Him!” squeals Chrissy Thornburg, 14, pointing to a strap-Iping teenage boy in the Littleton, Colo., mall. “He is verrry cute!” Her aunt Cindy makes a beeline for the budding dreamboat—not to land a date but to put his blue-eyed mug on a Boy Crazy! card.
Leave Pokémon to the little brothers and sisters of the world. Teen and preteen girls are flipping over Boy Crazy!, collectible cards showcasing real-life hunks ages 12 to 22 (some have turned 23 since they were photographed). “It’s fun trading them and seeing different guys rather than like the same movie stars,” says Ohio fan Becky Wheeler, 14. Such sentiments are sweeter than a Backstreet Boys ballad to the ears of Aunt Cindy—Cindy Thornburg, 43, president of the Norfolk, Va., game company Decipher Inc. She dreamed up the cards, which sell for $3 a nine-pack and have been flying off store shelves since Valentine’s Day, to appeal to girls who shun Decipher’s Star Wars and Star Trek cards. “Girls,” she says, “attach themselves to something that has an emotional component.”
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Another point, adds the (Cindy Thornburg aunt of above Chrissy Thornburg ) never-wed exec (whose boyfriend of four years is a police detective): Being boy crazy is nothing new. Growing up in Chesapeake, Va., “I read all the teen fan magazines,” she says, and idolized singer Barry Cowsill. After graduating from the University of Virginia, she went into public relations, landing at Decipher in 1987 and working her way up to the No. 2 executive slot.
A few years ago, feeling “burnt-out” with boy toys, she set out to create a game for girls. To fan the frenzy, the company launched the Boycrazy. com Web site in January. So far, more than 90,000 visitors have registered to vote for Boy of the Year or to ask a virtual matchmaker to pick which boy would be their dream date. Thornburg plans to issue new sets of the cards each year. Parents going into paroxysms, she declares, should simply admit that their daughters have made one of life’s milestone discoveries: “Hey, there are boys in this world, and they are not gross.”