Monday, June 28, 2010

Why we love some dolls and not others Part II: Ambivalence by guest blogger Milady Blue

What happens next--when you open that doll you've searched for, waited for, expected for sol long, and what you feel is... ambivalence?

Special guest blogger has some alternatives to immediate sale on the secondary market. Check them out!

Why We Love Some Dolls and Not Others
Part II: Ambilvalence
by Milady Blue
Special Guest Writer

This is the most delicate and tricky part of doll purchasing, especially when one is dependent upon the internet for buying dolls. The hoops have been jumped through – all costs paid, including shipping, whatever import/export taxes are expected of you. The box has been opened. It is sitting in front you. You are looking in at the doll, trying to decide whether you actually want it.

In most cases, this is pretty easy: you either want it or you don’t.

But some collectors fall into the category of, "I like this doll, but..."

This is not an easy one to pin down. Sometimes, a collector will get a doll that they loved initially, but somehow fell out of love with it. Others will be on the fence immediately, once the box is opened.

The reasons for this, aside from potential flaws in the manufacturing process, are not really clear. The doll company showed pictures of the doll on their website, other collectors have taken “real life” pictures of this doll, and based on those pictures, you decided you
wanted it, too. Much like King Henry VIII of England really wanted Anne of Cleves, based on her portrait, until she arrived in England.

Maybe the faceup is not what you thought it would be. The lips might be too dark, or an odd color. Perhaps the eyes are not the right color, or even wonky (meaning the eyes are not looking in the same direction). The hair might be rooted in too thinly in spots, the hairstyle might have flaws, or the wig is wrong for the doll. The costume might be a big disappointment--the fabric choice is not in scale, or it might just seem poorly made. The doll’s body, too, is a
major selling point. What if the doll is not very articulated?

Sometimes, ambivalent collectors might try to put a brave face on their disappointment, and just live with the doll’s flaws, whatever they may be. But a doll’s problems can be corrected. If you do not have the technical skills to do it yourself, there are many options to choose from:

  • OOAK Artist – An artist skilled at painting faces, they can correct wonky eyes, or badly applied lipstick. Some of these artists also do reroots of dolls, so the hair color or arrangement can be greatly improved.
  • Frankendolly – Many doll companies either offer doll bodies for sale, or a different doll can be purchased for just the body.
  • Wig Seller – If your doll’s wig is less than adequate, it is simple enough to buy a wig you do like, and put it on the doll instead.
  • Tailor – There are many skilled designers and seamstresses available to doll collectors, to either recreate the costume, or to make a different costume the collector thinks would work better on the doll.
Of course, ambivalence might just boil down to something as simple as the doll not fulfilling your expectations. The doll itself might be a great sculpt, have terrific articulation, a lovely outfit and hairdo, and just for some reason, not be what you envisioned it would be.


  1. I think anyone who has collected for awhile has had the experience of receiving a doll that doesn't live up to their expectations. My biggest gripe is the difference between prototype dolls and the actual production dolls. On less expensive dolls, I can afford to allow more leeway. And you're right - you can always alter it a bit to meet your taste. However, sometimes some significant differences occur on very expensive dolls - ones you can only go by the prototype to decide if you should order it or not because you're given such a small window of opportunity to order (think BJD). When that happens, you feel "stuck". I mean, you've already spent a small fortune getting the doll and it's not as nice as the prototype. You'd have a difficult time trying to re-sell it, as is, and it would cost another small fortune to get it customized. I just wish companies would have more oversight during production. The production doll should have the same shape lips or color eyes. The hair style shouldn't be different. There should be no such thing a "wonky eyes". But I've seen way too many cases where there have been significant changes and problems. Hard to have confidence in a doll company that consistently has these kinds of issues and I've stopped buying from those who do.

  2. I've just had this happen to me, first time ever with a brand new BJD - it's happened before with second hand dolls but that was when I was learning what I liked. I thought I had it sussed by now, but no, I open the box, she's really pretty with lots of extras.... BUT.... I just felt nothing... 3 weeks later and we haven't bonded at all.

    Sadlly BJDs are just too expensive to go down the customizing route if you already know the doll isn't for you, so she has to go :o(

  3. I've been lucky so far in my collecting - there have been a few I have been ambivalent about, but managed to "get over it," as some might put it.

    There are a lot of people out there, though, for whom "getting over it" is not an option, and I won't chide anyone for their feelings. I just find the phenomenon interesting, that we could get all worked up for a doll, pay large sums, and wait impatiently for the doll's arrival, only to find we're not sure if we like it or not.

  4. This happened to me with a Gene Marshall doll. I was so excited to get it but when she arrived... she wasn't what I thought her to be. Not like the promo pics. Now I'm not sure what to do with her.


  5. Great blog past. I found that......

    Dolls have been loved by many for years. There isn’t a girl who didn’t grow up with one or two special dolls in her room. Dolls have been around for centuries. In the early days of mankind, dolls were made from primitive materials such as clay and wood. In the early Roman and Greek days, dolls were dedicated to the God’s and buried with girls when they passed on. As time passed, dolls began to become moveable with arms and legs that moved. Europe was one of the first major development areas for dolls. While dolls were mainly made of wood, during the 17th and 18th centuries, wax dolls began to be developed. While wax dolls were created in mass in Munich, England was one of the most popular places for purchasing this type of doll.

    During the 19th century, porcelain dolls were developed by firing several types of clay in a kiln. There are mainly two types of dolls associated with porcelain. They are china and bisque dolls. The difference is that china dolls are glazed and bisque dolls are not. Bisque dolls were fired twice with a little color added to them. Bisque dolls were preferred over china dolls as their skin looked more lifelike.

    For those who couldn’t afford the expensive porcelain and wooden dolls, rag dolls were a popular choice. Rag dolls were made of just about any fabric that could be found. The mothers of poor, rural children would make these homemade dolls as a gift since they couldn’t afford other popular dolls. Doll making didn’t become popular in the United States until after the civil war. In the 1950’s and 60’s, the world of doll making saw the emergence of dolls made from vinyl, rubber and even foam. With the creation of vinyl dolls, doll, makers were able to add hair to the dolls instead of using a wig or painting on hair. Doll making is now a popular industry and has resulted in numerous doll collectors worldwide.

  6. This happened to me with my Delilah Noir doll.
    I had fallen in love with her online, seen her in person and was determined to get her.

    I wanted the "Twice Shy" version with the vampire teeth and I managed to get one from Ebay nude for a really reasonable price. I didn't worry about clothing because I make doll clothes, and had great ideas for her.

    I got her, and I played with her a bit, trying out her wigs and her different feet. I put in her fangs and just... wasn't digging it.

    I couldn't figure out why she wasn't the great big deal I thought she'd be, and that bothered me.

    But then, as luck would have it, a friend of mine came over to visit and saw her. My friend is not really a doll collector, in fact her son was just barely 4 at that point and she was busy being SuperMom.
    But she took one look at Delilah and melted.
    She had been very polite and complimentary about the rest of my collection, but Delilah was amazing to her.

    So I formed a plan. I put together some new outfits for Delilah, and a red wig to add to her blonde and her goth wigs. I packaged her back up carefully and wrapped her up for Christmas for my friend.

    I have to tell you, giving that doll to my friend and bringing her into the world of adult doll collectors was more rewarding than keeping Delilah or selling her.

    One collector's treasure is another collector's "what was I thinking?"

  7. Oh--FairyKukla, what a wonderful story! This is totally awesome. I really love to hear adult collectors coming into the world of dolls this way. I think it's wonderful--and how you helped... almost, as though it were meant to be.

    What a wonderful friend you are! :) Hope your Christmas was equally as merry! :)


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