Monday, June 7, 2010

Buying your first Blythe

Today I was contacted by someone who came across my Etsy shop and wanted to find out how to buy her first Blythe. I had already half finished writing a post on this, and revisited it intending to complete and publish it, but after a quick read through I realised that it was far too long and confusing and a simpler approach was needed. So, welcome to "Buying your first Blythe", version 2. For followers of my blog who undoubtably have bought many Blythes, I apologise, but I so wished that I could have found all this information more easily when I was shopping for my first. Hopefully someone will be able to benefit from it.

Buying your first Blythe is a bit of a voyage into the unknown. Neo Blythes, the ones most commonly collected, are very rarely found in shops outside of Asia. For someone buying their very first Blythe, there are a few different ways you can get your hands on one. The first and easiest way (although sometimes the most expensive), is Ebay.

CWC seem to release a new Blythe about once a month. Asian sellers buy up on the new dolls and then resell them through Ebay. Naturally you will pay a little bit more for these and there are always the usual risks that come as part and parcel of buying from Ebay. Buying a doll NRFB (never removed from box) is the best way to avoid getting a nasty surprise and buying a new release doll (with the exception of the limited or aniversary dolls) is usually the cheapest. At the moment, the cheapest NRFB Blythes are Simply Mango and Simply Guava. CWC make a lot more of the "Simply" girls than regular and limited releases, and this is reflected in their lower price. There are quite a few reputable Blythe sellers on Ebay, I like to use Mimiwoo. I've bought everything from Blythes to shoes and bodies from her and she is always reliable.

If you have your heart set on a particular Blythe or just don't like the current releases, I'd recommend joining the Blythe forums. As well as getting loads of helpful information, they have very active sales threads where you can buy and sell everything from Blythes to wigs to shoes, mostly pre-used by other collectors. The advantage of buying from within the community is that most Blythe owners will go out of their way to show you every little flaw and mark on the doll that is likely to be an issue for a collector, and are happy to answer any questions that you might have. Most will have links to their Flickr accounts in their sales threads so you can see a lot more photos of the doll you wish to buy than you could from an Ebay seller. It's also highly unlikely that you will encounter somebody trying to pass clones off as Blythes and you are also likely to get a fair price and cheaper shipping if you are lucky enough to find the doll you want in the same country you live in.

These are my favourite Blythe forums (you can find me on there as princesspea...If I'd known that I'd be so badly hooked I'd have chosen my username more carefully!):

Plastic Paradise
This Is Blythe
We Play With Dolls

You can also buy Blythe through some asian online stores, like Hobby Link Japan, but stock can be sold out in the blink on an eye on the more popular girls and language can sometimes be a barrier.

Things to keep in mind before purchasing:

Blythe has lots of imitators known as clones. You are most likely to find these on Ebay and some unscrupulous sellers will try to pass them off as Blythe dolls with Blythe sized Buy It Now prices. If the listing mentions CCE, Blybe, Basaak or Changing Colour Eyes you are probably looking at a clone. An easy way to tell is to look at the scalp. Clones have a wider space between the faceplate and the beginning of the hairline. Some sellers are aware of this and will angle photographs so you can't tell. If it isn't listed, ask them what kind of Blythe the doll is - CWC/Takara Blythes all have names "Baby's Breath, Tarts and Tea" etc, clones don't. If they can't give you a name it may be a clone.

There is another kind of Blythe out there that was released by Ashton Drake Gallery (ADG) that is slightly different to the Neo. A lot of Neo collectors dislike them and consider them to be inferior. Initially they were much cheaper than the Neos but as they are no longer being made, the price is inflating. Just be aware that there are differences between them - do some research on the Blythe forums.

Ask if the doll has had any customisations or haircuts. It may not make a difference to your end decision, but it's important information to have.

Check that the eye mech works smoothly.

When buying on Ebay, it often pays to ask if the doll has come from a non-smoking environment or has any odours. Sounds silly, but I have heard of lots of people who have inadvertantly bought a smelly doll.

Ask about stains on the body. A lot of dark or brightly coloured clothes can stain the Takara bodies. If you have your heart set on a particular doll and she has a few stains, it's really no big deal to get a new body for her. They are usually around $10 - $15 plus postage and can often be found on the forums.

Ask about scratches on the face.

Ask if the head has been opened. Older facemolds were quite difficult to open and will sometimes have pry marks at the sides of faceplaces and the neck. If the head has been opened, it's worth checking that there is no gap between the scalp and the faceplate.

A lot to think about? You betcha. And we haven't even gone into facemolds, Kenners, Prototypes and different customisations that your Blythe might have. I'll cover that in another post, it's too much information to take on at once. If you found this post helpful I'd love it if you could leave me a comment.


  1. Thank you very much for taking the time to explain all this to all of us who are new to Blythe. I recently bought my first Blythe doll and I love her very much. I knew very little about them and I still have a lot to learn. I played it safe and ordered my doll directly from Junie Moon's international shop in Tokyo. At the moment I live in Taiwan and I had to pay some taxes to the postman when my Blythe arrived. I would love to buy some clothes and shoes for her but I find the Ebay and Etsy stores confusing but I will try them some time in the future. Thanks again for this post it is very helpful and I'm looking forward to the next one.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment. Don't be scared of Etsy, I've bought some lovely things from there from some very nice sellers. It is a bit of a time-eater though - all too easy to spend a few hours window shopping!

  3. Thanks for the info, i think it's great! I bought my first blythe recently and today just put in her new eye chips. :) I didn'tk now how to go about it too, like where to get (ebay, forums, stores???). Choosing one was a lot easier. Found that I 'felt' for some doll designs more than others and felt really happy with my choice. I didn't mind a second hand doll cos I was intending to take it out of the box and play with her, but cos I wasn't sure where to get one and ensure its quality I got a new one. Would like to incorporate some of your info in my blog too if you don't mind? :) I wanna list links to customisation advice too. So glad people on the net are willing to share their experiences.

  4. Hi simplypeaceable, I don't mind at all if you would like to link to any of my posts if that's what you mean. Please don't directly use my content though - that's not nice.

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  6. hi dollybird, sure thing. Will write it up soon. Do drop by - would appreciate your feedback.