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Making Return to School a Bit Easier

Back-to-school products are this month’s hot topic. New kid stuff on the market includes a clever bicycle lock, several kinds of organizers--electronic and not--colorful desk sets, twisted erasers, unusual pencils and sturdy cosmetic carryalls.

Consider that bike thieves can snap a U-lock in a few seconds with a pipe or jack, resulting in a bicycle being stolen every 15 seconds across the nation.

B.A.D. BONES Integrated Cycle Systems of San Francisco has introduced B.A.D. (Bicycle Anti-theft Device) BONES, two steel braces that fit over a common U-lock. Its bright red bars block the space between the bars of the lock so thieves can’t insert tools to pop it off.

B.A.D. BONES cost $10 and also come in a B.A.D. PACK, the bars packaged with a U-lock in sizes for standard bikes ($32) and mountain bikes ($38). They’re available in bike shops nationally or by calling Integrated Cycle Systems’ toll-free number, (800) 597-2663.

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Organized Fun

My Magic Diary, an electronic organizer from Casio, seems more fun than most on the market.

The digital diary, in a turquoise plastic case, stores phone numbers and addresses, birthdays, school assignments and reminder memos. It has unique calendar symbols for scheduling sports and hobbies, and a built-in clock and alarm. Its calculator has memory, square root and percentage functions and can output information in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. The diary also enables kids to store private information under a secret password.

For amusement, there’s a function that gives horoscopes based on birth date and the “Fun Face Maker” with a selection of more than 400 features--eyes, noses, mouths, beards--kids can use to create faces to accompany phone numbers and addresses.

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My Magic Diary (suggested retail, $79.95) will be available nationwide in mid-September at Target, Montgomery Ward and Toys ‘R’ Us stores. If you can’t find it in your area, call (800) YO-CASIO.

Just the Facts

For students 12 to 21, Day Runner, the Fullerton manufacturer of electronic and paper organizers, has brought out some new paper planners to help keep track of busy schedules.

The Academic Planner is spiral-bound and comes in two sizes, 5 1/2 inch by 8 1/2 inch ($6) and 8 1/2 by 11 inch ($8). It comes in green, blue and purple marble or tapestry designs. Each includes a monthly calendar, spaces for class schedules, assignments and notes, and a telephone address section. There also are reference pages, including listings of commonly misspelled words and conversion tables and information about the 50 states and America’s 42 presidents.

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The FactCentre Student Organizer ($15), with blue, red or black vinyl covers, is loose leaf and refillable and includes a dictionary and credit card holder.

Both planners are available at stationery and department stores or by calling Day Runner, (800) 635-5544.

Adding Some Color

For the younger set, Tucson-based Lisa Frank has added a day planner and a desk set this year.

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Known for her colorful school supplies line, Frank has created Agenda, a fun version of an adult day planner that includes some of her characters, among them the golden retrievers Casey and Camus, Rapper Bears Fuzzy B and Hubba Cub and the Ballerina Bunnies.

The new Desk Set for home use is designed “to give kids a special area where they can do their homework and to help make homework time more enjoyable,” says a Frank spokeswoman. It includes a blotter, note pad holder and paper, a pencil holder and six pencils. The designs are varied, and all done in Frank’s brilliant blues, pinks, purples and yellows.

Agenda ($2.99) and Desk Set ($9.99) are available nationally at Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, Wal-Mart, Price Club and Eckerd stores.

The Write Tools

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Also making homework more fun are the latest erasers, rulers and pencils from Yikes! Manufactured by Empire Berol USA in Brentwood, Tenn., the Yikes! school supplies begin their fourth season wackier than ever.

Eraserama (99 cents to $1.29) is packaged as three “Primo Mistake Munchers” in vividly colored twist and triangle shapes. Rulers (99 cents) are flexible and unbreakable and have designs on both sides. There are three models--Rat Hotel, Whirling Dervish and One-Foot Ruler.

The colorful 1993 pencil line, advertised as “Pencils Your Parents Won’t Steal,” comes in round and triangular shapes with No. 2 lead. Treads (99 cents-$1.49 for a five-pack) are grooved so they’re easier to hold.

Yikes! erasers, rulers and pencils are available at mass merchandisers, drug stores and grocery chains nationwide, including Target, Wal-Mart, Toys ‘R’ Us, Fedco, Longs, Clark, Thrifty and Sav-on drugs, Vons, Alpha Beta, Safeway and Food 4 Less.

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For Cosmetic Fixes

Rubbermaid doesn’t just make products for the kitchen and bath anymore. The Wooster, Ohio, company recently introduced its new Contents line of personal organizers and accessories.

Just right for carting lipstick, combs, brushes and makeup are the colorful, oval-shaped Deluxe Cosmetic Organizer ($19) and regular Cosmetic Organizer ($13). Both have sturdy handles, mirrors and plenty of space. The deluxe model includes separate lipstick and earring holders that snap out for cleaning. Each box comes in dark teal or amethyst plastic.

Contents cosmetic containers will be in drug and mass merchandise stores nationwide in late September. In Los Angeles they’ll be available at K Mart, Target and Wal-Mart.

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