Success of Obama action figure changes fortunes of former teacher |

Success of Obama action figure changes fortunes of former teacher

Joyzelle Davis
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado
Ken Papaleo/Rocky Mountain NewsAlyssa Zeller holds a Obama action figure for sale on the 16th Street Mall, August 25, 2008, Denver. Thousands of visitors are here for the DNC.

16TH STREET MALL – Jason Fineberg designed and sold whimsical action figures like Che Guevara, Beethoven and Malcolm X for three years as a sideline while he worked as a English as a second language teacher.

Then Barack Obama changed his life.

Fineberg, who founded Jailbreak Toys, started churning out the Barack Obama poseable figure as soon as the Illinois Senator won the Iowa caucus this January. The $15 doll turned into an immediate hit, and soon Jailbreak was supplying the toy to Urban Outfitters, Borders and online.

Fineberg brought 5,000 of the dolls with him from his home in Brooklyn to Denver, where he and his girlfriend, Alyssa Zeller, are selling them in a cart located across the street from Writer’s Square. The dolls sold well enough to allow him to quit his teaching job in June and devote himself full time to the business.

“I often think how strange it is to have my fortune tied to someone I’ve never met,” Fineberg said.

Fineberg is giving back to Obama, donating one dollar to his campaign for every doll Jailbreak sells (until Jailbreak hits the campaign contribution limit).

Jailbreak also makes a McCain action figure, but only because one of his retail clients said it couldn’t sell the Obama doll without providing bi-partisan balance. Fineberg has no plans to set up shop at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul next week, however.

“It just wouldn’t feel right,” he said.

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