Just a note

It appears this blog is getting a bit of traffic so I thought I’d make a new post. In case you were wondering why there haven’t been any updates in almost a year, this blog was originally created for a class. The class has been over for a while now, but I’ve left the site up in case anyone would find the information here useful. I’m happy to see that people are indeed finding it helpful!

I may start writing here again in the future (let me know if this is something you’d like to see and if you have any topic requests). But, in the meantime, I do have comment notifications turned on. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have about BJDs and I will be happy to answer!

Hobby Culture

The hobby culture of the BJD community is an interesting topic. In recent years, the community has been expanding worldwide.

Creative Aspects

As previously discussed, one of the unique things about the hobby are the creative aspects. Some doll owners take to creating almost all of the customizations of their doll themselves, which can then be entered into competitions at BJD-related conventions and events. These customizations can be in the face-up, wig, clothing, or modifications of the doll. Some hobbyists even recreate doll-sized replicas of famous high fashion pieces.

Eclipse21, a hobbyist known for her high-quality mohair wigs, created an outfit inspired by Alexander McQueen’s Angels and Demons collection, as seen in the photo above (along with a wig created by herself).

Photography is another creative aspect of the hobby. Doll owners use their BJDs as models and some even create elaborate photoshoots using doll-sized props. Many BJD photographs can be found on websites like DeviantArt and Flickr.

Character Creation

It is common for owners to give their dolls personalities and background stories for fun. These are often based on an original creation–writing or otherwise–with the doll bought as a physical embodiment of a pre-existing character. Other doll owners, however, may create a persona after buying the doll or customize them to look like a character from popular media, such as a comic book.

Meet-ups and Conventions

With the growing community, there are a number of ways BJD enthusiasts can seek out other doll owners. Doll meet-ups are organized in many cities where owners can meet up with their dolls. People new to the hobby who do not yet have a doll of their own are also welcome to meet-ups. Meet-ups serve as a good way to see many doll sculpts in person, as well as chat with people who share the same interest. Here in the DFW area, for example, there is the DFW BJD Dreams group which meets multiple times a month.

Many BJD-related conventions are also popping up around the world. Volks’ Dolls Party (or Dolpa) conventions are perhaps the most well known. Dolpa’s are held in many different Japanese cities, as well as some cities in the US like Los Angeles and New York City. Dollism Plus is an example of a BJD convention held in Hong Kong.

Some American BJD conventions are also becoming more regular. The Ball Jointed Doll Collector’s Convention is held semi-annually in Austin, TX. In San Fransisco there is the GoGaDoll convention.

BJDs are also often seen at anime conventions where owners can attend BJD Panels or buy doll items in the dealer’s room or artist alley.

Image © Eclipse21, used with permission.

Where to Buy: Company Overviews, Part 2

Continuation of the last post.

→ Dollmore

Website: http://dollmore.net
Doll Lines: Kid Dollmore Doll (43.5cm), Dollmore Doll (62cm), Dollpire (43cm-62cm), Model Doll (68cm-75cm), Lusion Doll (80cm)

Dollmore sells a variety of their own dolls, as well as some dolls from smaller companies. Their Dollpire line is dedicated specifically to vampire-inspired dolls, while their Lusion line are very large dolls made to look like a young girls (similar to many bisque artist dolls).

Dollmore also sells many BJD clothes and accessories, as well as some doll-sized furniture and props.

→ Crobidoll

Website: http://crobidolls.com
Doll Lines: E-Line (26cm), C-Line (36cm), R-Line (63cm), M-Line (66cm), B-Line (68cm)

Crobidoll is another Korean company. The majority of their dolls are made to look like pretty and handsome young men and boys. They also offer many high-quality wigs and casual-style clothes for BJDs.

→ Souldoll

Website: http://www.souldoll.com
Doll Lines: Soul-Sweet (26cm), Soul-Kids (40cm), Soul-Vito (50cm), Soul-Double (60cm), Soul-Zenith (70cm)

Souldoll has released some elaborate limiteds with fantasy themes and a tarot card series. Over the years they have also released limited edition dolls based on Korean celebrities, such as actor Lee JunKi, as well as some basic Soul-Double line dolls with a very Korean aesthetic. Souldoll is also known for their elaborate, high-quality outfit designs.

→ DollShe craft

Website: http://www.dollshecraft.com
Doll Lines: DS18M (70cm), DS28M (70cm)

DollShe is well known for their fairly popular, and now discontinued, dolls Bermann and Hound. DollShe-ki-yong, the creator and sculptor of DollShe craft, created the first 70cm tall line with a double-jointed system in 2003. If you ever come across the term “Hound-sized” to address a 70cm doll, that is they are referring to. DollShe went off the map for a while before coming back in 2009 with a new body and head sculpts. DollShe dolls range from stylized to more realistic, with a tall, lanky body.

→ Migidoll

Website: Migidoll
Doll Lines: M-Style (63cm)

Migidoll was originally a single artist who released doll heads on an order period basis every few months. Recently Migidoll has expanded, creating a body to make a full doll, and becoming a full-fledged company. Migidoll primarily features male dolls with young, handsome looks.

→ Iplehouse

Website: http://iplehouse.net
Doll Lines: B.I.D (25cm), K.I.D (35cm), J.I.D (45cm), Y.I.D (60cm), S.I.D (65cm), E.I.D (70cm)

In recent years, Iplehouse is well-known for their E.I.D line which features what they call the “Super Hero” body. This body is very muscular, rather akin to Superman’s, and is unlike the thin and lanky bodies the majority of male BJDs had previously. The female dolls in the E.I.D line also feature very full, curvy bodies unlike the very thin and petite bodies of most other female BJDs.

Iplehouse has released a number of themed limited edition dolls, such as their Elemental Guardians and Noctarcana Circus.

There are, of course, many more companies to purchase from. You can find a more comprehensive list on BJDcollectasy.

Where to Buy: Company Overviews, Part 1

There are currently over one-hundred BJD companies around the world. Here I will attempt to highlight just a few of them to give you some idea of what there is to offer.

→ Volks

Website: http://www.volksusa.com
Doll Lines: YoSD (26cm), MSD (43cm), SD (55cm), SD13 (60cm), SD16 (65cm), SD17 (65cm)

Volks is the original creator of the modern customizable ball-jointed dolls you see today. Volks offers basic dolls in their MSD, SD, and SD13 sizes whose prices range between $300-$800. Many of Volks’ other dolls are only offered in limited editions during their Dolpa events or on their website in a lottery system. However, Volks also offers what they call the Full Choice System (FSC). This is basically a system where you can choose every aspect of your doll, from head to body to face, and more. However, the FSC can only be taken advantage of in person at a Volks store. The service is not offered online. The website Creating Dreams gives an in-depth guide to Volks’ Full Choice System.

Volks is also one of the companies to own stores in countries outside of their own. There is one in Los Angeles where customers can buy Volks dolls and merchandise, as well as make an FCS doll.

→ Luts

Website: http://www.eluts.com
Doll Lines: Honey Delf (26cm), Kid Delf (42cm), Junior Delf (56cm), Delf (60cm), Senior Delf (62.5 cm), Super Senior Delf (70cm)

Luts is one of the older Korean companies around, and are also one of the more popular. They feature highly stylized sculpts with a pretty male aesthetic. Their popular Delf line, however, has been discontinued but will likely be re-done by the line’s original creators Cerebus Project who have created their own company FairyLand.

→ Dream of Doll

Website: http://dreamofdoll.com
Doll Lines: D.O.B (26cm), D.O.C (45cm), D.O.T (64cm), D.O.I (70cm)

Dream of Doll is another of the fairly popular older Korean companies. Also very stylized, Dream of Doll offers many different sculpts as well as some fantasy themed limited dolls. Some of their fantasy themed dolls include elves and grey-skinned vampires.

The doll I have used as a model in some posts happens to be a D.O.T Homme Ducan.

→ Soom

Website: http://dollsoom.com/soom
Doll Lines: Mini Gem (30cm), Teenie Gem (26cm), Gem (60cm), Super Gem (65cm), IDealian (51 & 72cm), Mecha Angel (80cm)

Soom is well-known for their various fantasy dolls released for a limited time each month. These dolls may have hooves, pawed feet, clawed hands, horns, antlers, fins, wings, bird feet, and more. They have also recently released a centaur doll. Soom is also known for their large 80cm Mecha Angel lines. This line was one of the largest doll lines until Angel of Dream released their 90cm doll line.

Soom’s IDealiean line is also known for their extremely detailed features, such as finger prints on the doll’s fingers.

→ Dollzone

Website: http://www.doll-zone.com
Doll Lines: BBdoll (26cm), 1/4doll (45cm-53cm), 1/3doll (60cm-70cm)

Dollzone is one of the oldest Chinese companies around. They have created many diverse sculpts over the years.

Interview with Andrea of AngelToast

In this interview, Andrea of AngelToast provides another look into doing face-ups and modifications on BJDs.

→ How did you discover BJDs and how long have you been collecting?

My introduction to BJDs was through Aimee Major who was the original owner of the Den of Angels forum. It didn’t take long for me too get drawn into the hobby, and I bought my first doll in 2005.

→ Do you collect many dolls? How do you go about choosing a particular doll?

I currently own 21 BJDs… impressive for someone who (like so many of us) started out saying “I just want one or two!”. ^~

As for choosing a particular doll – almost all of my dolls are characters in a narrative. The first dolls I owned have created their stories, and as the stories evolved, it was a mix of “I love this mold! I need to make up a character for him!”, and “I need a doll to fit this character”. I like it better when the doll creates the character though… it makes for a more complete creation in the end. Finding a doll to fit an established character is more work, and those characters tend to go through several molds before I find the perfect one. My tiny dolls are the only exception, they don’t fit into any storyline. And they don’t have to… I like to dress up my Tinies in whatever I want, and it won’t bother me to go “out of character”. My big boys tend to be very particular about their styles, since their characters are so intricate at this point. ^^;

→ What are your favorite aspects of the BJD hobby?

For one, the dolls themselves – BJDs are just a beautiful canvas with almost endless potential for customization, and they can have such strong personalities. But also the fact that the collecting community is such a vast and inspiring place. I have learned so much from other artists, and have found many dear friends.

→ When did you start painting face-ups and doing modifications?

I started fiddling with faceups and mods in 2006… I wasn’t very good in the beginning, but who is? ^~

→ What sort of materials do you use for your works?

For faceups, I use mainly artist’s pastels. I use my airbrush mostly for fantasy parts like hooves, tails, or horns, or to color-match apoxy modifications; though sometimes I will use the airbrush on faceups as well. For the detail work, I use Zoukeimura acrylics. Finishing touches are various shimmer powders and several gloss enamels that have different degrees of shine.

For mods, I use Milliput Superfine apoxy putty, and use airbrush paint and pastels to match the skin tone as closely as possible.

→ How long does it usually take for you to complete a commission?

It depends on the commission, and what else is going on. On average, I do about 3-4 faceups within two days. But of course there are also mods, taking and editing pictures, taking care of websites and blogs, packing and shipping, and lots and lots of correspondence.

→ Do you have any particular sculpts that you especially enjoy painting?

I love the variety really, which is part of what makes doing commissions so much fun. I do have a soft spot for the old-school Delfs and Limited Volks heads, I enjoy how versatile they tend to be.

→ What is your favorite part when painting a face-up? What do you find most difficult?

My favorite part is to try to give the doll the personality the owner envisioned. Art is always about a story for me, and what I love most about painting a doll’s face is the opportunity to help tell that character’s story.

Difficulties arise mostly when the materials are having a bad day and don’t cooperate with me the way I would like. ^~

→ Do you have any tips for people looking to start painting and/or modifying BJDs?

Be careful and patient. ^~ Always seal your dolls before you start painting so you can protect them from staining, and do some research so you know which materials are safe to use on resin. And practice, practice, practice… don’t get discouraged too easily, everyone has to start somewhere!

→ How can people reach you for commissions?

My website http://www.angeltoastdolls.com is the portal to my BJD shop, portfolio, and commission shop. The commission shop has all the info you need to commission me.

Images © Andrea of AngelToast, used with permission.

BJDs in the Media

In recent years, Asian ball-jointed dolls have appeared in different forms of media.

Music Related

BJDs have been featured in a number of music videos, as well as on some CD covers. For example, the visual Japanese band D featured an artist ball-jointed doll by Koitsukihime on the cover of their “Yami no Kuni no Alice” single.2 Other Asian bands such as Japanese bands Malice Mizer and Plastic Tree, as well as Korean bands LoveHolic and Nell have featured BJDs in their music videos.

Filipino virtual band Mistula is made up of four customized BJDs. Each doll has its own persona and “plays” a different part in the band.4

However, Asia isn’t the only place to find BJDs in music. Estonian musician Kerli has featured BJDs in two of her music videos. “Tea Party“, the most recent of the two, features some dolls from the American BJD company Goodreau Doll.3

Movies

BJDs have also been featured in a few Asian films. Perhaps the most notable is the Korean horror flick “Doll Master” which used dolls from the Korean company AiDolls, previously known as Custom House.1 Other films such as the Korean horror film “Cinderella” and the movie adaptation of the Japanese comic “Death Note” also briefly show BJDs.

Anime

The anime, or Japanese animation, “Rozen Maiden” uses the idea of ball-jointed dolls coming to life. The company Volks has released a number of limited Rozen Maiden inspired dolls in past Dolls Party conventions.5

References:

  1. HanCinema. Retrieved from http://www.hancinema.net/korean_movie_Doll_Master.php
  2. JaME U.S.A. Retrieved from http://www.jame-world.com/us/items-18048-yami-no-kuni-no-alice-limited-edition-a-.html
  3. Kerli Video Shoot. Retrieved from http://www.goodreaudoll.com
  4. Official Site of the Philippines’ First Doll Band. Retrieved from http://www.mistula.com
  5. VOLKS USA, INC. | SD13G “Rozen Maiden” Suigintou. Retrieved from http://www.volksusa.com/dolpa18suigintou.html

Interview with Hana of Shallowsleep Aesthetics

I was able to contact the talented Hana of ShallowSleep Aesthetics on the Den of Angels forum for an interview. Here she provides an interesting look into the customization of BJDs.

→ How did you discover BJDs and how long have you been collecting?
I would say that I’ve been collecting them since 2003. I discovered them totally by chance. I randomly came across them one day and thought they were so detailed and interesting. I was never really a big doll person so it was kind of shocking to even consider buying a doll of any kind, especially when I didn’t really know anything about them at the time.

→ Do you collect many dolls? How do you go about choosing a particular doll?
Nope, nothing outside of BJD’s, actually. Never really been into them much. When it comes to choosing a BJD, I typically have a character in mind before I go looking for molds. So that image helps me decide on how the mold needs to look in order to fit that specific character.

→ What are your favorite aspects of the BJD hobby?
Definitely the artistic aspect is my favorite thing. Just about everything related to BJD’s can be seen as a form of artistic expression, especially if you buy them completely blank. It’s fun to just let your mind run away with it and be creative. Especially if you do it yourself. Also, the photography aspect is very enjoyable for me. I love still-life photography, so of course BJD’s work out perfectly!

→ When did you start painting face-ups and doing modifications?
I would say around 2008 is when I first gave it a shot.

→ What sort of materials do you use for your works?
Artist Pastels, Liquitex Acrylic Paints, Quality Watercolor Pencils, Tamiya Enamel Gloss, Volks Zoukimura Finishing Powder, Mr. Super Clear Flat/UV Cut, Velocity Oil-Free Shimmer, Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner/Restorer, Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue. I also use Beauty Lashes from Korea, and jewelry parts.

→ How long does it usually take for you to complete a commission?
Depends on the commission and how many commissions I’m taking at the time. If I have a full list of people, my turn around time is about 1-4 weeks, working off and on. If it’s just one head, or if I’m doing a head for myself…maybe only a day or two. I’m a perfectionist, so I tend to pick my work apart until it’s just right.

→ Do you have any particular sculpts that you especially enjoy painting?
Definitely Migidoll, Crobidoll and Elfdoll — such beautiful features!

→ What is your favorite part when painting a face-up? What do you find most difficult?
Probably doing the eyes is my favorite. I love smoky, stylish make-up, so naturally I love it on BJD’s, too. I love blending the colors and getting a dramatic look! The most difficult thing would probably be trying to create any kind of fine-hairs, whether it’s eyebrows, eyelashes, or facial hair. It’s usually the most difficult and time-consuming part.

→ Do you have any tips for people looking to start painting and/or modifying BJDs?
Just don’t give up quickly. No one turns amazing over night, don’t be afraid to fail a couple times. Experiment a lot and try to have fun and not cut yourself down too much. Practice, practice, practice! Also, I really can’t stress blending enough. I think it’s one of the more important aspects of face-ups. It gives so much depth and brings life to the mold.

→ How can people reach you for commissions?
If you’re a member of the Den of Angel’s forum, you can find my shop there by looking me up under “ShallowSleep”.
You can also find me on DeviantART at: http://asainemuri.deviantart.com
Or you can e-mail me at: asainemuri@fastmail.jp

Images © Hana of ShallowSleep Aesthetics, used with permission.

Interview with Allie

Allie was one of the people who introduced me to the hobby. Here are some of her answers concerning the BJD hobby over the years.

→ How did you discover BJDs and how long have you been collecting?
I first discovered BJDs in 2003 when I stumbled across them on a website. It was around 2004 that I got my first doll.

→ Do you collect many dolls? How do you go about choosing a particular doll?
Yes, I have about 12 BJDs right now. Though, at one time I did have about 20 (not counting a few bodiless heads) but over the years I’ve sold quite a few. A lot of my dolls are actually based on characters in stories I’ve written. But, some of them I bought first and then built a character around the mold.

→ What are your favorite aspects of the BJD hobby?
My favorite thing would probably be the customization aspect. I’m not particularly skilled at painting or modifying myself but I still enjoy coming up with the look of the doll. I’ve also met many wonderful people through this hobby who I feel privileged to call my friends.

→ Do you do any customizations yourself?
I can do some body blushing myself, but I’ve never been very good at face-ups. I usually buy a doll blank and then commission a face-up artist. Otherwise, I can do things like re-stringing and sanding seams myself. I enjoy sewing for my dolls and many of my dolls wear clothing that I made.

→ Was there anything that put you off about the hobby in the beginning?
Like many others, the price of these dolls was a bit off-putting at first. I thought they were beautiful but I couldn’t imagine myself spending that much on a doll. I eventually did, of course, and I would say they are definitely worth it. I like to think of them as customizable works of art, if you will. There is just so much you can do with them.

Other than that, the whole anatomically correct thing was a bit funny when I got my first doll, who happened to be a boy.

→ Have you noticed any changes in the hobby of the years?
Yes, there are many more companies now and also many different types of dolls. When I first got into the hobby the majority of the male dolls, in particular, were on the more feminine side in terms of their looks. It’s still like that today but now you also have doll guys like Iplehouse’s EID line who are really buff and masculine looking, like a boy’s action figure. So, there is more of a variety to choose from.

→ Have you ever been to any BJD-related events?
Yes, I’ve been to the BJDC convention in Austin a couple of years. Other than that, I’ve been to various BJD panels at anime conventions.

→ Do you have any tips for anyone looking to get into the hobby?
It’s a good idea to learn a bit about BJDs before jumping in. The majority of doll owners I have met are very friendly people so don’t be afraid to ask them anything. This hobby has so much to offer, it just takes a little time and patience.

How to: Changing eyes

This tutorial will show you how to change the eyes of a BJD.

Step 1:

As previously mentioned, there are two different head types for BJDs: the head-cap and the faceplate. The type used by most companies is the head-cap and is the one I am going to show an example of in this how-to.

In order to change the eyes of a BJD with a head-cap instead of a faceplate, you must remove the entire head. It is possible to change the eyes without removing the head but it is difficult because the S-hook is in the way.

The first step to changing eyes is simply to remove the head-cap, as pictured above.

Step 2:

Inside the head is the S-hook which holds the head on the body. Because of the tension in the elastic, it is usually necessary to use some pliers to get a good grip on the hook. In order to remove the head, you will need to pull up on the S-hook and turn it to fit into the vertical grooves.

Once the hook is settled down into the vertical grooves, you will be able to lift the head off of the body.

Step 3:

Eyes are typically secured using any putty-like material, such as the kind used to put posters on walls, or eye putty from companies. It is also possible to hot-glue eyes into the head, but you will no longer be able to change them.

For putty, simply flatten it out and press the eyes into it. You can then place the eyes into the eye-wells of the head and work on positioning them how you want. The doll can be looking forward, off to the side, or however you please. Be careful, however, that the doll is not looking cross-eyed or wall-eyed.

Once you have the eyes positioned how you want them, you can put the head back onto the body.

Step 4:

To put the head back on the body, you will just do the opposite of what was done in step two. First, place the head back down on the body with the S-hook going up through the grooves. Then, you can pull up on the S-hook and turn it back horizontally to fit back into the horizontal grooves like before.

Once that is done, the head is secured again on the body. Next, return the head-cap and choose a wig for your doll. Your doll is now complete.

Customization: Wigs, Eyes, Clothing, Etc

In addition to painting and modifications, as discussed in the last post, the choice in accessories can also help make a BJD unique.

Eyes

BJD eyes come in many sizes and colors. However, each particular doll has a recommended eye size based on the size of eye-wells in the head.

There are many different eye sizes. The specified eye size refers to the width of the eye and sizes generally range from 8mm-20mm.

There are four common types of eyes:

Acrylic: These are the most common of the four and are also the cheapest. Acrylic eyes do not reflect color as well as some of the other eye types and are not as durable. These are the type of eyes that are usually included when buying a doll from a company.

Silicone: Silicone eyes are not as common as the other three types. Also referred to as “soft glass” eyes, these eyes have a soft and flexible feel to them that allows them to better fit into the eye-wells of the head. These eyes accumulate a lot of dust on them and need to be cleaned more frequently.

Glass: These eyes are handmade and are the next most common to Acrylic eyes. Glass eyes reflect color well and have a glowing effect in certain light. They are generally more expensive than Silicone and Acrylic eyes.

Urethane: Urethane eyes are similar to glass eyes in color reflectivity and depth. They are also handmade.

Wigs

Wigs also come in a variety sizes, colors, and lengths. Wigs made using synthetic fibers are the most common and are available from most doll companies. Mohair and fake fur wigs are also available. Fake fur wigs, in particular, are easy to style in many different ways.

Wig sizes generally correlate with the size of the doll’s head which is usually specified on the doll’s sales page.

Dressing Up

Then, of course, there is dressing the doll. Most BJD companies also sell clothing and accessories. However, some hobbyists take to sewing clothing themselves for their BJD.

There are also websites whose main purpose is designing BJD clothing, such as:

Clothing sizes are based on the size of your particular BJD (whether it’s a Tiny, MSD, SD, 70cm+, etc).

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