TORONTO Hundreds of people lined up at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday to buy a limited-edition bobblehead doll of embattled Mayor Rob Ford, which quickly sold out and began popping up on eBay for as much as 15 times its purchase price.
Ford, who insists he will not step down, was on hand to sign the figurines.
The sale of 1,000 "Robbie Bobbies" was conceived before Ford admitted last week that he had smoked crack cocaine in "one of my drunken stupors." But the furor did not mute demand for the little statuettes - a recreation of Ford's head on a springy neck - with lines that stretched around the cavernous City Hall lobby.
The 6-inch-high dolls cost C$20 ($19) with proceeds going to the United Way charity. By late afternoon, at least six were available on eBay, with two of them bid at $300.
Ford told reporters after the dolls had sold out that the United Way campaign will continue on Wednesday with a T-shirt sale and that he planned to order more bobbleheads.
"It's going to take another three or four weeks to order more bobbleheads," he said. "The phones have been ringing off the hook. We weren't quite sure how it was going to work out."
Jay White told the Toronto Star he lined up at City Hall more than three hours early to get a Ford bobblehead.
"We're living in crazy times and it's probably going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to have a time stamp of a guy that smokes crack as a mayor," he said.
Ford's admission that he smoked crack came six months after the Star and media blog Gawker said they had seen a video of the mayor smoking crack and a few days after Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair confirmed the video existed.
Last week, the Star bought a separate video that showed Ford in an expletive-laden rant, making unspecified threats and pounding his hands together. Ford apologized and admitted he was "extremely inebriated."
Ford has faced increasing calls to resign or take a break in the wake of the drug admission. On Wednesday, city council will consider a non-binding motion urging him to take a leave of absence.
Asked how he was going to convince the council he shouldn't take a leave, Ford told reporters on Tuesday he was elected to cut costs at City Hall.
"I've saved more money than any mayor in Toronto's history and that's what I'm going to continue to do tomorrow," he said.
($1 = 1.0493 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Bill Trott)