Saddam Hussein could wind up under your tree this Christmas.
One of the hottest-selling novelty gifts of the season is a Saddam voodoo doll complete with instructions about the best time to prick the "Beast of Baghdad" - like when you're filling up your gas tank.The 10-inch doll costs about $9.95 and, according to its packaging, represents "your chance to stick it to Saddam like he's stuck it to us."
"It's a great frustration relief item for people who have sweethearts, family and friends away from home participating in Operation Desert Shield this Christmas," said Max Colclasure, president of Laid Back Enterprises, the Oklahoma City company that developed the item.
With the threat of war in the Middle East and a pall over the economy, stress-relief items of many kinds are proving especially popular this holiday season, said Beth Schlansky, spokeswoman for Spencer Gifts, a nationwide retail chain based in Atlantic City, N.J.
To anyone who has been laid off recently, consider giving a "Boss Tear-Apart Stress Doll." Because its appendages are attached with Velcro, you can rip the head, arms and legs right off this beady-eyed captain of industry, priced at about $19.95.
It's manufactured by Blue Ridge/The Item Co., of Skyland, N.C., which also makes tear-apart dolls fashioned after a referee, umpire, golfer, lawyer and television-hog - "the person in your family who won't let go of the remote control," President Robert Capps said.
But the final word in stress-relief this season is the "Last Word," a voice-synthesis gadget shaped like a beeper that stores four sayings on a microchip. Press the beeper and hear a voice as grating as Bart Simpson's utter, "You're a dope; stupid jerk; you're an idiot; drop dead."
That's the G-rated version. The X-rated version stores four unprintable insults and is outselling its tamer cousin - both priced at about $16.95 - by 4-to-1, said Teresa Boyle, spokeswoman for Banning Enterprises, the Farmingdale, N.Y., company that makes the products.
"Everybody has gone crazy over it," said Boyle, who predicted a million Final Words would be sold by Christmas. "But the people down on Wall Street, the investment-banker types, are especially wild about it."
If you're looking for an item for the golfer in your life whose handicap will never resemble his or her shoe size, new this year is a "Rubber Duffer Stress Wedge." This $25 item is a pliable golf club that fitful linksters can wrap around trees or bend over their knees.
Two gifts targeted for office-bound athletes are the $99.95 "Hero Hoops" and the $25 "Waste Basket." Both are from Charlotte, N.C.-based Express Yourself Inc.
Hero Hoops attaches to a pole or a door, includes an electronic time clock and scorekeeper and cheers, applauds and says "good shot" when a player sinks one. The Waste Basket attaches to a trash can and makes a ruckus, thanks to an electronic housing, after a shot is made.
Be aware that gag gifts know no age limits.
The "Old Age Combat Hat and Survival Kit" is a $14.95 item meant for any age-defiant senior citizen. The camouflage hat comes with an array of goods stitched to its sides - including aspirin, denture cleaner and wrinkle cream - to help battle the ravages of time.
And for that woman you know who has yet to find the ideal man, you can give her one this Christmas for about $39.95.
The "Ideal Man" doll, devised by television talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael, is a brown-haired, blue-eyed Yuppie-type who'll tell you, "I respect your career; you relax and I'll do the dishes; you inspire me" and five other expressions you'll likely never hear in real life.
It's available from the Anatomical Chart Co. of Skokie, Ill.