From that came the idea of the benders, who can shape the elements of fire, water, air or earth according to their will. Aang brings a childlike enthusiasm to his war-torn world. "We wanted someone who was going to be great and powerful and do all these awesome things, but also was a kid at heart," DiMartino said. "Avatar" is a top-rated show among young boys but has adult fans, as well. "Even though we're dealing with fantasy and these made-up worlds, you have to give it respect. Treat it like it's real, and (with) a lot of integrity. People notice that," Konietzko said. "It's not pandering to a younger audience; you're not playing down to them. You're giving them something that's the best quality that you can." DiMartino said fans could look forward to a great finale to the earth book in December. Konietzko said he and DiMartino consider themselves lucky that their first project has done so well. In talking to younger relatives, DiMartino said he finally realized the effect "Avatar" was having. "The really amazing thing I've noticed is, this is sort of their G.I. Joe," he said. "When they're teenagers, they'll all get vintage Avatar shirts." Avatar has moved into merchandising, with toys including Legos, action figures and video games. The "air-launching" Appa and Aang action figure set, which allows children to send Aang soaring through the air, is certain to be on many holiday lists. But in the case of "Avatar," unlike some children's properties, the story came first. "It's striking a chord with this generation of kids, and we're completely honored to have that happen," Konietzko said.
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