Workers attend to dummies in a factory. [File photo]
Tao Bao, a voice actress in Beijing, bought herself an inflatable doll for her company. She bathes her, dresses her and takes her along to parties, where according to the young woman, the presence of the doll can boost her confidence on stage.
She said she treats the doll like her daughter.
"In the eyes of many, the blow-up dolls are not merely sexual instruments, but spouses and companions," said Yang Dongyue, an owner of a manufacturing base for the production of inflatable dolls.
Yang started his business in 2009 after walking through a Tokyo avenue containing inflatable dolls.
Driven by his business acumen, Yang believed the doll can tap into China’s adult products market. So he bought two dolls back home hoping to make some money from them.
During his nine-year stint in Japan after graduating from a high school in China, Yang didn’t focus much on study but devoted much of his time to odd jobs.
"I had a variety of jobs such as a construction worker, cook, dish washer, cleaner and advertisement distributor," Yang recalled.
It was not until he discovered the doll that his entrepreneurship entered into full swing.
He took the toy apart in order to observe the internal structure, taking photos and then putting it back together. But he failed to restore the original look of the doll because the connective parts and joints of the doll were obscure.
His attempt to make high-end blow-up dolls met strong opposition from his family as his father told him that no one in this family tree has ever forayed into such business areas. He argued with his father, who slapped him with his slipper and expelled him out of home.
Sex was a taboo in China’s old society, where old people would stereotype adult products as obscene, let alone the business of inflatable dolls. However, they have already been widely used in the developed world including the United States, Europe and Japan.
"We, who have grown up in a conservative society, are different from today’s young people brought up in an era of great openness," Hu, a 53-year-old manager in Yang’s blow-up doll factory.
To master the technique Yang started to make screw caps, joints, structures and ultimately, the molds. When they first poured the silicone inside the structure, it failed to stay in the upper part of the doll, so they poured the silicone a second time which resulted in a mold full of pores.
With their relentless efforts, they produced the first successful doll in 2011, thanks to the introduction of skilled technicians and overseas techniques.
Their future plan is to transform the inflatable doll into a smart robot, where they can receive audio orders and work as housekeepers.