"They're not exactly cheap, but they sell well," says German dollmaker Marcel Offermann, who has added a Barack Obama doll to his line of mini celebs.
The 14-inch tall doll comes complete with a black suit, a sky-blue tie and a Stars and Stripes lapel pin, "just the way Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama appears in 80 percent of his public appearances," says the dollmaker.
Offermann admits that his doll bears little resemblance to the real Barack Obama, because the dollmaker had to settle for a prefabricated doll head, but he's received more than 600 orders since the doll went on sale last Monday, some 400 orders from customers in the United States.
"To create a new doll head from scratch would have cost about $45,000, and that would have made my dolls way too expensive, even as collector items. We've opted for an off-the-shelf black doll's head, making it affordable for customers."
Offermann explained that his Obama doll works more on a symbolic level. "We've tried to make the color lighter," said the dollmaker, "so it would look more like Obama, but then it didn't look so good. So we decided to stick to the original brown skin tone, and it's the symbiosis of the clothing and the fact that it is a black doll that makes it work."
When asked what motivated him, the dollmaker explained, "I like Barack Obama, and I'm fascinated that he's managed to get that far in politics. I think it be truly wonderful if he were to become the first black president in the history of the United States."
The dollmaker, who has been in this business for 13 years, said he started creating the mini-celeb dolls a few years ago, when business was slow.
Since then, he's produced look-alike dolls of the Dalai Lama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the late princess of Wales and Pope Benedict XVI.
"The pope dolls sold like sliced bread," he said. "We only produce 999 of each model, which comes with a certificate, but we could have sold five times as many of the pope dolls. Later I saw them auctioned on eBay at five times our asking price."
The price for the Obama dolls is $220, including air freight. They can be ordered at www.puppenklinik.biz.