From personifying one's perfect companion to serving as a (pricy) sex toy or a gag gift for a friend, the world of sex dolls is becoming vastly populated with a diverse selection of lifelike (some more than others) figures to satisfy their predominantly male customer base.
We begin our study of the evolution of sex dolls with the classic inflatable sex doll. Beloved for her eagerly wide-open mouth and vacant stare, this bachelor party staple is often not taken very seriously as a device for sexual pleasure.
We’re finding that a lot of couples want to enjoy sexual exploration without bringing another person into their relationship.
“Most of the customers we see in the store buy inflatable dolls as gag gifts, as opposed to using them for actual sex,” says Raichael from Love Stuff and More, located in Hamilton, N.J. “People shopping for a gag gift for a friend or a bachelorette/bachelor party are looking for a laugh. They don't usually want to spend a lot of money on the item — and in fact, it seems that they gravitate more toward less realistic looking dolls, for the entertainment value.”
Manufacturers such as Pipedream Products have perfected the art of comical novelty blow-up dolls with celebrity-inspired personalities such as Just-In Beaver, Britney Bitch and Kinky Kim.
“Our Pipedream Products blow-up babes range from basic dolls to our life-size love dolls, including a plus-size love doll, so we provide an experience for every desire,” said Sunny Rodgers, resident sexologist and brand manager. “Each of our blow-up dolls is made for sexual penetration. Sure, some can be considered gag gifts due to their specific box design. But they can also provide a satisfying sex play encounter.
“What pleases each particular user is up to their own personal tastes,” Rodgers says. “However, we do get daily fan mail singing the praises of our blow-up babes.”
Autumn O’Bryan, COO of veteran pleasure product manufacturer Topco Sales, notes how inflatable dolls have evolved to serve as more than a joke.
“Inflatable dolls are often enjoyed as a joke or novelty because of the stigma attached to them, and the traditional (and cheap) versions really aren’t meant to be enjoyed fully — they have sharp seams and balloon-like textures that just don’t feel that great,” she said. “But Topco Sales has always understood that there’s marketable appeal for inflatable dolls — especially our new Penthouse CyberSkin doggystyle dolls — because they’re lightweight, easy to maneuver and store, and much more affordable.”
The Penthouse CyberSkin doggstyle dolls combine the inflatable body of a classic love doll with a realistic CyberSkin vagina and ass sleeve that’s removable and easy to clean between uses.
“That way, users can enjoy the affordable and physically manageable benefits of an inflatable product but with the realistic physical experience that’s as close to the real thing as one can get,” O’Bryan said.
The affordability of inflatable dolls is an important selling point that allows consumers to explore their fantasies as well as purchase multiple varieties. Retailing for less than $60, inflatable dolls are an economical alternative to full-size silicone or thermoplastic rubber (TPR) dolls that can cost thousands of dollars.
“Inflatable sex dolls are more than just a balloon or inflatable toy; they have life-like features and are made for penetration,” said Jackie White, executive vice president of CalExotics. “Vibrating bullets and other toys can be used with the dolls to heighten their pleasure. Using a quality lubricant can also help users take advantage of every sensation.
“You may think that sex dolls are a great gag gift or fun party prop, but we have found that many shoppers are men who want to explore sexual fantasies with more realism than a traditional masturbator,” she said. “They want to experience different varieties of pleasure that come from making love. Sex dolls are perfect for those looking to explore new positions, new fantasies, and new ways of pleasure.”
Branding plays a distinct role in the sex appeal of a doll. CalExotics’ Vivid Raw line offers life-size inflatable dolls inspired by the famous porn studio’s stars.
“Vivid is the leader in adult entertainment and has an extensive network of popular adult models and performers,” White said. “Fans of Vivid have probably fantasized about sleeping with a Vivid model or performer, and now they can with the Vivid Raw collection.”
Topco Sales also has tapped into the star power of porn brands with its CyberSkin Reality Girl series of life-size dolls modeled after Penthouse Pets. On top of that, Topco’s CyberSkin branding also is credited for its popularity.
“The CyberSkin name carries major weight in mainstream and when shoppers see the brand, they know they’re getting the most realistic version of that product possible,” O’Bryan said. “The Virtual Sex Ultra line can be great options for people who aren’t in the market for a full-size doll — they’re more affordable, easier to care for, easier to hold and use, and much easier to store after use.”
Another affordable yet comparable alternative to sex dolls are torso-sized masturbators.
“These products are an investment that provides the physical sensation that users crave but without parts that likely won’t be used,” O’Bryan said. “Not every doll user needs or even wants an oral orifice, a realistic-looking face and hair, or the bulky limbs of a full-size product. It’s as much an expense issue as a logistics problem. Torso-sized masturbators are easier to care for and store between uses.”
While specialty manufacturers like RealDoll are paving the way for sex robots with its Harmony doll that features sophisticated animatronic and artificial intelligence technology, their exorbitant price tags don’t exactly make them accessible to the masses. To cater to the growing interest in sex dolls, manufacturers such as Topco and Pipedream, among others, are raising the bar for more affordable sex dolls with impressive features, quality and technology.
Topco offers two versions of its groundbreaking CyberSkin Twerking Butt — the Classic version that offers a “sensual massage” feature that simulates clenching while the Deluxe version twerks. The Twerking Butt can be controlled with the included remote or from a smartphone (Android or iOS) or tablet.
Topco’s CyberSkin Elite Jackhammer Multi-Sensation Pussy & Ass is a remote-controlled automatic masturbator that warms to lifelike temperature and delivers realistic tugging and pulling motions.
“‘Automated sex’ products — including sex machines, robots and mechanical masturbators — are the future for this category because the technology keeps getting more human-like and innovative,” O’Bryan said.” The Twerking Butt was such a hit because it was the only product of its kind to provide an automated motion that wasn’t simply a back-and-forth stroke, and when the Climax Elite Jackhammer Pussy & Ass arrived this fall, customers clamored for it. Topco Sales continues to innovate in the ways a product can massage, pulsate, stroke and tug on a user and we’re finding creative ways to incorporate this pleasure technology into our lifelike CyberSkin products.”
Pipedream’s Extreme Toyz collection quickly gained notoriety with the debut of its assortment of life-size Mega Masturbator torsos, Fuck Me Silly Bubble Butts and the Hot Water Face Fucker, which have become an internet sensation thanks to its product demo videos that went viral online.
“Our Pipedream Extreme Toyz collection is extremely popular,” Rodgers said. “While our current favorites are the Fuck Me Silly Bubble Butts, our soon-to-be-released Pipedream Extreme Toyz Dirty Talk collection is already garnering fans because of the erotic speech technology that these products boast.
“The Dirty Talk collection consists of intimate products that create a sensory pleasure experience with erotic communication to increase sexual arousal exponentially. The brain is a more powerful sexual organ than genitalia because it’s where sex drive stems from. Dirty talk excites the mind like no other source of stimulation, thereby adding a unique, heightened level of intense pleasure to every masturbation session.”
While sex dolls are more likely to be purchased online directly from the manufacturer — where customization is available with the click of a mouse, full-size sex dolls are making their way into brick-and-mortar stores.
“The retail store is a perfect place for a sex doll,” says Raichel. “While shopping for a doll online might be more discreet than purchasing at a brick-and-mortar location, a lot of doll buyers take into account that shipping isn't always free, and they have to wait until the item arrives. While buying a sex doll isn't exactly an impulse buy, a lot of customers come in knowing that they want it, and don't want the hassle of waiting for it to arrive. Plus, our stores will happily get rid of the packaging if asked, which means the customer doesn't have to worry about hiding the garbage from the neighbors.”
Pipedream Products recently began shipping its new Ultimate Fantasy Dolls — Kitty and Carmen. The brunette-headed Carmen and the blond Kitty each feature posable steel skeletons inside their 5’5” and 5’6” figures with realistic features.
“The Ultimate Fantasy Dolls are life-size, standing just over five feet tall, and have a super-strong stainless steel skeleton with moveable and bendable joints that are ready to pose however users wish,” Rodgers said. “These dolls are created with amazing attention to detail from their facial features to their posable fingers with painted fingernails to the tip of their realistic toes. Our Ultimate Fantasy Dolls even come with a heating element to help provide the most realistic sex play experience available.”
To help customers to best care for Kitty and Carmen, Pipedream provides an extensive “Care & Usage Guide” with every Ultimate Fantasy Doll along with a pair of white cotton gloves, replacement press-on nails and a repair kit. The Care & Usage Guide outlines how to clean, store and care for the dolls.
“We have gone to great lengths to supply consumers with information that will give their Ultimate Fantasy Doll the longest life possible,” Rodgers said. “Our Guide includes internal and external cleaning and maintenance; foot, skin and hair care; and make-up removal and application; plus storage and overall long-term care.”
Last year, SexToyDistributing.com became the exclusive distributor of NextGen love dolls. Among their offerings is a male sex doll with a detachable penis that lets users interchange with their favorite harness-compatible dildos. The dolls are made from a TPR-based material and are reinforced with a bone-like structure and detail that give them a human-like look and feel.
NextGen dolls include Tiffany, a slender blonde with D-cup breasts; Khloe, a curvaceous model with DDD-cup breasts; Helena, a torso-only model; and the aforementioned male doll, Dorian, among others. The female models can be penetrated orally and anally, and come with wigs and accessories.
“At SexToyDistributing.com, we offer a 30-day guarantee for NextGen love dolls, so if issues arise, users can email us and we’ll handle the issue right away,” SexToyDistributing.com Marketing Specialist Morgan Panzino said. “We always reach out to the manufacturer direct to find out if we can provide replacement parts or send additional solutions, and we make sure to remind customers that they should use spray toy cleaner after each use, sprinkle corn starch on the material to keep its soft texture, and always store the doll somewhere protected from lint and dust.
“Also, water-based lubricant is essential for NextGen dolls — silicone- and oil-based lubes sometimes affect the unique smooth texture of the realistic materials, and we want to be sure users have the most pleasurable experience possible!”
Launched in 2012, 1am Doll USA specializes in customizable dolls available in life-size and made from TPE or platinum silicone with a metal skeleton, as well as inflatable and fabric dolls. 1am Doll USA’s Signature Starlets series features dolls modeled after adult stars Katie Morgan, Luna Star and Misty Stone.
“With a selection of 25 bodies in various shapes and sizes; over 50 different faces; multiple skin tones, eye colors, and even finger and toe nail colors, 1am Doll USA offers customers a chance to build their very own dream girl,” said James Bartholet, 1am Doll USA’s publicist.
According to Bartholet, 1am Doll USA’s dolls can last users more than five years if properly maintained and handled. To extend the life of the doll, Bartholet suggests keeping the doll clean and dry.
“The care is not much di1amfferent from a masturbator cup, just on a much larger scale,” he said. “We do sell replacement parts, maintenance items and we also provide technical support to our customers over the lifetime of their product.”
WM Dolls (MyHiddenDoll.com) started as mannequin manufacturer but customers found them so lifelike that the company decided to offer the dolls as functioning pleasure products. Earlier this year, the company was featured in a HBO “Vice News Tonight” segment titled “AI Sex Dolls Are Driving China’s Sexual Revolution.” Per the report, WM Dolls controls about 20 percent of the sex doll market and produces about 30,000 of its dolls per year — each of which can cost up to $10,000.
The company’s dolls can be upgraded with features such as self-heating and sound. WM Dolls also is developing AI-powered dolls. According to WM Dolls’ Michael W., the company sells its products primarily through online resellers and it recently launched a factory-to-consumer platform, MyHiddenDoll.com to serve customers from all around the world.
“The factory-to-customer model makes it possible for us to offer the same products at a cheaper price and better service,” he said.
Michael W. offered some insight regarding the demographic of WM Dolls’ male-centric clientele.
“For male buyers, they are most likely divorced men — otaku (in Japan), or a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills, a widower, or men that live away from their wives.”
Bartholet thinks that further development of dolls is needed in order to create options that are better suited for female users.
“We believe in the future with the progression of technology, such as lighter material that will affect the weight of a product, or internal robotics, women could become more interested,” he said. “Right now love dolls are very heavy averaging about 75 pounds. That's 75 pounds of ‘dead weight,’ making it difficult for some people to utilize the doll in the manner for which it is designed. Not only would a doll be very heavy and difficult to maneuver for some women, it would also have limited positioning for sex with a woman.”
Michael W., suggests that even the estimated 20 percent of WM Dolls’ customers that are women are purchasing dolls for their male partner.
“For female buyers, they are most likely a pregnant wife buying a doll for her husband, or are buying the doll as a gift for her boyfriend,” he said, adding that women also buy dolls to fulfill their partner’s fantasies — ”a wife with small breasts might buy a big-breasted doll for her husband who has that fetish, or she may buy a doll to have a threesome with her partner.”
Rodgers also points out the trend of customers using sex dolls as a couples’ toy.
“Doll buyers are predominately men, with single women being the smallest group of purchasers,” she said. “However, there are quite a few couples who purchase dolls together. We’re finding that a lot of couples want to enjoy sexual exploration without bringing another person into their relationship and our Ultimate Fantasy Dolls provide exactly what these couples are seeking.”