What’s scarier than a doll? A wide-eyed, open-mouthed baby doll. And what’s even more terrifying than that baby doll? One that’s deliberately been taken apart, painted and “all dolled up” into a vampire, zombie or even a werewolf.
If you haven’t heard of reborn dolls, you’re late to the game: refurbishing factory-made dolls is a 15-year-old phenomenon. Today, there are kits specifically designed for “reborn artists” to craft their own realistic babies and toddlers.
But about five years ago, an entirely new subcategory arrived on the “reborn doll” scene – horror reborns.
And guess what: they’re not just for pranks or for gracing the owner’s Halloween decor. Reborn “adoptive moms” adore their little monsters and dress, pose and even “feed” them, using bottles mixed to look like blood (for vampires) or toxic waste and body fluids (for little zombies).
What accounts for the phenomenon?
Part of the draw may be the idea of “mothering” a child in need, a practice that – in roleplaying form – isn’t actually new at all. Most grown women, and a few men, will recall having sick days for their dolls as youngsters, when Baby had a fever, was teething and cranky, or just needed an extra cuddle. Reborn monster dolls have a wistful and abandoned quality, tugging at the heartstrings at those with a maternal instinct, it seems.
And with a growing interest across the globe in all things haunted and creepy, reborn monster dolls seem to fit the bill for offbeat and unique collectors.
Perhaps one of the largest draws, though, is the extreme realism of a reborn doll when combined with the creepiness factor.
Reborn dolls are, after all, meant to be as realistic as possible. And though technically there can’t be a realistic zombie or werewolf – since these creatures of the otherworld don’t actually exist – putting the idea onto dimensional skin tone and high-quality glass eyes, as well as carefully rooted hair, give these monster kids a boost of authenticity.
But beware: the scariest thing about these creepy kids may be the price. Reborn dolls can run anywhere from $100-700 or even as much as $1000 or more for the biggest artist names in the business. With their unique (and expensive) additions, monster reborns are often given higher price tags than standard, realistic baby dolls.
But it’s worth it to the collectors who adore their monster creations, and feel the haunted baby dolls earn their price tag for the creepy cuddle factor.
“Holding these dolls is so calming and relaxing,” says horror doll artist Marilyn Mansfield of Krypt Kiddies, UK. “The experience is very absorbing.”