2014-12-28

Amazon sale, new Arklu doll, stain removal tricks

The GQ Christmas issue got awfully arty this year...

Happy Those-Days-Inbetween-Christmas-And-New-Year, everyone! I'm not sure whether there's a name for this period in English, but in Swedish it's literally known as The Inbetween Days. In case you're wondering why I'm spending my precious holidays doll blogging, I'm just waiting for this cold to pass so I can go visit my parents and help them finish the last of the christmas food. Not that I've ever needed an excuse to babble about dolls!


One of my favorite little Christmas traditions is actually buying yourself a present at the post-holiday sales. Maybe you got some Christmas money from Grandma, or you're returning the sweater you got for one in your favorite color and for half the price. Maybe you just spotted a good deal. Last year I finally caved and ordered Howleen Wolf from ebay - not necessarily a great deal, but not too bad, and at least I finally got her! - and this year I'm getting EAH Cedar Wood from Amazon's toy sale. She's not in stores here yet, but I signed up to CamelCamelCamel to keep track of Amazon's prices - it's quite handy actually: if you register, you can specify a price level and they'll send you a notification once the price drops below that. (Or if you don't want to give them your email, just check the site every day and analyze the graph of the price fluctuations.)

I have a list of a few EAH dolls I sort of want, several of which are on sale right now, but when I had to limit myself to one (otherwise I'd soon be broke and drowning in dolls) there really wasn't a question: of course I'm getting the fake wooden girl! That might sounds weird considering I'm working on a real wooden doll, but there's just something about fake plastic wood grain I find - kind of hilarious, I guess. And that's not a bad quality in a doll. I actually love that Mattel has taken this fairly unconventional approach to individualizing the MH/EAH dolls, even with the same basic body mold.

Anyway, as I poked around Amazon's doll department a bit I discovered this guy:


That's right - Arklu's Lottie now has a friend! A friend who is a boy, but probably not a boyfriend. To be honest I'm not at all tempted by this doll, even though I'm actively looking to add more boy dolls to my collection - he looks weird and troll-like, and his hairline is way too high. The clothes and shoes look ok, though, realistic and versatile - plus there's at least one new clothing set to go with him. I like the one that comes with a fishing rod and what looks like tiny boat shoes, which is kind of cool. Unfortunately British Amazon doesn't do free international shipping anymore, so that'll have to wait. :/ 

Oh, and I managed to remove a stain (sharpie or ballpoint pen) from a doll dress with hairspray! I didn't have stain remover, alcohol or ammonium, but after a bit of googling I found this guide which suggests shaving foam or hairspray as a last resort. Since this is just a ratty old goodwill dress, I wasn't too worried about ruining it. 

Look closely and you can sort of see a darker spot center-left on the skirt. Silly me forgot to take a before pic, but the spot was VERY visible. 

I once ruined the print on my shower curtain with shaving foam, but this stain didn't budge. Hairspray did the trick, though! The fabric is blue nylon and the spot was black or dark blue and perfectly visible on the front, but now there's only just a darker shade on the inside and no visible damage to the fabric (although for a seconf it looked like rubbing might bleach it). Who'd have thought?? A chemist, perhaps, but not me. 

2014-12-09

Darren and his fancy pants (Triad Omega and Uptown Suit)

You know who we haven't seen in a while? This guy:

Mr. Fancypants

Darren the Triad Toys Omega guy, for whom I bought a ridiculously expensive suit, the Triad Toys Uptown suit, that's tailor made for the Omega body and its broad shoulders. (Actually, the suit got almost twice as expensive since I got scammed by the first seller, but that's a story for another day.) After almost putting a stain on it as soon as I opened the package, I decided to be super careful with it, and so after dressing Darren in it I ended up putting him in the glass door cabinet and kind of forgot about him. Which is a waste really, since he's the only properly articulated guy I have so far.

more fancy pants
Let's just say he's been on a long vacation in Hawaii and hasn't had a chance to change his shirt yet.

(Come to think of it, my second best articulated guy - Texas cheerleader Ken - is also languishing in a box somewhere, due to his glue-y hair. I'm going to do something about it sometime, but until then it's just put me off him a bit. It just isn't fun, handling dolls that have sticky goop seeping out of their heads.)


This won't be a review since he's only wearing the pants for now (the rest is in the freezer right now just in case the moths got to them). Sorry about the shirt, by the way - Generation Girl Blaine's fashion sense was not the most sophisticated - but at least it's better than the sweater I made him, so it'll have to do for now.

Nice shoes, kind of short pants
The only thing I don't like about these pants is they should have been a little bit longer. Some socks would have helped of course, but I don't think I could ever squeeze the shoes on then. In fact, this is the first time I managed to do it! It wasn't actually that difficult, not after softening them in hot water a bit, but I was still pretty careful. They're really nice shoes, actually one of the biggest reasons I originally wanted this suit set, and I didn't want to rip them. They are still huge, of course, like all action figure shoes, but they don't look as out of scale as I thought they might. I think it's because they're so realistic, you just accept them because they look right.

Hey, the '00s called...
"She said WHAT about my shirt??"


Speaking of glue head, here's the latest (but surely not the last) casualty:
Gluehead Ariel
This Mattel Ariel looked perfectly fine until I dipped her in hot water. Now I'm not sure what to do. I'm out of hair so I can't reroot, and she looked good in red. She will get articulation, though, since her skin is almost as peachy-pink as Steffi Love's but first I have to sort out her hair...

2014-12-03

Who's that Belle? It's World on Ice Belle!

ETA: wow, that was fast! She's got a name: World on Ice Belle. Don't know why she needs another face sculpt just for ice skating, but there you go. Also - as I scrolled down through the comments on that photo, I realized I had in fact left a comment years ago, saying how much I liked her face. Well, at least we know my amazing taste has remained consistent through the years. (Also see Jawn Pickles' link below for good shots of her sculpt without the paint.)

-----

Don't worry, I haven't given up the plastic entirely! On Monday I made a little pilgrimage to the new crafts store, and also took the opportunity of popping into the nearby goodwill. There I found this Disney doll that I'm having a bit of trouble identifying. Her hairstyle leads me to think she's a Belle, but the face mold doesn't look like any Belle I've seen. Back of neck says (c) DISNEY, MADE IN CHINA, body is stamped CHINA. No other markings. I would guess she's a clone, but they're not usually stamped with the original's copyright, are they?





As usual, I bought her for her face. She has a fairly straight nose, closed mouth, and almost Lagoona-like bulging eyes (also the paint is a bit wonky). No holes for earrings, which seems to be unusual among these dolls. I guess that could mean she's a "village Belle" and came in some version of the blue dress.  



The feet are TINY.

The body is kind of weird. It certainly doesn't look like Mattel (although I know I tend to underestimate how weird-looking older Mattel dolls can be). The neck knob makes me think Simba, but I don't recognize this body type from them either. My other articulated Simba Disney princesses has more or less same body as the old articulated Steffi Love, which doesn't really look like this one.


So far the closest I've got to a match is this slightly odd-looking Belle, who according to the comments is an older Disney Store doll. I'm not sure they're the same, but at least that proves there's some variety among the Belles out there. 

2014-11-30

The Double-Jointed Wooden Knee & You



I don't remember if I mentioned, but I did try to make a double-jointed knee. This proved to be an exercize in futility, frustration and madness, and I'm not sure I'll going to attempt another one, at least not until I've gained some serious wood carving skills.

AAAAAAAAARRGGHHH!!!!

Basically, making the spheres even is super difficult - and if they (or the sockets) are asymmetrical, the joint will just stick in certain positions and be impossible to pose in any position inbetween. Super frustrating. See video for example: 


In the end I decided it wasn't worth driving myself crazy over. I haven't decided how to proceed yet, but I'll probably either go with single, Fashionista style knee joints for now, or try using wooden beads like suggested. 


I'm also thinking of carving out the hip sockets some more so the doll won't look so weird while sitting. Hopefully there's enough material for it, and it would also make the torso more proportional (right now it's a bit too exaggerated even for the bjd esthetic). 



Since I'll probably make a new pair of thighs anyway, I'll try to fit them better into the sockets so they won't be quite so wobbly. 

If there's one thing I learned in (though not necessarily from) art school, it's that you shouldn't have too much respect for your sketches and studies. Overwork them, ruin them - that's how you learn. Force yourself to not Ctrl+Z at the slightest mistake. It's something I keep having to relearn, particularly after periods of low artistic output, but it's something you absolutely have to to keep in mind in order to get anything done. So I may have to ruin this experiment, we'll see. But that's alright. I found a nearby place that sells wood. I'll just start over again. 

2014-11-27

wooden bjd update

Slowly but surely making progress... 

First I made a pair of legs. Then I messed them up because I didn't realize you can't have hip sockets placed at the side on a strung doll, but for a short while there she could actually stand unaided!  
wip wooden bjd 5


Then I made a double-jointed arm! Well, several actually, since it took a few tries to get it to work. The joint is still kind of ugly, but at least it bends! 

Test - double-jointed elbow 1


Then I decided to start over, for real this time, and made a jointed torso. 

OK let's make a jointed torso!

It's slightly larger because there had to be room for several, separate holes and joint sockets in there, not to mention the tools to make them in the first place. I did buy a pin vice and some ridiculously tiny drillbits though, and that really made things a lot easier. (Before that I made the holes with a Philips screwdriver. It's possible but I don't recommend it.) It's still kind of tiny though, since I haven't found a good place to buy more basswood at yet 

WIP - torso
It's largely modeled after the torso joint on gymnast Barbie and Galoob's body (used for Anastasia and Spice Girls among others). I realize I should have looked up some tips on how to make the hip joints, because that introduced a whole slew of design problems I wasn't prepared for, but these will have to do for now. 

Now I kind of want to make the knees double-jointed, but it's going to be a pain to carve those perfectly (ha!) shaped spheres. I might do a test run on the smaller doll first. 

Last but not least, I took a bunch of process pics and dumped them on my Flickr, here.

2014-11-19

WIP - wooden bjd joint

Ok. So. You know how I keep going on about articulation, and how affordable playline dolls keep dissapointing me. Well, why not make my own? I've tried sculpy and similar things before, but clay just isn't my thing (you poke one side of the head and the other side sticks out, what's up with that?). I'm pretty good with wood, though, so I though I might give it a try.



This was just to see if I could make a working joint. I just used a bit of scrap wood, it's not going to be a proper doll at any point. I'm not sure how I would make the torso yet, and either way I thought it was better to have the back open so I could see what was going on. There wasn't enough material to make room for proper hip joint sockets, so I can tell already the legs are going to be ridiculous, but it's worth making them anyway for the experience. The lack of material turned out to be an issue with the shoulder joints too (both arms are a different kind of compromise to make up for it).

The red flower bead thingy is just to keep the string in place. 

No photos (yet) because the video took up the last of my diskspace.


(Forgot to mention that I looked at this tutorial to get an idea of what goes where. I just googled "bjd making tutorial" or something and found this link list on bjd-wtf.livejournal. I haven't really dug through them all yet - there's a lot of info out there, and finding the perfect tutorial would probably be a project on its own.)

2014-11-14

Director Barbie has ANKLE JOINTS!

Sorry, this is another post with no original content, but I just saw this: there's a new Barbie out and she has ANKLE JOINTS. Yes, I definitely think that's the sort of news that deserves all-caps - you know how I feel about articulation. She's called Film Director Barbie and from what I can tell the ankle joints seem to be all she has going for her: her arms lack articulation completely. Hmm. Not sure yet if I'll sacrifice a spot on my wishlist for her, or wait for a Barbie with ALL THE JOINTS.

Here's a good photo on Flickr of the ankle joints compared to a Disney Store doll.
Papusile Mele has a post with some promo pics too.

I quite like the design of the feet - they remind me of Simba's Super Model or female action figures: slightly curved, which allows the doll to wear both flats and heels without looking weird. This is in my opinion one of the downsides to Obitsu and Disney Store bodies: the flat feet. I realize that it contributes to the Obitsus' famed balancing skills, but it would be nice with a doll that looked good in slingbacks too. (Action figures of course may come with different pairs of feet, but for some reason Obitsu don't offer this option.) I've noticed that in the last years Mattel has updated their doll bodies with more realistic-looking features, and this seems to be part of that trend.

2014-11-12

Blogger user question: does anyone know if there's anywhere you can view all the comments you've left across the Blogger platform? I always forget to tick the little box to get email notifications, and then I have to memorize and hunt down every post where someone might be replying to me. Blogger/Google obviously has this information, so it should be possible to view somewhere - but where?

No doll-related content today, but instead I recommend you go check out this review at The Toybox Philosopher of these handmade 1/6 doll heads called Wildflower Dolls (on Etsy I think?). I've never heard of them before, but I thought they were really cute (and now I'm considering starting to sculpt doll heads myself...).

2014-11-07

Disney Pirate Fairies & their knees


Rosetta! I only took this photo to point out how uncentered her pupils are, but now I can't be bothered to take a new one. Anyway, she has pointy ears!


The good news is that the articulated Disney Fairies by Jakks are finally available here. As soon as I spotted them I checked the online stores too - two stores that I know sell them didn't even have them on their site, while the third has them on sale?? Not sure whether that means they just arrived or they've been here a long time and I've just missed them (that's what I get for not spending every waking moment checking the webshop stock). Nevermind, I have a Pirate Fairy Rosetta now. :) The Pixie Party dolls seem to have been left out (we got the pirates and Stylin' something instead), otherwise I would've picked the Tink with the green shoes. On the other hand I really like Rosetta's dress. 


Pictured: articulation, barely

I'm glad I'd read the reviews beforehand, or else I would have thought there was something wrong with her knees. The articulation is ...barely there, really. This is as much as the knees would bend. 

And then there's that "knee cap", sticking out over the joint. It looks like the lower legs were pushed further into the socket than was intended, or maybe something went wrong at some point between design and manufacturing. The legs are pretty soft plastic, even the thighs, so I decided to boil them and take a look at the inner workings. 




To my relative surprise, the pins came out pretty easily - they do look like they might be designed to do that, but I don't think it'll work without heating first. 


ETA: yes, it works with the arms too! But you do need to heat them first (I used boiling water) so it's not as convenient as it could have been. Still, good to know!

The thighs seem to be pretty thick solid plastic, but a more handy person could probably make the holes less deep by drilling/dremeling them open and fill them in with hot glue. I don't know for sure whether that would work, and anyway I don't even have a drill, so I just cut away some plastic around the back of the knees. There's still some way to go, but it's much better. 

Pictured: articulation, kneecaps

Left: the thin edge of the knee socket deforms easily (temporarily), showing how soft the plastic is


One of last month's thrift store finds was a pretty nice Ariel doll whose head proved to be full of nasty glue (Mattel!!) so I'm keeping an extra eye out for that. There's no stickiness in the hair and the head doesn't feel hard, but there's a plastic smell that I've come to associate with the glue, so I'm a bit suspicious. The boots and plastic belt are a bit smelly too, but not the worst kind. ETA: Head seems glue-free! I took the chance to check when I removed it for a rebody experiment yesterday. Whew!

On that subject, when I cleaned out the fridge I found Ashlynn Ella's "glass" shoes, as stinky as ever. I finally decided to throw them away - I don't even want to be near them, and I don't feel ok donating them with god knows what chemicals leaking out of them. Oh well, I wasn't really a fan of the design anyway. 

Speaking of shoes, Rosetta's feet are smaller than I expected. Just a little too big for Fashionista shoes, but too small for Simba Super Model and definitely for MH and bratzillas. It's one of those weird inbetween-sizes. Then again, she's a fairy and probably doesn't need footwear except for when she's pirating. 


2014-10-25

Ghoulia/CAM skeleton hybrid

Monster High dolls are pretty rare in thrift stores here, or maybe I just keep missing them before they get snatched up. Today however I found a Dawn of the Dance (I think?) Ghoulia at a reasonable price, nude but with jewelry and shoes. There was a Frankie too, but she only had one earring and her nose looked a bit faded. Ghoulia had pretty floppy joints, so I decided to use her to make a CAM hybrid, which I've been meaning to try for a while now. 

Here we see the half-eaten zombie in its natural environment: dramatic lighting.

Both her thighs had a slight crack in the seams, so I (slowly and with difficulty) split open the one that looked the biggest and replaced the lower leg with a CAM part with the pin cut down a bit. It's still too small, so while I figure out how to make it fit properly it's held on by a "bandage" i.e. a strip of cotton fabric (with one end wrapped around the pin to make it fit better). It works pretty well actually! 

My first CAM skeleton set came with two right arms, so I bought another one when they were on sale. Good thing I had three right arms, since I managed to break the plug on the first one. 

Her hip joints (ball and socket, not elastic) were super floppy, so I just wrapped rubber bands around them. I know you can "suede" smaller joints with super glue, but I'm not sure how well it works on large hip joints. Maybe I'll give it a go later, but they're fine for now. 

Her hair went flat when I boiled her. Kanekalon again. I managed to fix the bangs pretty ok, not sure what to do with the rest. I've seen so many great Ghoulia haircuts - short, spiky, curly, mohawk - and I can't decide what to try first. I'm leaning towards something shorter, though. Maybe curls - unlike a cut they can be undone if I mess up. 

... I was going to add, "and then I'll give her a repaint!" - but I keep saying that, don't I? Anyway, this version has a rather nice bright green glitter eyeshadow in striking contrast with her bright red lips, and I kind of want to keep that. Maybe if the hair turns out well I'll get some ideas for her new look?

2014-10-21

Happy Family Midge! (Thrift store find)

So here's the find from yesterday I was so excited about: Happy Family Midge! Honestly, I couldn't believe my luck when I spotted her. I've been wanting one of these to compare to the Welcome Baby Steffi Love, but the only ones I've seen are the NRFB ones that go for ridiculous prices on ebay. This one, however, was only a few dollars/euro and well inside my budget. I could tell she had a few cracks in her neck, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. She also has one broken click-knee joint, but apart from that she was in pretty good condition: original dress, hair in original hairdo and just a bit messy, no broken fingers or stains - and of course she came with her belly!



Before pic


Hair, before. It's that thin, fluffy fibre - kanekalon, if I'm not mistaken. In my experience, the trouble with kanekalon is you can only boil straighten it a couple of times before it starts to frizz and fry. The tricky thing is, you really need boiling water for it to take, so you have to consider the pros and cons carefully. I haven't tested this systematically though, so I might be wrong about the frizzing being due to heat. Someone mentioned combating the frizz with steam, but I haven't gotten around to try it yet. Midge is in no danger yet, though - her hair looks great after a couple of dips and a combing through.

The braids are mainly original, I just redid a couple of the ends that were starting to ...unravel, I guess?

Back view. The braids aren't another color, they're just wet. 



The neck was a bit worse than I thought at first. There are smaller cracks all around, but also one big crack with a piece of plastic that's threatening to come loose (you can see it just to the left of the seam). To the left of that there's a smaller chip that actually did come loose as I took off the head (and then managed to I flushed it down the drain and had to disassemble the trap to retrieve it). I bought some Loctite gel super glue and I think I got the chip safely reattached and the bigger crack filled in, but I couldn't get inside the neck to fill in the lower part of the crack that's just starting to appear. It seems ok for now, though; I'll just have to be careful. 


(Since the belly is held on with magnets inside the torso, I've been thinking of alternative ways to attach it in case I need to rebody in the future. Magnetic paint?) 


I have to say, this is actually a pretty clever construction. It sounds weird, but having the belly be a plastic shell that attaches with magnets is actually pretty convenient. The shape fits the torso perfectly and looks - well, perhaps not realistic, but not outright bizarre at least, and sometimes with dolls that's the best you can hope for. (I think Steffi Love might have a more realistic post-pregnancy figure, though!) 


Sitting works so-so, but the thing about the magnet-belly is it can shift a bit without falling off. I'm not sure if this is a bug or feature, but it does allow her to sit with marginally more ease, and the clothes hide any illusion-breaking gaps. Of course, franken-Steffi still does it better: 

This is why we Frankendolly. 



Oh, and the baby was still there too! Who are these children who don't pull their dolls apart and lose their clothes and ruin their hair like I used to do?? The baby is actually pretty cute - cuter than Steffi's, at any rate (but sssssshh! Don't tell her I said that). Maybe it's just that the face paint is less wonky. 

All in all, I'm really happy I found this doll. Along with the articulated Sarah Love, this is probably my best find in ages! 

(I also got a couple of Evi Love dolls with cute outfits too, and two 1/9-ish weird old clone dolls with interesting articulation. I'll take some photos of them another day - the clone dolls are more unique-looking so I need better lighting to do them justice.) 

Articulated Sarah Love and other thrift store finds

This week was a good week in thrifting. I found some pretty cool stuff today, but I need to clean it and take some photos first. Meanwhile, here's some stuff I found the other day that's not too shabby either:


Chairs! Or a tiki bar stool and an 80s rocking chair, I guess. Nothing special, I just thought they were cute. Also you can never have too many chairs. 



I didn't really need another Betty Teen, but this one had articulation! The doll crate was a mess with headless bodies everywhere (why is this hobby so scary sometimes?) so at first I didn't realize this was a Betty. The body had some random head on and I was just going to buy it to rebody one of my Simba Disney princesses (the photo doesn't really show it, but she's quite pale). Anyway, the stamps on the back and head match so I'm pretty sure this is her body, even though the colors don't quite match. Her hair is so-so, but you can hide the frizz among the curls, and the bangs look pretty good. Like I said, she was supposed to be a body donor, but it's starting to feel like this body is already taken... So I guess she'll stick around for now. 

head: (C) TONG, back: M&C CHINA 


Weird white stuff on neck knob. At first I thought it was glue, but it seems more likely it's some kind of chemical reaction to the head. 



She came in this amazing Sindy sweater with a happy palette and paintbrush print. I guess that means she's claiming the Sindy drawing desk? 



 
I also bought a completely useless clone doll with broken legs just to get this dress. It may have belonged to a bigger doll originally - it's a bit large even for regular Barbie-sized dolls - but Aya wears it best, I think. 


All pretty good stuff, but the best thing was this: 


Sarah Love, little sister/Skipper equivalent of Steffi Love. I've never seen these dolls here but I knew they exist, or at least used to - this looks like an 80s doll. 

And guess what - she's articulated too! 


She has a smaller version of the older articulated Steffi body, which is also the same as Betty above has, and a bunch of other clone dolls too. Her left foot was nowhere to be found - I dug all the way to the bottom of the crate, but to no avail. It seems the feet are the same size as the bigger body's, so if I find a cheap clone doll it should be easy to fix her. That's the big upside with these bodies, actually: the range of movement may not be the best, but all the joint hinges have pins that are relatively easily to remove and so you can switch out a limb if you need to. For example, for my last Frankendolly project I switched the ugly feet on the modern articulated Steffi Love with a better-looking pair from a clone body I had laying around. 

ETA 24 Oct: I checked the articulated Steffi bodies, and their feet are actually bigger than Sarah's. It seems it's just the Betty/Gloria body that has extra small feet - in fact, they're even slightly narrower than Sarah's. So, good to know when looking for a donor.


Size comparison. L-R: Arklu Lottie, Sarah Love, old Skipper, Volks mini.  


The Only Hearts Club soccer outfit is a bit big, but the ball is just perfect!