Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where is this Heading? Your Path in the World of Dolls

Do you ever wonder where your path through the world of dolls will take you? If you're reading about dolls online, following blogs, writing blogs, constructing your own clothing, your fun little hobby has taken a serious turn. 

 A quick spin around the Internet, several random quick scans of a few blogs and you can see that many doll aficionados have developed, or are working to develop, a wide range of artistic skills relevant to their hobby.

They are learning how to do face ups, sometimes with amazing results...sometimes with amazingly bad results. We've seen the dolls with 1/2 inch long lashes painted like they were slapped on with a child's craft brush. We've seen the beautiful work of the artists whose repaints are so outstanding that their work increases the value of a doll by hundreds of dollars. We've seen repaints so good we have to question if it is really a doll we are looking at. We all want to be able to do that!

Then there are the bloggers, the knowledgable top-of-the-line bloggers who have years of experience in the doll world to draw upon and share with the rest of us. 

Next are those whose greatest passion revolves around the clothing. They collect clothing, construct clothing, create patterns, and design original outfits. Their passion may be in the design end, or their passion may lie in the pleasure of crafting the outfits. Usually it blends a little of both pleasurable pursuits. 

Where do you fall in this continuum? Where do you see yourself heading with your creative pursuits in the doll world? Will you be a fashionista? A repaint artist? A expert level collector? A designer? A crafter/designer of miniature accessories? Will you create elaborate dioramas? Will you develop finely honed doll photography skills? Will you become a damn good blogger with thousands of followers? 

Chances are that right now, you know your passions and you know your talents. Chances are you know the direction you're headed in even if you haven't given it much thought.

What aspect(s) of this do you think you will excel in? What order would you put them in if you were to chart where you think you will be in a few years from now? Start with your most promising area of development and work backwards...

Here is my list: 
1)  Repaint artist: I've always had painting talent and I've found that my ability to do repaints is improving at lightening speed. It will not be long before my ability to do face ups will significantly exceed all my other doll related skills.
2)  Clothing construction: I have a good foundation here because I've sewn since early childhood. I do this for pleasure and relaxation, so the hours I put in, and the things I learn from my mistakes, will inevitably result in the development of top notch skills.
3) Blogging: I really, really enjoy this! It is inevitable that I will continue to develop in this area. Whether my blog becomes popular is another thing altogether. I am just aspiring to do it well! Everything else will be a bonus.
4) Clothing design & pattern making: I have done a little here, but I don't think I have the required passion to take it up a notch. My greatest success has been in creating patterns that replicate clothing worn by family and friends on special occasions. I have designed a few things that are highly original and attractive, but this is not a common occurrence.
5) Doll photography: I so want to be an outstanding doll photographer. I do have a talent for snapshot, landscape, and nature photography. So far, this has not translated to doll photography. As evidenced from my blog, I can take sharp focused, utilitarian, attractive doll photographs. I just haven't managed to cross the line into true artistry. I don't think I have the patience for it, to be honest. However, just getting better will be good enough for me!

Molly and Parker, our most recent rescue. Molly belongs in this blog since she tries to interact with the dolls on a daily basis and provides much needed assistance with the construction of every article of doll clothing.

It should be obvious that I am writing this blog not just to make you think about your personal direction, but to work the same thing out for myself! Kind of a dual teaching/learning exercise. My hope is that some of you will engage in a dialog with me and that we can inspire and encourage each other.

One of the things that I know from engaging in self-actualization and working as a vocational counselor - you need to be honest and you need to believe in yourself. If you feel that writing a list like the one above would be an embarrassing act of arrogance...then you so need to write the list! If you cannot praise yourself with the same ease that you criticize yourself, you need to start.

This blog will be here for a long time. I don't care how long it has been since it was posted, if you see it and want to respond, please do so. I will still get back to you.

One last pic of the lovely Molly...


Dollspart Supply - Review of their French Fashion Doll Clothing Kits

Mini-Magic, Inc. 1873 promenade dress that was constructed using silk (blue) and cotton fabrics. This promotional photograph is from the Dollspart Supply website. 

1879 Evening Dress

I have recently purchased two French Fashion Doll kits designed for 16 inch dolls from Dollspart Supply. The quality of these kits was so outstanding that I have decided to blog about them and recommend this company, even though it will be a while before I start constructing the gowns.

The photograph above and the illustration to the right show the kits that I purchased. The fabric included with the kits is silk - the finest quality silk! Cotton is included for the lining, slips, and blouse (the promenade dress).

When I opened the package after I received it, my jaw dropped simply from the quality of the packing. Each pattern/kit was impressively packaged with a care that is rarely seen. When I opened the packaging and examined the fabrics and notions, I was amazed that the quality of the materials was significantly superior to that which can be readily found at a fabric store.

Each kit was packaged in a clear, reusable box. A box that will be handy for storing the dresses as they are assembled. 

The supplies for the promenade dress are shown above. All of the fabric was cut on grain, so I will not have an issue with straightening the grain when I prepare to cut out the pattern. All of the notions needed for this dress were included in ample supply. There is enough of everything! 

The colors shown in my photographs do accurately reproduce the colors of the fabric. However; your monitor or screen settings could cause distortions. The blue is a shade of aqua - a teal blue.

This photograph shows the materials for the evening dress kit. As with the promenade kit, all of the fabrics are of an outstanding quality. The packaging of the floral embelishments is a wonderful bonus. They have even supplied a container to keep them organized while you are working on the dress.

As with the other photograph, the colors shown are a very accurate representation of the actual colors.

The striped silk fabric included with the evening dress kit is perhaps my favorite. It is finely woven and perfectly scaled for a 16 inch fashion doll. It will add a touch of beauty and drama to the finished ensemble that I expect to be breathtaking.

The promenade dress/pattern kit cost $37 and the evening dress cost $67. The cost difference is not a reflection of quality - the evening dress just requires more silk. Both kits contain fabric and notions of equal quality. 

At these prices, I was expecting to receive a good quality kit. However, the quality exceeded my expectations. They could not be better. The silks could not be nicer. All of the materials were fresh, with no indication that they had been sitting around on a shelf for years. The fact that they were cut on grain was also unexpected...I thought that I would have to do that myself!

If you like what you see and read here, please don't hesitate to purchase a kit from Dollspart Supply. I feel very confident in saying that you will not be dissatisfied. In fact, if you buy something from them and are disappointed, I give you permission to write all sorts of horrible comments about me on my blog!

Mini-Magic, Inc. Dinner Dress from Dollspart Supply
The rest of the photographs used in this blog are promotional photos from Dollspart Supply's website used to illustrate their kits. They are all Mini-Magic, Inc. dresses even if this does not show in the captions.

You can purchase these, along with the two kits I am reviewing as both a kit or as a pattern. All of the kits come with the complete pattern, so that you can reuse it as many times as you want. Most of these kits come with several color options and all come with a choice of sizes: Small, Medium, Medium/Large, and Large. They are designed for French Fashion dolls but the patterns can be readily adapted to fit modern fashion dolls. The Mediums will work for all 16 inch dolls and the slightly taller 17 inch Deanna Denton and Evangeline Ghastly Dolls.

These dresses are replicas of actual dresses. In all cases they are exact replicas that may have some very minor changes to make them workable for a fashion doll. Some are based on illustrations while still others are based on existing fashion relics.

 Faille Worth Reception Toilette Dress - Dollspart Supply
They have a wide variety of styles and colors on offer, so I am sure that everyone interested in Victorian era clothing will find something to their taste that suits the dolls in their collection. 

The patterns are printed on decent paper - not on the flimsy paper used by your standard pattern company. This is an advantage because you can trace the patterns onto pattern fabric and avoid damaging the original pattern. Pattern fabric can be readily found at any fabric store. In a pinch, you can use regular interfacing, which is similar but will not hold up as well.

Upon examining the patterns, I found that they will be readily adaptable to modern fashion dolls. There will not be any need to adjust the length of any of the pieces. Minor adjustments will be required for width. These adjustments can be readily made by an experienced craftsperson/seamstress.

I typically do a test run with my patterns before using them with expensive fabrics, which I plan to do with both of these patterns. My test runs will be made using fine quality cotton that has a similar weight, weave, and body to the silk. My plan is to size for Ellowynne Wilde dolls, so that I will have a dress that will be a decent fit on most of the dolls in my collection. After working with the pattern the first time around, I will know if it has any glitches that need to be corrected for when I construct the kits. 

Right now, I want the blue dress to fit an Wilde Imagination Amber doll, but I could change my mind. I am leaning towards making the evening dress fit a Madame Alexander Alex doll who I envision wearing this dress better than any of the others. Of course, I am fickle and I could see things totally differently in a few months time...

Mini-Magic, Inc. 1881 Walking Dress - Dollspart Supply
I will post the test runs and the finished kits some time in the future. I cannot give an approximate date because I have way too many projects in process. I also tend to switch between painting, dolls, and jewelry design, so I never know when one of these interests will totally consume me to the point of excluding all else. I do know that I will have it all done sometime over the next year...

An Amazing Beauty - Review of the FR16

FR16 Tulabelle J Adore (Integrity Toys) shown wearing an outfit manufactured by Ashton Drake for their Gene Marshall doll.

I just purchased my very first Fashion Royalty 16 inch (FR16) doll! My collection is enhanced by this lovely and amazingly elegant doll.

The temptation is just to let the photos of the doll speak for themselves! She has delicate features and possesses such a look of refinement that one cannot help but be jealous of the girl. Clearly, she alone is classy enough to wear my Gene Marshall clothes. 

She is now my thinnest doll! It will not be easy for her to share clothing with my Tonners. In addition to Gene Marshall clothing, she can wear clothing manufactured by Madame Alexander for the Alex fashion doll. 

Her legs are very long and thin. Her waist is very narrow, but she has a naturally proportioned bust line, so that she does not look anything like a Barbie. She comes with fully posable feet that bend/twist at the ankle joint and bend at the toes. 

Her hands and feet are so beautiful that I've spent considerable time playing with various poses - could not resist.

Some may not like the fact that she is so thin. She would be described as anorexic by most standards. This is clearly not a doll for those who think that fashion dolls should not promote starvation dieting. Those who object to Barbie on moral grounds, would probably reject the FR16.

Top 3 Negatives: 
1) The Hair: It is thin compared to the usual, about half as thick as on a Tonner or Madame Alexander Doll. It was cut poorly and will have to be trimmed.
2) The Face Up: Even though the face up was executed perfectly, I feel that it could easily have been better if it was just a bit more realistic.
3) The Clothing: Although well constructed, the J Adore outfit is far better suited to a play doll. The plastic pink and purple shoes were the worst part. 

Tulabelle in her original outfit. Photograph copyright of Integrity Toys.
Top 3 Positives:
1) The Face Sculpt: Just amazing!
2) The Detailing: The hands, feet, neck line, knees, and abdominal area are beautifully rendered. This doll is perfect for bare waist ensembles. The eyelashes are easily the best I have seen on a doll thus far.
3) The Body Proportions: She is slim and curvaceous making her ideal for haute couture outfits and unsuitable for the outfit she was sold wearing (see above picture).

The picture on the left shows how well she can pose in a sitting position. Notice how cute her feet are with one curved over the top of the other. She cannot assume the natural looking poses assumed by an Urban Vita, but is significantly more posable than the average doll. I would put her just below a BJD in posability, keeping in mind that many BJDs will not hold their pose once you let go of them!

Would I recommend purchasing the FR16? Totally, the materials and the workmanship are top of the line. This doll compares favorably to the top notch beauties produced by Dollmore (Misha), Tonner (Daphne), and Madame Alexander (Sienna). I think she is that lovely! I put her right there with all my personal favorites!

Special note: will not be able to use shoes designed for other 16 inch dolls. Her feet are significantly smaller than average and most aftermarket shoes will either look really bad or fall off. You can use shoes made for AvantGuard and Madame Alexander. AvantGuards are also manufactured by Integrity Toys and have the same sized foot.

All of the photographs taken here are mine except were noted - the Integrity Toys promotional photo. 

Hybrid Doll - Tonner Head on an Urban Vita Body

A Tonner, Death Becomes Her head (Magnolia Face Sculpt) mounted on a Horsman, Urban Vita doll's body. The face up was slightly modified to clean up details around the eyes. Mica used to replicate decomposition was gently scrubbed away. A gloss finish was applied to her lips and eyes. You can see that the lips were painted incorrectly and that the eyes are not quite up to par with Tonner's usual standards. This doll is slated for a repaint!

Notice the slouch and the slight tilt to the right (doll's left) of the body. This pose looks natural. This pose - simple as it appears - cannot be replicated by a Tonner doll body. And it is this posability that inspired me to put the Tonner head on a Vita body...that and the fact that I really did not like the Vita head!

The Magnolia face sculpt is lovely despite the fact that my particular version did not receive an optimal factory face up. One of the issues I have with Tonner is that the quality of the face ups can vary from excellent to fair. This occurs in both their Tonner and Wilde Imagination lines. Nonetheless, I consider Tonner to be the gold standard for fashion dolls. One of the reasons being, that despite the occasional flawed doll, their product is uniformly outstanding.

What I love best about the Magnolia is that she's very natural looking. She's not a flawless beauty, she looks like a real woman. Her nose is a bit long and her face is a bit strong featured. She does looks very much like a real woman with a real personality, something often not seen in a more idealized face sculpt.

The Urban Vita body assumes relaxed natural looking poses. She really looks like she is on that chair. It would not be possible for any other doll in my collection to pose like this. The knees are together. The left leg is gracefully crossed behind the right. Her legs do not awkwardly elevate her thighs from the chair, because her lower legs can tilt sideways. 

This body is also extremely well proportuned. Although thinner and longer legged than a Tonner, she does not have an abnormally slim waist and oversized breasts as do some other dolls.

It was not difficult to put the Tonner head onto the Urban Vita body. The Vita's head was easily removed by gently working it off the neck. The Tonner head was softened before application by soaking it in hot water to make it pliable. It was then gently wiggled onto the neck. It is a perfect fit. Even though the Death Becomes Her head has a long, heavy mass of hair, there is no issue with unwanted tilting. If positioned fully upright, or thrown back, the head will hold its position and not slowly pull down under the weight of the hair. (A problem with Tonner heads mounted on JaimeShow bodies.)

The hands, although not as pretty as Tonner hands, are more realistically proportuned and have the most attractive and realistically rendered fingernails I have seen on a 16 inch doll. The nails would be beautiful painted to look natural or with a French manicure.

The Urban Vita's body was constructed out of flesh toned materials and then painted with flesh toned paint. In the photographs above, you can see one foot with paint and one foot after the paint had been stripped. A professional, with experience in working with vinyl, removed all of the paint from the body. You can see the poorly painted toes and the unattractive pink/grey color on the painted foot. You can also see how attractive the flesh toned vinyl is in its natural state.

Click on the pictures to see the details better.

When the doll was fully stripped, dirt residue was found in some of the seams. This residue was almost fully eliminated in the stripping process. It is appears that the painting was done after the manufacturing process was complete as a way of compensating for a dirty process. I do not know of any other manufacturer who paints their dolls' skins. 

All of the photographs of the doll shown above with the Magnolia head show the doll with its body after all the paint was removed. As you can see, the skin tone on the Vita body is very lovely and is an excellent match for the pale Death Becomes Her head. 

Please share your experiences in creating doll hybrids! Post your pics!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Doll Blogs - Some Thoughts...

I just thought it would be a good idea to share some general thoughts on blogging about dolls.

Entertaining thought... a doll blog is a known thing, doll blogging is an activity, a very serious activity. A lot of effort and time is given to this activity. 

I don't classify myself among the best of the doll bloggers, but I do aspire to do as well as they do. I know that my other commitments and other creative activities will continue to prevent me from devoting as much time to this as I'd like. Nonetheless, I am going to have as much fun and contribute to this little world of passionate collectors and artists whenever I can.

Exquisite American Model (Tonner) repaint by Joo.
I believe that some of the most wonderful, creative things are produced by the artists who do repaints. Most dolls lend themselves well to this activity, with Tonner dolls, such as the one shown here, being one of the most popular with these artists. The example I have chosen does, admittedly, represent my taste in repaints. I love the soft natural look with exquisitely rendered details. 

On equal footing with the repaint artists are those who craft and/or design clothing and accessories for these lovely little folks. These people range from those who create intricate replica patterns of historical clothing to those who create unimaginably creative works of art using fabric in ways that take optimal advantage of the dolls' attributes rather than just creating tiny outfits for miniature humans. I am constantly amazed at the creativity and skill of these artists.

Some artists create dioramas for their little friends. Tiny, intricately detailed room settings. This isn't an interest of mine, I have just a few pieces of furniture, but I am still blown away by the care these people take and the style they demonstrate. Although I would not do this - being a locked cabinet sort of collector - I am impressed.

For me, the major focus is on the dolls themselves. I love sewing for them, and collecting OOAK clothes from artists. I am learning how to do face ups and the progress has been very satisfying.

There are two things that I can be really weak willed about when it comes to shopping for myself. Shoes and jewelry. It is no different when it comes to my girls. I have to admit that I am embarrassed to tell my friends and family how much I have spent on footwear and costume jewelry for these ladies. Although I cannot say this about my jewelry collection, I can definitely say that I have spent more on shoes for my dolls than I have spent on myself in the past year. I wasn't being stingy with myself either!

Decently crafted doll shoes range from $10 to $50 per pair. Quality jewelry typically starts at $20 for a necklace and earring set and is somewhat more difficult to find.

I've been trying to find someone who will build me a miniature shoe rack...this is a story that keeps making its way back to me through family and friends. "I heard you have more shoes for your dolls than you do for yourself. Did you really ask for a shoe rack?" Now why is that so hard to believe?

The lovely Fashion Jane (Tonner) She's wearing one of my old is good not to let people find out when you do this to a piece they gave you!
I am diligently working on developing my  doll clothing sewing and designing skills. I have years of experience sewing for full size humans, which does give me some advantage. However, what works for us full size humans often doesn't translate well to the little ones. 

I am learning to expand from making miniature replicas to creating outfits suitable to this tiny scale. It is sort of like the difference between painting with oils and painting with watercolors - to do something excellent, you have to be fully with your medium and use it optimally. You cannot try to force something to be what it is not, you have to let it be what it is and only then can you create something outstanding. I may not be describing this well, but you know what I am talking about and you've seen it from the best of the doll clothing designers.

What I do currently have going for me in sewing doll clothes is that I have the skill and dexterity. I also took advanced tailoring classes many years ago and do know how to make patterns, how to fully line clothes, etc. What works against me is that there is a bit of rigidity to my thinking. For example...French seams are too bulky...button holes are a joke...clipping curves can destroy a piece...and it goes on. I have to do it MY WAY and then rethink it and do it for the dolls.

Hand sewing is often better than machine sewing for most of the tiny outfits. Many fabrics just cannot be handled well on most machines at such a small scale. Hand sewing can be very relaxing and fun! Of course, I am engaged in a rather extensive search for a sewing machine that can be used for ultra fine sewing. Please leave recommendations in the comments section if you know of suitable machines.

I can never keep up with my ideas for Doll Blogs. I actually have dozens of pictures that I have taken for my blogs. I have unwritten Doll Blogs stored in my head dating back at least a year. How sad is that? I need to get to work!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

J-Doll - Safe Wig Removal

All of the pictures shown of the J-Doll were taken by me. The doll is shown wearing part of the outfit she was dressed in by Groove, Inc., the manufacturer. The wig is a Monique wig designed for 12-inch fashion dolls.

This was almost too easy! 

I did a bit of research online and thought about similar things I'd done and what had or had not been successful. The first thing I tried worked; it was incredibly easy. Best of all, it did not require the use of toxins or harsh chemicals.

My Research 

Before attempting anything, I searched online to see what others had attempted and what the results were for them. I found a number who had cracked the J-Doll's head. I found others who'd scratched the head or caused hairline fractures. I saw dolls whose little heads had been crudely glued back together.

The fact is that the doll is not designed to have her wig removed, so the options were either to use force or chemicals. I wasn't hopeful...

I listened to several collectors on YouTube. Some complained that their lack of success was due to the doll's poor quality, not their mishandling. These people lamented the fragility of the doll while holding her pressed to the floor as they jabbed away at her little head with a craft knife! Clearly, these people had little of use to share with the rest of us, outside of the fact that using force to remove the wig is a poor choice.

The wig is very securely attached. The glue holding it in place is not water based, so it can only be dissolved with solvents, which would ruin the doll's face up and possibly damage the plastic itself. Additionally, the glue is rigid and firmly adhered to the head, so the wig cannot be pulled off with gentle force alone.

The solution didn't come from any source that dealt with removal of doll wigs. In fact, it came from a flash of memory I had of removing something that had been glued into place using the same type of glue. It was easy...

The Method

How do you remove labels and stickers from glass, metal, and plastic kitchenware? You soak it in hot, soapy water and then you peel the label away and scratch off the residue with your fingernail or a gentle plastic scrubber. This is basically the method I used to remove the J-Doll's wig. 


I soaked the doll in hot water with a small amount of Dawn dishwashing detergent for about a half hour. The Dawn detergent contains grease cutting surfactant agents (non-toxic) that infused through the wig and the glue creating just enough weak points that it became possible to gently ease the wig away from the doll's head.

If you try this, note that the water should be the same temperature used when washing dishes or scrubbing. It should not be so hot that it is painful to put your hands in it.

The Actual Removal

After the soaking had created weak points in the glue, I ran my fingernail gently around the edge of the wig. I patiently loosened the wig this way, breaking the glue bond little by little until I had it off. During the process, I did not hold tightly to the doll and I carefully monitored the position of my hands so that I did not put stress on her delicate arms and legs.

Ready for Wigs!

Now the little lady is ready to start her wig collection! She can wear size 3 and 4 wigs. Some 5s will work. She's shown wearing a size 4 wig manufactured by Monique. It was specifically designed to be worn by Barbie. She was photographed standing next to a seated Tonner doll to show scale. The Tonner doll is a 16 inch Fashion Jane (Tyler body type, 2004).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

J-Doll Review

I have recently purchased my first J-Doll and I am so delighted that I can't resist posting a review. Please note that all pictures of the doll are from a site selling J-Dolls and the copyright is held by the company Groove, Inc. 

The Doll: J608 De Martini
Cost Range: $89 to $240 USD
Issue Year: 2010 
Designer: Jun Planning
Company: Groove, Inc. of China
Doll Type: Mechanical BJD

This doll is surprisingly expensive for her size. At 26cm/10 inches, she is incredibly petite for a doll that is being sold for as much as $240 in new condition. I purchased mine for $89 from an eBay vendor with a solid reputation. The doll was in mint condition and had not been removed from her original package. She did not have staining or any other damage from the packaging.

In other reviews and commentary on this line of dolls, there are a lot of complaints about fragility and breakage. A number of purchasers complained that although they were "careful," they broke the doll's wrists or ankles while taking her out of the package. 

The doll is extremely small with very delicate features. She does need to handled with care, but it is my opinion that breakage that occurred during unpacking was probably due to rough handling. Those who broke their dolls while unpacking them all claimed to be "experienced doll collectors" who knew how to handle delicate collectible dolls. I disagree with their self assessments, I don't see how it would be possible for this to happen unless the individual was rough. I think that some of these individuals may have simply reached into the package and pulled the dolls loose thinking the strips of clear vinyl holding them in place would give way.

Other reviewers have stated that these dolls were supposed to have removable wigs and head caps that popped off so that the glass eyes could be switched out. They expressed dismay that they damaged the dolls while attempting to tear loose wigs and remove face plates. 

These dolls have wigs and face plates that are permanently glued into place. They are not designed for customization like a standard resin BJD. They are not promoted as having removable wigs and head caps by the manufacturer, Groove, Inc. Additionally, it would not be possible for an experienced collector, or an individual of average intelligence for that matter, to attempt to remove a J-Doll's wig and face plates without recognizing that they were permanently glued into place!

The packaging does have issues, which I'll go into later. Different packaging would insure that it was less likely that heavy handed purchasers would damage the doll when unpacking her, but it would not prevent them from breaking her during rough handling.

The doll is very petite with extremely thin delicate legs and arms, because of this, she needs to be handled with the same care you would give her if she was made of resin. She is constructed of hard plastic that is of a superior quality, but is nonetheless fragile. The J-Doll's fragility is not due to bad design or inferior materials. She is fragile because she cannot be otherwise. She is very much unsuitable for children or adults with a heavy hand. 

If you purchase this doll, you will need to store her in a location where she will not be knocked over. A fall from a height could break her just as it would a resin doll. You will also not want to store her in an area where someone careless may pick her up and roughly manhandle her body. These beauties are the spun glass of the doll world.

I've given everyone in my house specific instructions regarding this doll: "Touch her and die!"

When she arrived in the mail, the first thing I did was remove her from her packing and take off her clothes. I was surprised that she had virtually no staining, even though she had been manufactured two years ago and was wearing a dark teal dress. What delighted me even more was the quality of the materials and the workmanship.

The hat, jacket, and red knee socks are made from cotton. The teal skirt set is made from silk. The only synthetic fabrics were used in the lining for the jacket, skirt set, and in the nylon socks worn under the cotton socks. The materials are all top of the line.

The garments were sewn together with the care and precision that I've only seen in Ashton Drake clothing made for their Gene Marshal line of dolls. Only these dolls are so slight that their clothing is about half the size of the garments made for Gene, making them even more impressive. The photographs used in this blog show the doll wearing her teal top backwards. I can only assume that the photographer who worked with her just could not figure things out. The silver chains on her skirt are also not shown to optimal advantage in the photos.

After I removed everything in preparation for washing, I dressed her in a mini dress that had been manufactured for Barbie and posed her on her stand. She will get her little outfit back once all the manufacturing chemicals and excess dyes have been removed.

Everything, including the vinyl tote and the stand with its telescoping pole were just so well made that I was shocked. Even at the high price, I was still not expecting her to be this nice.

Her face up is exquisitely executed. Her tiny face is approximately a fourth of the size you see above, so you can see why I am pleased. 

The picture above shows her close up while still in her packaging. You can see what the top looks like when it is not backwards. The color is off in this photo, her eyes and clothing are teal, not deep blue.

The finish sanding on this doll was flawless. You have to look close to detect seams and all of the seams are spotlessly clean. She was manufactured in a clean environment with high quality control standards. The molding of her hands and feet is amazing; they are superior to the appearance of those typically found on even the higher end 16 inch and larger fashion dolls. The quality of her glass eyes is also excellent. Under close scrutiny, this doll remains impressive.

She is far more delicately built than an Obitsu. Her feet and hands are more delicate than those found on the three 1/6 Obitsu adult female doll bodies. Her wrists and ankles are perhaps around half the thickness of these dolls. She has similar joints and is stiff like an Obitsu. However, she is not tough like these vinyl dolls and cannot be firmly twisted into poses. What works for an Obitsu could break this doll. You have to gently ease her into poses taking care not to put pressure on her lower arms or legs where she is her thinnest and most fragile. Theoretically, she should be able to assume nearly any pose that an Obitsu or Urban Vita (see my earlier review of that doll) can assume. However, the delicacy of her body causes me to recommend caution here.

The only truly poor feature of this doll is her hair. It is in a word: AWFUL. One can easily understand how some had deluded themselves into believing this permanently attached wig was removable and then broke the poor dolls head trying to pry it off. It is so bad that you wish is was so want to take it off!!

Although the wig does look as good as it does in the pictures shown here. It is made out of such coarse material that it feels very rough to the touch. If I didn't know that it was made from synthetic materials, I could have confused it with horsehair. It does feel like it was cut from the tail of a horse! In the pictures it's shown as it is packaged; with the hair constrained by a band of thread wrapped midway down the length of the hair. If you remove this thread, as I did, you will be horrified to see the hair spring forth into this wild mass of unruly curls that fly out to take up more space than the tiny little doll herself.

I tried to bring the hair in hand by styling it into several small braids. That was impossible. I gave up and braided it into one thick braid. I will do research to see if I can remove the hair by soaking it in warm water. If there is truly no easy way to remove it without damaging the head, I will probably resort to cutting it to about a 3rd its current length.

The vinyl boots were also another negative about this doll. They are attractive and feature very nice detailing in the form of texture and seams that are not visible in these pictures. They are open in a slit down the back. The problem was that they were wedged very tightly onto her feet with the thick double layer of socks making it almost impossible for me to remove them. I made several gentle attempts to pull them free and realized that the application of any real force could damage or break her hinged ankle joints. Luckily, I own an extremely small, but razor sharp pair of scissors made for delicate crafting. I was able to slide the scissors under the vinyl and lengthen the back slit. After doing that, I used a pair of smooth finished jeweler's metal bending/curling pliers to gently pull on the heel while clasping the calf. The trick to not breaking the doll was in maintaining equal force while pulling on one end and holding the other. It worked; the boots look perfectly fine and the doll is unscathed. However this was so difficult to do that I will never buy another J-Doll with boots. I would also not recommend that you do what I did if you do not have high dexterity and scissors tiny enough to slip in and cut open the backs without scratching the doll. You should not have to do what I did to get these boots off.

I will not use these boots on this doll - I will replace them with something better. I swear that I was thanking the powers that be that I was able to get them off safely! from hell!

Another negative was the packaging. Although it should be said that people who cannot remove this doll safely from her packaging should not own the doll, the packaging does increase the likelihood that heavy handed, impatient people will break her when taking her out of the box. She is packaged in a window style box. She is posed on one side while some of her accessories and clothing are positioned on the other. Everything is held in place by clear vinyl strips that are secured on the backside with adhesive tape. Vinyl coated twist ties are used to secure her neck and waist to the packing. She is thus held into her pose. The package is well made and keeps her safe and undamaged. The problem comes in when heavy handed and/or impatient people try to remove her from the box. The cardboard backing to which the doll is attached should be removed from the box and the adhesive tape and twist ties carefully removed before any attempt is made to pull the doll away from the box. I could see this was what had to be done instantly, but I can also see how someone who was impatient might not get this and just try to peel her out of the box. 

I have seen people remove things from packages by pulling on items that were twist tied into place using the force of their pull to undo the ties! Heck, I've seen people remove things from packages with their teeth! Clearly, these people probably would be better collecting vintage pet rocks.

I think that the manufacturer should consider packaging them like BJD or Horsman dolls are packaged. Instead of using tape and wires, they should be held in place by cushioning, making them far easier to remove from their boxes. Dolls this fragile should simply be lifted from their packaging. It is fine to package sturdy dolls, such as Barbie, wired into poses in window style boxes, but for higher end fragile dolls like this, a closed, cushioned box is more appropriate.

Would I recommend J-Dolls?

Yes, but with the warning that you should not add her to your collection just because she's beautiful. You should add her only if you are dexterous and can handle her with delicacy. If you cannot do that, or have others in your household who would handle her roughly, you shouldn't buy her. At $90 to $250, you don't want to risk having a doll that will be broken.

Do I find that I like having this doll in my collection?

Yes, she is complimentary to my collection. All of my dolls, even though they are traditional fashion dolls or BJDs, have similar subtly painted face ups. She suits my style and is a addition that enhances my collection rather than distracts from it.

What is the feedback I've been getting from others who see her like?

Most people who've seen her think she's very pretty. One did say that she was creepy looking and reminded him of a bug, but he has issues with all large eyed dolls with glass or acrylic eyes. A female viewer took one look at her, said she was beautiful and then noticed her arms and legs were jointed and was shocked. She asked why anyone would make a doll this small and thin with bendable joints that were so tiny that they shouldn't even work. She also would not touch her fearful that she could break simply by being picked up. I have her posed with my 27cm Obitsu and her delicacy in comparison with this doll of similar height is visually striking. Although delicate herself, the Obitsu is substantial next to this J-Doll.

Would I buy another J-Doll?

I will consider it when I have more cabinet space. As it is, my dolls are crowded and this delicate lady is vying for space with far bigger, rock solid girls like my Tonners. For now, she and the Obitsu gal will have to keep each other company. I do admit, that I am likely to be tempted...and will cave.

What would I change about the doll?

The hair! I think she should have a removable wig and that it should be of a far superior quality. This pseudo horse hair wig is not good enough for her. I also think that Groove, Inc should manufacture a line of clothing for her. It is nearly impossible to find clothes made for her. In fact, I think that I will probably have to use clothes made for Barbie or make them myself, which I don't really want to do. Sewing for a 1/4 or 1/3 doll is a pleasure...but these 1/6 dolls are so small it would be too much like work!

In a later posting, I will feature her and the Obitsu to show the differences in their sizes. These dolls can wear the same clothing and shoes, but they are radically different in structure and appearance. I am not sure which is my favorite, the curvaceous Obitsu or the gracile J-Doll.