April 5, 1995
Apparently, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and God's chosen people have something in common.
The New Ventures company, based in Montpelier, Vt., is marketing five Holyland Heroes sets, each with two action figures from the Old Testament. David Pagani, president of the company, says he hopes his new biblical action figures have enough drama and excitement to capture the interest of 7- to 10-year-old boys.
Samson slays Philistines using the jawbone of an ass, David aims his sling at Goliath, and Joshua uses his sword to kill in the name of the Lord. Some toy sellers and parents who have seen the toys have already expressed concern about one similarity between the biblical figures and other action figures -- both are heavily armed.
But, says Pagani, "that's what excites kids and gets them to buy the toys."
Ah, doing the work of the Lord. Each set, plus a book giving the biblical accounts of the two figures, has a suggested retail price of $6.95 to $8. Praise the Lord and pass the plastic spears.
I can see it now: a six-year old casting a menacing shadow over the sandbox, his chosen people ready to do battle with the heathen smurfs.
"I am a jealous and vengeful God," he says, then sends down a plague of gummi worms.
To make a guy holding the lower part of a donkey's skull seem appealing, you really have to make his enemies look bad, and New Ventures has done quite a job on the Philistines. They're depicted as oily savages. Goliath looks like a pro-wrestling villain in bronze armor.
Recent archaeological evidence suggests the Philistines were an artistic, nonmilitaristic society that concentrated on pottery rather than metalworking. They were wiped out by the Hebrews thousands of years ago. In the Bible, though, they are depicted as . . . well . . . philistines. Proof that the winners write the history. Yet another victory in the marketplace of ideas.
The Holyland Heroes barely qualify as action figures. Their limbs do not bend, and their heads do not turn. Apparently, they are as rigid as their ideology.
If these genocidal toys are to win the hearts and minds of boys across the nation, they'll need a few improvements and accessories, like:
© 1995 Randel Shard. This article appeared in the April 5, 1995, issue ofThe Stranger.