Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Rock’em Sock’em Robots — Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney Edition

POLITICAL SLUGFEST: Forget about the ballot box. We can now settle the 2012 presidential election like men!

No one leaves the political ring without a black eye, right?

Toymaker and political rabblerouser Emil Vicale, founder of Herobuilders, just released a 2012 Presidential Election version of Rock’em Sock’em Robots — that classic 1960s mechanical boxing game that will make your thumbs more sore than any video game joystick.

Vicale is selling just the Mitt Romney and Barack Obama robot heads (with surgery instructions for decapitating the old heads and reattaching the new ones) for $39.95 — or the entire assembled set for $99.

BUT WAIT, doesn’t Mattel own the rights to Rock’em Sock’em Robots?  Absolutely.

Vicale maintains that anyone has the right to buy an existing product, customize it and then sell it on the secondary market. For example, you could buy a brand new Camaro, trick out the suspension, add funky hubcaps and paint the whole thing hot pink and resell it as a Hot Pink Camaro.

Herobuilders had an ugly battle with the PEZ Company a few years back over the same issue when they put their original Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani heads on top of regular PEZ dispensers. PEZ lawyers (candy does NOT come out of their necks) aggressively went after Vicale and he created his own dispenser device called  “Head Candy.”

The PEZ rivals, which actually are loaded with Sprees or Mentos, come with muscular male or buxom female body attachments (superhero and corporate themes).

But back to the boxing “Romneybots” and “Obamabots.”

A new way to teach kids about the reality of politics? The Herobuilders kit to modify your existing Rock’em Sock’em Robots retails for $39.95.

In an exclusive interview with The Hill (modest confession: I was first to break the Obamabot story), Vicale reveals that he is NOT parodying the Washington pundits’ universal characterization of Romney as a robot. He had been planning a McCain-Obama Rock’em Sock’em set in 2008, but his idea came too late in the election season to market it.

The Hill story also shares some fascinating behind-the-scenes debates over toy design:

“Both the Romneybot and Obamabot heads are portrayed in their natural skin tones and not the corresponding Republican red and Democratic blue. Vicale said the prototype heads looked too creepy in primary colors, making Romney seem like the Devil and Obama an alien from the movie ‘Avatar.’”

FATHER-DAUGHTER BONDING: Nothing promotes family togetherness like old-fashioned political mudslinging (or fisticuffs). Toymaker Emil Vicale enjoys his Obama and Romney robots with his 8-year-old girl.

If you’re a fan of political novelty toys and souvenirs, then Vicale is no stranger. He’s also the brainchild behind the Mitt Romney Etch a Sketch doll, the Newt Gingrich action figure (everyone wants one!) and a Barbie-like incarnation of U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

Not too early to start your Christmas shopping!

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Filed under Election 2012, Guys Who Play With Dolls, Political Satire, Politically Incorrect Products, politics, Tacky Souvenirs, The Hill, White Collar Boxing

Love him or hate him, Obama still has the magic touch

Four years after my baby daughter used Barack Obama as a photo prop, there’s another infant about to become a media superstar!

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Filed under Barack Obama, Election 2008, politics, The Baby Primary

Tale of Two Trophies: Obama’s Nobel & My Youth Basketball Award

Should Barack Obama have politely declined his Nobel Peace Prize?

Should Barack Obama have politely declined his Nobel Peace Prize?

As the recipient of the Ronald Reagan Academic Achievement Award, I know what it is like to have to live up to the pressures and expectations of a prestigious honor.

President Obama should have politely turned down the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and should have given it to one of those ballsy human rights activists rotting away in some Third World hellhole. He would have come across as incredible Noble and it would have become an iconic historic moment celebrated in his presidential library.

Instead, everyone who refers to him as a Nobel laureate now will mention it with an eyeroll or a smirk.

How great would life be if we were rewarded for what people hope we might achieve?

Republicans are just giddy over this news, which will serve as a bottomless well of sarcasm for years to come. RNC Chairman Michael Steele taunted Obama, saying he “won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.”

And how can they give the Nobel to a guy who won’t meet for lunch with the Dalai Lama because he’s afraid of hurting China’s feelings?

When I was a teenager, I had to skip most of my youth basketball league games one season because my parents refused to drive me as part of comprehensive sanctions implemented because of behavioral issues (I think… I forget what I was actually punished for, but I hold no grudge).

Inexplicably, my parents wanted me to go to the awards banquet at the end of the year.  When I refused, they still got me my trophy (everyone got one) because one of their friends was at the event.  If I really wanted to be melodramatic, I could have smashed that trophy like Moses with the 10 Commandment tablets.  But I simply tossed the trophy in the garage and forgot about it.

I did not want to display a trophy I did not earn. In a Brady Bunch episode, I had seen how emotional kids (specifically Bobby Brady) could get over not winning a trophy.  But I would rather have had an empty shelf than be a fraud.

President Obama could learn a lot from both Bobby Brady’s experience and mine.

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Filed under Asinine Brady Bunch Analogies, Brady Bunch Doctrine, politics, Sports

Cuddling with Obama won’t score you Inauguration tix

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Way back when Barack Obama was just a regular rock star, only filling high school gymnasiums instead of NFL stadiums, my daughter got to cuddle with him twice.

Nothing scandalous, mind you, Dahlia was a five-month-old baby at the time. But her combined 90 seconds with the future president made her a New York Daily News covergirl, inspired a bit in Jay Leno’s monologue and briefly inflated her importance to the same level as Angelina Jolie’s pregnancy.

In the ultimate baby scrapbook exercise, I chased down nearly every major presidential candidate for saliva-free photo ops during the New Hampshire Primary. Only Obama broke the no-kissing rule and the press photographers went nuts. The resulting photo essay, “The Baby Primary,” inspired worldwide speculation about the candidates’ body language.

Exactly a year after the media madness, I’m frequently asked two questions:

1. Did Dahlia ever get to snuggle up to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or Vice President Joe Biden?

2. Will Dahlia be attending the Inauguration?

Caribou Barbie only came to NH once and I regrettably could not leave work that day. It would have been hilarious to introduce my baby as Tigger or Trigger or Tugg or Tagg (oops, that’s the name of Mitt Romney’s kid). I did try to meet Biden at a local community college, but his blathering oratory put my girl into an irreversibly cranky mood.

As for the shocked friends and relatives who cannot believe that Dahlia was not invited to Tuesday’s star-studded love-in, here’s a reality check: Barack Obama kisses babies in every city and town in America.

Do they even sell formal gowns at the Baby GAP?

Even though the Obamas’ so-called “Youth Ball” is for 18-year-olds, not 18-month-olds, I do have a lingering feeling that my daughter has been stood up at the prom. Seeking solidarity, I managed to track down political photo-op guru Andy Green, a junior history major at the University of Northern Iowa.

Green pulled off a major coup before the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, posing his Mr. Potato Head toy with Obama, McCain and the rest of the pack. The stoic Biden was the only luminary who refused the honor, explaining that he does “not take pictures with funny hats or funny toys.” But his wife, Jill, happily obliged.

It turns out that Green and his plastic spud, which once had its butt panel removed to satisfy Hillary Clinton’s Secret Service agents, were not invited to Washington either.

Green and I aren’t alone, of course. Scalped tickets to the Inauguration, which were originally distributed free through Congressional Districts, are fetching $500 on Craigslist.

Refusing to shell out that kind of moolah, I figured I had nothing to lose by pretending to play the DC Who-You-Know powergame. I contacted a close friend, who is the son-in-law of Someone Very Important, with hopes of scoring some “extra” tickets. He laughed at me, poking fun at his own lack of clout. Amazingly, his mother-in-law, a.k.a. the influential wife of Someone Very Important, has been turning away her own close friends. (As an aside, he noted that unclaimed 2004 Bush Inauguration tix were as plentiful as Skee-Ball prize tickets).

I now regret trying to play my weak Who-You-Know card. The magic of the New Hampshire Primary was that I had no special connections enabling us to mingle with the next President and the next Secretary of State. It was bad karma to try to force it.

However, I am convinced that Dahlia influenced at least a few votes for Obama during the earliest primaries, when he most desperately needed them. The blogosphere was buzzing with women cooing over his natural baby-handling skills, which are impossible to fake. My own wife, Stacy, fell into this camp. She told CNN that Barack won her vote just by “the way he’s looking at her so lovingly and so warmly.” (To be fair, Stacy also factors the economy, foreign policy and social values into the equation).

But Obama obviously owes my family nothing — except for stuff like defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

And the truth is that Dahlia will probably be much happier staying home on Inauguration Day. She has yet to ask for one of those designer Inaugural handbags or t-shirts by Diane Von Furstenberg or Donna Karan. She’s still far more impressed by Fisher Price.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Family, politics, The Baby Primary

What Me Worry? Barack Obama finds MADdening common ground with George W. Bush

In an odd political pairing, Obama and George W. Bush have both been redefined by the MAD magazine’s mascot. Astoundingly, Obama compared his protruding ears to those of Alfred E. Neuman’s at the annual Al Smith political dinner in Manhattan. Bush as been hammered as a guy who’s way too lackadaisical in a crisis.

How long will it be before President Obama is slammed with the “What Me Worry?” image?

If you like offbeat political and pop culture memorabilia like this, then please check out my new Slate magazine slideshow devoted to the fake presidential bids of Archie Bunker, Fred Flintstone, Snoopy, Charile Brown, Lucy Van Pelt, Linus Van Pelt, Barbie, Ken Griffey, Jr., Mr. Clean, Captain Morgan the Rum Pirate, Fonzie, Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Huckleberry Hound, Magilla Gorilla, and MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman!

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Filed under Election 2008, politics

Political Button of the Day: Obama Prays for Victory

Gearing up for Election Day, I will occasionally share a favorite button from my modest-but-quirky political memorabilia collection.

Imagine a fortune cookie made with 2,000 pound slabs of Jerusalem stone and crumbling on one of the holiest sites in both Judaism and Islam. It’s a tradition to cram a note to God in the Western Wall (also referred to as the Wailing Wall) to the point that the crevices look like they are jammed with centuries of spitballs.

This button surfaced on a souvenir table at the Democratic National Convention, perhaps an effort to sway Jewish Americans on the fence to go for Obama.

The backstory is quite bizarre. A young rabbinical student swiped Obama’s prayer note after he stuffed it in the wall, causing a national uproar when it was published by a major Israeli newspaper.

Here’s what Obama’s scribbled note said:

“Lord — Protect my family and me,” reads the note, first published in the Israeli newspaper Maariv daily. “Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.”

Pretty standard stuff, although where’s the traditional Miss America contestant call for world peace?

If you like offbeat political and pop culture memorabilia like this, then please check out my new Slate magazine slideshow devoted to the fake presidential bids of Archie Bunker, Fred Flintstone, Snoopy, Charile Brown, Lucy Van Pelt, Linus Van Pelt, Barbie, Ken Griffey, Jr., Mr. Clean, Captain Morgan the Rum Pirate, Fonzie, Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Huckleberry Hound, Magilla Gorilla, and MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman!

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Filed under Election 2008, politics

Political Button of the Day: How “Reagan Hood” Spreads the Wealth

Gearing up for Election Day, I will occasionally share a favorite button from my modest-but-quirky political memorabilia collection.

As the proud recipient of the Ronald Reagan Academic Fitness Award, this political button pulled at my heartstrings when I spied it at a Democratic National Convention souvenir booth. But sentimentality wasn’t enough for me to shell out 45 bucks for it.

The real Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor, a la the imagined legacy of Barack Obama, while Reagan was demonized for allegedly doing the reverse. Or, are Obama and Reagan actually kindred spirits as this political analyst suggests?

The big question is: Could the Gipper pull off looking suave in that unflattering hat? Would Mikhail Gorbachev have taken him seriously?

It’s worth noting that Kevin Costner goes hatless on the DVD cover of “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”

If you like offbeat political and pop culture memorabilia like this, then please check out my new Slate magazine slideshow devoted to the fake presidential bids of Archie Bunker, Fred Flintstone, Snoopy, Charile Brown, Lucy Van Pelt, Linus Van Pelt, Barbie, Ken Griffey, Jr., Mr. Clean, Captain Morgan the Rum Pirate, Fonzie, Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Huckleberry Hound, Magilla Gorilla, and MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman!

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Filed under Election 2008, politics