Saturday, December 20, 2003

Bush, Blair, Saddam: Collect 'em All!

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What do you get for the American who has everything?

As a nation, Christmas shopping is getting tougher. We all have our Salad Shooters, correct? The generation that used to get Old Spice every year is quickly dying off. And our nation is sick to death of Chia Pets, because no matter how much cow manure you smear on them, they never grow to the rich Amazonian lushness pictured on the box.

There aren’t even any good toys this season. In years past, The People On Television could be counted on to force-feed a trend to our nation’s children, thus making Christmas shopping a whole lot easier.

Remember when The People On Television told kids that they just had to have a Nintendo GameCube, $299 retail? Now, stores are practically giving them away, using them to hold open doors and crack walnuts.

Remember when The People On Television told us that kids would go bananas for Tickle-Me Elmo? It turned out that it was just a regular Elmo doll with a shaking motor in it — hardly worth the $75 or so we, as a nation, collectively paid for it from that guy selling them on the highway outside the Silver City Galleria when the toy stores ran out of them.

Remember in the late 1990s when The People On Television told us that our kids would be positively suicidal if they didn’t get a Furby that year? And we shelled out the money? And Furby turned out to be an annoying ball of fake fur that our kids hated? And remember that the Furby was supposed to be a robot that had a personality, a robot that learned new things, except all it did was made those damn cooing noises?

And remember how we were supposed to play with our Furby constantly, because if we ignored our Furby, it would remember? And remember how our kids did ignore it, and the Furby became depressed and lonely, making those plaintive cooing noises alone in the dark bedroom, unloved, depressed, eventually suicidal and trying frantically to paw at its own off switch while the kids invented their own game with an old pillowcase and a stick?

There’s no toy like that this year, market analysts say. There’s no must-have gift for adults, either.

Friends, it looks like Christmas is cancelled this year...

But wait! Rushing to fill that crucial void in this holiday season’s must-have list, Herobuilders.com has created “Captured Saddam” action figures.

Christmas is back on!

It cost us $87 billion and nearly 500 American lives to capture former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. You can get your own personal mitts on Saddam for substantially less — $29.95.

The action figure features a beefed-up Saddam wearing a T-shirt with the ace of spades on it. It also sports Saddam’s groovy new beard.

I’m not making this up.

If you preferred Saddam with that clean-cut Princeton look, Herobuilders also sells versions of the Saddam doll — er, action figure — that depict the dictator when he was much less hairy.

Herobuilders also sells a George W. Bush doll with substantially more muscle definition than the actual president has. It comes in a regular version or a talking version. You press a button and it tells you that tax cuts for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans will magically create jobs. Silly doll!

No doubt in the works is a talking White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan doll, which will do all of the Bush doll’s talking for him.

On McClellan’s flip side — the Bizarro McClellan, as it were — is Herobuilder’s “Talking Baghdad Bob” action figure. It’s a doll of Saddam’s former Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf. When you press his button, he says, “There are no American infidels in Baghdad — never!”

Completing the Herobuilders set of Iraqi war action figures are two versions of Uday Hussein, one alive, one built to look like his mutilated corpse. It’s about this time that we should be cringing with embarrassment.

There are also dolls of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac (in a pretty French maid’s outfit, naturally).

And of course, everyone’s wondering where Osama bin Laden is. Herobuilders sells Osama dolls, too, so he can hide in the mountainous regions of your sofa. When you press the button on “Babbling Osama the Dirty Terrorist,” he says, among other things, “I was just joking...all jihads go home...la la la la la!”

But good luck finding one of those dolls.

A lot of people have felt sidelined during this whole Iraqi war mess because they’re too old, too young, too female, too gay, too rich, too sane or too crazy for the military. In this case, Herobuilders can actually build an action figure of you. Starting at $450, the company will actually build a toy of your likeness. No lie! G.I. Dan!

Then, depending on your politics, your action figure can pretend to beat up Saddam, Osama, Bush, or any of the other guys. You could sit them all to tea in a Barbie playset and broker peace. Or, if you’re feeling capricious, you could build an uneasy truce between Bush, Saddam and yourself as you team up to defeat Darth Vader, G.I. Joe’s COBRA Commander and Megatron from the Transformers.

My action figure wouldn’t be too interested in fighting. After a few trips to the Easy-Bake Oven to grab some brownies piping hot from the light bulb, Action Figure Dan would hop into a hot pink Corvette convertible, Barbie and Skipper on his arms.

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