July 23, 2010 — -- Ten Russian spies were banished from U.S. shores just two weeks ago, but one of them has returned already.
Anna Chapman, the 28-year-old femme fatale and entrepreneur, frequented Manhattan's most exclusive downtown clubs and restaurants. After pleading guilty in a New York court with the 9 other accused spies, Chapman left the country on July 8th. But thanks to Herobuilders.com, she's back, albeit in 12-inch plastic form.
On Thursday, Herobuilders, a dollmaker that creates ripped-from-headline action figures, debuted two new foot-tall Anna Chapman figurines, each selling for $29.95.
"Whatever's going on in the news, we try to see if that's going to sell, if we can make it, and if we can make it on time. And then we just do it," said Emil Vicale, CEO of Vicale Corporation, which owns Herobuilders.
One of the Anna Chapman action figures, dubbed "The Predator," depicts the redhead dressed in dark, creased pants and a white sports bra. A more risqué figure, "The Spy I Could Love," presents a topless Chapman in a short skirt and knee socks. In both figures she carries a gun in her left hand.
Herobuilders is known for creating figures based on whatever's current in news and politics, usually with a conservative cast. The firm began when Vicale made a figure of George W. Bush at Ground Zero.
The company's online store at herobuilders.com includes Bernie Madoff and Rod Blagojevich dolls, a Joe the Plumber figurine (crowbar in hand) and an "anatomically correct" Sen. Scott Brown that is marketed only to adults.
Topless photos of Chapman, who was born Anya Kushchenko and may be – at least according to her ex-husband -- the daughter of a former KGB official, have appeared in newspapers in the U.S. and the U.K. They have turned the voluptuous Russian into an internet star.
But the blustery and very quotable Vicale doesn't see the operative for America's old Cold War enemy as a sex symbol. Vicale said he doesn't think the supposed undercover bombshell is all that sexy – he says he just made the doll because everybody else he talked to seemed to think so.
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"All I keep hearing is how hot she is," he said. "She just looked like a skank to me. I think she looks like a washed up stripper."