardware.

Sales of models and die-cast miniature planes and tanks have been "phenomenal" since the war began, says Ron Caron, area sales manager for The Ertle Toy Co. Inc.

The Dyersville, Iowa, company is best known for its line of die-cast John Deere tractor miniatures.

In the last few weeks, orders for the company's plastic model kits and die-cast planes have doubled and tripled, he says.

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