Toys With Purpose
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, left the average person with a lingering feeling of inadequacy, leaving us to wonder what we could do to help. Because the vast majority of us are not rescue workers, there really wasn't all that much we could do.
We donated blood, we donated money, we sat glued to CNN, and we still wondered what else we could do. We needed to do something more.
Even children had this need. Schoolchildren in Columbia, South Carolina raised money to purchase a new fire engine for New York City. (Alternate link on the New York Times - registration required.) Historical coincidence makes their story even more fascinating... Once they began to raise the funds, the students learned that they were also repaying a long-owed debt: after the Civil War, fire fighters in New York had donated a fire engine to the city of Columbia. The fire fighters in question had been Union soldiers during the Civil War - the donated engine was a symbol of national unity then just as the new one is today.
The toy industry also leaped into action: several toy companies have created special toys which pay tribute to rescue workers and to the American spirit. In varying degrees, proceeds from the toys listed below will be donated to charities and relief funds.
Mezco Toyz wanted to create something timeless to capture the spirit of America, and so designed Freedom the eagle. Freedom is a joint venture, with Mezco (concept and production), Varner Studios (sculpting), and Design Edge (packaging) all donating their talents to bringing Freedom to life. Proceeds from the sale of the Freedom action figure will be donated to appropriate relief funds and charities chosen by Mezco Toyz.
Freedom the action figure should be in stores in early 2002. It is a 7-inch action figure (not including the base) and comes with an American flag. The display base is a relief map of the United States. (The base has an adhesive bottom in case you want to mount it on your car's dashboard.)
Read more about Freedom the American Eagle.
Fisher-Price had a special action figure in the works in their "Rescue Hero" product line. The special Billy Blazes firefighter action figure was designed in cooperation with the Fire Department of the City of New York. The September 11th attacks put Billy in an entirely different light. The Billy figure is available only at Toys'R'Us stores and at the FDNY Fire Zone web site. Fisher-Price and Toys'R'Us are donating all proceeds to the F.D.N.Y. Fire Safety Education Fund.
8-inch New York City Fire Fighter Action Figure
A team of California toy consultants have pooled their efforts to create an 8-inch, officially licensed New York City Fire Fighter Action Figure. The figure has 24 points of articulation and comes with a highly-detailed uniform, a flag and a "Spirit of Unity" pin. The figure itself wears a miniature version of the pin. (Read more about this figure.)
The 8-inch Fire Fighter figure can be purchased for $14.95 plus shipping online at www.our911heroes.com or by calling (888) 999-TOYS (8697). All profits from the sale of the figure will be donated to the F.D.N.Y. Fire Safety Education Fund.
Little Miss USA
The Alexander Company, known for its line of Madame Alexander dolls, has created a limited edition doll, with the proceeds to be donated to the American Red Cross. Little Miss USA is dressed in red, white, and blue and is limited to just 1,800 dolls. To order her, call 800-648-8448. She is $60 plus $7 for shipping, and there is a limit of six per person.
FDNY Firefighter Plush Chimp
World Wide Monkey was approached by a firefighter about producing a plush monkey to benefit all firefighters. The result is the officially licensed FDNY Firefighter plush chimp. The Chimp sells for $49.95 and can be ordered by calling 800-858-5101 or at the World Wide Monkey store. Portions of the proceeds will be donated to the Firefighters Widow Fund.
Courage and Rescue
Ty, maker of Beanie Babies, has created two Beanie Babies, Courage and Rescue. Profits from the sale of these two will be donated to the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund. Courage is a police dog and Rescue is a dalmation, both have American flag patches sewn onto an arm. They may be ordered directly from Ty for $5 each.
America's Finest - "Commemorative Firefighter"
21st Century Toys already had a search and rescue firefighter on store shelves (as part of their 1:6th scale "America's Finest" product line) when the attacks happened, but have now created a Commemorative Firefighter. A portion of the proceeds from this figure will be donated to the 911 Firefighter Relief Fund.
This Figurefighter figure comes with an American flag, an axe, and a custom display base. The bases are made by hand, so that no two will be alike. It can be pre-ordered for $49.99 at www.21stcenturytoys.com/preorder.html.