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Tuesday, July 17, 2012


'A demon toddler in a black crib was always my fantasy': The woman with 500 life-like horror dolls that she treats like real babies

By Olivia Fleming

An eccentric doll collector with 500 life-like plastic babies, who she looks after as if they were living; changing their clothes, washing their hair and taking them to the park, has unveiled a sinister side to her collection.
Showing off the blood stained horror toys in her Staten Island apartment, 33-year-old Marilyn Mansfield says she is happiest among her collection of Krypt Kiddies and Living Dead Dolls.
The married mother of three never leaves the house without one of her dolls, which are so sought after by collectors they are valued up to $2,500 each -  an overall collection worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mrs Mansfield said she first fell in love with the idea of horror dolls by watching the infamous 1980's Hollywood slasher movie, Chucky, starring a homicidal doll of the same name.

'I have always loved Chucky dolls,' admited Marilyn. 'To have a demon baby in a black crib, that was always my fantasy.'
Mrs Mansfeild is so devoted to her dolls that she has turned her hobby into a business, and now creates her own horror dolls, selling them to customers for up to $300.

The doll collector is also obsessed with dolls designed to be as close to real babies as possibly - called 'reborners'.

She also creates 'portrait babies' which are crafted to look like her customer's children.
'I would say a lot more work goes into making a doll look life-like and real than goes into making a scary-looking doll,' she said.
'I find it more challenging to make them look realistic.'
Mrs Mansfield said she has mixed reactions when she takes the dolls out in public and often elicits shocks from strangers who come to coo at one of her 'babies'.

'I take them out with me and my family in a car seat and in a stroller. I don't do it for attention, it just makes me feel very content, and if someone thinks the doll is real or asks me questions, I'm always sure to tell them it's only a doll.
'One woman who saw one of the dolls in a store recently said: "Your baby looks a little pale. Is he OK?" She touched him and screamed when she found out it was a doll.'
Mrs Mansfield, who has featured on the TLC show My Collection Obsession, said that her children are not jealous of the playthings.
Her seven-year-old son has his own doll collection and her 12-year-old daughter helps her mother change and wash the dolls.

She said that her husband has no interest in the dolls, but has grown used to their large 'family'.
'Holding these dolls is so calming and relaxing - the experience is very absorbing,' she said.
'When your own kids are babies, it's a special time. Having a reborn doll is like having that all of the time.'


Meet the Reborns: Incredible life-like dolls that cost hundreds of dollars and even come with 'birth certificates and …


16 July 2012
23:47 EST, 16 July 2012
A decade ago Liviana Sirmans flew across the world from her home in Georgia to Australia for her son’s wedding.
It was a trip that would change her life in a way she could not have possibly imagined.
While Down Under, Liviana spotted a doll so life-like it resembled a real baby. Blown away by the doll, known as a Reborn, she spent the next ten years dedicating her life to them.
Safely home, she trained to become a Reborner – defined as someone who transforms a manufactured vinyl doll to resemble a human baby with as much realism as possible.

Since then, Liviana, an Italian native, has made 428 dolls which cost her between $80 and $250 to make.
Dolls with special effects can come with birthmarks, blow bubbles or have tears on their faces.
Research into Reborns has found that a lot of people who buy the dolls, which can cost up to thousands of dollars, are women who cannot have children or those who have lost a child. The dolls can even come with fake birth certificates or adoption certificates.
In her interview with The Valdosta Daily Times, Liviana did not disclose whether any of her customers had brought the doll for these reasons.
However, she revealed one of her customers to be 8-year-old Brianna Burt, who she made a doll for using the girl’s own hair.
When Brianna got her hair cut, her mother saved the hair and gave it to Liviana to microroot into the doll’s head.
And, to make the doll a true mini me, she sourced doll’s eyes from Germany to match those of Brianna’s. 
Uncanny: Since 2002 Liviana has made 428 dolls which cost her between $80 and $250 to make

Often described as creepy and with most retailers refusing to stock them, people’s aversion to Reborns can be linked to the ‘Uncanny Valley’ hypothesis.
The hypothesis sets out that as human replica objects become more lifelike they attract an increasingly empathetic response. However, at the point when they become ‘too lifelike’ the response changes to repulsion.
Detailing the painstaking process of making Reborns, Liviana told The Valdosta Daily Times, that it takes between two weeks and two months. The most anyone has ever paid for one of Liviana’s dolls is 500 euros – $613.
After cleaning the vinyl bodies, Liviana paints on tiny veins. The arm and leg veins are painted on the outside layer while the head veins are painted on the inside.
‘Each layer must be baked in the oven at 265 for eight minutes. Then I paint the nails,’ she explained to the Times.
She then paints on lips and laboriously microroots the hair strand by strand before adding the eyes and eyelashes.
‘I make the body from skin-colored material stuffed with plastic pellets for weight and then the rest with polyfill,’ she said.
After attaching the arms, legs and head, which must be suitably weighted, Liviana dresses the baby either in clothes she has made herself or brought.
Any dolls that don’t turn out as ‘pretty’ as they meant to are given away to residents at a local nursing home.
As well as making dolls of all races, Liviana has also made two baby monkey dolls.
Unsurprisingly, the married mother also collects dolls from around the world with 40 currently residing at her home.
A car accident five years ago resulted in Liviana having neck and back surgery. Last year’s neck surgery forced Liviana to give up making the dolls.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Locally born baby dolls are a ‘real' handful

Posted:   07/16/2012

Tuesday July 17, 2012

North Adams Transcript
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Two sisters are fooling a lot of people with their artistic endeavor that involves making dolls that look like real babies.
Kathi George, of Williamstown, and Julie Crosier, of North Bennington, Vt., began dabbling in the hobby of making "reborn" dolls in January of this year, and now sell the realistic hand-crafted dolls locally.
"We do get the ‘Oh, that is creepy' response, but we just take it as a compliment," George said. The sisters named their business Until Forever Nursery, and have so far made about 35 dolls.
"It's an art form" George said. "It's like painting on a canvas. You start with a blank slate, and once you're done, you've created something beautiful."
Crosier said that studies have shown that the dolls can be very therapeutic for people, such as calming a person down, or bringing down a person's blood pressure. The dolls have also been found to be good for the elderly, and dementia and Alzheimer's patients, she said. "It's nice to be able to do something that can benefit people, and bring joy to them," Crosier said.
George said each doll starts out as a vinyl sculpt, which is the head and limbs, made by an artist. Each sculpt has a name, ranges in size from preemie to toddler, and can be purchased as a kit, she said. "It costs us about $100 to make a doll, not including the clothing and accessories," she
said. "Our prices for selling the dolls start at $200." Crosier said it takes 10 to 20 hours to make one doll, and the process involves putting eight layers of paint on the sculpt to replicate the skin of a newborn baby, baking the sculpt each time a layer of paint is applied, and using a felting needle to root mohair on the doll's head.
The dolls' bodies are make from doe-suede fabric, and are weighted from four to seven pounds to represent the weight of a baby, George said. The weighting is done using nylon stockings or rubber gloves filled with glass beads, she said.
She said because the dolls look like real newborns, they have learned to be careful when handling them in public. "You have to be careful because you never know who is watching, and it can really upset people if they think you're mishandling a baby," George said.
At Mayfest in Bennington, Vt., this year, someone reported them to the information booth because the person had felt they needed to be talked to about having their newborns out in the sun too long, George said.
"We had gone to do some advertising, and we were both carrying dolls around from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.," she said.
George and Crosier have been selling their "reborn" dolls at Summer Sundays in Williamstown, and plan to be at the Apple Squeeze in Lenox in the fall. They also have a Facebook page for the business.