Harry Potter craze grows with movie release

The Harry Potter phenomena is about to get bigger with the release of the full-length feature film set to open Friday, and toy makers are taking advantage.

"It was pretty big before," said Theresa Chandler, front-end supervisor for Toys R Us. "But it's getting bigger."

Merchandise for the Harry Potter books has filled shelves everywhere from department stores to toy stores. Literally, hundreds of items are available.

According to Greg Arbogast, assistant manager at Kay Bee Toys, the Harry Potter trading cards are the fastest selling item.

"Outside of cards, not much is selling," he said. "But when the movie is released, they'll probably want more."

However, Chandler said Toys R Us is selling all types of merchandise, and the hottest item for their store is the Harry Potter, Professor Snape's Potion Class Edible Activity Set. The lab comes with flavored drink mixes that fizz when stirred.

Harry Potter has also hit big in the classroom. Students are carrying backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils all with Harry Potter characters.

"Harry Potter is a chance for kids to use their imagination and creativity," said senior elementary education major Sara Whalen. "It used to be that kids who read were geeks or nerds, but now its cool. So kids are getting everything Harry Potter."

But companies aren't just targeting young children for merchandise. Many companies have jumped on the Harry Potter trend to offer higher-priced items.

The Bachmann company released the Harry Potter Special Edition Hogwarts Express electric train set. Taken from the books, the Hogwarts Express offers a British prototype 4-6-0 scarlet steam locomotion and tender that has not been available in the United States. It also comes with two passenger coaches, a platform building kit , track and power pack. It retails for $185.

Fossil, the handbag and watch company, has come out with a Harry Potter watch. The face displays a sundial and an individual serial number. The watch is sold for $60.

And in time for the holiday season, Saks Fifth Avenue is offering handmade, hand-painted blown glass Harry Potter ornaments. Packaged in a wooden box, they sell for $110.

Harry Potter has even made it to Ebay. Just typing the name into the search box retrieves over 12.,500 matches. Most of the items on Ebay are posters or used books, but bidding can be furious. One bidder outlasted 23 others for a set of first edition runs of all four books, signed by the author. The bidder paid $2,550.

Ebay has also become the place for sold-out items. One seller received $102.50 for an unopened Harry Potter Lego Building Hogwarts Castle.

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" opens Friday at Showplace 7 in Muncie. The theater said it has already sold over 800 tickets for the first weekend, and it expects the shows will sell out. Harry Potter is playing on four screens for 14 showings a weekend.

One the screen


Friday, Nov 16

Showplace 7


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