By David Gordon Smith
Expert German dollmaker Marcel Offermann has garnered much media attention in the past with his dolls of famous people such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Benedict XVI, the Dalai Lama and Lady Diana. Now he is paying tribute to the latest political figure to make history: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
The Barack Obama doll is available in a limited edition of 999 and costs 139 ($216). The 36-centimeter (14-inch doll) sports a black suit, complete with a Stars-and-Stripes lapel pin, a white shirt and Obama's trademark sky-blue tie. Offermann, who runs a doll hospital in the western German city of Neuss near Düsseldorf, explained that he chose the sky-blue tie because Obama wears it at 80 percent of his campaign appearances. "We originally wanted the doll to have rolled-up shirt sleeves but that wasn't practical," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE Tuesday.
However it was difficult to replicate the attention to detail given to the clothing when it came to the doll's head. Offermann explained that he was forced to adapt an off-the-shelf black doll's head for his tribute to Obama, which is his first attempt at making a black doll.
Offermann did, however, lighten the standard skin color of the doll's head. "We tried to make it even lighter so that it would look more like Obama, but then it didn't look so good," he said. "So we said, let's stick with this skin tone."
He admits that the physical resemblance to Obama could have been closer. "The doll works more on a symbolic level," he said. "It's a symbiosis of the clothing and the fact it's a black doll." Although "90 percent" of the feedback so far has been positive, he admits that "10 percent of people said the doll doesn't look like Obama."
Offermann, who admits he is a "personal fan" of Obama, explains that he wanted to make the doll out of his respect for the charismatic politician. "I find it sensational that a black person is this close to becoming US president," he said, explaining that during his frequent visits to the US he experienced "racial apartheid" in some parts of the country at first hand. After eight years of George W. Bush as president, he said the only reason he could see anyone voting for the Republican Party would be if they were "afraid of blacks."
Sales of the Obama doll have been brisk. Offermann said he had already received orders for nearly 150 dolls since the mini-Obama went on sale Monday and had gotten two phone calls from the US on Tuesday morning alone. He said he expected interest in the Obama doll to be high. "The pope doll sold out in two-and-a-half weeks," he said.
Stay informed with our free news services:
|All news from SPIEGEL International||Twitter | RSS|
|All news from Zeitgeist section||RSS|
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2008
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH