Shoppers go ga-ga over pregnant doll
TOKYO, Japan -- Barbie, long an icon among toys for little girls, has evolved over the years.
But the-plastic-one's long blonde hair and wide eyes now has a new companion in Japanese toyland replete with a maternity dress and a distinctive pregnant bulge to that formerly model thin figure.
Like her Western counterpart who has a steady man in the form of Ken, Japan's Licca-chan has Frantz -- her husband and excited father-to-be.
Licca-chan's unresponsive gaze shields a colorful past. She's the daughter of diplomats who has had several rumored romantic liaisons in the past -- all of which add to her appeal to all ages.
"I like her because she is cute," says eight year-old Yumi Yamakawa.
However, Licca-chan's pregnancy is proving a challenge for mothers whose daughters adore their diminutive friend.
"As Licca-chan has become pregnant, my daughter is really surprised. She does not understand really what happened to Licca-chan, " says Yumi's mother Miyuki.
Licca-chan's pregnancy is not expected to be a long one.
"When you send a postcard to the 'stork department' at Takara, within two weeks you will receive a baby doll and a special key," says Hiroshi Kobayashi, general manager of Takara Co., which manufactures the doll.
"With this key you can deflate Licca-chan's belly to pre-pregnancy proportions."
There are several reasons for Licca-chan's impending motherhood.
She's celebrating her 35th anniversary next year, and there's also the flurry of interest surrounding all things to do with babies since Crown Princess Masako's pregnancy announcement.
" I bought it because I think it's a quite rare Licca-chan version and also I think it will be a nice commemorative item to celebrate Princess Masako's delivery," said Maki Tanikawa, a 25 year-old doll collector.
The new doll costs a little under $30 and Takara expects to sell about 10,000 in this first year.
"Since sales of pregnant Licca-chan started… women of all ages, from small girls to women in their thirties to forties, rushed here to buy them," said Harumi Ogishima, spokeswoman of Hakuhinkan Toy Park, one of Japan's largest toy shops.
Takara officials said orders were trickling into the "stork department" for a baby and a key.
Asked about the connection between the timing of the pregnant doll's launch and the fact that Japan's Crown Princess Masako has just had a baby daughter, Takara's Kobayashi said it was a lucky coincidence.
"It's delightful news for us," he said.
See related sites about World
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
WORLD TOP STORIES:
Blix: 'Iraq could do more'
N. Korea warns of nuclear conflict
Serb hardliner refuses to plead
NASA: Flight-deck video found
Caracas tense after bombs
|Back to the top|