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...

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