Thursday, March 14, 2013

When do you debox a doll?

Shimmer by alington
Shimmer, a photo by alington on Flickr.
I'm having a collecting dilemma right now. I don't know whether I should debox this particular doll, which has lead me to consider my "deboxing policy."

Normally, with vintage dolls, it's hard to debox them NRFB. Now, I consider whether you can actually tell if the doll has already been removed. If she has, I don't have a problem. I will remove her, possibly even redress her, and then put her back. If she is sold, I mention I've removed her from the box, and that she isn't NRFB--I'd call her MIB, if she is mint. (It's just a little pet peeve of mine, when sellers call a doll "NRFB, except removed for these photos."

But for less than vintage--take this 1982 Dazzle doll Shimmer, for example--I have to take several things into consideration.
  1. Is the package pretty? If it's pretty--this one has nice graphics (see photos on Flickr for examples)--I have a harder time messing it up.
  2. Is the package mint? If the package isn't in great condition--and this one, the plastic has yellowed and the card is bent just a bit--it's not quite such a big deal to rip into it.
  3. Is the doll hard to find? This doll is from the 1982 release. There were many dolls released in 1981, and Shimmer was only released in a smaller edition size in 1982. She is a bit pricier, and, yes, harder to find.
  4. Is the doll in peril? Sometimes, a doll may be wearing clothing or earrings that can cause staining or green ear, and removing the offending articles is a must. In this case, Dazzle dolls often have rubber bands that turn to liquid glue over time. I can see them in her hair, and they appear all right. But I really don't want them to ruin her hair.
  5. Can I open the package without ruining it? In this case, the nature of a blister card makes it difficult to keep its beauty intact. I could keep the back of the card, of course, but it won't be nearly as nice as before it's opened.
  6. Exactly how badly do I want to play with the doll? Oh, how to answer this question! I can't answer the last time I had so much fun with a photo shoot as I did shooting Crystal and Glossy. (It made me want to add the entire line of Dazzle dolls to my collection, which is just ridiculous... isn't it?)
Truthfully, in spite of my hesitation to simply rip into the package, what will probably happen is this: I'll keep the doll unopened in her package today. One rainy day, I'll put aside all logical reasoning. I'll just need a little pick-me-up and open the doll for a photo shoot and redressing session. It'll be fun.

Fortunately for me, it's going to be 78° and sunny today.

By the way, did you notice Shimmer's miniature Steffie face? Isn't she adorable?


  1. I did a doll exhibit a few years ago and discovered so many of my NRFB dolls had issues. The rubber bands melted, there was dry rot of fabrics, tape and elastics had come loose and tiny accessories were floating around inside the box. It lead me to become a deboxer. I throw most boxes away these days. I've kept the Silkstone boxes and some of the Poppy Parker boxes, but mostly they go to the recycle bin. I still have dolls NRFB, but only because I haven't had time to debox them. With the Barbies, you need an engineering degree and tools to get those babies out of those boxes. But! Out they will come! Eventually! There might be a doll (like your Shimmer) that would remain NRFB, but probably not forever. Just my humble opinion ...

  2. I agree. I think Silkstone and Poppy boxes are great--the dolls are mostly tied in (well, with some sewing--they do have a long way to travel), so it's easy to put them back if storage or shipping is necessary. But some of those other boxes--ugh!

    On that note--I actually saw some tropical themed-Barbies at Kohl's the other day that didn't have any plastic in their packaging. All paper. I thought it was quite clever, except the dolls' hair was all messy. It was quite a shame! But definitely, a lot less packaging. And it seems with many other (heavier packaging) you end up ruining their hair when removing them from the box anyway.

    EIther way, I think you're right. The chances of a doll remaining mint is slim, even NRFB. So why not enjoy her a little more? :)

  3. When I started collecting Barbies in the early 1980s, the rule was to NEVER remove an item from its box. I almost ALWAYS did, both for the stuff I bought new and for the few older items that I bought on the second market. I got yelled at once for doing so. Now I am very glad I did remove the dolls, clothes and other items.
    The only items I kept in boxes were the ones I bought new and intended to resell a few years later, plus the occasional special editions that I bought. Mostly I bought playline items.

  4. Someone yelled at you? Like another doll collector? My goodness. It's not as if it was your doll collection or anything! ;)

    Good for you, for going for own way! :)

  5. I am collecting barbie dolls and I have about 55 I just got a magic moves barbie from 1985 all my dolls are in boxes should I take them out and throw away the boxes
    I love my dolls and are not buying to resell them.
    what to do help

    1. Haley, if you are collecting just for you, I wouldn't worry too much about keeping the boxes, unless you like them. I personally like the graphics from some of the boxes from the 1980s era, though--plus, they can help you remember which accessories were included with which dolls, and there are also a few box variations as well.

      Of course, with Barbie, the value does decrease dramatically once the doll is deboxed. However--with this era, you should keep in mind that there are a few things you may want to look for in a deboxed doll, too:

      Dolls have a tendency to get sticky legs, and also develop white and green spots on them. These are mostly dolls from the late 1980s. And you won't know your dolls are doing this unless they are deboxed. (So... would that take away from your enjoyment? Would you want to find new bodies for them? Either way, it could be a new problem to solve.)

      Also, you can replace rubber bands on deboxed dolls--which of course you can't do on NRFB dolls. I mean here the hair rubber bands. These tend to melt over time, and leave a sticky residue in the hair.

      And finally--deboxed dolls from the 1980s lend themselves well to play and redressing! :)


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