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By C. Antonio Romero

SAN FRANCISCO, 7 DECEMBER 2007— This year's hot must-have toy first came to our attention from the "Farce: Politics by other Means" department at the "Larry Craig Talking Action Figure".
Semi-custom action figure maker has delivered this twelve-inch testament to Connecticut Yankee manufacturing prowess just in time for Christmas. A whirlwind of media attention, including appearances on national news broadcasts , showcased a buff-bodied and bendable curiosity, sporting a custom Craig-a-like plastic head and a tiny T-Shirt emblazoned with the senator's implausible-deniability catch-phrase, "I AM NOT GAY". The doll can also play a recording of the denial speech from an internal sound chip. Inevitably, some, such as MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, could not resist the temptation to reproduce the Senator's wide stance.  

Larry Craig Talking Action Figure with wide stance and declaring that he is not gay.

HeroBuilders also features quite a number of other action figures sporting mostly identical bodies, with head for any pop-political posturing or occasion. Leftovers from political seaons past include The Governator (template for the original buff bod, perhaps), Jacques "Le Worm" Chirac (who, thankfully, does not croak like a frog), Saddam Hussein (in innumerable variations), and, ironically, former New Jersey Governor Jim "I AM A GAY AMERICAN" McGreevey .

Villain Action Figure: Talking Jacque Chirac

 Still relevant are Rudy "America's Mayor" Giuliani, Dick "You Don't Know Dick" Cheney, and, alas, Osama bin Laden (oddly, lacking a tagline or clever T-shirt) and Ayman "Number Two" Zawahiri. A chip inside each figure records one or more signature sound-bites. Herobuilders can also deliver on demand; for a fee they can make up any action figure you like. From the neck down, they're mostly identical, but the head can be custom-crafted based upon a few sample photographs and, optionally, recorded snippets to be loaded into the speech chip. (Tellingly, they promise only an 80% resemblance to the figure in the pictures-- enough to be reminiscent of but not a faithful rending of the subject.)

Hillary Clinton Nut Cracker

The intellectual's obvious quip is about the interchangeability and insubstantiality of today's political products, both heroes and villains, who can be manufactured, loaded with dialogue to spec, and trotted out on short notice for consumption in response to any need. The typical customer is probably still sniggering "Dude! I am SO not gay, dude!" while lamenting that the toy is out of stock. Perhaps can stall impatient customers with the Hillary Clinton Nut Cracker, which is a bit more distinctive than the mass-produced , even if her serrated thighs make male customers understandably anxious. Which one is the typical Culturekiosque reader? We will think charitably of the reader in this instance, and hope that the reader will do likewise of us.

C. Antonio Romero is the Nouveau editor of

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