OAK BROOK, Ill. – The company that makes the popular Beanie Babies is retiring the names "Marvelous Malia" and "Sweet Sasha" from its Ty Girlz collection — and first lady Michelle Obama is pleased.
The dolls have been renamed "Marvelous Mariah" and "Sweet Sydney," Chief Executive Ty Warner of Oak Brook-based Ty Inc. said in a statement Tuesday.
The original names were inspired by what Warner called "this historic time in our nation's history," but he said the dolls were not intended to bear the likeness of President Barack Obama's daughters.
The switch is in deference to the first family after Michelle Obama said using her daughters' names was inappropriate, Warner said. Profits from sales of the original dolls will be donated to charity.
"We appreciate the company's response to this matter," Michelle Obama's press secretary, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, said Tuesday.
To collectors, the dolls with their original names will become more valuable, said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of timetoplaymag.com in New York.
"I'm sure many of them are being put away in a closet and are never going to be opened," Silver said. "Those who bought them for their children to play with, they're not going to have much value."
Chicago attorney Marc Cooperman, who has represented another toy company in lawsuits involving Beanie Babies' names, said he believes Ty Inc. got what it wanted: publicity.
"I would suspect that the company knew when it introduced the two dolls, they would cause some commotion and the company would get some press out of it," Cooperman said.