Thus were born Meanies, a dozen gross-out creatures including Hurley the Pukin' Toucan (who comes with his own...never mind), Fi & Do the Dalmutation (a two-headed dog) and Boris the Mucousaurus (you can imagine). Since their debut last October, Meanies, which sell for $5 to $8, have made getting yucky lucky for Rudin, 38, and Kushner, 35, whose profits at their New York City Idea Factory—even with ongoing royalty payments to Le Winter—have doubled. This month 7-Eleven will start carrying Teeny Weenie Meanies key chains, and several Meanies have been seen as desk accessories on recent episodes of Spin City. Says Kushner, single and a Manhattanite (Rudin, married, lives on Long Island): "We struck a nerve."
Apparently. In fact, Meanies—like Beanie Babies—are already turning into collectibles. Splat the Roadkill Kat—complete with tread marks on his back—now fetches up to $80. Still, when contacted by PEOPLE, a spokesman for the Beanie-making Ty Inc. claimed never to have heard of Meanies. Upon hearing that, Kushner responded with a typical Meanies singsong: "Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah-nyeah, nyeah!"
It all started last spring, when marketing guru Allen LeWinter sought out toy manufacturers Glenn Rudin and Lance Kushner. Le Winter's idea? A line of bean-hag critters—for boys. The pair listened, eagerly. Certainly Rudin's sons Joshua, 11, and Scott, 7, were no Beanie Baby fans. "Not one in the house," says Rudin. "Zero interest." But after a series of kids' focus groups, Le Winter, Rudin and Kushner got the drift of what might appeal to preadolescent males: "Their favorite words were 'barf,' 'puke' and 'hurl,' " says Kushner. Then, "we brainstormed."