Hey, I’m playing with my dolls again, At Last!

Truly! Well, I’m not sure if it can be called “playing” but I took one of them and gave her a re-paint last night.

It’s the first time I have done a repaint in more than a year now. It shows how much my skills have atrophied. That isn’t much of a surprise since it’s always been use it or lose it with me. While I am not pleased with my skill at this point (or how the doll came out) I am pleased that 1) I did try, 2)that I am happy with one thing about the repaint and that is how her lips came out.

The doll I picked last night was Tricks of the Trade Eugenia.
I’d gotten her years ago off of the Dollpage (now, Misterdollface). I’d gotten her as a project doll, and I took a long time to wipe her face. I never liked the way she looked. She looked too harsh and the heavy raccoon eyes weren’t working. (not that what I did is much better, but still…)

So here we go: Before

After:

 

 

Now she just needs a name.

 

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Photo challenge week #1

I managed to clear off my table of all the various projects I’m working on so that I could set up to shoot a few quick photos for the challenge. 😀

First a tiny bit of info about this week’s Model. This is a Perfectly Suited Giselle (from the 2015 IT Convention) I got her off of MisterdollFace for cheap sometime last year. She had some issues (like she reeked of smoke) and she came with crumpled broken lashes that I peeled off but that pulled off the eye paint.* The first thing I did was give her a complete wash until I couldn’t detect the cigarette smell anymore. She needs her eyes repaired *I’m ok with that, it’s just been a case of I haven’t worked on her yet.

giselle-10-26-16a

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I like her in general because she has been painted in a way that resembles Old is New Giselle *my first Giselle* She’s been re-rooted (I think that whoever did it used the tension method)and I thinnk the dark hair suits her. After I do the fix on her facial paint I will see about styling her hair (it has a ton of static flyaways).
And another:
giselle-10-26-16b

Now that I managed to grab out the camera I think that next week’s photos should be easier for me to get done. 🙂

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Falling in love again…Rare Find Isha gets a second chance!

For those of you who’ve followed my blog for a long while you’ll recognize my Isha.  She was a prize that I won in 2007 from the Doll Diva’s board when they held a raffle.

I got around to repainting and re-rooting the front of her head in 2009.


Not the best repaint I’d ever done but somehow it still seems “right” for her so she never ended up with a second repaint.

She did however end up with a swapped body… She started out on the 2nd or 3rd generation Fashion Royalty body and it was floppy and annoying as all hell. Could barely hold a pose long enough for me to shoot it with the camera! I hated taking photos of her because of it–so it was important for me to find her a body donor. Finding another body to match her was difficult (especially since she wasn’t even a great match with her original body). My good friend Will gave me a hot toys hispanic female body for her to use.

The plus side was it was definitely more articulated than her original but it was hard to find clothes to fit in a way  I liked and at that time I didn’t much feel like sewing for her…so she got relegated to a box and that was it. Every time I went to re-dress my dolls my eyes would stick on her and I’d feel guilty that such a pretty doll wasn’t getting fair treatment and being photographed and really cast with a good role in the Quinlan Chronicles.

What to do? What could I do?

Funnily enough, I was going through my collection this morning with an eye to plan some repaints and sell off some dolls I don’t play with—when I realized that Isha’s body was a really good match for Moonlight and Kisses Darla Daley’s! Oh I am happy about that! 🙂 and then I figured that I might as well do body mods on he since  want to use her a lot in the future and being able to pop her head off for dressing and jewelry application is a good thing! And an expanded range of motion at the chest join is super helpful too in posing.

You know….I just couldn’t leave her eyes (or eyebrows) alone. I felt this compulsion to repaint them…I don’t think she came out too badly considering how very long it’s been since I did any repainting.

So here she is now:

rare-find-isha-2

and two more pics just because! 🙂

rare-find-isha-1

rare-find-isha-3

Next I need to find a new name that suits her….

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How to mod FR, Poppy & Nu Face dolls for Quick head swaps

Here’s the deal: I wanted my Fashion Royalty, Poppy Parker & Nu Face heads to be more easily interchangeable and removable for when I want to change out a character’s “look”. Currently if I want to do that I either have to have multiple dolls (1 head, 1 body) for each character or else if I buy an “alternative look” head I have to go through the hassle of heating up the head, worrying about pulling it off, warming it up again, popping it on the new body (or the new head on the old body) and so on. I find that very stressful but I also don’t want to end up having 3 or 4 of each doll bodies just for a few different looks. Space is still at a premium in our house, you know?

This is a method that was suggested to me by my friend Will . I have done it with a few differences to use it on Integrity Toy’s Fashion Royalty, Poppy Parker and Nu Face lines. There is an unintended side effect with this mod — an increased range of motion at the neck allowing for more expressive head positions. 🙂

As usual, please be aware I am a risk-taker when it comes to my dolls and customizing them. I do it with the knowledge that in the process I may damage them. This modification is done at your own risk and I am only sharing my results and methods. If you plan on trying this I suggest using a doll you don’t mind so much if it ends up damaged.

What you’ll need:
To make 1 body & 1 head swap-able

  • 1 body (I have done this on the Poppy Parker, FR3 and Nu Face 2.0 bodies)
  • Neodymium Sphere Magnets. Minimum strength N35.  I used 8mm ones but you can also use 5/16th sized ones too. (at the end of the post I’ll link to some places you can get them from) You’ll need 2 per head, 1 per body
  • Lightweight cotton or muslin (about a 3 inch x 3 inch square)
  • Vise Grip Pliers (small size)
  • Safety Glasses
  • Needle & thread
  • Thin leather (pale in color to avoid any possibility of discoloring vinyl) or some other fabric that can provide friction to aid in holding head poses. You might have to experiment with what you have on hand. This is important though. As to thickness of the leather think of glove leather (fashion, not work gloves). About .50mm to 1mm in thickness.
  • Hot water (close to boiling-I would not use boiling as it may make eyelashes come off?)
  • Small bowl (for soaking the head and neck in)
  • Patience. You’ll need some for this as it isn’t the fastest modification to complete. Don’t do it if you’re in a hurry!
  • Here are a few of the supplies–sorry I forgot to snap a pic of everything.

supplies

Here we go! The fun, the excitement! The Nail-biting Drama!

First: get your supplies together and get your water on to boil. Get the small bowl ready so that you can put the near boiling water into it. Pour the water into the bowl.

water

I used near-boiling water and soaked Agnes’ head in it to soften the head up and get it off the body. If you’re comfortable using the heating pad, hairdryer or oven method to remove the head go ahead and do those instead. Get the water ready though since you will need it shortly.

soak-head

After removing the head, empty the water and re-fill again with near boiling water. Then place the neck & neck knob area back in the bowl to soak for a couple of minutes. Don’t forget to put your safety glasses on!

neck-soak

After about 2 or 3 minutes you can remove it from the water. Be careful not to burn or scald yourself with the water (it’s going to drip out of the body).

Get your vise grips ready. It is important to grip and pull the knob out squarely (in a direct/ straight line). Not at an angle. Doing it at an angle will increase the chance of stress fracture and neck cracks considerably!! 🙁

vise-grips-neck-knob

Pull with firm, steady pressure. Keep it straight.  Once the knob is removed get your magnet!

empty-post-hole

Rest the magnet on top of the neck hole opening.
insert-magnet
Apply steady pressure. Be careful as the magnet can easily slip out of your grip and ping across the room.

push-magnet

If you put the doll’s head in the water to remove it towel dry and allow to dry fully before going onto the next steps. (because you will be inserting fabric into the head you want to have it dry not damp or wet!) Also dry the body as best you can. Over night works ok, or if you’ve done it on an FR3 body you could remove the arms and lower torso to dry it off more thoroughly & quickly.

Next, get your fabric, magnets, needle and thread. Then insert the magnets into the center of the fabric and fold in half. Sew the base closed.

magnet-fabric

Wrap the thread around the magnets a couple of times. Tie off. Trim the fabric from the base of the fabric/magnet parcel.

magnet-tied

Begin pushing it into the head.

magnet-insert-2

The head holes vary in size so some will fit in better than others but they will all fit provided you are patient and apply appropriate pressure.

magnet-insert-5

Now, get your leather and scissors and cut out two small circles (approximately a little smaller than a dime). You’ll trim them down more so the size is not exact.

leather

Here is a photo to give you an idea of the leather’s thickness:

leather-insert-3

One will be for use inside the doll’s head-neck hole area, and the other will be for use over the neck-hole where the magnet sits.

magnet-insert-6

Here is how to do it for the head part:

leather-insert-1

For the neck piece it should look like this:
leather-insert-5

This is how both pieces should be positioned (I took the photo before trimming the neck’s piece)

leather-insert-4

At this point you’re almost done! YAY! All you’ve got to do now is gently position the head over the neck area (about 2 inches over it to avoid the magnetic pull) and then quickly put it in place (the magnets will help by attracting each other). It will probably take a couple of tries to get it on right (so that none of the leather circles show) but keep trying. You can always take them off and re position them when you need to.

And that’s it! You’re done! 😀

I did this to almost all of my FR/NF/PP dolls so I have been able to ditch most of the duplicate bodies and now can easily change heads around. The best thing about this is that inserting the magnets in this way allows me to remove them if I should want to re-root or partially re-root a head in the future. Also, I can now swap Giselle from the Poppy body to the high heeled Monogram body when I want her dressed up in heels! 😀 😀 😀

Here are a few photos of Agnes with her new magnet head/neck mod. She’s upside down to show that the magnets are strong enough to hold her head on even against gravity! 😀

magnet-head-mod-complete

agnes-head-mod

agnes-head-mod-2

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My thanks go to Will for the idea and encouragement, and to Mark for being willing to pull the neck knob out and push the magnet in so I could try to photograph it for the tutorial. 😀

Places to get Magnets From: Please note I don’t endorse these merchants I am only sharing where I got some of my magnets from and other places that carry them.

Thackery Handmade, LLC (on ebay) (this is where I got my magnets from. She ships quickly and the price per magnet is almost half that of K&J)

K&J MAGNETS  Will got his magnets from here and they have a stronger pull strength. I used weaker magnets (N35) so your mileage may vary if you use these.

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.

Does Aristocratic Agnes need a Tweak or Two?

Agnes is a gorgeous doll. I feel very lucky to have her. I asked myself, “How can you see this and not want to have her in your collection?” So she was a no-brainer. It was difficult to scrape up the $$ for her but I managed it (selling parts of my collection) and I am glad I did!
This is her default appearance:(photos property of Integrity Toys)

aristocratic-agnes-1

She’s lovely, right? Yes.
I love her color combinations (I’m not usually a huge fan of blonde dolls) but this one works for me. And for the personality I think she will have in my photostories. That said, IMO she needs a little tweaking. Look at her eyes:

agnes-face

She is suffering from Upward Eyes Syndrome — that thing that makes the doll look like she is either rolling her eyes or getting ready to pass out. It is a personal pet peeve of mine and it is something I compulsively fix on my dolls.

So her eyes need tweaking. Check.
What about her lip color? Her eyelashes/eyeliner?
I’m not sure about those yet. The lips are a much starker, brighter red than in the promo pics. It’s not a horrible red…just not my particular favorite. Part of me would like to do her lips in a soft rose/nude because I think it would look great with her coloring and also lend itself to being more casual. I’m not sure though…

Anyway, just wanted to share.

Poppy Parker: Under the Knife….A Body Mod

I posted about my first Poppy the week before last a couple of weeks ago…

I’m pretty new to Poppy Parker dolls.   I’m still getting used to the proportions of their bodies as compared to the other Fashion Royalty dolls. I do like the fact that they are capable of standing upright, unaided. 🙂 That IS a big plus in my book.

What I don’t like about the Poppy Parker body is a pretty short list: (in order of most disliked to just tolerable…)

  • The totally and completely useless bust-joint
  • The ankle joints.

Sorry, but they could have used a ball-joint there and it would have been great and allowed a smoother line of the foot when “arched” to use in non-flat shoes.

  • The lack of a double joint at the elbow

Something that would allow Poppy (and whoever happens to have her body) the ability to hold a phone to her ear, etc.

So is there anything I can do about any of those problems?

Uh huh. Yep.  I think I may have an illness….I seem to be incapable of leaving my dolls alone and un-customized!

I haven’t tried to do anything with the ankle joint, and I know better than to try to put a double jointed elbow in. I’d have to do so much extra work that at this point I don’t think that’s feasible.

But I did do something about that wasted joint, the bust joint!

*cue scary horror movie mad scientist laugh* MWhahahahahahahahahahahha!*

A long while back I saw the photo-tutorial that Emlia did regarding increasing/improving the articulation on the Fashion Royalty Homme body. After giving it some serious thought I hoped that the Poppy Parker body wouldn’t be that different inside and began to take her apart. After all, I figured that since Integrity Toys made both of them they probably weren’t that far removed….

I was and was not quite right about that…..

Interesting to note that Integrity is not (as far as I can tell) using a giant nut to weight the body. But what I did find inside the Poppy Parker body (bodies actually since I did this mod on all of them except India) is that they are filled with varying amounts of hot melt glue.

poppy-parker-torso-inside-1

Not uber cool in my book, but, eh, whatever.

That glue did present something of a problem on some of the bodies because it was in the way (or there was just too much of it) of feeding the elastic through. However, because I am a determined kind of girl I got it done on all of my girls. >:D

And this is what the body can do after the mod — OIN Giselle has been re-bodied onto the new and improved Poppy body. (There are obviously more poses possible and more extreme but, eh, I’m not in the mood to take pics today.)

giselle-poppy-parker-body-mod-2

giselle-poppy-parker-body-mod-1

Now if, on the off chance you want to try this too and you want me to share the photos I tried to take of how I did it (during the process) let me know and I’ll update the post with some more photos–I just need to resize them etc. I didn’t want to bloat the post with a lot of unnecessary pics if no one was interested.

 

Hot toys Muscle body TT20 : A review and some comparison photos

Since I’ve been so busy with the new job and all the other stuff thrown my way by the universe I haven’t done a whole lot with the hobby. However, with the new job I finally had some money to splurge on something that I have been wanting: The Hot Toys TT muscle Body TT20.

Let me preface this review right now with WHY I am collecting and using Hot Toys action figures: They  work out pretty well with most of my female dolls and action figures…the only ones that they aren’t working as well with right now are the Fashion Royalty girls…which is why I was willing to splash out on this particular action figure. I’d heard / seen that it would work with some of the Female bodies made by Integrity Toys. Oh yea: and I don’t like the FR guys because they lack enough articulation for me to want them. 😛

For those of you with a little curiosity or any interest I’m doing this review! 😀

First let’s take a look at the packaging:

(not my photo.)

true-type-musc

It’s nice. Simple. Easy to get into. I like that. Not much waste and it’s not a struggle to get into. There is   a hot toys stand included.

The body itself:

The build quality is good.

It comes with extra hands which is IMO always a plus. the body has some nice details: some veining on the arms, well defined collarbones etc/ and some light “skin” texture (although that is more random and is less apparent on some parts than others.

The body is HEAVY.  I’m not kidding.

Ok, remember when I found the nut that they’d put in that FR Erin all those years ago? Well this is more  like they put a freakin’ brass knuckle the body! I’m not complaining though. It feels solid and at least if it is –then I feel the price is more justified. It’s much heavier than the standard HT true type body.

Ok, when you pick it up you know where at least part of your money went.

The ROM: maybe not all you’d expect, but still pretty good.

 

ht-musc-2

 

Potential issues & things I have go go “hmmm” about:

1) The size of the body…

It IS a totally pumped guy body, I guess that could make it difficult to fit some heads to it. Right now you see him with a knock off wolverine head. It works but it might take a bit to find a head that you would want to use with it and have sit on it the right way.

2) His chest isn’t solid abs or plastic like I had assumed…. but is a soft layer of vinyl or silicone over the plastic.

It’s not a deal breaker but  it does red flag that if I dress the body in dark colors on the top to be careful to have a barrier on it. OR to only do that for quick photoshoots and then change the top/shirt to something lighter & less prone to stain. the packaging did include a little warning note to say that acetone, thinners etc could damage the “skin layer”.

3)He has black spongy-cuffs on his feet/legs?

For me that is a huge WTF! (sorry  didn’t bother to shoot any good clear photos of that)

Is that supposed to make it easier/ better for fitting boots on the feet or what? I don’t know. I do know that it isn’t working for me and I have a few different ideas on what I can do about it…

1) apply a couple of layers of gesso and paint and try to get it to a near skintone match.

2) make an alternative one out of (??) craft foam maybe ?

3) make a replacement out of milliput and paint it to match.

Right now it’s not a major issue since when I get around to sewing for him and making him jeans and stuff I’ll make them longer. But for those scenes where things are bared…well. I don’t like wasting more time in post production photoshop than I have to!

Comparisons with other Hot Toys True Type bodies:

ht-musc-3-comparison

Hot Toys Slim body/ Hot Toys Regular body / Hot Toys Muscle Body

As you can see there’s quite a range of difference in their heights. I didn’t have a narrow shoulder guy to compare with but I believe those are the same height as the Regular HT TT Body?

And of course you need to see what he (and the others) look like next to Giselle…

giselle-and-the-slim-ht-body

Slim guy is looking more like her younger brother there…..

giselle-and-the-regular-ht-body

Do-able. Some tall women have shorter partners….

giselle-and-the-musc-ht-body

And as you can see….. Side by side Giselle and the muscle body (in this case with Logan’s head on it) works pretty well.

giselle-and-muscle-body-wolverine

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