Grandma, It's Just A Doll

Think you're lonely? A $65 doll that complains, catches cold and demands Christmas presents has a fanatic following in Japan--among grownups. Primo Puel, the computerized toy, develops a "personality" based on how it's treated, bleating out 285 phrases in the voice of a 5-year-old boy. Japanese toy giant Bandai first marketed the doll to children. Instead, says a spokeswoman, 70% of the 800,000 sold have gone to women ages 40 and older--"grandparents, childless couples, single-child families."

Etsuko Kashiwagi, 47, has 16 of them. She buys the dolls clothing and toys, and she and her husband take them on trips, posting on...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!