I had planned on doing a review of Vanilla when she arrived, but as I stupidly clicked BIN without checking the listing properly, my Vanilla is naked and I saved a whole $10. Note to self - read the listing before committing to buy, Noob! So at any rate, I can't comment on her stock, which did look quite cute. Especially the shoes, which I am kind of sad about, but oh well, lesson learned!
I was excited when I saw her in the box. Although she was naked, she looked lovely and had such nice straight bangs. So I freed her from her cardboard prison, took off her plastic fringe keeper thingy (her bangs immediately revealed themselves to be crooked - sigh) and popped a dress on her. And was underwhelmed.
Everything they say about her is true. I don't know why I thought I would feel differently. I wanted so much to love her! The thing is, although she does look quite sweet in photographs, she somehow does not feel as good quality as the other Blythes when you see her in person. Her hair is very fine and I can see her scalp through the top, her legs are sticky and super bendy and her face is very shiny - even more so that normal. I compared her to the others and none of them even come close in the shine stakes. I mistakenly thought her eye shadow was grey, but it's blue and her lips and blush are just a bit too bright for her pale skin and hair. Oddly, this doesn't seem to show up as much in photos. Maybe it's just that I am not a fan of the FBL mold. She has a slightly wistful look about her, I think.
So my overall opinion of Vanilla? Great hair colour but very fine hair. If that bothers you pay extra and get Paris. Very shiny face. If you don't want to spray-matte her get Paris. Make up just a touch too dark. If you want subtle, get Paris. So I guess really, I would have been better off getting Paris myself!
On the plus side, she was very cheap and I think she will be a great base to customise. I will be sending her away to have some work done later in the year I think. A bob, boggle, lip carve and face up from a top notch customiser and she'll look a million bucks. But as she is? Not my cup of tea. I would not recommend her for those who like to keep their girls stock in my opinion.
I've been thinking a lot lately about handmade Blythe clothes vs factory made. What is it that makes people purchase handmade items from Etsy rather than the cheaper mass produced Sugarmag clothes? For me it's always been about quality and variety. Factory made clothes often don't stand up to repeated dressing (or washing) and after a few uses the seams can start to come away. I also occasionally have trouble wrestling factory made items onto the dolls body, which for some reason doesn't seem to be as hard with handmade clothes. Some things, like jeans have a reputation for staining whereas the handmade ones seem not to be quite as bad, and then there is the issue of variety and dare I say it, individuality. A lot of handmade clothes are one of a kind. There is something kind of satisfying about taking a beautiful shot of your Blythe nicely dressed in something incredibly cute and knowing that there isn't anyone else out there who can replicate the look exactly because a duplicate outfit simply doesn't exist.
A while ago a read a comment comparing the prices of the handmade to factorymade and expressing shock at how much a handmade Blythe garment sells for on Etsy. Not so long ago, I probably would have done the same. After all they are clothes for dolls and use the smallest amount of fabric. It's hard to believe that it is possible to buy a human sized garment for not that much more than a doll sized one.
Having now taught myself to sew these tiny clothes, I can now understand that the reason for the extra cost is not for the materials, but the time and skill required to construct one. Admittedly, if you make mulitple copies of one garment using the same fabrics and trims I suppose that time would be saved. However having soon realised that this assembly line method soon sucks any pleasure right out of sewing (for me at least) I think that it's more likely that most Blythe seamstresses work in much the same way that I do and make each garment individually, taking the time to choose just the right fabrics, trim and little extra touches that make each finished item unique and that is what really adds to the time invested in each tiny dress - extra care and attention to detail.
One of the reasons that I've been thinking about this is that I've been toying with the idea of changing the way that my dresses are finished on the inside. My latest creation, the pink spot/stripe combo has been finished in such a way that there are no visible seams on the inside which I think looks so much better, but I'm wondering if I should continue doing this as the extra time taken should probably be taken into account in my pricing. This first one I am listing for the usual price, although it took me about 3 hours to complete all told. Does it matter to Etsy buyers that the garment is beautifully finished on the inside? Are they prepared to pay a little bit more for that little extra touch or would I be better off just keeping it simple?
I caved in a few weeks ago and bought myself a Vanilla. There's just something about her that milky white hair and her complexion that I could not resist. For some reason in pics her skin tone looks a little different to the regular fair skinned girls - I wonder if maybe they used a different plastic? I think she will probably get customised though, as she really is very shiny and I find that I don't enjoy photographing the super shiny stock girls nearly as much as those who have been sand matted.
I'm not entirely happy with my purchase, although it is my own stupid fault. A word of warning - before you hit the BIN button be sure to double check the listing to make sure that it's exactly what you wanted. I got a little trigger happy and accidentally ended up buying Vanilla nude instead of new in box. While I did get her marginally cheaper, and her stock isn't super-special, I was a bit sad because the difference in price was a mere $10. If I had decided that I didn't want to keep the stock clothes, I could have sold them for twice that much. At any rate, she ended up costing me a smidge over $100 including shipping to Australia, making her the cheapest Blythe in my collection with the exception of the factory girls. I know she's just a "Simply" and not one of the more pricey and sought after girls, but all the same it's interesting that the prices have dropped so much. Not good for people looking to sell older Blythes though I suppose.
I have been looking at my collection with a critical eye lately and wondering if I will ever manage to bring myself to sell any of them. I never imagined I would say this, but I kind of feel that I have reached the point where I have just about got enough Neos. Instead of madly buying new dolls I will probably gradually send most of the remaining girls off to be customised now and I think that with maybe one or two more fantasy haired girls I will be happy to stop collecting the Neos altogether and maybe begin saving for a Kenner. I would love to have a Miss Sally Rice or even a custom Simply Peppermint but other than that I feel quite content with the dolls I have and could possibly even stand to let one or two less loved ones go. I'm still waiting to hear from Erica about sending Poe off for her new face, and I have reserved a spot with Frankie Darling to have Holly customised (I am so excited about that!). Now it's just a matter of waiting and madly sewing to make up the funds to get the work done!
Speaking of fabulous customisers, I stumbled acrossthis great interview (and competition) with Melly Kay on BlytheLife that I highly recommend reading. I've followed Melly's blog and stalked her flickr pages for a while now ever since seeing her beautiful custom work on a Saffy factory girl (Bubble) and each subsequent doll somehow manages to be even more lovely than the last. Her custom Blythes have a natural life-like beauty and innocence that is incredibly appealing to me - the soft colours and the technique she uses to carve lips and nostrils really brings Blythe to life. I don't normally use other people's photos in my blog as I've never been sure of the etiquette and don't want to stand on anyones toes so let me just say that these are not my pics - they are the work of Melly Kay, so if I am doing something horribly offensive by posting Melly's pics here, someone let me know and I will take them down immediately. The reason I decided to include them is because my descriptions really don't do her work justice - you need to see her Blythes to fully appreciate her skill. These are two of my favourites.
I love this factory Qpot that she worked on.
This mohair girl kills me - she's perfect. The colours used in her face-up and chips complement her red mohair perfectly and her lips and nostrils are so beautifully done. I love the way the lower lashes are so delicate and understated. Not sure which Blythe she started out as, but she sure is stunning now! Whoever owns her is very lucky :)
Who knows, maybe I'll end up sending Vanilla over to her one day to get made over. I would love to have one of her dolls in my collection.
Melly Kay is having a competition right now where she is very generously giving away a beautiful Melly Kay Bohemian Peace custom, Bellatrix. To enter, click the link and read the interview at BlytheLife, and follow the instructions. Good luck to all who enter - Bellatrix is a really lovely girl!