We're talking about the hundreds of adults who have become the proud "parents" of WerePups – ultra-lifelike dolls modelled on a cross between a baby and a werewolf.
The cult creations, which are as as realistic as they are repulsive, are all hand-made, unique and priced at up to $1,000 (£765) – but that hasn't stopped fans from snapping up WerePups faster than they can be manufactured.
In fact, the dolls have spawned a huge following and created a community of owners who are happy to spend thousands more lavishing their pup with clothes and accessories.
They'll even strap their hairy pup into a pram and take it out for walks – often attracting horrified stares from passers-by.
And for many parents, the dolls have become as real as human babies, with the community of owners (who call themselves "the pack") taking to Facebook groups to share parenting tips with other "mums and dads".
WerePups made with real teeth and lost chemo hair
If you're currently screwing your face up in confusion, then you're not alone.
Even Holly and Phil struggled to hide their bafflement when the proud owner of a family of WerePups appeared on This Morning to talk about her hairy brood.
"The first time I saw a WerePup I did a quadruple take," admitted Yvette, from Burbank, California who has nine pups and spent spent more than £10,000 on accessories alone.
"I had to keep turning around and looking because I wasn't quite sure what I was seeing," she added. "Then I realised: that's a little werewolf baby. And I just fell in love."
Like many wolf "parents", Yvette first laid eyes on one of the hairy little critters at a horror convention.
It's here where many fans fall for the kooky creatures, which are often either bought as a rare accessory or as an unconventional substitute for a real baby. Some buyers have even asked for wolves modelled on lost pets.
"They're expensive – I didn't get one right away," Yvette says. "But I eventually got one, and now I have a whole family of them."
One of her babies was made with her own hair, which she lost while undergoing chemotherapy, while another was custom-made to include a pair of real teeth from a cat skeleton she had found.
WerePups naturally attract a lot of attention in public, particularly when their owners are carrying them around as if they are real babies.
Earlier this year, a WerePup parent freaked out an entire carriage full of passengers on the Subway when he was spotted cradling one of the creatures on his lap.
As Yvette says: "A lot of people don't say anything – they just stare. It's always nice when people do come up and say something."
Plugging hair in strand by strand
WerePups are becoming an international phenomenon, but their biggest audience is currently in the States.
It's here, in a family home in the town of Coaldale, Pennsylvania, where artist Asia Eriksen painstakingly creates every single WerePup by hand.
The special effects expert, 34, casts the baby wolves from a series of moulds before detailing and painting them, and then applying the hair one strand at a time, in a process which can take up to three weeks from start to finish.
"It's a fairly tedious process," Asia admits. "You have to sit with a little needle and plug hair into it. Most of the time I spend doing this – it's the longest part."
Since 2010, Asia has made and shipped out over 300 WerePups – and there's currently so much demand for her work that she's had to temporarily stop taking orders.
Even the legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper has bought one, although his – complete with his iconic eye make-up – is arguably more creepy than usual.
Alice has even used his pup as a tour prop, dangling it from one hand on stage and holding it as he sings.
The 'laboratory' where pups come to life
Horror fanatic Asia works from a "laboratory" in her home, which is scattered with clumps of hair, dismembered wolf heads and clay baby limbs which look eerily like the real deal.
These creations look so convincing because they are coated in silicone – the same material used to make sex dolls – to give the skin a lifelike feel and to ensure that the wolf's body is weighted like a real baby's.
"When people ask if WerePups are real, it's incredibly rewarding," she says.
"Just to think that, if only for a moment, I somehow made somebody believe in an impossible creature."
The idea behind WerePups came from a film called Silver Bullet, where there's a scene which briefly shows a baby werewolf being cradled by its mother.
Asia was fascinated by imagining what a werewolf pup would really look like, and so she set about making her own model with a hand from her husband Anders, a fellow special effects artist.
She then started putting her creations in nappies and dresses and taking "litters" of wolves along to horror conventions, where she soon found that people were willing to hand over thousand for their very own bespoke baby monster.
Today, with hundreds of WerePups out in the wild, there is a whole community of "parents" who have bonded over their love for the creepy creatures.
A Facebook page called WerePup Mammas and Papas lets people share photos of their pups and discuss caring for them in the same way as the many online communities dedicated to parenting.
The only difference is that when these mums and dads talk about their "little monsters", they really mean it in a literal sense.
Source: Read Full Article