Look out, they're back! '60s troll craze returns

September 14, 1992|By Lourdes Rodriguez-Florido | Lourdes Rodriguez-Florido,Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- They've taken over his workbench, dozens of them hanging over and on it, flashing their Don King hairstyles at customers who walk by.

"People look in through the window and ask me how much they are," said Les Barry, who owns a jewelry shop in Pembroke Pines, Fla. "I say, 'Oh but they're not for sale.' "

No, Mr. Barry, 39, won't sell the troll dolls that have invaded his store.

The invasion started slowly, as it usually does with those who become lovers of the potbellied, ever-smiling dolls.

Trolls, a craze during the 1960s, have resurfaced with a 1990s-marketing vengeance.

And it's gotten, uh, out of controll.

There is troll head wear, footwear, jewelry and food. There are Trolls Around The World decked out in international costumes, Treasure Trolls with colorful "wish stones" over their belly buttons.

There's even a Splat Troll, a gooey concoction whose main purpose is to be slammed against a surface.

"Trolls have gotten so popular that it's a phenomenon," said Sid Aronson, director of communications for Russ Berrie & Co. "They say rub a troll's hair and it will bring you good luck. Well, we have good luck, and I think that's a factor."

The company is one of at least four major U.S. manufacturers that produce the dolls, according to the Toy Manufacturers of America in New York. And dozens of other companies are buying the licensing rights for related items.

Trolls are big money.

In 1991 Russ Berrie sold $44 million worth of trolls and has seen sales jump to $38 million in the first quarter of 1992.

Ace Novelty Inc., which created the Treasure Trolls, expects sales to exceed $500 million this year.

And EFS Marketing Associates, which has been distributing the Norfin trolls since 1983, has seen its sales quadruple over the past two years.

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