Impatient for grandkids? Just buy them

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[Tokyo] Who needs real grandkids when you can buy them for just under a hundred bucks? Two Japanese companies have tapped into a growing market for lifestyle products aimed at older Japanese, who have free time and high disposable incomes, by collaborating on a line of baby dolls for senior citizens. The dolls help wannabe grandparents and great-grandparents cope with the significant drop in birthrates and marriages in that country over the past generation. "One of their biggest nightmares is that they'll never be able to meet their grandchildren. These sophisticated dolls make their wish come true," said Dave McCaughan, senior VP-director of strategic planning at Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, Tokyo. The dolls, introduced earlier this year by toy producer Tomy and bedding company Lofty, are equipped with robot technology, have a vocabulary with over 1,200 words and even sing songs. Japan already has a tradition of electronic household companions, such as Sony's robot dog, Aibo, but, unlike the dolls, earlier products were not "soft, cuddly and lifelike," said Mr. McCaughan.
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