In his likeness, and he likes it

A Montgomery County company received the pope's blessing today -- albeit indirectly.

Bleacher Creatures, a Plymouth Meeting firm, makes plush dolls in the likeness of athletes and other celebrities.  One of their Pope Francis dolls ended up in the hands of a girl in New York, who handed the doll to the pontiff at JFK Airport.

Francis looked at it, held it up by its feet, watched it flop over, and smiled.  And then he kept it. 

"To see the pope smile and laugh when he saw his Bleacher Creature, was great because it really aligned with our mission," said Micah Levy, the company's director of marketing. "It makes you smile, the brand encourages fun, inspiration and play. So we love him even more now."

The company also got national exposure earlier this week when its 5-inch #MyPopePlush was featured on ABC's "The View."

Bleacher Creatures started out making athletic figures in 2010, and in the last year branched out into singers and other celebrities.  Levy said they started making the pope's likeness "before we even knew he was coming to Philadelphia.  So it didn't even cross our minds that he might see one, but as it came closer we were really hoping it would happen."

They've sold over 50,000 of the pope dolls -- their best-selling item ever.

"We were all cheering when we saw it," he said. "It didn't feel like real life, it was amazing."