As the unemployed father of a 4-year-old daughter who is starting to notice the ads on TV and in magazines for Christmas toys, I worry about the high-priced gifts from Santa that she may soon start asking for.

And along comes the $95 Maru doll, which is supposed to be the hottest new doll of the year and received the 2008 iParenting Greatest Products Award. As a new dad, I don't know if $95 is out of line for a doll, especially a new and popular one, but I do know there are at least three other dolls in our house that could be used as doorstops because they're certainly not being used as playthings.

Maru is 8, incredibly realistic-looking with fashionable clothes, and has arrived in the United States from a country that isn't named to live with her aunt and uncle. She comes with a storybook (don't all dolls?) that details how her new friends are helping her adapt in her new country.


The company's web site offers some details on her background, but not much. Her parents are alive and told her never to forget how much they love her before they put her on an airplane. "This separation was only for a little while," Chapter One begins. We can only imagine the reasons: Divorce, money problems.

I did find out that Maru is Hispanic, and so as part of her pre-holiday brand building, the doll will be having her photo taken withLatin music stars Nov. 11-13 in Houston at the Latin Grammy Awards gifts lounge. Maybe one of the performers who doesn't have a daughter will take pity on me and send me a doll in an effort to help teach my kid about cultural and ethnic diversity. Or maybe, like the Cabbage Patch Kids craze 20 years ago, I'll buy one now at $95 in the hope that it will turn into an investment and I can resell it for double the cost.

Aaron Crowe is a former reporter and editor at newspapers in California. He writes about his search for work, and being a full-time dad of a young daughter, at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com


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