Make Way For Celebriducks NICHE DIGGING
By Julie Sloane

(FORTUNE Small Business) – If you've ever wanted to take a bath with Mr. T (and who hasn't?), rejoice: Celebriducks have arrived. These tub toys--rubber ducks modeled after famous humans, from Queen Elizabeth I to James Brown--started swimming out of San Rafael, Calif., in 1998. Craig Wolfe, a publisher of animation cels, came up with the Celebriduck concept in the late 1990s and asked his daughter, Rebecca, to design a Betty Boop duck. Craig, 49, and Rebecca are still the company's sole employees, relying on contractors--like the 40 Chinese artisans who complete the detail work on each Carmen Miranda duck.

The company made its big splash this January, when a limited-edition Allen Iverson duck popped up on ESPN's SportsCenter and CNN. Since then, sales have been rolling like water off a...well, they've been brisk. Some 1,000 ducks float out the door each week, and overall revenues are on course to more than triple this year, to $3 million. In the summer Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou ducks will go to bat as stadium giveaways for the Chicago Cubs, and Wolfe is talking with other teams. But not all celebrities are eager to get their beak on. The estates of Jimi Hendrix, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis have so far turned down Wolfe's proposals. Heaven forbid the King should tarnish his legacy with tacky kitsch.

--Julie Sloane