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The USATF has announced a new partnership with Mattel Inc. to market an introductory line of track and field action figures. Mattel is the originator of the action figure market, which started in the 1970's with their popular G.I. Joe. USATF president Craig Masbach heralded the idea as an “opportunity to expand knowledge of the sport while creating a new fan base.”
Models have already been field tested in select markets, both in the mid-west and south. The first set of figures feature six Olympians. Each is dressed in competition uniform and comes with a casual wear outfit in a U.S. Olympic Team sport bag.
The full set includes :
Adam Nelson : “Track Adam” is a field event figure that comes with a shot put, set of dumbbells and supply of tear-away t-shirts.
Gail Devers : “Indoor Track Gail” features extra long fingernails and corn row hair. She comes with a set of 5 miniature hurdles (Outdoor Track Gail comes with 10 hurdles).
Amy Acuff : “Track Amy” is a field event figure that comes with a bare-midriff uniform and her own set of high jump standards (mats are extra).
Jeremy Wariner : “Track Jeremy” is a sprinter outfitted with a speed-suit. He also comes with starting blocks, a relay baton and three pairs of sunglasses.
Carrie Tollefson : “Track Carrie” comes with long, blond comb-able hair. This is the only action-figure in the set that is voice-enabled. She comes with a microphone and an interchangeable CD of random comments from her job as a sports' announcer.
Alan Webb : “Track Alan” is a distance running figure complete with waffle trainers and spikes. This is the only figure in the set that doesn't come with a personal grooming kit.
Masbach rejected Mattel's original idea of “Track Barbie” and “Track Ken” figurines. Mattel accepted a compromise proposal in which those names will be included in the packaging of the Webb-Tollefson “Distance-Duo Set”.
Mattel also experimented with the concept of a track coach figure. In the first set of tests “Track Coach Dwight” featured a fully articulated doll dressed in tan pants, red polo shirt and tan cap while sporting a clipboard, workable stop watch and whistle. After mixed results in urban markets the decision was made to try a full-size model. Designers surmised that placing a fully inflatable coach near the finish line would be a boon to short-staffed track programs. The model was pulled from the shelves despite brisk sales. A spokes-person would only comment that there had been a number of reported “inappropriate usages”. Among them was an unconfirmed report of several motorists being arrested after using the blow-ups as a way to access high-speed commuter lanes. A New York State Trooper who wished to remain anonymous was quoted as saying, “I kept seeing cars full of bald, be-speckled men with red shirts. I couldn't take it anymore!”