Love Doll 101
Love dolls are built to simulate sex. They are sometimes called sex dolls or party dolls, but in the US, they are often known as love dolls.
Love dolls vary widely in quality and type, but they can be easily categorized by what they're made out of, rather than by features offered, because you can find different features all across the spectrum.
The best dolls are solid. They look the best because they're usually made from molds that are made from real women (or men). They are also far more durable. The bad part about them is that they're usually large and they take up a lot of space; and many people who own dolls want them discretely hidden away.
Inflatable dolls are far less expensive and have the advantage of being much easier to store because they deflate. They're also much lighter and easier to move around. The downsides are many, including the fact that they simply don't look realistic and they are not very durable.
That said, let's go down the types of dolls from generally most to generally least expensive.
Silicone Love Dolls:
Dolls made of silicone are solid. They usually have a frame made of metal or PVC pipe and joints that simulates a skeleton, and silicone is poured around it. This gives the body some rigidity and allows for more human-like bending at the joints. Silicone is great because it's somewhat soft but dense enough to give the feeling of skin.
Dolls made of silicone are generally very expensive, but they look the best. Real Dolls, which most people consider the Cadillac of sex dolls, cost some $6,000 US, but they're made to order and they look great. Many people buy them just to dress them and take photos. The two major downsides to them are their weight (100lbs of dead weight) and a certain fragility to them--they have to be taken care of properly or the silicone will tear.
For less money, other companies have been competing with mixed results. But by offering fewer options, they can lower prices. 1st-pc.com offers fewer dolls and options, but their prices are about half what Abyss wants for a RealDoll.
An option for people who want a high-end doll without the full price is simply to buy a torso. Both Abyss, 1st-PC and others sell a torso version--the body of the girl minus the arms, legs, and sometimes the head. The visuals are less, but you may find enough is still left to be interesting. They're also lighter and easier to move around and store than a full-size doll.
Dolls made of foam are solid, and have the visual advantage of a solid doll--they're often cast from a real woman so they look good, but being foam they weigh a lot less. Some of the japanese foam dolls are incredible looking. High quality foamies are still expensive (particularly the beautiful japanese ones) but are still less expensive than silicone. One foamie, the Hustler Virtual Girl, is relatively inexpensive--going for around $500 US.
One advantage that the foamies have over many silicone dolls is that they don't even try to mold the entries, just leave a hollow space. You buy an insert and put it in place and hump that. Even though it doesn't look as realistic, removable inserts mean you can find something you like--smooth, lightly ribbed, heavily ribbed, tight, loose, etc., and remove it for cleaning. Silicone dolls often have the entries molded in, which means that if you don't like the feel, you're stuck with it. If the entry slackens over time (and they do), you may not like it. And they're much more difficult to wash (try taking a 100lb Real Doll into the shower with you).
The final two types of dolls are typically inflatable.
Latex Love Dolls:
Latex dolls are relatively new. They tend to be more durable than traditional vinyl, but the dolls typically have the most balloon-like quality to them. They usually have few features and a smooth sleeve insert. They're also more expensive than vinyl dolls, typically running $200 to $400 US.
Vinyl Love Dolls:
The age-old favorite. Vinyl dolls are the old standbys, and still the highest selling because they're the cheapest. Prices vary from $20 US for the cheapest novelty to $300 or so for the (relatively) good-looking porn-star models. At the top of the price range you're typically paying for a porn-star's name.
Vinyls come in so many variations that they're often sold under many different names with very few differences between them. The same doll with a different wig may sell as two different dolls at different prices.
Among vinyl dolls, you're typically buying features on the doll. Even though there's a lot of variation in price, you tend to get what you pay for, so here's an idea of what you get:
The very cheapest dolls are meant as gag gifts. They're somewhat small (under 5-feet fully inflated), the hands and feet have no fingers or toes, the breasts are often just markings on the torso, the "hair" and face are painted on. There is typically one entry, but sometimes you get three (vagina, anus and mouth), which are smooth vinyl sleeves. The plastic is typically one ply and may be poorly made, so they won't take much use before they leak. Pinholes aren't bad because they can be patched, but a tear in the seam can be very difficult or impossible to patch.
The problem with smooth sleeves (and this is particularly a problem with Latex dolls) is that they're smooth. So with some lube you just glide on a layer of lubricant and you get very little feeling in return. Cheap dolls really are meant for gag gifts where they are meant to be inflated and laughed at but never really fucked, or for horny teens who'll poke it in anything and want a change from humping socks and hollowed cantelopes.
Better dolls have wigs, molded fingers and toes, and molded breasts (either solid or inflatable) with nipples. The ones with vibrating action typically come with a bullet vibrator that can be inserted in a nearby sleeve. Better ones have mannequin heads that are more attractive (usually by sacrificing an oral entry). But mannequin heads are heavy and will make it harder to position the doll without special support (aka it's not easy to do a Cowgirl position with a doll that has a heavy head, since it doesn't want to stand or sit upright). They are also made of 2 or more ply plastic that should last longer and resist tearing.
The best vinyl dolls typically add molded inserts of silicone or some other material that feel much better than smooth vinyl sleeves, and are typically the toughest.
Many vinyl doll owners complain that the seams bonding the parts together are sharp and chafe the skin. This is usually a bigger problem on cheap dolls, but even high-end dolls may have that problem. And you can almost Never return a doll for any reason. So buyer beware.
1. Very few dolls are actually pictured on the box, because the manufacturers know that if you actually saw the doll, you probably wouldn't buy it. Always try to find an actual picture of the doll first so you won't be bitterly disappointed. Not so important for a cheap doll, but very much on an expensive one.
2. Always spend the time to learn how to take care of your doll, if you want to keep it. With almost all of them, it means learning which materials can and cannot touch it. Some materials, especially the new stuff, will melt when it comes in contact with something it doesn't like. It won't be immediate, but if you stick a dildo in a doll overnight, you may find you have a disaster the next day.
With silicone, it also means learning how to handle it so it doesn't tear or rip, or get deformed. Real Dolls are prone to tears, and many owners, even when they're careful, tear off their dolls' fingers by accident. With vinyl and latex, it means being careful not to burst seams.
3. Almost any doll's appearance is greatly enhanced by lingerie. No kidding. And if you feel foolish dressing your doll up in a nice bra and garter belt and hose--do you feel any more foolish humping a piece of rubber or plastic? If you can find a cache of photos of love dolls on the net, you'll notice that even the cheap vinyls look better in a little sexy lingerie than they do stark naked. Just like most women look better with a little something than completely nude.
4. If you find something good, tell the world. Write a review. Use a fake name if you have to. But there are so many bad dolls out there that any information is good to know. Even if all you do is describe the doll, it'll help someone else down the road with a decision.
5. Have fun. If you're going to hump a piece of plastic or rubber, you can't take things too seriously, can you?
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