Link Roundup! “Breaking Bad” Dolls, Men’s Watches, Last Call for Holiday Flights

+ Sorry, guys. Since a Florida mom complained, you can’t buy “Breaking Bad” action figures at Toys R Us anymore. Note: the NPR article about this story uses “dolls” and “action figures” interchangeably, but I feel like I read something in the New Yorker once delineating the subtle but fascinating distinctions between the categories — which matter a lot for import tax reasons. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Did I dream it, like I dreamed last night that I got mauled by someone’s pet tiger? (“He’s usually very friendly,” the person said, cleaning my wounds.)

+ Remember those happy days when there was a clear hierarchy to men’s watches?

If you’re scaling your way up the ladder of rich douchiness, you start with a middle-class-friendly Casio or Timex. After your first six figures in the finance industry, you move to an “entry-level” luxury watch, like a Rolex, by 30. Then, in your 40s, if you’re lucky, you park your annual bonus on a high-end Swiss number. And in your 50s, feeling both flush and the literal press of time, you rock the equivalent of a Porsche on your wrist, before passing it on to the next generation as a family heirloom.

But since 2007, the whole system has been disrupted by something called “the Ice-Watch” (??), at least in Europe, where everyone, even rich people, wants the cool fun watch that costs only $200. The best part of this article is that it says the Ice-Watch “cock-blocked Swatch.” Wow. Mike would wash our mouths out with soap if we talked like that.

+ Haven’t purchased your flights home for the holidays yet? There’s still time, maybe! A little time, not much. Some years the cheapest flights appear 10 days out, right before prices spike. And holiday flights are actually super expensive in July and August, to punish those of you who might otherwise feel good about being on the ball.

Job of the Day: Maker of Life-Size Sex Dolls

This Atlantic article about the sex doll industry is even-handed and fair minded and still made me feel kind of queasy. I mean, if it helps certain frustrated or socially awkward men feel like they have a much-needed sexual outlet, great! Right?

The realism and utility of sex dolls took a giant leap forward in the late 90s, when artist Matt McCullen started working on a lifelike silicone female mannequin and documenting its progress on his website. Before long, he began getting emails asking if it was … anatomically correct. At the time, it wasn’t. But the demand was there, and so McCullen provided the supply. Hence, the eerily lifelike RealDoll was born. After shock jock Howard Stern got hold of one and seemingly had sex with it on his radio show, McCullen’s company grew quickly, and he now sells anywhere from 200 to 300 high-end customizable sex dolls per year.

Most of McCullen’s dolls are female; he makes a small number of male ones, but there are fewer options for customizing them, and they account for just 10 percent of his sales. “As an artist, I was always drawn to the female form, so that’s what my subject matter was,” McCullen says. “The female form was my muse.” He insists that actual women have nothing to fear from his dolls. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Do I think the dolls will replace women or threaten to replace women? Absolutely not.”

I did some research (NSFW) and discovered that prices peaked last year at $1,000 per doll and have now come down to about half that for certain models. You can buy a stationary female companion who will never laugh at or leave you for as little as $350, or less if you’re not particular and don’t mind the absence of a head or limbs. On the other end of the spectrum, one that looks like Joan Holloway Harris costs $1,600. (No, I will not provide a link.) For that much, I imagine you could enjoy the company — and then the memories — of an actual buxom redhead, but maybe some people really prefer the fantasy/approximation of the experience to the experience itself.

For whatever reason, the dolls on the page I’m looking at look racially homogenous: white or Asian, though with cartoonishly exaggerated boobs and hips, such that if you tried to stand them up, they’d tip over. McCullen, I’m sure there’s a demand for other ethnicities! Get on that, okay? No pun intended.

The Hustle of a Doll Maker: A Chat with Cinnamon Willis

Cinnamon, a former coworker of mine, started making dolls over two years ago. She works out of her Bronx one-bedroom at night, after coming home from her full-time graphic design job.