Frankendolly! Articulated pregnant Steffi Love

So today I finally finished my first proper frankendolly! I've had this mod in mind for a year at least but I wasn't sure exactly how to go about it. Well, at some point you just have to break out those hobby knives and give it a try.

The goal was to give some articulation to one of those pregnant Steffi Love dolls.  This one came from the thrift store and lacks the actual baby bump, so I guess that makes her just plus size (and a good candidate for hybridization). I like my dolls to have at least decent articulation, and it annoyed me that this one had only the basic 5 joints + click knees. The new articulated Steffi Love body had come out, and since they're both the same bright peach-pink shade, I started to wonder whether I could kitbash them together. 

There's a whole bunch of process pics so I'm putting a cut here. Click through for thousands of little plastic fragments that will get in your hair for weeks!

Those of you who aren't interested in slow-loading pics with creepy doll parts can feast your eyes on the final result here instead. (Please ignore the terrible repaint and lack of hair, it's my practice head.)

Peter Pan 2 Jane's dress always reminded me of maternity clothes, and her shoes are very sensible. 

She can sit!

Here's the articulated Steffi I cracked open to steal the limbs of: 

Since I wasn't saving the torso I just pried  it apart with a sharp blade and some needlenose pliers. It was surprisingly easy. You can see the inner workings of the Liv-style waist (the pole that the lower part hangs from isn't upside down, I've checked).

The arms of the original body were just plugged into the holes, so rather than risking damage to the torso by trying to pull them out I simply cut them off, and puller the plugs out with tweeezers. Of course this torso didn't have the mechanism for proper shoulder joints, so I just stringed the arms together with a piece of elastic:

Crude but functional. I had to enlarge the holes a bit first. 

Ta-daa! Functional articulated arms:

Success! Wait, why are you running away?

...is it because I can now do THIS??


Ahem. Anyway, at this point I had to figure out the tricky bit: leg articulation. The original legs were just the back-and-forth rotating, click-knee type, while articulated Steffi has the ball-and-socket kind that can do sideways splits. I realized pretty quickly there was no way to graft those joints onto/into the torso - the ...baby compartment, I guess, took up most of the space in the torso, and I obviously wanted to keep that.

Instead I decided to use a method I vaguely remembered seeing on someone's blog, and reuse the old joints. That meant sacrificing sideways movement, but I figure she doesn't need to be able to do advanced gymnastics in the third trimester.

This would have been a lot easier if I'd had a saw...

First I cut off the joints from the legs, leaving an empty semisphere. 

First joint gone! I'm hanging on to the ball and the rubber thingy inside the joint case I need to perform some 1/6 hip surgery some day. 


Figuring out how much to cut was tricky. As you can see from the pics, the old and new legs had pretty different shapes and dimensions, and I needed to make sure there was room for movement without having the top of the legs stick out like balloons from her sides. Oh, and I also cut off too much because I wasn't thinking ahead (and I don't own a saw). 

Next step was to cut off the top bit with the joint from the old legs and somehow fit it into the hole in the leg:

I never want to eat a hot dog again, and not only because I'm a vegetarian!

Just whittle away!

Note the white plastic skeleton inside the leg. Also, as you can see the joint isn't centered: that was the only way I could make it fit the torso. As I kept shaving off the rubber bit by bit, I was a bit worried I'd cut too close to the hole, but in the end it seems to have worked fine. 

Getting there...

...and BAM! Or maybe *squoink* *click*, or whatever sound a piece of soft rubber containing a hard plastic skeleton makes as it gets squeezed and clicked into place in a tight plastic socket.

The pics above are from the second leg which was a lot easier than the first. I managed to get a pretty good fit and almost hoped that would be enough to keep the joint-bit in place. (Also, with the first leg I accidentally got the plug stuck on the torso while testing the fit, and then I had to keep whittling it down without knowing if I cut too close to the hole.)

Finally, it was time to apply some super glue.

First leg before the glue...

...and the second.  

Since the fit wasn't very good, I didn't know if super glue would be would be enough or if I'd need something more substantial to fill up the gaps, but since it was right there in the crafts aisle I decided to try that first. 

Truth is I was a bit nervous, since I've never actually used super glue before. I'm really paranoid of Scary Mysterious Chemicals, and accidentally glueing my forehead to my pants (you may laugh, but that's just the kind of thing I'd do) so I always opt for the child-safe, non-toxic kinds. They always end up not really working, but at least I feel safe using them. Well, I've been an adult for over a decade now, so I decided I should finally be able to handle adult glue. 

Lo and behold, I managed to not glue any body parts together. I did manage to produce some smoke, though! The internet tells me that'll happen sometimes due to the heat produced as the glue hardens, and not to inhale the fumes or glue porous flammable stuff like paper (or body parts). I was reapplying glue after one of the legs came loose, so the porous material may have been the old glue residue? 

 Oops, again. I accidentally pried the leg off and tore the remaining rubber from the skeleton. Some more glue fixed it, though.

At least she's got a thigh gap? I hear those're all the rage among the kids these days.

So yeah, the fit isn't that great. The new thighs are thinner than the old ones and stick out a bit. In order to give the legs room to move I had to mount them slightly angled out from the torso, so she's awfully broadbent, but at least she can stand unaided. 

I also replaced the feet with those from a knock-off older type of articulated Steffi (the Top-Toy dolls I made a post about switching the arms around on a long time ago). They have the same hinge mechanism of the same dimensions, so I just pushed the pins out. Originally I thought of giving her Simba Super Model feet, but I didn't have a spare to sacrifice and the colors don't match anyway. These feet are the wrong shade too, but she'll just have to live with that. 

Donor leg, old foot with pin, new feet that aren't quite as pink.

Her legs ended up at slightly different angles - instant contrapposto, I guess? She can still balance. 

The hip joints look a bit silly, but I'll take that over boring click-knee legs anytime. 

I mean, it's not like fashion dolls are exactly known for having realistic bodies.

She couldn't do this before!

So there you have it. Next step is to get her a proper head, then get a new Welcome Baby Steffi with a baby and an outer belly (the mechanisms of 1/6 pregnancy are a complicated affair), to see whether there's room for that when she sits down. Then maybe get another articulated Steffi and try to improve on the design. 


  1. That is so cool! Now she can get down and boogie.

  2. Boy o boy. I love it when folks rebody their dolls! Lets see what the final outcome will be head and all!

  3. Wow, this is really impressive! Great job on giving Steffi articulation. You almost inspire me to try the same...almost. :)

  4. @Muff She's doing the macarena as we speak, actually.

    @Grandmommy Haha, I need to give her a better face before I get used to this one and she's stuck with it. :D

    @Roxanne Thanks, I just wish I could remember who to credit for the hip joint mod idea.

  5. This is some serious frankendolling, you should be so proud! I recommend gel super glue, it's much easier to use and control than the regular drippy variety and there's less chance of gluing foreheads to pants (unless you're specifically going for that).

    1. Thanks! Now we'll just see how long it holds up... :D I'm new to super glue so I just bought the type that says "for plastic", but if gel works as well I'll have to try that. It sounds much easier to handle!