He bends at the waist, he's machine-washable, he wears his heart on his tunic and his name is Jesus.
"It provokes a response. Either you like it or you don't," says Nancy Pulte Rickard, the doll's creator.
And to those who feel the idea of Jesus' being dragged around like a common rag doll is sacrilegious, Ms. Pulte Rickard says, "Let's face it. Jesus is down in the trenches with us."
Her goal was to make something that could be used as a tool to help children discover Jesus ("it's hard to hug air"), but already it has gone beyond that. She says the doll can provide solace for the elderly and the infirm, for those in recovery programs and those under emotional duress. In other words, everybody.
He looks friendly -- nearly 2 feet tall, bright blue eyes, a long white belted tunic under a red robe, a red heart on his chest. He's designed to represent the Jesus of Matthew 11:29: ". . . learn of me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls."
Ms. Pulte Rickard has no background in doll design. Actually, she is a land developer ("I'm trying to phase that out now") who lives in Boca Raton, Fla. "Ever since I visited Medjugorje, I've felt a change in direction toward a deeper, more spiritual walk in life," she says. Medjugorje, a village in Bosnia-Herzegovina, has been the site of alleged apparitions by the Virgin Mary since 1981.
Part of her more spiritual walk is the doll, which she brought to fruition with the help of artist and psychologist Justin Steurer. The doll's hand-painted fabric, the cutting and sewing all are done in South Florida. He's stuffed in New York, but Ms. Pulte Rickard eventually wants to have him produced completely in Florida.
The price of Jesus The Doll is $29.95, with part of the proceeds going to provide dolls for needy children. And Jesus is only the first in a line of dolls Ms. Pulte zickard calls FIRST-FRUITS. Next is a Mary doll and God.
What would God look like?
In the prototype, he's a white-haired and white-bearded white man in a long rainbow-colored robe with all the different animals of creation flowing from it. He's nearly 2 feet tall, too.
God won't be available until next year, but Jesus can be yours by calling (800) 227-8702.
"One of the big things," Ms. Pulte Rickard says, "is it makes it hard for people to deny his presense. They look across a room and go, 'Oh, there's Jesus.' "