Plastic saints

God Made Flesh, Then Plastic: Religious action figures create a different kind of toy story

Anyone seeking a mischievous stocking stuffer for Christopher Hitchens or less exalted scoffers need look no further. A growing phalanx of religious action figures--including Adam, Eve, Daniel, Job, Esther, Goliath, Samson and Jesus--offer a tweaking reminder that despite Heathendom's best efforts, the faith-based marketplace is forever expanding.

Plastic saints, to be sure, aren't exactly new. Mary, mother of Jesus, has long ridden shotgun in Catholic vehicles. Yet some of the faithful, including a few with a gift for retail, concluded that she needed reinforcements. David Socha, chief executive of One2believe, which offers a line of religious action figures, told the Associated Press that there is a "battle for the toy box" under way, in which good and evil vie for the young. "If you're very religious, it's a battle for your children's minds and what they're playing with and pretending," he said. "There are remakes out there of Satan and evil things."

Old Scratch and associates may now have their hands full. Jesus, for example, comes in several incarnations, including a football player, skier, roller blader and the best-selling "Baseball Jesus Sports Statue," offered by Catholic Supply for $20. "A contemporary statue for today's youth," the sales pitch says of the figure, promising a hands-on reminder that "Jesus is with us in everything we do, watching over us & involved in all of our acts & activities." The company's Web site also anoints its statue with a bit of marketplace myrrh: "As seen on the Conan O'Brien show!"

The deployment of Jesus and other biblical bigs to the toy-box war includes some contemporary updates. One supplier, in a bow toward divinity and diversity, offers figures in both dark- and light-skinned models (Adam and Eve, it should be noted, are portrayed in post-fall attire reminiscent of bathing suits). Meantime, at the Family Values Center, there's Moses ($12.99), who comes with "shield and sword, along with fully illustrated comic book." Interestingly, two female dolls--Deborah the Warrior and Queen Esther--cost $24.99. Must be their wardrobes.

Comment: What the world needs more of is real flesh and blood saints who enflesh and live out truth to the glory and honor of the Lord!

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