The Canadian Toy Association

Ed Shaben

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Canadian Toy Industry Hall of Fame Inductees


The indisputable consensus of the toy industry is that Ed Shaben is very much a “gentleman”. Throughout his career, he was widely admired for his foresight and business acumen, but he was loved for his kindness and his integrity. It was well known that those doing business with Mr. Shaben needed no contract, his word was his bond. They could also always be assured that their dealings with him would be fair and mutually beneficial. Mr. Shaben was renowned for caring about the business of his suppliers, and would never negotiate a deal that would prove unprofitable for them. As a result he had an extensive network of friends around the world, and these contacts shared with him valuable insights and news.

In his late teens, Mr. Shaben joined his family’s Edmonton-based general merchandise wholesale company, Shaben & King, and was sent to work in the warehouse. He moved through every aspect of the firm before taking it over from his father. Shaben & Hamdon was formed in 1949 and in 1980 the Hamdons traded their shares in the toy wholesaler company which was reincarnated as Shaben International. Mr. Shaben's business was built on his willingness to invest in his uncanny instinct. He was rarely wrong, indeed his ability to accurately identify the next big trend was legendary. Predicting that home video games would become huge, he was one of the first to commit heavily to Coleco’s Pong machine and Mattel’s Intelevision. In 1990, he acquired the Tops ‘n Toys chain, which could not triumph over market forces of the day, and in 1992 he retired from the industry which had been his lifelong passion.

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