OAK BROOK, Ill. -- The company that makes the popular Beanie Babies is hoping for two more big winners with dolls named "Sweet Sasha" and "Marvelous Malia."
But, no, the names do not refer to President Barack Obama's daughters, a Ty Inc. spokeswoman says. Honest!
Ty released the 12-inch dolls as part of the company's "TyGirlz Collection." The Sasha doll has pigtails and wears a white and pink dress with hearts. The Malia doll has a side ponytail and a long-sleeve shirt with capri pants.
The Oak Brook-based company chose the names because "they are beautiful names," not because of any resemblance to Malia and Sasha Obama, said spokeswoman Tania Lundeen.
"There's nothing on the dolls that refers to the Obama girls," Lundeen said. "It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls. They are not."
The dolls have bronze skin and "real doll hair," Lundeen said. They were introduced in early January and a limited supply has been shipped to retailers.
In the real world, 7-year-old Sasha and 10-year-old Malia have been the focus of intense interest. A throng of reporters followed their first day at school, and news reports detailed what they wore on Inauguration Day.
First lady Michelle Obama's press secretary, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, said Thursday that it was "inappropriate to use young, private citizens for marketing purposes."
That fascination will make the dolls a success, said Denise Gary Robinson, president of DollsLikeMe.com, an online specialty doll boutique that specializes in ethnic dolls, toys and gifts.
"Girls all over the world, of all colors, will be looking for these dolls. They want to identify with these two girls," Robinson said.
Among the 30 other TyGirlz pictured on Ty's Web site are ones named Lindsay, Britney, Paris, Hillary and Jenna (but no Barbara.) The collection was introduced in 2007.
Public figures have a legal right to control their how their images are used, but Lundeen would not comment on legal issues or if the company's lawyers have become involved with the dolls.