Every year kids enjoy the dolls. They are some of our favorite things.
But this group is really enjoying using the dolls. If we have only 1 or 2 out, they will ask for all of them.
As I watch my kids use and play with the dolls, I notice that they are practicing being caring. They carefully wrap them in blankets. They carry them close from place to place. They feed them and change the clothes to something more "suitable" (as defined by the current parent).
Practicing ways to care for someone else is important. Dolls don't care if you drop them on the floor or hit their heads on the wall. Dolls don't care if you forget about them for a little while so you can paint a picture or play a game.
But kids can show concern for the dolls. They can think about needs and ways to meet them. They can begin to think beyond themselves.
Dolls may not be "real" but the skills they develop certainly are.