Good news for mail, e-mail and telephone shoppers: The new Christmas catalog featuring up-to-date toys and games for all the little ones is due out this week. Here's an opportunity to avoid long lines but still buy what every kid on the block is going to want. The catalog is called Warz-R-Us. I have a copy.
As I thumb through its brightly illustrated pages, I realize that there are none of the dumb things you usually find among the catalogs that clog everyone's mailbox. No little yellow cars or whiny dolls that "mommy" you to death or building blocks or bear books. What we have in WRU are items that both adults and kids are talking about.
For instance, girls (and boys too!) will love the Jessica Lynch Doll on Page 22. She's also called the Hero Doll, and is dressed in a new designer uniform the Army Public Relations office created especially for her! You'll notice that in addition to the rifle slung across her back and the hand grenades dangling just above her attractive bosom, she is wearing a shiny object around her neck. No slacker, Jessica, she's been awarded a U.S. Army Media Medal for Cuteness Under Fire! Why let a war injury, captivity, a daring rescue and a nice smile go to waste? $49.95 complete.
Well, yes, there are male dolls too, replicas of soldiers and Marines who have gone through hell in Iraq, but they're too rough and tough and G.I. Joe-ish for public consumption, and not exactly the newest item on the toy market. Men fighting wars are old stuff. They've been around for years. $15 for an entire platoon. No charge for slings, bandages or artificial limbs.
And here on Page 36, larger than the replica of Jessica, is the Bravo Bush Doll! Nothing cute about this sturdy little guy aboard the deck of an aircraft carrier, all dressed up in fireproof, bulletproof, politics-proof Air Force flight togs. You can press the button on his tiny behind and he shouts "Bring 'em on, bring 'em on, bring 'em on" in a kind of nasally Texas way. The creators have added those tiny six-guns on his hips to show that you don't mess with old Bravo Bush! That fuzzy figure looming over him? That's the Lord, son, looking out for his favorite American. $59.98. God and the carrier sold separately. Batteries not included.
On subsequent pages, you'll find all those things that make war seem like the Fourth of July. Here are rockets and missiles that explode like fireworks! You aim them at a target conveniently equipped with wall brackets and blast away! Additional targets are included at no extra cost to replace those ripped and burned by the power of the miniature missiles! The explosive powder is not included, but you'll find a user-friendly formula to MAKE IT YOURSELF online at Warzareus.com. Fire away, but please, boys and girls, don't aim it at any living creature. You'll have opportunity enough for that later on in life. $79.99. No charge for the online formula.
For kids inclined to quieter playtime, Warz-R-Us also offers games. Here, for example, is the WMD Game. A dozen weapons of mass destruction, in little red boxes, are hidden around a room. The object of the game is to locate the boxes. The player whose turn it is points a remote control in a specific direction, and if the remote beam finds a box, it lights up and emits the sound of a human scream! A fun game the entire family can enjoy! $22.50.
My personal favorite is the hand-held video game, which comes in two versions, Find Saddam Hussein and Find Osama bin Laden. In each case an animated figure representing one of the evil men scoots and ducks through a city and the surrounding desert while a perky and confident little Donald Rumsfeld figure hops after him. The goal, similar to that of many video games, is to push the right button at the right time and -- POWEE! -- Rumsfeld lands on the head of the evil one, smashing him to bits and filling the screen with BLOOD THAT LOOKS REAL! Fun? You bet. $35.45. Extra blood chips included.
The final offer from Warz-R-Us this exciting holiday season is Apocalypse: The Game. $25. In this version, enclosed by a plastic dome, missiles fly, helicopters crash, soldiers fall, civilians die, flags wave and patriotic music plays as two armies duke it out. The glory of the fight is that for every soldier that falls on either side, another pops up to take his or her place. It's a game that, like Monopoly, will never go out of style. Save it for your children and they for theirs. War will always be popular.
Al Martinez's column appears Mondays and Fridays. He's at firstname.lastname@example.org.