In the past, when a Brooklyn-based toy company created action figures of popular politicians—for example, Bernie Sanders or Ruth Bader Ginsburg—it found the real-life person and gave a gift of one of the dolls.
But FCTRY will likely skip the step this week when it releases a new action figure of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller III, who is leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“Mueller is notoriously hard to reach. I think I would be intimidated,” said the company’s CEO, Jason Feinberg, who noted that the Mueller action figure will feature a “fixed gaze, because he knows you know he knows,” a right hand that’s open, “ready for the smoking gun,” pockets to “hold his strong moral compass,” and “impermeable shoes in case of tweetstorms.”
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Special Counsel’s Office in the U.S. Department of Justice, declined to comment.
FCTRY decided to create a Mueller action figure when it started seeing signs that the real-life Mueller was surfacing in popular culture, Feinberg said. Robert De Niro guest starred on “Saturday Night Live” as Mueller in an opening skit, and memes were spreading across the internet about “Mueller Time,” designed as a pun on Miller Lite’s logo and pitch phrase.
“That’s what tends to happen before something blows up: you see it bubbling up in pop culture in surprising places,” Feinberg said.
The company has some experience with taking advantage of pop culture to launch legal-themed products. It debuted its Ginsburg action figure last August after raising more than $613,000 through crowdfunding from nearly 15,700 people. Since then, FCTRY has sold more than 100,000 RBG dolls, bringing in almost $2 million in revenue, said company spokeswoman Ieva Urbaite. That was enough to skip the crowdfunding step for the Mueller action figure, and Feinberg said he expects to sell between 5,000 to 10,000 dolls during a pre-order phase that begins Jan. 15.
“I don’t think he’s quite the everyman’s hero the way RBG is,” he said. “RBG has moved in to full pop culture, where Mueller is still for those highly attuned to politics.”
FCTRY’s action figures follow a clear liberal bent. The company has also created dolls for Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and “Evil Trump.”
The real-life Mueller served as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations from 2001 to 2013. When former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 appointed Mueller as special counsel to oversee the investigation. Mueller resigned as a partner in Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr to take the job. So far, Mueller’s investigation has netted at least 33 people and three companies, charging them with more than 100 crimes, according to Politico.
FCTRY isn’t the first company to sell a Mueller doll. There’s a bobblehead on Amazon that goes for $34.95. Another maker tried to crowdfund money to create a Mueller action figure, but failed to attract the minimum goal.
Angela Morris is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @AMorrisReports.