As the CEO of The Bridge Direct, Jay Foreman is in the business of celebrity dolls, but he’s no dummy. In the 1990s, working for another toy company, he flew from San Francisco to London to meet music mogul Simon Fuller, so he could secure the rights to the Spice Girls dolls. Later, he returned to England with prototypes of the five girls. When Posh Spice, AKA Victoria Beckham, saw hers, she squealed (according to him): “Oh my God! I’m a Barbie doll. My mum is going to love it!”
Actually, a lot of people loved them. The Spice Girls dolls went on to sell more than $300 million at retail and became a toy phenomenon. Foreman followed that up with Britney Spears (who pushed 7 million dolls) and more recently, the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana doll. Now Foreman has the Justin Bieber doll, which is expected to be one of the top-selling toys of the holiday season. Foreman spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Ramin Setoodeh about playing with dolls:
The Justin Bieber doll has a tattoo on his hip?
He’s got a seagull from Jonathan Livingston’s Seagull.
Does the real Justin Bieber have the same tattoo?
Yes. I haven’t seen it personally, but I hear that it’s there.
What about his underwear?
I would call Justin’s underwear boxer briefs. We got the sense that Justin wasn’t a tighty-whitey guy. We didn’t want to put him in a Speedo. We thought boxer briefs were cooler.
Why isn’t it removable?
We painted the underwear on, so we don’t have jokes or giggles. Next year we are planning on a boxer-short doll. Girls will be able to take off Justin’s underwear.
How big is the Bieber doll going to be?
He’s a really big celebrity. I can assure you, no celebrity fashion out there since the Miley doll will sell as many dolls as the Justin doll, because he’s just that hot. When we did Britney, a lot of pop dolls were out there. There was Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, Brandy. Britney sold 10 times more than all of them. It was all about Britney. The other girls were all talented—most people felt Christina has a better voice—but the kids loved Britney. They wanted to be Britney. It’s the same thing. Man, they love Justin Bieber. They want to be with Justin Bieber.
How many dolls do you think you’ll sell?
If history is any indication, we’ll sell 5 million Justin Bieber dolls next year. What really makes the difference is not just the dolls, we’ll have a Justin Bieber convertible car, a Justin Bieber concert stage set. Justin is strong enough that he’s going to carry a whole category.