By Darren Garnick - 12/10/12 11:41 PM EST
Mitt Romney took heat for saying he lost the election because President Obama gave minorities and young voters “gifts” such as illegal-immigration amnesty and universal healthcare. Newt Gingrich called this analysis “nuts,” and Chris Christie called it “divisive.”
But Romney’s GOP critics are missing the big picture. The DREAM Act and ObamaCare are extremely boring presents, the public-policy equivalent of giving your teenage son socks and underwear. What if Obama needs a more lighthearted gift to bring to the White House Yankee Swap?
Gotham City GOP Villains, $15 - $700
Every presidential election cycle is saturated with fleeting pop-culture references, but it’s not often that TV shows from four decades ago return to the limelight. During one of the early Republican presidential debates, Oakland artist Jon Stich had a childhood flashback to the 1966 “Batman” series. “I loved the villains’ childish schemes and how they all would stick together against their common enemy — despite their differences,” he says.
Stich insists he matched characters to Republicans based on facial similarities, not personality or ideology. “But you could make the case that the Penguin is one of the deeper thinkers of this gang, which is true of Gingrich,” he said. “And Romney as the Riddler is perfect because many people had no idea about what he’d say next.”
The original acrylic painting can hang in your Batcave for $700, while Stich is selling signed limited-edition prints for $15.
‘Republican Lady’ Fashion Dolls, $39.95
So your daughter wants to have her Barbie Dreamhouse host the Benghazi hearings, but she’s missing a few key players? Fret no more: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) is ready to grill any action figure on the witness stand.
Herobuilders.com, best known for pulling its toy ideas straight from the headlines, offers a “Republican Lady” doll line including Ayotte, Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Sandy Adams (R-Fla.) and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R). Embracing controversy, the politically incorrect toymaker invites customers to dress the politicians in either skimpy schoolgirl outfits or traditional women’s suits.
Political Puppet Hecklers, $19.99
After hanging tough till the very end, you didn’t think that Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would just disappear, did you?
Punching Politicians are boxing puppets with interchangeable caricature heads (sold separately) made from the same squeezable foam as stress balls. The dual-purpose design means that Rick Santorum fans can keep taking jabs at Puppet Obama, while Santorum haters can squeeze his brains out. Republican elephant and Democratic donkey mascot puppet heads (also sold separately) make this toy timeless.
Company co-founder Eric Papalini says the product lines have been popular with campaign staffers and that he just sent a bunch to the Romney grandchildren. Reportedly, the Ron Paul camp didn’t like its candidate described as a “puppet,” so Papalini has begun calling his toys “boxing action figures” instead. Really.
Meathead Mosaics, $5,000
When we hear the name “Meathead,” most of us over age 40 instantly think of Archie Bunker’s son-in-law (actor Rob Reiner), but younger folks will more likely think of artist Jason Mecier. He’s the food-mosaic visionary who created beef-jerky portraits of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for the Jack Link’s brand.
The “Barack Obmeat” and “Meat Romney” art is not for sale, as it is proudly displayed at Jack Link’s headquarters in Minong, Wis. But Mecier will create an 18-by-24-inch custom meat mosaic of Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner or anyone else on Capitol Hill for $5,000.
He’s previously made former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice out of rice and author Sarah Hale, the woman who established Thanksgiving as a holiday, out of mushrooms and corn niblets.
Wall Street Victim Figurines $11.99
A spinoff of Seattle gag store Archie McPhee’s “Horrified B-Movie Victims” figures, these 3-inch statues honor the everyday people financially ruined by Bernie Madoff and friends. The box teases that you can “re-enact the financial crisis” and taunts that an “underwater mortgage is not included.”
Critics have called these satirical toys tasteless, but Accoutrements spokesman David Wahl says he’s learned a different lesson.
“We haven’t had any feedback on the Wall Street figures from politicians,” he says, “but we did learn that making a product that appeals to people who lost all of their money isn’t a good business choice.”
PEZidents, $12.95 for 5
How do you get your kids to care about the Declaration of Independence or the Monroe Doctrine?
Try reincarnating the Founding Fathers in plastic with sugar pellets coming out of their necks.
PEZ Candy usually models its dispensers after “star” characters and leaves the less-popular characters on the sidelines (i.e., You can find Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman PEZ, but no Aquaman or Robin). But give the company credit for going beyond Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson and giving James Polk, Millard Fillmore and Martin Van Buren (funkiest hairdo) one more moment in the spotlight.
PEZ sells its presidents in chronological order, with the first 15 (Washington to Buchanan) now available. The series is aimed at elementary school teachers and comes with free downloadable trading cards. The rest of the White House occupants will be released over the next few years.
Joe Biden Laser-Etched Earrings, $6
Vice presidents usually get ignored in the political novelty business, but Joe Biden’s Cheshire cat grin got San Antonio jewelry-maker Don Garcia’s attention. These laser-etched wooden earrings can also be made into a pendant or lapel pin. “I stopped voting in 2004, feeling my one vote didn’t really count for anything,” Garcia says. “I try to avoid negativity by drawing candidates from all parties.”
The artist has also made wooden jewelry featuring Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton (best-seller), John Kerry, John Edwards, Sarah Palin and John McCain.
Pooping Commander-in-Chief, $6.99
Nothing’s more adorable than seeing the leader of the free world waddle around and uncontrollably discharge items from his rear end.
Granted, the red, white and blue candies exiting Obama’s backside make this more of a patriotic act than an offensive one. But wind-up Political Poopers toys are an unapologetic effort to infuse more potty humor into uptight adult conversations.
Parent company Treat Street also makes seasonal toys such as the Easter Funny Bunny, which poops jelly beans; and Yak Pack Poopers, a pig, cow and dog who oink, moo and bark “Jingle Bells” while pooping candy. The Obama and Romney Poopers were honored as the “Best New Novelty Candy Item” for 2012 at the Candy Industry Awards.
Company spokesman Mark Eisenberg says none of the politicians or animals poops out chocolate or brown candy because “we’re more about being fun than being gross.”