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HE'S THE STRONG, SILENT TYPE SALES OF DOLL REACH LARGE-SIZE FIGURES.

Byline: Suzie St. John Staff Writer

VAN NUYS-Susan Stofsky has the perfect man in her life. He doesn't hog the bed or snore and is great for cuddling. Best of all, he doesn't have a mind of his own.

He's a plush doll called the Huggable Hunk and stands 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs a trim 13 pounds that looks more like a buff 170 and sports ripped abs.

``At $159, he's not for everybody,'' Stofsky said. ``He's a frivolous luxury item that's a lot cheaper than going to a therapist.''

The Van Nuys entrepreneur owns This Little Piggy Inc., a company that markets the hand-sewn, plush doll she created.

Hunk has big blue eyes, dark, shaggy hair and wears a pair of black silk boxers. He arrives with a long-stemmed red silk rose and a personalized letter. On his behalf, Valentine's Day and birthday cards are sent to his owner during their first year of togetherness.

Stofsky hit on the idea last summer as she was saying goodbye to a boyfriend who was returning home to New York.

``The thing about him that was so sweet was that he was cuddly. I had never had that in a relationship and realized I was really going to miss that part of it,'' Stofsky explained.

She thought about getting a giant stuffed animal to snuggle with and then figured there must be a big doll that could fill the boyfriend void.

Her surprise at the lack of life-size dolls or body pillows led to Hunk's inception.

She pitched her idea to a toy company she worked for in New York called Prime Designs, Ltd. They showed some interest, so Stofsky started sketching out her ideas and faxing them to the company, which is now based in Hong Kong.

``I would send them something that looked like Brad Pitt and I would get back Howdy Doody,'' she said with a laugh.

Finally in September, the doll was ready for review and she made the trip to Hong Kong.

After the design was approved, 200-plus Hunks were shipped to a fulfillment house in Nevada, where the dolls hang out until they find companionship.

Seven months later, the former associate producer for Warner Bros. said sales are brisk through Stofsky's Web site, www.huggablehunk.com or by calling (888) 930-9109.

Stofsky said deals are in the works to have the doll sold at local outlets of national retailers.

``It's amazing how fast everything has happened,'' said Stofsky, whose future plans include designing more dolls in varying skin, hair and eye colors, as well as a line of dress and play clothes for the dolls.

``I just want to make more fun things, nothing serious. I like to see people happy.''

She said the response has been pretty favorable, especially after Hunk made a guest appearance on local news programs and on ABC's ``The View.''

One customer is Esrin Gozukzil of Brentwood, who found herself complaining about being alone when her husband was out of town on business. So she decided to try out a Huggable Hunk.

Now, a month after buying one, she can't stop raving about him.

``It's so comforting to have him in bed while my husband is gone,'' said Gozukzil, who works as a producer's assistant for John Wells Production. ``I love cuddling with him, too, but the best part is dressing him. I can't even do that to my husband.''

Gozukzil said her husband thinks it's great, too.

``They sit and have a beer together and I like hanging out with a room full of men,'' she said. ``He's almost as good as the real thing.''

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

(color) Susan Stofsky hangs out by the pool with the Huggable Hunks she designed.

John McCoy/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 10, 2000
Words:629
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