Ventura dolls storm shelves at megamall

by Stacy Jo

Following in the marketing footsteps of New Kids on the Block, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Luke Skywalker, Gov. Jesse Ventura can now boast his own plastic likeness.
Today at 10 a.m., Ventura action figures will go on sale in Mall of America gift stores. The figures are expected to be distributed to other gift stores in the metro area next week and eventually to Target and Wal-Mart stores.
The toys feature Ventura in three different career stages: Ventura the governor, dressed in a business suit; Ventura the Navy SEAL, sporting camouflage fatigues; and Ventura the football coach, dressed in sweats. Figures will sell for about $20 each.
“We expect a lot of interest here in the next 30 days,” said Ron Brinkman, director of marketing for Distribution Systems and Services, the company distributing the dolls.
“I think it’s going to be relatively quick spike here,” he added.
But some University students had wary attitudes about commercializing Ventura’s likeness.
“I’m not going to waste a cent on that,” said graduate student Agnes Mocsy. She said she dislikes the “money-making machine” promoting the dolls.
University seniors Katie Woit and Micaela Zitske said that although dolls are usually marketed at kids, the primary Ventura action-figure buyers will likely be businessmen who purchase the dolls as collector’s items.
Woit, a senior journalism major, said she thinks non-Ventura supporters will buy the figures in jest. She added that selling the governor’s likeness is “cheesy.”
“Didn’t he already have his day when his (World Wrestling Federation) figures were out?” she asked.
However, not all students find the action figures distasteful.
Because the governor is a colorful figure, the doll-marketing efforts are harmless, said University student Christina Linhoff.
“I think he’s really trying to take the piss out of government,” she said.
Linhoff said the farther away people live from Minnesota, the more amusement they derive from the state’s wrestler-turned-governor. “I might buy it for someone as a joke,” she said.
The company has about 200 orders to send out around Minnesota and nationally, Brinkman said, adding that another shipload will be distributed in the next few weeks.