Reborns: dolls so lifelike you could mistake them for real infants
Some people buy them because they can't conceive; others just like the idea of having a baby around… Zoe Williams on a new phenomenon
The dolls arrive as kits: vinyl "sculpts" made by specific people – some of them, such as Donna Rubert and Denise Pratt, are now big names in the business. Individual artists will then build on the basic structure, using layers of oil paint and various methods for the hair (a doll with painted hair will take a week to make, whereas a doll with real hair will take a month, since each strand needs to be individually rooted). They are weighted so they feel exactly like holding a baby, except that they're not warm. You can get quite crude ones on eBay for £100 but at their most expensive they can stretch to thousands of pounds (one was sold recently in the UK for around £11,000).