The Royalist

11.08.11

Pippa's Unflattering Action Figure

Kate Middleton’s sister won hearts around the world at the royal wedding, but the distinctly unappealing doll made in her image isn’t likely to have the same effect. Tom Sykes on the little Pippa bodybuilder.

Having your own doll might be the ultimate endorsement of one’s popularity, but it’s likely Pippa Middleton isn’t feeling too jubilant about the tchotchke created in her image right now. Although she may have wowed the world with her impeccable poise and delightful derrière at the wedding of her sister Kate Middleton to Prince William, her new doll seems unlikely to win the same plaudits for grace and elegance.

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The new “Pippa” doll from American company Herobuilders is a distinctly unflattering piece of work, unless, of course, you have always wanted to look like a bodybuilder with nipples you can hang an overcoat on. The doll costs $49.95, and the true royalist can also purchase a “Kate”—either in a handmade replica of her wedding dress for $189.95 or in a standard-issue Herobuilders wedding gown for a less regal $49.95—and re-create their own royal bachelorette party this Christmas.

On its website, Herobuilders—producer of such dolls as Michele Bachmann, Bernie Madoff, Sarah Palin, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with “Let Them Eat Yellow Cake”)—warns would-be profiteers against reselling its items on eBay before the dolls arrive (“Your listing will be deleted”) and encourages orders by stating that the American-made “‘Pippa doll is a high demand action figure.”

Action figures? Aren’t they supposed to be princesses?

The Pippa and Kate dolls have plenty of problems, from the visible joints to the muscular build and skin tone, but the main one is undoubtedly that as well as looking identical, neither doll looks remotely like either of the Middleton sisters. The dolls do have brown hair, they are wearing white dresses, and there has apparently been an effort to accentuate Pippa’s bum, but that’s about it. The chunky bodies, with limbs crudely bolted together, look disturbingly like the torsos of ripped action men. Which they may well be.

Despite stiff competition, the new Kate and Pippa dolls might just be the worst dolls of all time. They are certainly the worst dolls done of Kate, worse even than the Thunderbirds-esque $150 “Royal Wedding Doll Set” created by London toy store Hamleys, which itself managed the rare feat of making a set of $300 china figurines of the royal wedding look like the model of good taste.

The chunky bodies, with limbs crudely bolted together, look disturbingly like the torsos of ripped action men. Which they may well be.

The Pippa doll may represent the final gasps of the memorabilia frenzy set off by the wedding, and what a frenzy it was: total sales of royal-wedding memorabilia, according to estimates by the Centre for Retail Research, was $320 million.

And, before writing off the Pippa doll, it’s worth considering how handsomely some of the crazier schemes cashing in on this year’s royal festivities have prospered. Crown Jewels, for example, claims to have sold 10,000 packs of commemorative condoms—sorry, "heritage love sheaths" at $12 for a pack of three, with the indisputable tagline "Like a Royal Wedding, intercourse with a loved one is an unforgettable occasion."