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ART AND POLITICS

No.43 lands at toy stores on G.I. Joe's shelf

August 17, 2003|Michael T. Jarvis

Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger has entered the rough-and-tumble world of politics, might this be the moment for a career politician to claim equal time in the action/entertainment arena? BBI Toys apparently thinks so. Joining the ranks of Lara Croft and G.I. Joe is George W. Bush: U.S. President and Naval Aviator -- a 12-inch action figure with flight uniform, available for $39.99 as part of the company's Elite Force historical military series.

The pose-able figure was inspired by the images of the chief executive stepping from an S-3B Viking aircraft he'd flown above the Pacific Ocean May 1 after the plane was landed by another pilot on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

"When we saw him land in a flight suit that's current issue, it rang a bell for us," says Lauri Aibel, a spokeswoman for BBI, a division of Blue Box Toys. "We wouldn't put him in a business suit, but because he landed in gear -- we made that decision. He looked like one of our action figures and was doing something one of our actions figures would have done."

This one-sixth-scale replica of the commander in chief is not a doll for children, Aibel insists, but is meant for serious military and historical collectors. "They're action figures -- 37 of their joints move. Our collectors like to build dioramas, and they position them. The age grade on it is 14 and up. I don't see parents going out and buying it for their kids. We don't go into the kids' magazines or that market. It's mainly for adults."

The Bush action figure makes no political statement, Aibel says. "We don't condone or condemn, we just made him because of who he is. We don't make Osama figures or Nazi figures. We don't capitalize on the historic action figures."

Nor does the company court controversy. The figure, Aibel says, is not anatomically correct.

KB Toys is accepting online pre-orders for a Sept. 15 release. "We think it's neat," says John Reilly, KB's public relations director. "I believe we'll get some e-mails from people who don't agree and will object. We're not pro or against Mr. Bush. Certainly in the collectible area, people are going to want this. Regardless of someone's point of view, this was a historical event."

-- Michael T. Jarvis

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