Forget multi-million-dollar gifts to super PACs. If you insist on having a presidential candidate in your pocket, you can buy one on eBay.
Sure, he's inhumanly stiff. His smile looks painted on. He's only three inches tall. And, frankly, he's something of an inaction figure. But "Futurama" writer Patric Verrone wouldn't make Mini-Mitt any other way.
Verrone is something of a Marxist--that is, a disciple of legendary toymaker Louis Marx, who pioneered the presidential figurine industry in the 1950s. As a kid, Verrone collected Marx's tiny presidential figurines. But they were discontinued in the early 1970s. So the Emmy-award winning TV writer, now 52, took up the mantle, making the presidents Marx did not, as well as vice presidents, first ladies, Supreme Court Justices, and also-ran presidential candidates.
Mitt Romney #1, the never-used first edition of the Romney figurine, is currently up for auction on eBay. At press time, it was going for $51 with two bids. If Dad's monogrammed bowling ball is still collecting dust from last Father's Day, Verrone has you covered: the auction ends Friday at 6 pm EDT, "which gives me just enough time to ship it out overnight for Father's Day delivery," he said.
Verrone makes the mold for a new figurine using an existing Marx collectible as his guide: JFK gave rise to President Barack Obama, for example.
For Mitt Romney, "the designing was less political and more paternal," Verrone told Yahoo News in an interview conducted over email. "The original Marx Toy Company made a prototype of a George Romney figurine when he ran for president in 1968."
"Although I had previously used this figure for my George H.W. Bush figure, this time I made some alterations to the arms and upper body but, most importantly, I got to keep the last name on the base," he said. (That's Romney #5 in the photograph above.)
He's not out to make a political statement: It's a question of suitable body types.
"Everybody is made from somebody. Among my favorites are the common plastic ancestry of John Roberts and Ted Kennedy (they both started as Dwight Eisenhower); Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Michelle Obama (Jackie Kennedy); and Anthony Kennedy and Joe Biden (Woodrow Wilson)," Verrone said.
So, is the Mitt Romney figurine a job-creator?
"I made the first few that I will be selling. After that, I have an artist friend who has made a series of castings which I will paint," Verrone said. "There's no Romney factory although I'm trying to find a plastic injection molding facility in the U.S. that can do a full production run of presidential figurines (I doubt my buyers want their presidents made in China) but I'm still struggling," he added.
So far, Obama leads the list of bestselling presidents, with Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon coming in second and third. The most popular losing candidate is Al Gore "although Barry Goldwater is very close behind," Verrone said.
There's probably still time to buy up a full set of Supreme Court Justices before they render a ruling on Obama's health care law. Antonin Scalia leads that pack in sales, followed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Earl Warren behind them in third.
Sonia Sotomayor falls in the "adequate seller" category, better than Elena Kagan, but not as sought-after as Sam Alito.
What about movie stars?
"Hollywood seems blissfully ignorant of my figurine-making which is fine by me. I have no plans to make non-political celebrities as they tend to be protective of their likenesses," Verrone said.
He does make a Mark Twain and an Edgar Allan Poe, as well as a Martin Luther King, Jr, and a Frederick Douglass — "but nobody who's alive or litigious," he said.
What's next in the Verrone line? His summer collection will include John Hancock, Cesar Chavez, Eleanor Roosevelt, the Supreme Court that handed down the infamous Dred Scott ruling, and disgraced Vice President Spiro Agnew — "whose head I'll remove for anyone who wants a figurine of the Futurama character ' Clone of Headless Agnew.'"