Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
The Special Forces team was inserted
As quiet as a mouseâ€¦
‘Tis the season for putting wish-lists together! It’s the least the toy industry expects of you. After all, according to the National Retail Federation, $217 billion in holiday sales are up for grabs and an anxious toy industry is hoping to take home a sizeable chunk of that (especially given last year’s weak $20.3 billion toy market).
As for you, it’s never too early to head into the mall maelstrom in search of the hottest toy in shortest supply for your child. Toy industry pundits and child experts are rushing out their lists of recommendations and if you want to catch that blank look of disappointment on your child’s face this Christmas morning, by all means follow their advice. Go buy Hasbro’s BTR Transformer off the Toy Wishes “Hot Dozen” list; K’nex’s Rippin’ Rocket Roller Coaster, one of FamilyFun magazine’s “Toys of the Year” or strip those shelves of Mattel’s Hokey Pokey Elmo from KB Toys annual “Holiday Hot Toy List.”
But if you’d really like to “wow” the kids, stick to Tomdispatch’s list of “Hot as Depleted Uranium Toys for a New Imperial Age.”
You surely don’t want to deny your child the right to strut an aircraft-carrier flight deck or duke it out in person with Osama bin Laden. So from the Pentagon to you, via us, comes the A (for “Armed to the Teeth”) list of presents sure to make this a true military-industrial Christmas!
What would the holidays be without little muscularized, molded plastic dolls holding big guns in a kung-fu battle grip?
Now, thanks to Blue Box International your child can pilot Air Force One into
Then, for only an extra $29.95 (plus shipping and handling) your child can feed the troops a turkey dinner using the George W. Bush Talking Action Figure, the aviator’s civilian counterpart, clad in the more traditional Republican dark suit and red power tie. He spouts 17 phrases including the apropos Bush-ism “…working hard to put food on your family…”
And that’s only the beginning! Just imagine your son holding his own news conference with the Talking Donald “Rummy” Rumsfeld Action Figure ($29.99 plus shipping and handling) to announce that weapons of mass destruction have just been discovered in
But don’t stop hereâ€¦ oh no, you mustn’t stop here. What fun’s the Elite Aviator if there’s no villain to attack him?
Evil-Doer Action Figures
Start with a two-for-the-price-of-one bargain from Hero Builders at a modest $39.95 — the Talking DOA Uday, a dual headed action figure of Saddam Hussein’s son capable of uttering phrases, in a genuine faux-Middle Eastern accent, that go so well with the Yule log and a good stiff eggnog: “Someone must help me . . . I am still alive only I am very badly burnedâ€¦”
Or how about that perfect stocking stuffer — Babbling Osama the Dirty Terrorist? “Get your very own talking terroristâ€¦ Listen to him babble his terrorist nonsense” says manufacturer Hero Builders, which also cautions, “Don’t be fooled by other cheap imitations not made by Americans.” We’re not babbling nonsense when we grunt our “Hoo-ah!” of approval.
Finally, direct from Gay Paree there’s Talking Le Worm, an action figure which bears a striking (but surely coincidental) resemblance to Jacques Chirac. A perfect gift for every child who holds a grudge against
The neo-cons were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Empire danced in their heads;
And Condi in her kerchief, and Cheney in his cap,
Had just put the Prez down for his regular napâ€¦
Gifts for the trigger finger
While toys are great for tots, Tomdispatch believes that the parent of the older child should forsake honest jingoistic fun for something more educational. In recent years, the Department of Defense has been hard at work with
Our save-a-bundle, kill-a-million bargain special! America’s Army — revamped, heavy on military training with genuine combat scenarios in absolutely foreign settings (think
Make your son or daughter a skilled platoon leader for nothing!
Full Spectrum Warrior: The season’s top Microsoft Xbox videogame based on an Army combat simulator created by the Institute for Creative Technologies (a $45 million joint Army/University of Southern
Read the book, play the game, destroy the world! Tom Clancy’s “Rainbow Six: Raven Shield — The #1 videogame choice of Dr. Beth Redden, chief of the Army Research Lab’s Human Research Engineering Directorate field element, for testing soldiers’ “collaborative situational awareness” and our #1 choice for fun, fun, fun!
Give that special someone something special from the U.S. Navy’s Special Warfare Command: SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs.
Is your child a cable-news addict? Stuck on fair n’ balanced Fox instead of doing her homework? Finally, Kuma War saves the day, merging “introductions” from cable-news-style anchors, real combat footage AND the ability to re-enact her favorite military missions of the recent past — like the assassination of Saddam Hussein’s sons! A game truly in the spirit of the season!
Toys for Slightly Older Boys and Girls
But is even Kuma War realistic enough? Whatever happened to healthy play in the great outdoors? And we’re not talking about running around the backyard with pop guns and Army surplus helmets either! Why not offer your child the “real thing” — something they could use at home or take overseas with them?
How about an AK-47? — For American teens in
Of course, you don’t want send to your child into the world, AK-47 in hand, without some actual bullet-stopping body armor (so unlike the ancient, shrapnel-resistant flak jackets the military has been handing out lately). The Houston Chronicle reports, that the “military has been slow to get the body armor to Iraq,” and the Dayton Daily News writes that parents are now taking up collections to buy effective gear for their kids serving overseas. Do you really want your child to be the only one in an imperial adventure without a bulletproof vest? Of course not! It would be embarrassing if the neighbor’s kid had better gear. So shell out the $650-$1000 for some ceramic plate (the GIs call it “Sappy Plate”) body armor. While the military claims that it is “rushing to get enough body armor into
But maybe, given closet space and all, AK-47′s and bulky body armor aren’t necessary for your little soldier? Not to worry! For kids of all ages not currently in a combat zone there are a host of militarized civilian-issue products absolutely sure to pleaseâ€¦
The Hummer: Okay, so what if in
A civilian model can be pricier than the military version (a Hummer H1 Wagon retails for $117,508, whereas a combat model â€“ with fewer “extras” — runs between $70,000 and $110,000). But if you’re living in Alaska you can deduct the entire purchase cost for the land leviathan (up to $100,000) thanks to the economic stimulus package of Elite Aviator George W. Bush.
Shades of War: With “the Paratrooper” stowed in the back of that Hummer, what would look more stylish on your kid than a pair of cool shades by Oakley? Yes, believe it or not, sunglasses manufacturer Oakley is a vender to the military supplying goggles (and boots) used by Special Forces troops.
He was dressed in desert camo, from his head to his foot,
And he carried more weapons than you’d know where to put;
A bundle of gear he had strapped to his back,
machine guns and rifles and an 80 lbs. Pack…
The Specialty Corner (For Parents of Children Working in the DoD)
What’s that you say? Your daughter, a former staffer in Doug Feith’s now defunct Office of Special Plans, already has a Hummer, Oakley shades, and all the video games the military has to offer, everything, in fact, but the Sniveling-Colin-Powell-Does-Munich doll (still under development at DARPA)? Well then, break out that checkbook and get her something she’ll really loveâ€¦
The M1 Abrams Tank: For the four-star general on your list there’s General Dynamics’ M1 Abrams tank. While the 68-ton behemoth may be having its troubles with roadside bombs in
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle: Is your son a mere brigadier general? Then why not settle for the wonderfully compact Bradley Fighting Vehicle from United Defense Industries? At 25 tons, it may not be a match for an Abrams, but think of the economies â€“ a modest $3.1 million will have him up and rolling! So what if service in
Black Hawk helicopter: If a DVD of Black Hawk Down just won’t cut it anymore, then kick in the extra $13 million and get the real deal. Sure a Black Hawk can be knocked out of the sky by a simple rocket-propelled grenade, but until some Iraqi “bitter-enders” make it to America (look for such an announcement days before the 2004 election â€“ you heard it here first!), your child will sure look cool tooling around in one of these!
The JASSM: Here’s a piece of one-shot shopping guaranteed to “wow” its recipient! At only $400,000 a pop, Lockheed Martin’s new radar-evading 2,000-pound Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) is a genuine steal and the perfect alternative to the $1 million-a-shot Tomahawk missile. Gerry Freisthler, director of the
What’s a door when it’s your own child? We say it’ll be “pure holiday magic” when, with that “imaging infrared seeker” and “general pattern match-autonomous target recognition system,” it comes down your chimney this year.
He sprang to his Abrams, to his tank-crew gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like a Tomahawk missile.
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
“A Military-Industrial-Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”
Nick Turse is a doctoral student in the Program for the History and Ethics of Public Health and Medicine in the Mailman School of Public Health at
Copyright C2003 Nick Turse
[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing and author of The End of Victory Culture and The Last Days of Publishing.]