Sandra and Brendon Moffatt designed the life-like newborn mannequins. (Supplied: StandInBaby)
It started as a tool to keep babies safe at photoshoots, but two Brisbane photographers say their newborn mannequins are set to rock the medical training world.
The world-first articulated doll was dreamt up inside Sandra and Brendon Moffatt’s Springfield studio.
Ms Moffatt was working with an inexperienced assistant when she realised how risky practising poses with infants could be.
To create those whimsical baby photographs you see on social media, photographers have to learn how to move delicate baby bodies, build safe supports and understand which effects are best left to Photoshop.
“We went out to try and buy one of the mannequins but they weren’t invented yet, so we had to step up to the plate and make one.”
The doll’s joints can be moved to recreate popular baby photography poses. (Supplied: StandInBaby)
Mr Moffatt told ABC Radio Brisbane he set a budget of $30,000 and six months to finish a design.
“It ended up costing us $220,000 of our own personal money and around one-and-a-half years in design alone,” he said.
It took another six months for the Moffatts to start manufacturing newborn mannequins to fill $500,000 worth of pre-orders collected during the development process.
A research trip to China to learn the ins and outs of manufacturing the medical-grade components to build each doll was part of their preparation.
The couple also appeared on Australian business investment television program Shark Tank in May.
Sandra and Brendon Moffatt pitched their newborn mannequin idea to judges on the Shark Tank. (Supplied: StandInBaby)
Ms Moffatt said they were in the due diligence stage of an investment deal with two of the show’s entrepreneurs Andrew Banks and Glen Richards.
The duo has shipped mannequins to 91 countries, including the United States, and said they wanted to expand into other industries.
“When we decided to do this, and we did decide on a whim, we went home and the first thing we typed into a computer was: ‘how to invent something’,” Ms Moffatt laughed.
“We went from there using Google and learned everything we know right now.”
Poses can be rehearsed with mannequins before the real photoshoot starts. (Supplied: Gill Iam)
‘Creepy’ babies useful to medicine
Photographs of the stand-in baby swaddled in soft-coloured fabric, crocheted headbands and surrounded by miniscule props look eerily realistic.
She said it was designed to “flop and fall” in a person’s arms like a real baby and resemble the weight of a newborn.
“We actually find it affectionate,” she said.
“Generally people who find it realistic, the word they come up with is ‘creepy’.
“That means it feels good in your arms and you just don’t know how to associate it.”
The doll’s articulated arms and legs mirror the flexibility and movement of a real newborn. (Supplied: StandInBaby)
The majority of mannequins sold so far had been bought by photographers to practise posing newborns, but Ms Moffatt said the master plan was to find other uses for them.
She said they had a part to play in antenatal classes, doll therapy sessions for dementia patients and as a medical training tool for radiographers.
“You can’t just keep taking x-rays of a baby to learn, so you do need something you can practise on,” she said.
The Moffatts want health workers to use their mannequin as a training tool. (Supplied: StandInBaby)
Being in the business of manufacturing hundreds of baby parts has some creepy consequences.
Ms Moffatt admitted her garage was brimming with baby mannequins and spare heads waiting for a new home.
“We didn’t realise but there’s a huge need in the photography prop field for just the heads,” she laughed.
“They’re sitting there in plastic bags so that’s where it does get creepy.”