Wal-Mart, the world's largest corporation, has jumped on the faith-based bandwagon with representatives announcing Tuesday that they will begin to test-sell biblical action figures in their stores.
About one-eighth of the company's discount stores – 425 out of a possible 3,376 – will now devote part of their toy aisle to One2believe, a Valencia, Calif.-based company that creates action figures based on biblical heroes such as Samson.
The announcement is part of a larger trend among big companies towards investing into more religious and family-friendly products. Business leaders are beginning to see that they can make large profits from a majority of the population who have religious beliefs.
"We're seeing interest from parents in faith-enriching toys," explained Melissa O'Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, to USA Today.
The chief executive of One2believe, David Socha, is excited about the upcoming sales, which should begin taking effect in August.
He explained the need for these kinds of toys as figures have become more inappropriate over the years. Toys can influence children in negative ways that do not reflect religious ideals, he argues.
"If you're very religious, it's a battle for your children's minds and what they're playing with and pretending," said Socha, according to the Associated Press. "There are remakes out there of Satan and evil things."
The chief executive described that the new line of biblical action figures – which before could only be found in specialty religious stores – will be a positive alternative to other lines like "Bratz dolls and Spider-Man."
One2believe is only one of several companies making a push towards Bible-friendly toys. Recently, the creator of G.I. Joe, Don Levine, started his own Almighty Heroes line also based off biblical figures from the Old Testament.
"It is my desire that these inspirational action figures and fashion dolls create excitement for kids," explained the billion dollar G.I. Joe tycoon in a statement, "and develop their interest in the characters and messages of the Bible."
Toy experts feel that the move from Wal-Mart is smart as store executives are addressing what a majority of parents want for their children.
"There are a lot of wild things out there," explained Laurie Schacht, president of The Toy Book, a toy industry publication, to USA Today. "Parents want to give kids wholesomeness."
The One2believe toys will now get two feet of aisle shelf space among the other products offered, and will be sold mostly in southern and Midwest states with a few others scattered elsewhere. According to O'Brien, the policy of Wal-Mart will be to put the new line into stores that sell a lot of Bibles.
Examples of different figures offered with One2believe include a 12-inch talking Jesus doll, a 3-inch Daniel in the lion's den, and 14-inch Samson and Goliath action figures. Prices can range from around $5 to $20. They are targeted towards children from pre-school to age 12.
Although Wal-Mart has offered other religious materials in the past, this will be the first faith-based toys offered by the retail chain.
Biblical action figures can also be ordered online at one2believe.com.