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Jesus, the talking doll version
Company also plans dolls of Mary and Moses at start, with dolls able to recite Bible verses.
April 12, 2005: 11:12 AM EDT
One2Believe will begin selling talking Jesus, left, and Moses dolls in May.
One2Believe will begin selling talking Jesus, left, and Moses dolls in May.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A talking Jesus doll is due to go on sale in May, along with versions of Moses, the Virgin Mary and David, as a teddy bear maker tries to find a market with churches and religious families.

The foot-tall Jesus doll will be able to recite five Biblical verses at the push of button on its back, while the Moses doll will recite the Ten Commandments. The Mary doll will recite a long Bible verse.

Joshua Livingston, one of the original founders of Valencia, Calif.-based Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co. has returned to the company to head its new Biblical doll unit, One2Believe. In the past, Beverly Hills Teddy Bear mostly manufactured bears and other plush toys on a contract basis for other retailers.

This will be the company's first attempt to sell direct to consumers via the Internet, Livingston said.

He said that the idea for the religious dolls has been a long-time desire of David Socha, who is the other founder of the teddy bear company. The company has hired a marketing firm with expertise reaching out to churches and church schools to generate sales, Livingston said.

"In the beginning we don't feel it'd be right to put it in Toys R Us and be next to a Barbie or a Bratz," he said.

The company expects to sell about 50,000 of the Biblical dolls by the end of the year, with the Jesus doll -- not surprisingly -- expected to be the top seller. It hopes to also bring out an Esther doll by the end of the year and hopes to have other Biblical character dolls introduced in future years.

The line of Biblical dolls is known as Messengers of Faith.

The dolls will cost $24.99, although Livingston said there will be discounts for churches as well as free shipping for those who buy three or more of the dolls. They will have hand-sewn period clothing, with Jesus wearing sandals and veils for the Virgin Mary. They will also have movable limbs and hands that can grip objects.

While Socha is Catholic and has been active in giving time and money to church groups for years, Livingston is Jewish. He said it doesn't seem strange to him selling the Jesus doll, though.

"I have a very open mind and believe people can have their own beliefs and religion," he said.

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