Biker Jesus? Skateboarding Jesus? Toy Maker Says There's a Market for 'Inspired' Action Figures

Biker Jesus. Surfer Jesus. Skateboarder Jesus. Quarterback Jesus ... Even Bullrider Jesus.

Those are just some of the "inspired" creations of Eric Dyson, who claims divine inspiration in his decision to create a line of Jesus action figures.

"I am always with you," is the message Dyson says God told him after the death of his father left him despondent.

"My father was my foundation and guide and the loss of him in my life was devastating," Dyson writes on his Web site,

He says his soul searching and the "comforting message" from God led him to a vision: "Jesus the Christ on a motorcycle riding across the open roads of America."

And so was born Fishermen, Inc., manufacturing a line of Jesus action figures — complete with a crown of thorns — each representing a different message: Strength (bullrider), Faith (quarterback), Freedom (biker), Hope (panhandler), Victory (soccer star), Peace (hippie), Spirit (surfer) and Youth (skaterboarder).

Each figure sells for between $20 and $30, and is marketed through Christian retail stores.

Dyson's not alone in his marketing of Jesus and religion.

Don Levine, the creator of G.I. Joe action figures, is marketing a line of action figures called "Almighty Heroes," featuring Samson and other Bible characters.

One2believe is another creator of Christian action figures and counts Wal-Mart as a major distributor.

The big seller of Christian toys and other products is the 2,000-store Colorado-based retailer Christian Booksellers Association (CBA).

"After 40 years in the business, I know that both retailers and consumers always desire creative and fresh ways to express their faith," Bill Anderson, president of the Christian retail association CBA, told the Denver Post.

Click here to read the Denver Post story.

In 2006, there was a 15 percent rise in the number of CBA retail locations, and sales through the stores and the Christian Retail Channel rose to $4.63 billion, a 16 percent rise compared with 2000, Anderson told The Post.

Parable, a San Luis Obispo, Calif., marketing group that services independent Christian stores, said the target demographic is Christian moms, the newspaper reported.

"A lot of it is about trust and peace of mind in the shopping experience," Parable spokesman Gary Weyel said. "When they unwrap the DVD at home, it will be safe, edifying," the Post reported.

Last Christmas' big hit was "Dance Praise," an interactive DVD featuring Christian music, complete with dance-steps floor pad, Weyel told the newspaper.

Other Christian products on the shelves this Christmas include:

— "The Grapes of Galilee" wine

— "Psalm 23 Jewelry Collection by Laura Kramer"

And for those looking for a touch of divine spirit when they hit the highway: Jesus air fresheners.

Dyson's Jesus figurines, meanwhile, have created a bit of controversy, especially the one called "I Am Peace," which shows Jesus with a combat rifle slung over his shoulder while holding a dove. Still, the company has high hopes this holiday season.

"This is our first Christmas," company spokesman John Lehman told The Post. "We're having a really good year."