Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company was started in 1994 by David Soucha, a devout Christian, and Joshua Livingston, who is Jewish. Their new Messengers of Faith Talking Dolls ($24.99) were created to help bring the Bible to life for children and help them memorize scripture. I reviewed the Jesus doll, but they also make dolls of Mary, David and Moses, and are scheduled to release Esther and Ruth soon. The Jesus doll is 12" tall and has fully articulated points so he can move and even grasp and hold an object. The outfit has been carefully created to match the historical styles of the time, down to the sandals. But it is the face that really touched my family, with searching blue eyes and a warm expression. By pushing the button on his back, you can hear one of six different memory scriptures that bring to life the words of Christ. Each doll comes with a "pocket book" that includes biographical information and stories from the doll's life.
These are not typical character dolls that fall apart, but are intended to be used as collectibles with a purpose - to be played with and learned from, then put lovingly back on the shelf, not thrown in the toy box. The creators' goal was to make a doll that would bring all of a child's senses into play in memorizing scripture, thus making it more real and powerful. By reading through the "pocket book" together and acting out different events in Jesus' life, your child gains a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what He did for us. The memory verses (John 3:16, Mark 12:30, Mark 12:31, John 15:5, John 20:29, and John 3:3) help reinforce the gospel story. It would be especially appropriate for elementary-aged children, over 3 because of small parts.
My family and I really liked the Jesus doll. The gentle face and warm voice of the verses make Jesus really come alive for the children and represent Him realistically as someone you would want to sit down and talk to, not someone who is distant and uninvolved in our lives. The verses help reinforce the gospel story and are excellent for memorization. The quality is very good and should last for many years if cared for properly. My only suggestion for improvement is that the "pocket book" includes many wonderful and important events from Jesus' life, but really doesn't lay out the gospel in a clear way. A separate card that comes in the package and the "Our Story" page of the one2believe website does this very effectively, but I would love to see it delineated better in the book that comes with the doll, so that it is clear to the child that Jesus wasn't just a good man who did many great things, but that He was our Savior and Lord. I would highly recommend these dolls to homeschooling families who want a practical and fun way to bring the Bible to life and help their children learn scripture!