With the war against Iraq a scant week old, hundreds of commercial ventures are sprouting, hawking everything from Desert Storm toy soldiers to Hollywood war movies.

In Indianapolis, a stamp company is selling a set of seven picturesque envelopes canceled by an U.S. Army post office in Saudi Arabia for $300. In Falls Church, a family firm is filling orders for 35,000 "commemorative" maps of Saudi Arabia, complete with pictures of President Bush visiting the U.S. troops there. And a Phoenix firm is explaining, for $29, how to write to loved ones in the Middle East.

So far, Hollywood is planning three Persian Gulf movies, tentatively titled "Desert Shield," "Desert Storm" and "Human Shield."

"If I were advising companies on how to make a buck tomorrow, I'd say go with Desert Storm," said Joseph Smith, chairman of the Oxtoby-Smith consumer research firm in New York City. "Our characteristic frugality as consumers disappears when there is an exciting, compelling event, particularly one which engages our emotions. You buy a T-shirt for three times as much as you know it would cost."

This week, vendors throughout the Washington area and many other American cities put away their souvenirs to make room for anti-Saddam buttons, American flags, yellow ribbons and "Bring Our GIs Home Safely" T-shirts.

"It's good for business, you could definitely say that," said John Ebert, a Rosslyn Metro stop vendor selling $7 red, white and blue T-shirts emblazoned with "Our Colors Don't Run." "At least for the moment, these are hot, but I don't know how long it will last. It might be over by tonight and I'll go back to selling hats and gloves."

What some call smart business, others criticize as opportunistic.

"I think patriotism is here to stay and flag sales will continue," said Thomas R. Miller, president of Ketchum Advertising in New York. "But I think the opportunism will be soon met with great resistance. That's how I view a lot of these things. {The war} is serious. People are dying."

"I personally would hate to see men and women walking around this summer in camouflage-influenced shorts this summer," said Marjorie Dean, owner and publisher of the Tobe Report, a weekly merchandising analysis of the fashion industry.

Already, bracelets bearing soldier's names, war-theme T-shirts, leather bomber jackets (ideally with the flag sewn on the back) and military caps are in high demand, according to stores and vendors.

But Dean predicted that the war "probably will influence the children's business more than anything else."

Diversified Specialists, a manufacturing firm in Houston, is banking on children, many of whom have pillaged the shelves of area hobby and toy stores searching for models of F-15s, F-16s and other airplanes being flown over Iraq.

Diversified has long sold toy walkie-talkies, tanks and soldiers. But its old toys now come in new boxes, bearing a new model name: "Desert Shield."

"For 1991, we are expecting great things," said Thomas Yarnell, general counsel for Diversified, who said the expected pickup in business is welcome at a time when the recession has hit the retail business hard.

Military Models Distributors in Carrollton, Tex., which supplies many stores with military equipment models, this week sent a fax to its retailers listing the model of each aircraft, tank and ship deployed in the Persian Gulf. Many are adding new stickers reading, "As Flown in Desert Storm."

"There is no question {the war} is going to pick up business," said Christopher Lawrence, owner of Roy's Hobby Shop in Arlington, which is sold out of the $16 Kuwait War, a new board game that includes Dan Rather and Ted Koppel as deployable board pieces. "It already has."

Toys R Us in Baileys Crossroads has sold out of its F-15 and F-16 models, and its GI Joe action kits were selling fast in the usually slow month of January, its store manager said.

"Anything that has to do with the Persian Gulf has picked up tremendously," said Bill Sampson, owner of the Wargame Depot in Beltsville, which specializes in war and fantasy games.

Many bookstores throughout the area postponed putting out their Valentine's Day window displays, saying tales of love were not selling so well as tomes on war.

"Our top three best-selling books are all about the Middle East," said Barbara Cohen, owner of Politics & Prose Bookstore on Connecticut Avenue NW, which has a couple dozen war books in its window. "I can't think of any event that has generated people to come in like this."

At Susie's Hallmark at Mazza Gallerie, where there was a run on "Across the Miles" greeting cards, a Persian Gulf display was arranged this week. Replete with unused Fourth of July items, the war shelves soon will be stocked with even more.

"I've ordered flags and everything I can get my hands on with red, white and blue," said owner Susie Wagner, who said her optimistic nature also prompted her to order "Welcome Home" balloons.

C.C. Offray & Sons of Danville, Va., the world's largest manufacturer of yellow ribbons, quadrupled its yellow ribbon production because of consumer demand.

In New York, a mail order company is pushing its usual business aside and promoting a hot seller: $39 gas masks. Ed Sklar, president of SpyTech, the company selling the masks, said he sold 5,000 on Sunday alone.