I'll trade you a B-2 and a Rudy for a Bush

NEW YORK (REUTERS) -- There is one trading card in a new "Enduring Freedom" series that stands out -- Osama bin Laden -- and the chief executive of Topps Co. encourages kids to do what they want with it.

"Stamp it out. Rip it apart," said CEO Arthur Shorin.

The card bearing the likeness of bin Laden, the Saudi exile suspected of masterminding the September 11 attacks, is one of 90 in a new series, "Enduring Freedom," that Topps, the maker of baseball cards and Bazooka gum, sent last week to Wal-Mart Stores.

The company has chronicled historical events with its trademark cards going back to the Korean War. The campaign in Afghanistan was an automatic addition, Shorin said.

Sales of the patriotic cards, which have already been on smaller retailers' shelves since mid-October and go for $1.99 a pack, are not expected to replace the Pokemon card craze that fizzled and largely accounted for a 72 percent drop in the New York-based company's second-quarter profits.

That is fine with Shorin, who is donating a portion of the sales to the World Trade Center relief fund.

He said he sees the cards as a chance to educate children about the events unfolding from the September 11 attacks.

They are picking up bits and pieces of the events from television and newspapers, "but kids need to get information on their own terms," he said. "This is their medium."

Nearly half of the "Enduring Freedom" trading cards feature military hardware -- F-16s, B-2 bombers and F-117 stealth fighters in action -- and contain statistical data that Shorin said would give kids a sense of security and power.

There are also Old Glory cards, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani cards, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice cards, and cards depicting Palestinian President Yasser Arafat giving blood for the victims of the attacks.

Depictions of the attacks themselves and the rubble were left out to avoid controversy, Shorin said.

Shorin declined to say how many cards the company expects to sell, nor did he comment on its outlook for the third quarter.

He did hint that the company would issue another batch of cards in the series he dubbed "Freedom's Force," involving high-tech equipment special forces employ in combat such as night vision scopes.

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