Today’s post is something a bit different. I’m going to talk about a type of doll that I don’t collect. Reborn babies.
Reborn dolls, for those of you unfamiliar with them, are dolls which are created to look as much as possible like a real baby. They are made from a vinyl kit and the doll artist paints their skin to look lifelike, they have cloth bodies, stuffed with polyester fibrefill and cleverly weighted with glass beads for a realistic feel. They are usually several hundred dollars to buy. I’ve seen many of these dolls at the Hobart Doll Show. There is a competition for them every year and I usually photograph some for the blog. They really can be very lifelike. I’ve seen people carrying dolls that they have bought at the show and had to look twice to make sure they were not actual babies.
I admire the doll artists who make these dolls but even if they were cheaper I wouldn’t buy one because they are really not my thing. I’ve always been more attracted to toys than to dolls that are just for display. It’s the reason that I debox my Barbies. I always want to play with them.
I decided to write about Reborns today because I was browsing through the WordPress Reader and came across a post about Reborn dolls. I read it and then I read a few others and decided that it would be an interesting subject for a post.
The first posts I read were about people who had ordered Reborn dolls online and been shocked to find that the doll that they received was nothing like the picture they had been shown. The author of one post had included photos of the dolls people thought they were getting and the actual doll. The customers photos are not great but even so you can see that the dolls delivered are not what was shown online. It is a bit of a cautionary tale about doing your research when buying online. Apparently there are a lot of websites offering these dolls, most of the cases that were described were from the USA but a couple were from Canada or the UK.
There are commercial businesses who have got interested in the Reborn doll market. Some are reputable like Ashton Drake Galleries for example. They have been around for years but I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of factories in China and elsewhere turning out mass produced “Reborn” dolls for a cut price. A real Reborn should be unique. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the mass produced ones. It’s a bit like modern porcelain dolls I guess. A lot of people look down on these dolls and say they are worthless. You see loads of them in Op Shops. However, many of them are very pretty and nicely dressed and if you love them that’s all that matters. Same with these mass produced babies. What I am saying is that if you are after a real lifelike baby doll expect to pay big dollars for it because those dolls take a lot of time and effort to make. You know the old saying “If something looks to good to be true it probably is.” A bargain priced Reborn you buy online may not be what you expected.
I also read posts about how some people buy reborn babies to help them over a difficult time like the loss of a child, a miscarriage or an inability to have children. Possibly some people might find it a bit creepy to see an adult using a doll as a child substitute but I think that if is helpful to someone who is grieving then we should not be judgemental. I imagine that for most people the doll would be a transitional object and that in time they would not need it as much.
Another use for these dolls is that people who suffer with autism or dementia can often relate to these lifelike dolls. I’m sure that some of you have heard of dolls being used as therapy in nursing homes for example.
If you have some stories about Reborn dolls, or perhaps you are a doll artist yourself please share in the comments section. I hope you have enjoyed the photos which were all taken at the Hobart Doll Show over the last few years.
Here are links to the blogs I read prior to writing this.