If you’ve ever wanted to tear up Donald Trump – or Senator Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, for that matter – now you have a chance. Or at least your cat or dog does, and you can watch. Brand new company based in Waterbury Fuzzu for animals and you came out with some presidential parody pet toys featuring all three candidates (sorry, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, you just didn’t make the cut).
The canvas-covered and fiber-filled toys, collaboratively designed by Sarah-Lee Terrat and Anne Lika, come in three sizes: nine, 17 and 27 inches (cat, dog and jumbo). The former two are conspicuously intended for chewing, the latter for humans to cuddle, pose strategically, or, say, move around in public to show support. You can even take all three just to confuse people. Whatever you choose to do with them, the toys are conversation starters – and likely to attract four-legged creatures.
Currently, Terrat, Lika and her husband, John Lika, are working to attract human donors to their Kickstarter campaign to launch Fuzzu (pronounced fuz-zoo). Their campaign video begins with a close-up of a long haired white cat hugging the Donald in ecstasy (because of the catnip). The designers explain that the toys were born from hand-sketched and colored illustrations – “something quite rare today,” says Anne Lika.
In an interview with Seven days, she and Terrat note that the two have had a long working relationship, share a sense of humor, and are so close that they end sentences with each other.
Both also have important design credentials. For about 13 years, the Likas operated a pet toy business called Fat Cat, turning it from a basement screen printing project into a thriving business with 19 employees before selling it in 2007. (Fat Cat produced a George W. Bush toy during his presidency.) Terrat, owner of YeloDog Design and designer for Fat Cat, has created numerous illustrations and murals for clients in Vermont and beyond. For a dozen years in the ’80s and’ 90s, she was the environmental designer for Ben & Jerry’s, designing scoop shops around the world as well as the graphics for the Waterbury factory. One of his most recent commissions was a mural for the new state office complex in Waterbury.
Terrat and the Lika understand Fuzzu to be a “shop”, they say, and will design whatever they like. âWe don’t want it to be Fat Cat 2, and I don’t want 19 employees,â says Anne Lika. But after taking a break from pet toys, she missed the deal. “We love the humor around our toys,” she adds, noting that other pet toys “don’t get pissed off.”
“We have a lot of ideas,” suggests Terrat. Such as? “We can’t really tell,” Lika rings. “Although we have thought about getting into children’s toys.”
For now, however, Fuzzu’s presidential parody series stands out as a place of entertainment in a much-needed campaign world and season. Lika says the company already has preorders, some obtained through former Fat Cat sales reps, and longtime Chinese maker Likas is ready to go. This company, Lika notes, âreally gets itâ in terms of quality and even jokes. âThey are perfectionists,â she says approvingly. “We can just put all of our attention into the design.”
Admittedly, the facial features of the toy contestants are perfect, and each also sports a name tag and other revealing details:
Hillary, dressed in a red pantsuit and pearls, wears buttons that read “Pro-whatever” and “Anti-whatever.” A smiley face paired with an on-off switch is painted on his back.
Bernie wears a badge that says “Bern the 1%” and an American flag with “99%” in place of the stars. His watch reads “Time 4 Change”. On its back, a red button is surrounded by the words “Push to activate the revolution”. But the best part is the candidate’s plush white hair crown.
Donald’s hair is a plush blonde swoosh, his mouth is stuck in the sourpuss position, and a pamphlet protruding from his front pocket offers instructions on “Building the Great Wall for Fools”. His bold yellow tie proclaims “NY (Hearts) Me”. On Donald’s back? “Push to inflate the head.”
The details of the toys may betray the political views of their makers a bit, but it was important for them “to be nice enough, not mean or sarcastic,” Terrat explains. “We want to sell the Donald to people who love him or hate him.”