Forget Spiderman, Transformers or Bratz dolls. Here come Jesus and Samson.
Starting this week, Wal-Mart becomes the first mainstream retailer to sell "faith-based toys" from the One2believe company. Wal-Mart, you see, wants to offer an alternative to what David Socha, the founder of One2believe, calls "toys and dolls that promote evil, destruction, lying, and cheating" -- in other words, all the other toys sold at Wal-Mart.
Socha's "Tales of Glory" toys -- a line of dolls and figurines based on characters from the Bible -- will be welcomed by parents who are tired of having to choose among loud, death-dealing mechanical monsters, dolls sporting thongs and screw-me heels, or Michael Vick chew toys. Even so, I think Socha's company is making a couple of mistakes and missing some opportunities.
First, in order to avoid giving the wrong impression, the Tales of Glory toys should probably be renamed "Bible-based" rather than "faith-based," since other faiths aren't included. Wal-Mart will gladly sell you a Tales of Glory figure of Jesus with a basket of plastic loaves and fishes, or one of Daniel with a lion, but don't expect to find a Krishna figurine standing on a fake lotus leaf, nor even a model of Brigham Young with 10 of his wives.
Secondly, it might not be a good idea to promote a line of "wholesome," non-violent toys by flaunting a picture of Samson fighting to the death with Goliath -- especially since those two characters never met in the actual Bible.
The company is also missing out on some great additional opportunities to offer non-evil toys and promote the Bible. To do that, though, they'll have to open up the Tales of Glory line to even more of the Bible's fascinating stories. And while they're at it, why not promote more current Christian heroes? Of course, it remains to be seen whether the right choice of toys can change a kid from a future meth-addicted cop killer to a preacher, but here are a few suggestions I'd love to see implemented by One2believe, and sold at Wal-Mart, as soon as possible, starting with my own favorite Bible story:
• Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding in Cana. I suggest a figurine of Jesus with two large pitchers, one containing clear water and the other red wine. Behind Jesus, figurines representing a group of wedding guests raise their hands in the air, praising the miracle -- except for one guy who's passed out on the ground, with a tiny plastic mug next to him.
• King Solomon "gets busy." Taken from the Old Testament's Song of Solomon, figurines of the king and his bride, the pharaoh's daughter, can be posed in various sexual positions while they recite poetry to one another.
• The "stoning" set. A figurine of an Israelite holds a large rock, preparing to throw it at a Homosexual figurine. Other figurines available to be stoned to death include Adulterous Wife, Disobedient Child, Non-Virgin Bride and Pork Eater.
• Bleeding Jesus action figure. Following up on the success of Mel Gibson's gruesome Passion of the Christ, this figurine comes with special "spurting" action. Crown of thorns sold separately.
• Walk On Water skis. Reaching beyond the Tales of Glory "figurine" paradigm, these are actual water skis that are shaped like large versions of Jesus' feet in sandals, so you or your kids can seem to be gliding over the water, just like He did. Talk about inspirational!
• The Modern Heroes Collection. Figurines of famous, All-American Christian heroes of our own era, including Rev. Pat Robertson turning away Hurricane Gloria, Rev. James Dobson beating the devil out of a "strong-willed child," and Revs. Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard sharing a king-sized bed (night table with jar of Crisco sold separately).
If you'd like to see these toys at a local Wal-Mart, contact the One2believe company at (888) 557-2327 or firstname.lastname@example.org and suggest that they get on the ball. After all, as David Socha says, we want toys that "teach children that there are real superheroes they can believe in!"