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HolyLand Heroes

reviewed by Catherine Fournier

Children use the characters and experiences around them as models for their play, and eventually as models for their adult lives. Play establishes ambitions and aspirations, and contributes to spiritual formation as they 'pretend' good and evil, honour and betrayal, faithfulness and cowardice. Play also uses 'toys', miniature or imitation versions of the props of adult life, dolls, plastic swords, building blocks, bicycles, and playhouses as guide and inspiration.

Action figures are toys, but as any parent of the last ten years or so knows, toys with incredible influence to direct and limit children's play, toys that often only guide children towards what is violent or undesirable in themselves and in human nature. Ask any teacher dealing with the latest kick boxing injury — Power Rangers are not good behaviour models.

But King David is. And so are Moses and Samson and all the other heroes from the Bible. Better still, they represent true stories, stories of faith and courage from our past. This was the inspiration behind HolyLand Heroes, a new series of Biblical hero action figures produced by New Ventures, a small Vermont toy company.

'HolyLand Heroes can help show children how faith in God can give them strength...We can use our children's fascination with action figures to tell some incredible stories. These are stories that encourage children to think, ask questions and seek answers,' says David Pagini, founder and owner of New Ventures. Each pair of figures comes with a carefully researched and compiled 24 page booklet explaining the characters' story and significance complete with maps and illustrations.

Sounds good. But can they compete with the glamour of Ninja Turtles, and the versatility of Lego? A short field test, during which Moses competed with Ramses II for Mt. Radio, David and Goliath battled in and around Block Palace, eventually knocking it down, and all four then flew around the house on custom made Lego flyers indicates that 'Yes, they can.' These are true toys, toys that serve as healthy models for childrens' play, toys with both an educational and spiritual significance.

HolyLand Heroes were manufactured and marketed by 'New Ventures' based in Montpelier, VT. This company seems to have disappeared. If anyone has contact information for this company or knows where these toys are available, please let us know.

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