Justin Bieber's fans let out a collective OMG! when he cut his signature side-swept hairdo in February — but that was mild compared to the reaction of toy maker Jay Foreman and his employees. "I heard a lot of shrieks around me, and people running in and out of their offices," he said, as quoted at CNN Money. Foreman's company, The Bridge Direct, has the exclusive license to make Justin Bieber dolls, and the teen sensation's unexpected style change cost it a "whopping" $100,000. Here, a look at how a simple haircut became an expensive business nightmare:
First of all, the Biebs has a toy maker?
In a manner of speaking, yes. In June 2010, The Bridge Direct scored an exclusive license to make Justin Bieber dolls. The small Florida company was just a year old, so the deal was a no-brainer. Bieber fever was going global, and the holiday shopping season was just a few months away. Veteran toy maker Foreman (the mastermind behind the Spice Girls and Britney Spears dolls) went into "serious crunch mode" and got the first Bieber dolls on store shelves a few weeks before the biggest shopping day of the year.
Were the dolls a success?
Try toy-making jackpot. The day after Thanksgiving 2010, shoppers began snapping up the Bieber doll, and it became the "it" gift of the season. In the year since, The Bridge Direct has sold more than 4 million dolls and accessories. And the entire Bieber line has raked in more than $100 million.
What happened with the haircut?
Unfortunately for The Bridge Direct, the first batch of dolls for the 2011 holiday season was already underway when Bieber got "the haircut." Foreman was able to interrupt production on the second line, and redesigned the tiny plastic heads to reflect the star's shorter, shaggier look. But those unplanned production adjustments cost Foreman's business $100,000.
So will holiday shoppers be stuck with the 2010 Bieber model?
The Bridge Direct is pushing the updated "Bieber Barbies" onto shelves just in time for the holidays, although some of the new dolls — the ones from the first production run — will sport the Biebs' old look. But who knows, those old side-swept-bangs dolls could prove to be collector's items, says Lindsay Mannering at The Stir. "Fans can buy them and reminisce about how Justin used to flip his bangs out of his face with one fair head jostle."
Will the toy company survive?
Yes, The Bridge Direct appears to be moving on. A celebrity haircut amounts to an expensive headache for a toy maker. Something worse, like a tabloid scandal, is the kind of thing that could cause stores to pull dolls from their shelves and spell bankruptcy for a small toy-making company. Which is why Foreman says he's sticking with the likes of squeaky clean Justin Bieber, and avoiding celebrity uncertainties like Lindsay Lohan. "I can't afford that risk," he says.