Doll-makers give new life to US bogus babies

RT discovers why the business of making life-like dolls is anything but child’s play.

Life-like baby dolls, known as ‘reborn’ dolls, were first made in the US back in the 1990s. They were meant to resemble a human baby as much as possible.

“Each of my dolls comes with a birth certificate like this – you can fill in the name, weight and height, as well as the date and place of birth,” reborn doll artist Tatyana Tsorn told RT.

Only a couple of years ago, these dolls were seen as exotic and could only be bought abroad. When Tatyana wanted to learn how to make them, she had to take a course in Germany because there were none in Russia. Now though, dozens of local doll artists have picked up the trend – and their customer numbers are growing.

“When people place an order with me, they usually specify what hair and eye colour they want the doll to have,” Tsorn told RT. “Some clients bring a photo and want the reborn to resemble it. But I like it when it’s left up to me to create and invent.”

Reborns were first made because doll enthusiasts wanted more realistic toys, but these are hardly playthings. Making one – in a process called “reborning” – is long and complicated. Artists initially transformed manufactured vinyl dolls, but today they mostly use special kits that have the necessary parts and supplies. Depending on craftsmanship, the dolls range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

They look incredibly life-like and can be mistaken for a real child, so it is no wonder these fake babies leave no one indifferent. While some just love them, others say the fascination with them is a little odd.

Yet these dolls are said to have important therapeutic purposes. They have been known to help coping with the loss of an infant, or fill a void after a mother’s children have grown up. Psychologists say there is nothing wrong with mothering a fake tot, as long as the game remains just that.

There is also another reason for getting one – they are valuable collectibles. For Anna Volodina, an interior design fan, her five dolls add an extra touch to the look of her home.

“I wanted to use dolls as part of the decoration and reborns proved perfect,” Volodina told RT. “For each of them, I invent a story, choose clothes and find a special place in the house. For example, one of the baby boys is a hat-maker and he lives in an old hat box. Also, as my husband and I don’t have kids yet, these dolls create a very nice baby feel at home.”

Whatever the reason for getting a reborn, these babies are fast winning over those Russian women for whom dolls are far more than child’s play.

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