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Puppet Leader

Now you can pull the president’s strings.

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Small businesses embody the American values of hard work, risk-taking, and independence,” George W. Bush has said. Surely, then, the president would admire the entrepreneurial spirit demonstrated by Manhattan-based small-business owner and puppetsmith Robert Korsen.

Korsen spent three months crafting the grinning face of a two-and-a-half-foot-tall Bush puppet and another month selecting 25 genuine Bushisms (e.g., “And so I take my . . . I take my . . . I take my responsibilities seriously”) that play from a speaker inside mini-Bush’s head. He then contracted a Chinese manufacturer he’d met at the New York Toy Fair to deliver an initial shipment of 10,000 puppets.

All that hard work and risk-taking seem to have paid off: In two weeks, Korsen’s Website, presidentpuppets.com, has already sold about a quarter of its stock of $39.95 dolls—“without even really advertising.” (The Bush facsimile is not sold in stores.) And like any good businessman, Korsen aims to extend his empire, with plans for interchangeable, miniature Bush “outfits”—cowboy and fighter pilot among them—and other plush presidents to follow. A John Kerry puppet is also in development, but Korsen is waiting to see who wins the election before moving forward with that one. “Right now we’re trying to focus on Bush,” he says. “He just seems like he fits the puppet personality.”


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