Dolls, dolls dolls!

Some thoughts on my collecting…

Let’s be clear, I’m not one of those doll collectors who have a closet full of dolls, dolls on shelves, boxed dolls on display and only a very few that ever escape from the box. Nope. not me. I don’t keep any doll BNIB unless I have bought it for someone else as a gift, and then I know it’s gotta go.

That’s not to say that I don’t have a great deal of dolls. I do (in my opinion). I consider it a case of I have 2 distinctly separate collections. One consists of my Volks and Japanese 1/6 dolls. I know all of them and they are all kept stored in a large sterilite box to keep them from getting damaged, etc. They’re “old friends” and except for a few culls that is now a static collection (since Volks no longer produces 27cm dolls and parts). The number is about 45 dolls in total.

I have about 10 male action figures on either Hot Toys bodies or on the various clone bodies that are out there. In the future I’d like to add a few more since my collection is skewed heavily toward being femme-centric.

So let me talk about the fashion dolls.
When I first got started in the hobby of collecting/customizing dolls I started with Barbies. Because they were easy to get, easy to customize and easy to sell on ebay. I really hated the fact that they had such poor articulation — the bend and click knees, no wrist joints, etc. When someone introduced me to Volks dolls it was a revelation for me that there could be dolls with great range of motion. The difficult thing with them at the time was seeing past all the joints, the bodies looked so strange compared to the Barbies I was used to. But I got used to it and they became my faves. Then Volks stopped making them and I started to flounder.

My friend Will told me about Takara Cool girls action figures. They offered a better ROM than barbies but they were beefy bodies with a weird joint at the crotch that made them appear to have a *package*. Nice if you put them in skirts, or anything that didn’t hug it. But not the ideal (for me).

Fashion royalty came along and at first IMO they were glorified Barbies with a much higher price tag. I didn’t see the point since they were like silkstone barbies–pretty but too limited for my tastes. Then they started to improve. And improve some more. And even more.
Nowadays Fashion Royalty are the dolls that I collect the most of.

Here are some reasons why:
The various headsculpts are the biggest draw for me. There is a lot of variety.
They tie in first place with the hot toys female headsculpts, but because I dislike their (HT) current bodies and haven’t yet had the $$ to lay out for some of the steel skeleton’d phicen dolls (which have some interesting face sculpts too)to try out as a character.

The next reason is because although their bodies started out crappy they have been steadily evolving into a better body for my purposes in shooting photostories. They still need me to make modifications on them, but I can cope with that especially when I see them creating bodies that are completely modular and prime for body part swapping.

So how many FR dolls do I have in my collection?
(I’m clumping poppy parker dolls & Color Infusion in with it since they’re made by the same co.)
It would be embarrasing to say I don’t know. Wouldn’t it? ;P
Seriously though, I need to start taking headshots of them so that I have a visual roster of them and what characters I have (or am) casting them as. I often buy my dolls 2nd hand or just their heads. When it comes to Fashion Royalty & Poppy dolls I have more heads than bodies.
I am going to finally admit it now that I have completely given up on Volks reviving their 1/6 line and am now a confirmed collector of Fashion Royalty, Nu Face and Poppy Parker dolls. I make them into my own characters, but yea, for now they are my go to dolls (and I make allowances for their limitations).

Anyway, just thought I’d share that.

Taking stock & changing focus

There are times when in the course of collecting–be it dolls, books, antiques or anything else–that you find your focus or interest is changing. You notice that it’s trained on a different area than it was when you first started.

I am dealing with this now. And I have been struggling to accept it.

When I first started really collecting dolls (I don’t count my forays into making OOAK barbies as part of my collecting since I never kept any of them.) I was introduced to Volks 27cm Dollfies and Volks Super Dollfies (the original japanese ball jointed resin dolls). I owned both and then sold my SDs to concentrate on the 27cm/ 1:6 scale Volks. Volks appealed to me because they were fantastically poseable. They looked kind of weird to my eyes at the time because of the multitude of joints that they had. But I grew to love them and they became the main focus of my collection from 2000 to 2015.

For the record I’m not a big “collector” type.

My dolls & action figures get a lot of use. They aren’t shelf-sitters, or display models.
I play with them. I re-dress them. I photograph them. I write scripts for them…
I don’t have any display cases filled with 1/6 figures.
I don’t have a single figure that is BNIB or NRFB.

In time my collection expanded to include Takara Cool Girls, Integrity’s Fashion Royalty dolls as well as Takara Blythe. Each had pros & cons about them and none of them could knock the Volks out of #1 spot. Those others I would buy and sell according to how my interests waxed and waned. But never the Volks. I always kept them and kept an eye out for more of them. I started adding more CG & female action figures and Fashion Royalty dolls to my collection. It was interesting to see how they changed through the years almost all of them for the better.

One of the big things to realize about my collecting is that I collect the dolls and action figures because I want them to be characters in photostories. This matters because I want to be able to use _all_ of my dolls in my photostories–without any of them (except the Blythes) looking strange or out of place. My compromise with that was to think of the Volks as mostly younger/students for the University and everyone else fell under Non-University people. Not the ideal solution but I was willing to go with it, you know?

When Volks discontinued their 1/6 dollfie line I was gutted. I couldn’t see where that left me. None of the others could compare to their range of motion or articulation. But if there weren’t any more of them being made then I could no longer create new characters using them. Which made me feel lost.

What was I going to do?

I remained in denial for a long time. I kept hearing rumors that Volks was re-tooling their 27cm/1:6 line and that they would be releasing more dolls. I held onto that like a lifesaver. Because if they stopped making them then I had to deal with another issue: my Volks collection was anime style and was at odds with my action figures and fashion dolls–both of which were considerably less stylized.

So over the last year or so I have slowly started coming to terms with the fact that I need to put the Volks to rest. I am thinning out the majority of my collection and plan on keeping about 18-20 of them. The rest will go up for sale and find new homes and maybe collectors who don’t feel the same way I do about the fact that they are no longer available.

My newer focus is on action figures (both male and female) and fashion royalty dolls. At least with a bit of tweaking they can all work together as a cast–and that’s important for me.

I feel melancholy as I write this, knowing that I am admitting that I have to step up and embrace the change even though I don’t particularly want to.

I’ll blog again soon–and I promise it will be more upbeat.

Top 10 Toys of 2014: numbers 7, 6 & 5!

So I’m a few days late with this but better late than never, right? 😉

Back to the top 10 Toys of 2014

#7
Description of Toy/Toyline: Jeremy Renner / Hot Toys Hawkeye 
Hot toys made a Movie Masterpiece Hawkeye from the marvel franchise of the Avengers.

jeremy

Why did it make my list?
He looks good. Look at that face, eh?

That and there is a serious lack of male action figures in my collection. Also, the cast of the Quinlan Chronicles cast is pretty female heavy and I need to add more male characters (who aren’t students).

His paint apps are really, realllly, reallllly well done and frankly, he looks good all around.  I love the fact that he has a stand alone neck (meaning the head pops onto the neck-post and then into the body) rather than the heads with the sculpted on neck. Because the sculpted on necks tend to be overly long and you get that weird giraffe neck thing going on.

He’s currently stuck on a Hot Toys Slim Shoulder True Type body. It looks good but he might get a taller body at a later date (I hear good things about the coo body but have yet to buy one). Maybe. At his current height he is still useable with Poppy Parker bodied FR girls. Jeremy was a gift to me from my good friend Will (check out his photos on flickr (some are NSFW).

Downside to it: (aka why it isn’t the #1 toy on the list!)
There isn’t really a downside he just got edged out by other things 😉 If you can get your hands on him then do it!

Overall: I’m not usually a huge fan of actor likenesses in my action figures but I think that Jeremy has enough of that “everyman” look to him that you can kind of forget who he is and let him be the character he is going to be in the Chronicles.

And on to #6

Description of Toy/Toyline: Schwinn Green Phantom by Zonex
Based on information on the internet, Xonex made this version of the classic Schwinn Green Phantom bicycle. (you may not know that I had gotten a 1/6 version of schwinn’s Black Phantom a few years back–and still, the quality on that one blows this one away).

green-phantom-1

Why did it make your list?
Ok. I admit it. I have a little bit of a bike bug. I like 1/6 bikes since I find that most of them can be used by the majority of my figures (including my FR girls who have been re-bodied onto Poppy Parker bodies). I like bikes for 1/6 because it implies that there is more going on in that realm than a bunch of talking heads in offices, fashion ateliers, and cafes.

tanaka-phantom
(don’t mind Tanaka’s bare feet in the photo above, ok?) 😉
I wanted the Green Phantom for a while but it usually goes for crazy money on feebay–so up until this year it was always a no-go. I got this one for $60+s&h and I felt that that was ok. It was a splurge (like pretty much everything this year) and I don’t regret it.

Downside to it:(aka why it isn’t the #1 toy on the list!)
While it is nice to have another bike in my collection I have to say that quality wise it’s just okay. I have noticed that the spokes on the rear wheel have become brittle and needed to be fixed with some zap a gap. So again, I know it’s an older piece (circa 1991?)but I think that the quality isn’t all it could be.

Overall thoughts It’s nice to be able to add it to my collection–because there aren’t a whole lot of bikes out there that are really good for 1/6 use.

Ready for #5??
#5

Description of Toy/Toyline: On the Rise Elise Jolie, by Integrity Toys Elise Jolie is one of the many characters that make up the Fashion Royalty line.

Elise-2

Why did it make your list?
I had one version of Elise previously (Escapism Elise) but I just couldn’t make myself like her coloring even though I liked the facemold, and decided to trade with a fellow collector for a different doll. When I saw OTR Elise at the reveal I was surprised at how different she managed to look. I loved the combination of the dark hair and fair skin — but I debated about her. I bought her, originally with the idea that I’d probably keep her shoes, purse and jewelry and sell her on, but instead I just kept her. I ended up giving her to myself for x-mas (hey, a girl needs to buy herself a present sometimes!). I’m glad I did though because I have seen some really great photos of her on Flickr which give me ideas on what I can do with her (after I get her out of that orange dress and wash the styling gunk out of her hair).

Elise-1

Downside to it: (aka why she isn’t the #1 toy on the list!)
This year they decided to transition all of their mainline FR dolls onto the newer FR2 body type and they introduced some new features on some of the FR2 line –namely that the arms, legs and so forth were all removable so that you could detach them for ease of dressing and potentially to change out high heeled feet for others etc. I hoped that she had that feature–but alas, she doesn’t, so she doesn’t get a higher ranking because of that. Also, Integrity Toys used to be really good with their accessories being high quality but her purse was crap and I am very disappointed by it.

Overall:As she comes out of the box On the Rise Elise Jolie is pretty nice. She’s got a lot of potential to look good and with some styling you don’t even notice her ginormous forehead. Her accessories were “meh” and IMO her original market price should have reflected that better, but que sera sera. Despite all that I think she’s going to have a good character to play in my photostories.


Hot Toys Wolverine aka Doc Martin: let’s talk about bodies!

You probably didn’t know that I’ve been waiting what feels like forever for Wolverine to arrive at my house.  Ever since Hot Toys announced that they were going release a new version based on the movie The Wolverine. I loved the promo shots they showed but Hot Toys doesn’t always hit the mark with their production pieces so I didn’t want to let myself get too excited until I had him in hand, and could make a judgement on him.

wolvie

He’s staying and I’m very pleased. My friend is equally pleased to have made off with his katana, bone claw hands and metal claw hands (I’m not using him as the character of Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett so I don’t need the claws). His clothes are very nicely made and the extra shoe set is ace.

Ok, so I popped him out of the box (it was a nicely designed box, nice graphics etc.) and peeled his clothes off his body. This was for two reasons: he’s predominantly wearing black which tends to stain (and I wanted to check for staining) and second, I wanted to see what the body was like and why I couldn’t seem to get much in the way of bend on his arms.

So here’s the deal:

I was disappointed (although d’uh, I should have twigged this in the promo shots) that his upper arm is lacking any articulation. Call me spoiled, since my old HT true type bodies had a joint there. I have since found out that this is their standard “buff” body and they did away with the joint so that it was more aesthetically pleasing. Huh. I always prefer articulation over appearance but I’m just not the average 1/6 consumer…I guess.

So now, let’s compare this new Wolverine headsculpt with the older one I bought back in august of 2013 (wow! So long ago!! Where’d the time go??!)

ht-body-comparison-2

Both bodies have soft vinyl torsos over a framework. The Pro for the wolverine body is that it is dark and if it gets stained from clothing (or handling) chances are it won’t show or be as noticeable as on the TT muscular body. The pro with the muscular body is once I pop those overly long foot pegs into shoes he’ll be a tiny bit taller 😉

In the shot below you can see the ROM difference in the arms between the Hot Toys Wolverine body and the True Type Muscle body (there are a few other differences but right now I don’t feel like snapping more photos).

ht-body-comparison-1

You might (or not) remember that the reason I bought the Muscle Body was so that my Fashion Royalty girls would have the option to have a guy who wouldn’t be dwarfed by their amazingly tall selves… below are the Hot Toys True Type Slim, Regular and Muscle Bodies with Giselle (on her original Nu Face body) for height comparison.

ht-guys-nu-face-body-height-comparison

And here she is with Wolverine’s body (in the photo below she has been rebodied onto a poppy parker body and is therefore shorter than shown in the photos above!):

giselle-martin-wolvie-body

You can see that once I pop her in high heels that once more she’ll be taller than him… (Yes, I know that Wolverine, the comic book character actually was rather short, but since he isn’t being used as that character I don’t think that’s germane to my thought process at the moment…)

Of course, since Wolverine is a Hot Toys action figure I can swap his head onto another Hot Toys body…

martin-and-giselle-2

Don’t you think they look good together? And she can wear high heels and he’ll still be taller than her! 😀

martin-and-giselle-1

The downside of the swappage is that the great clothes that he came with will have to go to whoever takes his factory body. The plus side is that he gets a slightly better range of motion and can (debatably) be used with the FR2/new updated FR bodies (depending on how much taller IT makes the new releases). And of course, with any Poppy Parker bodies…

So. Do I keep him on his original body? Or do I swap him onto the muscle body?

Fashion Royalty and Poppy Parker Body Swapping! *long post*

It’s likely you know that one of my biggest problems to overcome with using the Fashion Royalty girls is that they are sooooo tall!

Because of their height it’s difficult to find them any male companions that they don’t tower over (aside from the male FRs).  I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the last couple of years trying to figure out an alternative…a way to make guys (action figure/ hot toys) taller so that I could use them with my FR ladies. But alas I wasn’t lucky with that and I ended up with pairings like this:

Standard Hot Toys Male Figure & the HT Muscle Body

But even so….how many giant, muscle bound guys could I have in one city?
(ok–to be fair, a lot, but my wallet can’t handle more than one LOL).

giselle-and-the-regular-ht-body giselle-and-the-musc-ht-body

For example, Amber (http://www.flickr.com/photos/appark/) has been helping me to find a way around the height issues by re-bodying some of my favorite girls onto Poppy bodies (did I even know that was possible? No! Or at least not really? I knew she put a lot of FR heads on the Poppy bodies but I didn’t realize the improvement that a Poppy body could give the FR girls!)

Ok let’s look at the positives with regard to using Poppy Parker teen Model doll bodies instead of the Nu Face or Standard Fashion Royalty bodies:

The proportions are in general more pleasing. Not one of them is a massive difference but all together they add up to make a considerable difference IMO.

They are shorter! Yay!
And not by a tiny bit (like the difference between the Nu Face body and the Standard FR body). The bodies seemed to offer a solution I could live with! 😀

Here’s a comparison between Fashion Royalty Flight Pattern Kyori and Spicy in Spain Poppy Parker (the height difference is actually a little bit bigger but my Kyori has a slump)

fr-vs-poppy-height-comparison-1  poppy-height-vs-fr-kyori-shoulder

And here’s a comparison between the Nu Face body and Poppy Body:

nu-face-vs-poppy-height

I did it. I jumped in and got a couple of Poppy Parker bodies (and 2 dolls…that’s a longer story) and set about swapping out heads on my Nu Face girls to the Poppy donor bodies.

giselle-and-kendall-apt-1

giselle-and-kendall-apt-2b

Now, on the off chance that like me you’d like to swap some heads here are some skintone matches (again courtesy of Amber (Appark on Flickr). 🙂

These are close matches for Old is New Giselle (FR standard caucasian skintone)

Spicy in Spain
She’s Not There
The Look of Love
Beatnik Blues
Forget Me Not (Blonde)
Holiday in the Hamptons

These are close matches for Colette Perk:

Irresistible in India
Sweet Confection

These are close matches for Ayumi (FR standard Japanese skintone)

Sweet in Switzerland
Lilac Frost
Isn’t it Romantic?

Coming later this week: I’ll post about the body mods I did to the Poppy Parker bodies and another mod that I am going to try out to see if it will work (wish me luck or it will remain the headless body forever!) 😉

 

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