Dollmore 12'' Basic Gem BJD-ish ABS body (a review, kind of)

Well, I was going to post about a bunch of interesting thrift store stuff from the last two weeks or so, but then my Dollmore package arrived and sort of took precendence. This is the first strung doll I own that I haven't made myself, and one that doesn't seem to be very popular - or at least not widely blogged about in any language I read, so I thought I might as well give her a proper introduction.

So: Dollmore Neo Gem 12'' ABS fashion doll, strung and ball-jointed but ...doesn't qualify as a proper BJD according to hobby purists, apparently? Actually, I'm not even going into that discussion. For the purpose of this blog and my collection, this is a BJD - although not a very good one, that much I'll admit. We'll get there in a minute.

Dollmore 12'' Neo Gem ABS body

Actually, I'm not sure whether they're called Neo Gem or Basic Gem? The shop page uses both, I think, but there's only one type of body from what I can tell. It's possible the Neo Gem refers to the full dressed dolls, and Basic to the loose body, which is what I bought, but I'm not sure. The doll/body comes in two colors: normal and dark. I posted a photo of the feet for comparison earlier: dark is considerably lighter than Fashionista Barbie, but pretty much the same color. This is normal, which is practically identical to Obitsu normal.

Price without head: 58$ which is about the most I can ever see myself paying for a doll that isn't handmade. No head, because I was kind of broke and mostly interested in the body anyway. Jenny's friend Aya occupies the body for now - the string ends in a big S-hook on top of the neck, which isn't really ideal for regular fashion doll heads. There was some kind of adapter or something that seemed more suited for getting a Jenny or Barbie head on, but they were sold out so I improvised with a couple of rings and a smaller S-hook. It seems to work for now.

With Aya rebodied, Lisa is finally back on the Obitsu where she belongs, and I'm more baffled than ever that people consider her ugly.

Also, this is the first package of mine that got caught in customs. I had a feeling it might, since it's probably the most valuable thing I've imported so far. Technically you have to pay tax for anything worth over about 25$, but with packages valued below 50$ or so they usually won't bother, so I'm still up a bit over the years. I can't really complain, but I'm also kind of poor, and not exactly overjoyed with having to pay about 40% on top in VAT and fees. Oh well.

She looks nice, if a bit top heavy, so I'm going to go straight to the problem which is poseability. The arms tend to do this:

Those folding elbows
so that's a bit annoying

They can be posed, or rather locked, at a 90 degree angle and straight, but nothing inbetween.

Dollmore 12'' Neo Gem ABS - arms
That's it.

After making my own ball-jointed arms, I know that this happens when the balls in the joints are not perfectly round. The joints in this doll's arms are not round at all - actually, they're so far from round that I think it must be on purpose. Basically, they're made to take three positions and nothing else. But why? No idea. Since I don't own any BJDs I can't tell whether this is common or not, but I do know that it's not how I would have designed them. You can coax them into more advanced positions if you unhinge the joints a bit, but I'm not sure whether that's a bug or a feature.

Dollmore 12'' Neo Gem ABS - ebow joint
Square-ish joints - why??

Still, I think they can be modified to be a bit more like actual joints. When I was working on my first attempts at carving a ball-jointed doll from wood, I complained about how difficult it was to make the joints perfectly round so that they would hold at any angle, and someone on youtube suggested sueding. I knew about the concept (it's when you put suede or hot glue or another material with more friction in the joints of a BJD to make them hold a pose better) but when it comes to carving I feel like it's better to try and get it right from the start. But wood has a natural roughness that plastic lacks, so with this doll it's probably a good idea. I'll have to research it a bit (maybe what works for a huge 1/3 resin doll won't work on 1/6 plastic?) but this thread on a french doll forum (one of the few sites I've found mentioning this doll) suggested a quick fix with plastic-coated wire inside the limbs as an alternative to traditional sueding.


She comes with high-heel feet, but I bought a pair of flat feet and switched them out, so that's what yo'll see here. None of the pairs has very much range of motion, which is a disappointment and also pretty inconvenient. The two pairs of feet are actually different sizes, so that's something to think about (or not, considering that for a doll you still need different pairs of shoes). The wrists don't have that big a range of motion either, which actually annoys me a bit.

Legs - 2 poses

Anyway, my least favorite feature is probably the knee joints. They look very elegant when the knee is straight, almost seamless, but the articulation is pretty lacklustre. I know it's difficult to make double joints, but even if it's only bending at a straight angle they could have used a joint that isn't quite as floppy. Move it past 90 degrees and it's pretty much hanging loose on the elastic, which I guess counts as mobility but it's pretty much impossible to get them to stick in any position. Like with the elbows, you can dislocate the joint a bit to increase the range of motion, but again: I'm not sure whether you're supposed to do that? If I had built the joint myself I wouldn't think twice about jury rigging it however-the-hell I felt like, but then I could just carve a new part if anything went wrong. Here I'm not so sure. I can see the edge of the lower limb scratching the outside of the thigh part and I'm not sure I want to risk that.

Dollmore 12'' ABS knee joint
Inside the knee joints

dislocated knee
Sitting pretty, kinda.

The thing with this joint is I'm not sure there's much you can do about it. Sueding could make it hold poses at lower angles, but it still won't do anything after the parts of the joint have separated. Maybe the metal wire trick would be worth trying here, but it seems a bit like cheating. Why not build a joint that works a bit less badly?

The hip joints are floppy and unreliable too, but that's one joint that looks completely traditional and susceptible to old-fashioned sueding, so I'm not that worried. What I don't like is that she can't sit properly. Again: a double joint at the hips would be more complicated and, I assume, make for a more expensive body, but they could have just carved out the socket a bit to make them legs come up a bit closer to the body.

She can sit, though, thanks to her torso joint. Alas, she sits like a sack of potatoes.

Dollmore 12'' ABS sitting
Notice how the lower torso part is leaning backwards

The funny thing is, this is exactly the problem I've been having with my two attempts at carving a jointed torso. I guess it's not easy, even for the pros.

Sit up straight!
Sacks in stereo!
Also, I tried messing with the stringing a bit. It didn't do much, but at least I was relieved to learn it's not too complicated. It felt very familiar to how the elastic behaves in my wooden prototypes, which was pretty reassuring in a way. I like knowing that the way my joints work isn't too far off from how they're supposed to work, and that the process for disassembling and reassembling them is pretty much the same. And I like that I don't have a scary expensive doll that can only be opened by an expert, because that's not the sort of dolls I want to build either.

That was actually one of my goals when I bought this doll: getting more hands-on experience with a real BJD - or, strung, ball-jointed, plastic fashion doll, whatever. And for all its faults, this body has definitely made me more confident in my doll-carving skills!

second wip
Second WIP. I said I was going bigger, and look what happened.

 I'm sounding pretty negative now - it's not that bad! I think Aya looks pretty good on her new body.

Aya 1
She's no Obitsu, but she CAN stand unaided with a bit of coaxing.

Aya and Lisa
"So what happened to your elbows?"
"Shut up."


  1. I've never seen owner pictures of Dollmore's Gem bodies before, so this was great to read. It's a shame about the lack of articulation in some of the joints though - and surprising, since some of their larger lines are known for their jointing.

    Either way, Aya looks great on her new body!

    1. As someone just explained to me on Flickr, apparently it's common with cheaper dolls (which this is, as ball joints go). I'm sure the more high-end Dollmore dolls pose just fine!

    2. Yeah, my only experience of Dollmore's dolls is one of their large "Glamor Model" dolls (72cm, although they advertise them as being 75), and he's great (aside from some weirdness with the chest joint). I'd actually been wondering about their smaller dolls recently, so having read this, now I know to adjust my expectations a little.

      Still thinking about it though!

    3. I think they have another 12'' doll that's more of a proper BJD (and priced accordingly), those are probably a different story alltogether. I'll see what I can do about the joints on this one, though.

  2. She looks cute in her vintage clothes, but the body itself... Uh, not sure about it. I would prefer cheap supermodels' bodies- at least the don't have strings (aka ligaments) hunging around. And are cheap as hell. For a body at such price it could be better. But, again- the doll is super cute (and articulated at last).

    1. Personally I'm starting to prefer strung dolls: you can take them apart and modify them in a way you can't with regular plastic joints. (Or you could probably take them apart, but you probably can't put them together again.) But I need to do something about those joints...

  3. Hello from Spain: Fabulous review. Keep in touch

  4. That body would perturb me greatly. It's articulation, but not.