As the war on terror continues around the world, Osama bin Laden is now winning – at least in the realm of action figures.
A Connecticut company marketing dolls featuring likenesses of the terrorist, President Bush, Rudy Giuliani, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair says bin Laden has recently taken a clear lead in sales.
‘Bush’ action figure confronts bin Laden doll
“Osama is outselling everyone else combined! That’s America for you,” said Emil Vicale, president of Herobuilders.com. “Up until last week, it was a tie between the presidential figure and bin Laden.”
With the exception of bin Laden, Vicale is reluctant to label the action figures with the names of their real-life counterparts due to what he terms “legalities.” Nonetheless, sales of the lookalikes are in the thousands since making their debut on the Internet March 13.
An industrial designer by trade, Vicale was inspired to market dolls in the aftermath of Sept. 11 when 90 percent of requests coming in were for action figures.
Bin Laden was not even among the original group of three creations: “Our Hero” [Bush], “The Rock” [Giuliani], and “The Ally” [Blair]. He was added later when consumers sought to have a villain to go along with the heroes.
Vicale can only speculate why Americans are purchasing the bin Laden character more than the heroes.
“Maybe they want to blow him up,” he told WorldNetDaily. “You should see my own bin Laden doll. He doesn’t look like he originally did – he’s now missing an arm and a leg.”
While the presidential figure is a close second to Osama, he’s far ahead of the Rudy resembler which has sold only a few. In fact, the plastic prime minister figure resembling Blair has yet to sell a single doll.
Photos of each figurine are displayed on the website, but several from the original gallery have been taken down after negative feedback from some parents. One depicted the presidential character pointing a gun directly at the head of a kneeling bin Laden. The other showed “Bush” aiming a gun and holding a dagger in front of a surrendering Osama.
“We’re not a child site,” said Vicale. “Kids don’t use credit cards.”
He says the portrayals were merely visions of himself acting out what he’d like to see done with the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. Nevertheless, he says he removed those photos since children have access to the site.
Clothes from other popular dolls fit bin Laden
One of the more provocative images still posted shows bin Laden dressed up in a pink tutu carrying a purse. While Herobuilders doesn’t sell the doll with those accessories, Vicale points out the figures are the same size as other popular dolls sold in stores, and clothes from one will fit the other.
The action figures market for $26.95, and it takes Herobuilders just seven days to design and create a new personality. Vicale is hoping companies and individuals order personalized dolls modeled after themselves.
While most action figures on the market are derived from the world of fiction, Vicale thinks his dolls can positively impact children because they’re based on real people.
“Now they can have an action figure that’s not an ordinary guy. These are real American heroes,” he said. “G.I. Joes are just a generic dude.”
|Barbie? turned Election 2000 into ‘Gore v. Doll’|
The realm of dolls has on occasion meshed with real-life events. One case in point is the 2000 presidential campaign by Barbie. Though her entry did gain some early publicity due to similarities with the Gore platform, she failed to gather any momentum by the primaries.
Vicale is looking to mix the worlds even more, creating more political figures based on current events. But after seeing a perspiration-soaked Al Gore deliver a speech last weekend at the Florida Democratic Conference, Vicale was quick to say he would not be making a Gore doll.
“Absolutely not. I don’t think anyone would buy him. And how do you get him to sweat?”