For the right price, Donald Trump will soon come right to your doorstep and be yours forever. Hillary Clinton too, of course. And you can already get Pope Francis, Al Gore, John McCain and every Supreme Court chief justice in history. Even Barack Obama. For all this you can thank Patric Verrone, a committed Marxist.
That’s “Marx” as in “Louis,” not “Karl.” Louis Marx was a legendary toymaker (and Republican) who started making tiny presidential figurines in the 1950s. Marx stopped making his compact commanders in chief in the early 1970s — Richard Nixon was the last one — leaving a gap that Verrone later filled.
The Emmy Award-winning “Futurama” writer has made the presidents Marx did not and expanded the collection to include vice presidents, first ladies, Supreme Court justices and losing presidential candidates. Americans can’t seem to get enough of their politics-themed inaction figures.
Each statuette is numbered. Mitt Romney first went for $338 a few years back. “It was then resold, for $45,” Verrone told Yahoo News, adding, “Guess the guy thought he might have a president, then sold it when he didn’t.”
Gore and John Kerry, the losing Democratic presidential nominees in 2000 and 2004, respectively, will run you $25 apiece. The Republican nominee in 2008, John McCain, costs just $10.
Each new figurine requires a new mold. Verrone typically makes it using an existing Marx collectible, modified to look like the latest addition to the collection.
The plastic Trump started out as Charles Percy, a former senator from Illinois “that Marx inexplicably decided to make,” according to Verrone. Gore’s figurine was also made from a mold cast from Percy.
Verrone decided to use the Percy body because “there’s a slight suggestion of a thumb’s up” in the right hand, and because “it’s the only one [Marx] ever made with an open jacket,” suggesting a kind of brash confidence, Verrone said. “Also because his fingers are short.”
Clinton the candidate might want to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling, but Clinton the figurine broke a different barrier. Rather than make her from a mold cast from an existing Marx collectible, Verrone designed her and had her 3-D printed, a high-tech process that creates objects in three dimensions.
At first he tried to use Mamie Eisenhower for his Clinton mold. But “putting pants on Mamie Eisenhower didn’t work,” Verrone explained.
Trump and Clinton will go on sale “as soon as I make more of them,” he said.
With a few modifications, Dwight Eisenhower, whose friendship with Marx is sometimes credited with helping to usher in the original collectibles, gave rise to Chief Justice John Roberts and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy needed some judicious modifications to become Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Michelle Obama. And Joe Biden may be a unique presence in U.S. politics, but in Verrone’s universe he started out as Woodrow Wilson.
Another significant innovation: Buyers can choose Clinton’s pantsuit color from 12 options. The one pictured above is “Democratic nomination acceptance speech white.”
Obama is Verrone’s bestselling president. George W. Bush was the top request when he was in office. Ronald Reagan does well, too.
Verrone hopes to make Clinton and Trump in the United States. He has found a company that could run off the 3-inch figurines, and another that could hand-paint them.
But he has a concern that is unique to this year’s Republican nominee. Trump is well known for assiduously protecting his brand and his name. It’s not clear how he’d react to being portrayed as a 3-inch-tall faceless figurine. He could, as he has in the past, take legal action, though he’d be the first candidate immortalized like this to do so.
Verrone, asked what he’d do in that situation, replied: “I guess I’ll just stop selling them.”