Small Company Gambles on Obama, Announces Barack Obama Jack-in-the-Box Toy

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Pop Art Creations, a small family-owned company, is taking another risk this Election Season with the introduction of Barack-in-the-box, a Barack Obama Jack-in-the-box toy. The company introduced us to Hillary-in-the-Box in May 2008, just before the the Senator bearing its likeness suspended her campaign. Disappointed, but not defeated, Pop Art Creations prepares to roll the dice again.

There's a lot of Change going on at Pop Art Creations, as the company prepares to gamble on a presidential candidate yet again. Heather Courtney and husband, David Manzo, co-founders of Pop Art Creations, emptied their 401K to finance the production of 1,200 Hillary-in-the-box toys, a Hillary Clinton jack-in-the-box, back in January 2008. It was risky business for the couple, for whom this was the first shot at mass-producing anything overseas. Production and shipping delays caused their precious cargo to arrive three days before Senator Clinton suspended her campaign. Nonetheless, the toys were selling, but at a much slower rate than expected. Since June 2008, the company has sold about 600 Hillaries, and was seeing nearly the same amount of requests for a Barack-in-the-box. Having exhausted all financial resources with the Hillary project, it wasn't possible for the company to take that risk without a helping hand. The angel investor came in the form of a Hillary-in-the-box customer who was so intrigued by the sales potential of an Obama model jack-in-the-box that he funded the whole venture.

While debuting their factory sample Barack-in-the-Box, and trying to move Hillary inventory in Denver during the DNC, Courtney and Manzo were inundated with requests for interviews and photos. The Denver People Examiner called Courtney "One of the Top 5 People at the DNC". "We sold a few Hillary boxes," says Courtney, "but the interest in the Barack one is amazing! We've gathered nearly 300 email addresses for the waiting list since we've been in Denver."

So they have a great product, some press coverage, and a ton of interest; now what? They wait. Barack-in-the-box is in production in China and is expected to arrive at Pop Art Creations' warehouse just before Election Day. It's another close call for the couple, but they have "Hope" for "Change" this time around.

Barack-in-the-Box is a light-hearted celebration of the man and his historic candidacy. Each side depicts a caricature of Obama in scenes of good old-fashioned Americana. Some images include: Obama's likeness added to Mount Rushmore and a "fist pump" with Lincoln, Barack and Michelle in an adaptation of the famous painting, "American Gothic", and Obama cannot tell a lie as George Washington with the cherry tree. Turn the crank to the tune of "Hail to the Chief", and out pops the man himself. Barack-in-the-Box was produced in a limited edition of 1,200 and retails for $29.95 and is available exclusively through the company's website.

Pop Art Creations was founded in 2003. Heather Courtney creates handmade, wooden jack-in-the-boxes that feature the likenesses of her customers, which she sculpts by hand. Her business hit a new level in 2006, when Ellen Degeneres featured Pop Art Creations, and her own Ellen-in-the-box, on her talk show. The work is all done by Courtney and each is one-of-a-kind. The Clinton and Obama jack-in-the-boxes are the first mass-produced products for the small company.

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Heather Courtney
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