Posable toys carry the faith

Move over, Transformers. Shove off, Spider-Man. There's a new line of toys trying to muscle its way into toy boxes this month and some might say it's divine.

Tales of Glory, a line of biblical toys created by Valencia, Calif.-based One2Believe, includes a 12-inch-tall talking Jesus, a muscle-bound Samson and villainous Goliath, as well as a nativity scene and other figurine sets.

"We think they'll have mass appeal," One2Believe spokesman Josh Livingston said of the Judeo-Christian-themed fully posable figures that were three years in the making. "These are toys parents can play with with their children."

The toys, which are aimed at 3- to 12-year-olds, include eight talking "Messengers of Faith" &

Jesus, Mary, Esther, David, Moses, Noah, Peter and Paul. In addition to telling you a little about themselves, each quotes Bible verses that relate to their history.

And, if Jesus or Paul gets a little too chatty, just pause him while you contemplate what you've heard so far.

"You can start and stop the voice," said Livingston, "in case you'd like to discuss or explain a verse. We hope these toys will spark kids to want to learn more."

Too preachy? No worries. There's something for the testosterone-charged tot, too: the mighty Samson and pumped Goliath (both 13 inches tall). Although it is true these two beefy characters wouldn't have battled anywhere in the good book, Livingston said the company is taking a bit of biblical license. "I think people will understand that the images are not necessarily historically true," said Livingston.

"The idea (of Samson fighting Goliath) catches people's attention," Livingston said. "If they had fought, I'm sure Samson would beat up on Goliath."

The 3-inch-tall Tales of Gloryfigures come in 10 sets of three and include Birth of Baby Jesus, Daniel in the Lion's Den, two Noah's Ark sets and a teeny, tiny Goliath in David and Goliath. Each includes a storybook.

One person who is sold on the line is Samantha Tetro, founder of Samantha's Lil' Bit of Heaven" ministry in East Northport, N.Y.

"I love them," Tetro gushed. "They're the coolest thing. I received one for Christmas and then began researching and now have all of them. I don't have any children. They're just for me."

"There are so many negative, violent toys out there," Tetro said. "These are great to play with or as teaching tools. The Moses doll gives the 10 Commandments."

The Rev. Thomas Goodhue, executive director of the Long Island Council of Churches, gives them a thumbs up, but with reservations. "If you want to avoid violence, Goliath is an odd choice," Goodhue said. "Goliath gets his head chopped off."

(For the record, the Goliath doll's head is not detachable.)

"Anything that introduces religion to a wider audience is a great thing," Goodhue said. "I'm not wild about talking dolls. Maybe it's just me, but I think a child uses more of their imagination if they have to do all the talking."

He'd like toy figures that are closer in age to the children. "Esther is a very interesting character," Goodhue said. "She has to decide if she should hide her faith, if she should help her people. I think it would be better if the dolls were closer to an age the kids could identify with."

Well, they're not. They're adult women, and men with beards.

But, says Livingston, they're really well made. "The arms and legs move, the fingers grip, the voices are human."

The dolls, which range from around $5 for a three-piece figurine set, to $20 for a talking Jesus, will be on the shelves of about 425 Wal-Mart stores, mostly in the Bible Belt. Meantime, East Coasters can find them now at and in October at . Livingston said the company is negotiating with other mass marketers for distribution nationwide.

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