Talk about an emergent strategy: The creators of Uglydolls didn’t start with a plan in mind. But theirs is a case of the product selling itself. And the creators have discovered a great way to build appeal:

“Each character comes with a tag explaining the character’s back story and how they all ”know” one another and what each one is like. Wage works diligently at Super Mart, although, poignantly, no one at the store knows he works there; Jeero, meanwhile, wishes Wage and Babo wouldn’t ask him so many questions, since he ”just wants to sit on the couch with you and eat some snacks.” Hits with kids like the American Girl dolls have a similar narrative glue. To Tracy Edwards, the Barneys vice president who oversees the chain’s home and kids businesses, the Uglydoll characterizations are important: ”The stories, in the end, sell the dolls.””

The Uglydolls website is amusing, with photos and stories of the dolls, odd comics, and animated graphics. Tres quirky. I suspect the dolls are irresistable in person, but part of their appeal lies in their obscurity, so selling them is tricky: you want people to see them but you don’t want people to see them everywhere.

I’m thinking of getting Ice Bat, despite my having no discernible need for a plush toy companion. Although … my sister seems to enjoy traveling with Mr. Toast, who is similarly cute/odd. And don’t we each need a fellow traveler in Life?

(NYT link via Stephany Aulenback @ Maud Newton.)