Who Are You Calling Ugly?

How a pair of entrepreneurial lovebirds bypassed the corporate toy world to squeeze their quirky designer plush dolls on to the top shelf

They weren't the first designer plush dolls, and they probably won't be the last, but a cast of 15 unattractive, ever evolving characters called Uglydolls—each accompanied by a quirky, amusing narrative—have plopped down at the forefront of the designer-toy movement. The dolls' creators, David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, are themselves outsiders in a nearly monopolized corporate toy industry. Their first doll, a snaggle-toothed, apron-donning orange blob named Wage who, the story goes, works at a grocery store and lives for chocolate-chip-cookie dough, was born in 2001 not as a pop-culture collectible but as a love letter turned art project.

Since then, over...

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