Should Kids Be Playing with Michael Jackson Dolls?

Michael Jackson dolls may soon be coming to a toy store near you. Playmates Toys has partnered with the music merchandising company Bravado to create a fresh line of figures and dolls inspired by the Gloved One, set to launch in 2010.

Shortly after the MJ doll appears on shelves, look for late-night talk-show hosts to feed themselves for weeks on jokes about plastic skin, anatomical similarities, hair flammability, and miniature hyperbaric chambers. I believe the nostalgic reverence-and-revision grace period has expired.

While MJ may indeed be remembered as one of the most popular entertainers of all time, I'm not sure who's the target customer for a Michael Jackson doll. Is it the grown-up fanatic, making room on the mantel between his first-issue "Thriller" LP and his Victory Tour ticket stub? Or is it a modern tween, buying a doll even though she knows little more about Michael Jackson than the hoopla surrounding his death and songs her parents hum from time to time? If the latter, I'd imagine a Michael Jackson doll would be as comfortable sharing shelf space with Barbie as the real Michael was kissing Lisa Marie Presley.

Will it matter to consumers that, but for his musical genius, Michael Jackson was the kind of grownup that parents vigilantly steer their kids away from? Probably not. WWE Wrestling dolls are popular, and there’s already Lindsay, Britney and Tiger Woods dolls.

So all you celebrity-doll and pop-culture tchotchke collectors, make room for Mini-Michael on your 2010 wish lists. Just don't expect him to moonwalk.

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