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TROLL DOLLS REINCARNATED - AS THEIR UGLY-CUTE SELVES

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After going into hiding for 25 years, troll dolls are back.

The elflike creatures with wild hair that defies styling are being snapped up by children whose parents - and sometimes grandparents - once collected them.And they're still ugly.

"They're so ugly, they're cute," says Karen Parkison, assistant manager of Mr. Bulky's in Northpark Mall in Joplin, Mo. "Everybody is buying them. Young kids, older people, even teenage boys."

Trolls were first introduced in the United States around 1960. (Thomas Dam of Denmark produced "Dam" dolls, which several competitors copied.) Trolls were popular until the mid-1960s. Though the fad faded, trolls remained on the market without much success - until recently.

Russ Berrie and Co. of Oakland, N.J., one of the biggest troll makers, expects to do nearly $150 million in sales in trolls this year, nearly 40 percent of its projected overall sales of $400 million. The company has more than 500 troll or troll-related items in its lines.

The new breed of trolls comes in a variety of sizes and styles - foreign trolls, professional trolls and holiday trolls. Some are scented. Some carry signs or wear banners. Some stick out their tongues.

Troll lovers can also choose from witch trolls, farmer trolls and rock 'n' roll trolls. They can buy 1-inch trolls and trolls that are more than a foot tall. Prices range from about $1 to $85.