Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bohemian Peace


I saw this girl's promo pics a when they were first released a month or so ago and wasn't the slightest bit excited by her. She was OK looking, and I thought her little ukelele was cute, but otherwise she was nothing really remarkable.

I eat my words.

Now that I have seen some owner pics (here is the pic that had me hooked!)of this Blythe I am itching to add her to my collection and I'm not afraid to say that it's all because of her hair. As you can see, it's the most amazing colour - an absolutely gorgeous mahogany that is very different to any of the girls I currently have in my collection.

This is a bit of a problem really, because I was kind of fixated on getting Very Vicky because I don't have an SBL in my collection yet.

The final photos of her have been released and apart from the dorky hat, I really like her (although I am a little aprehensive about dealing with all that hair - looks like it could be high maintenance). I don't know that I would get both her and BoPea...at least not without letting one of my other Blythes go, which will be hard.

If one of them has to go, it will probably be Ash who has not been getting a great deal of attention lately.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bad Dolly Deals

It's crazy how many people end up the victim of a "Bad Dolly Deal". I've been very lucky in my dealings in the Blythe world so far and all of my purchases have been good ones. On occasion I've taken a punt - like on the factory girls - and I've known that the doll that I recieve might not be perfect, and to be honest, I kind of get a kick out of that. Sometimes you get an amazing doll at a great price, and others you get more or less what you expected and no more and that's fine too. Today I'm talking about those dishonest people who set out to swindle you, and how to avoid being scammed when buying through forums.

While I still believe that the forums are safer than ebay as far as scammers are concerned, it's still possible that you might fall victim to a scam. The forum Plastic Paradise has drastically changed a few of their policies following a scammer scare that happened recently. You can read about it here. As a result of this, PP have (for the time being at least) closed the forum to new members. New members must now be referred by a current member of PP and can only join bi-annually and the sales thread is closed to any members with fewer than 30 posts.

While I do applaud the efforts of PP to stop scammers (at this time I think they might be the only forum to take action on this - I know that on TIB it's strictly "buyer beware"), ultimately you need to use some common sense.

Before entering into any arrangment to buy, you should check:

1. Number of posts.

These are usually prominently displayed on the left hand side of the post along with the avatar. A seller with a low number of posts might not be out to take your money, but it is the first thing you should take into consideration before you decide to deal with them. Someone with only one or two posts has obviously joined for the purpose of using the sales thread, or someone who has been caught out before and named in BDD who can no longer use that username without arousing suspicion.

2. Avatar

Sounds silly, but do they even have one? A seller with few posts and no avatar suggests to me that they are just there to make a quick buck and can just as easily vanish when it all goes pear shaped.

3. Flickr

Do they have a link to their flickr account? Most Blythe fans tend to have one. When was it created? Does it just have a few pics of the items that they are selling and nothing else? That's a red flag for me. If they have a larger collection of pics, try and track down the doll you are interested in and find out as much info as possible.

4. Sales thread pics

Are they using the stock pics of the boxed doll? No pics at all? A list of several dolls with not even one pic of each doll posted is a red flag. The seller may have stolen someone else's images to post on flickr and doesn't want to draw attention to themselves by having them obviously displayed. Poorly taken photos or even ones that have had a lot of digital editing can be very misleading. If you have any reservations about the seller or the doll, ask for an unedited photo of the doll with a piece of paper in the shot with the sellers name on it. If they won't do this for you, move on. In many BDD the seller does not even own the dolls they are trying to "sell".

5. Third parties

Never buy anything from a seller that mentions that they are selling the doll for a friend/relative or has any third party involved in the transaction (ie. the doll is at my sister's house in Singapore and she'll post it when the money has been received). Just read through the Bad Dolly Deals site - it is full of entries that have had problems that stem from this situation.

6. Trades

Trades are a huge act of trust. Unlike a straight forward sale where you send the money and the seller sends the doll when it's been received, you have to post your doll in good faith, assuming the other party has done the same. Again, there are lots of posts on BDD where this has gone sour. There is a lot of potential for a shonky operator to get their hands on your valuable doll to onsell and for you to end up with either flat out nothing or a damaged or inferior doll to the one you traded. Unlike a sale, you have no protection via Paypal at all, so if things go wrong there's not a thing you can do. The best policy to adopt with trades is to simply don't do this with anyone that you don't "know" reasonably well. Always, always insist that both of you use insurance and tracking numbers on both packages.

7. Payment as "gift"

No, it isn't. Payment is "payment for goods" - unless this person is your best friend or your mother. Lots of people think it fair and reasonable to ask you to do this in order to avoid paying paypal fees but the reality is that it is neither. Don't be afraid to walk away from the deal if they insist on this payment method and will not budge. Paypal is your only recourse if things go wrong - don't throw that protection away. You'd be crazy!

A few sellers will also ask you to pay the paypal fees on top of the price of the doll. I personally disagree with this practice - especially if they disclose this after you have agreed to buy the doll.

8. Check the price
Always do a quick look on ebay and on other sales threads/forums on the doll they are offering for sale. If the price is ridiculously cheap and they've raised a few other red flags, you might be looking at a scammer.

9. Who are you dealing with?
Not all forums require members to be over 18. I feel safer dealing with adults when large sums of money are involved and I'm not above checking profiles, previous posts and flickr accounts to get an insight as to who I'm going to be dealing with.

How is the sales post written? If english is the seller's first language (usually the country of origin is listed in the profile) and the post is very badly written or uses leet speak it's possible that you might be dealing with a minor. Are you comfortable with this?

10. Search Bad Dolly Deals

Don't assume that just because they haven't been listed yet, that everything's fine. Don't even assume that they aren't listed there under another username. A seller with just a few posts may well be one that has been named and shamed under BDD.


Ultimately, you need to go with your gut feeling and try not to allow your heart to rule your head when making the decision to buy. While it might appear like the deal of the century at first, if you have reason to suspect that the seller is not entirely honest you are far better off walking away. Legitimately great deals pop up all the time on the forums, and if you are cautious you can add to your collection without suffering the frustration and stress of a deal gone bad.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I'm a bit crabby at myself for allowing time to slip away so unproductively this week. Maybe I needed a breather, having had Miss B to entertain for the past few weeks, but it does seem a bit strange to me that while she was on holidays, I sewed more and sold more than I have this past week.

All I've managed are two of these little cuties (I make two at a time now as I spend such a long time fussing about what fabric to use, what trims look good with it etc), and a few hairbows that need to be sewn onto headbands...which I have not yet made.



Not a lot of new stock will be sewn next week, as I'll have my sister and her partner staying with me so I'll be entertaining them during the day and as they will also be sleeping in my studio I won't be able to get near it to sew. I'm really looking forward to it - I'm an Auntie again and the family have travelled all over to visit my little brother's new baby. She's one of those tiny contented babies that sleeps sweetly in the arms of whoever is holding her, never cries and is just beautiful! So far I'm fairly certain that she has spent more of her life being cuddled and cooed at in the arms of various family and friends than she has sleeping on her own. What a life huh?

So at any rate, I'll be catching up with close family that I just don't see enough of, playing tour guide, cooking for long lazy dinners and not much sewing at all. And that's just fine :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Re-roots, Wigs, scalps and domes explained

Another post for the newbies! This issue came up on the forums and I remember being confused by all the options and new terms out there too. Hope this helps to make it a little clearer.

Domes

In human terms, the dome is kind of like the top of the skull. It's the hard bit on top of her head under the scalp. As you might know, Blythe comes in different facemolds and these different kinds of Blythe have different kinds of dome. The older girls (BL, EBL and SBL) have the dome attached to the faceplate of the doll. This means that if you want to open her for customising or change her hair, you need to remove the scalp first. It's not an easy process, but that's a whole other post for another day.

Here's an EBL dome.



On the newer Blythes like RBL and FBL Takara/CWC have kindly made the dome a separate piece and attached the scalp to that. This means that opening these molds is much much easier (you don't need to soak or saw) and results in less damage to the doll. It's also really easy to swap scalps with another Blythe of the same mold in your collection.

Here's what an RBL dome looks like. The scalp is on this one as I am too lazy to pull it out again, but you can see the hard plastic dome on the inside.



Sometimes you can buy RBL and FBL Blythe without a dome - be warned, they can be difficult to source and without a dome, your Blythe's scalp can dent and well...look wierd.

Scalps

The scalp is a rubbery covering with hair rooted in it that covers the dome. Removed from the dome, it looks like this (on the underside anyway...the other side is considerably more attractive!).



The little sticky out lip on it is called the flange. This helps it to sit nicely between the dome and faceplate. This scalp is an RBL Saffy Encore.

You can also buy blank scalps from Coolcat that look like this. Obviously, this isn't my pic. Don't sue me Coolcat! I think your scalps are great :)



They are used for rerooting a new head of hair when a stock scalp is not available. They are a litte different from the stock scalps in that they are made of thicker rubber and obviously, don't have holes in them yet. They only come in one colour, so might not match your Blythe's faceplate very well if she has dark skin. They are great for mohair reroots, scalpless Blythes or if you simply can't bring yourself to cut the hair off a stock scalp to reroot it.

Wigs

Unlike most BJD's a Blythe's wig is not really her hair (that's her scalp). In some ways a Blythe wig is just like a human wig - it's a fun way of having a new look, but you can always tell it's a wig and it has limited styling options. A wig is not made of rooted plugs like a scalp, it's made by stitching wefts of hair to a stretchy or net base. If you move the hair the wrong way, you can see the wefts.



Here's Poe in her wig. This photo was taken after a bit of primping and from a carefully chosen angle. It is sitting directly on her dome as she does not have a scalp and it does not sit right. I have heard of people using them directly over a blank scalp either glued or velro'd on, but you have to remember that your styling options will be limited.



Wigs are best used over the top of a scalp, with the hair tucked up in a wig net. The nets are very inexpensive and most of the places that sell the wigs also sell the nets. A word of warning though, expect to have to wash your Blythe's hair after using a wig - especially if she has bangs. Her hair will be very messy when you take it out of the wig cap and her bangs will be all over the place.

Re-roots

A re-root is exactly that - re-rooting new hair into a scalp. Unlike a wig, this is more permanent and it takes quite a while to do. Blythes are rerooted to repair badly executed haircuts, to give them a new kind of hair, like mohair or to give them a unique new colour that isn't available on the stock scalps. The best way is to use the Blythe's own stock scalp to ensure a great colour match between face and scalp - also I have heard that it is much easier to use the holes from the factory hair, rather than having to punch your own. If you don't have your own Blythe's stock scalp, sometimes clean ones or ones with ruined hair come up for sale. You can also use a blank Coolcat scalp and punch your own holes in it. I will be doing one on my bait Blythe soon and will probably cover the process more thoroughly then.

Hope you found this post informative. I will be doing a follow-up on all the different kinds of hair in the near future.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Poe's (temporary) new look


Had a fun day giving Poe a little tidy up today. Nothing too drastic, just a light sand to remove the surface scratches, a little pastel makeup, some temporary eyelashes (they are a little too short for her eyes) and until her hair is done, a wig. I even toyed with the idea of putting her on the Neemo body, but as soon as I tried it I knew it was completely wrong for her (not to mention that her head was horribly floppy!). This girly look is possibly not the way that she'll end up looking, but it's a definite improvement that street kid/lice ridden chimney sweep look she had when she arrived. The wig is really not what I would have chosen for her, but the two wigs in the house belong to Miss B - and the other one is a Lolita style one and is even prissier if that is possible. It does not fit at all well without hair underneath, but it will do the job for now - better that than bald! For those who don't normally follow my blog, here is what she looked like before.



The makeover all went reasonably smoothly apart from a short period of time that I believed I would never be able to prise her eye mech out. The older Blythes are definitely a lot harder to customise than the RBL's although that said, her eyechips came out incredibly easily. I was going to pull the pinks out at the same time in readiness for some new ones that I haven't even ordered yet but changed my mind at the last minute and now I'm glad I did. They kind of suit this sugary look don't you think?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Very Vicky - Very Nice!!



Design illustration for the new Neo Blythe "Very Vicky"!

Vicky is short for Victoria.
At home, she is always called Victoria, a proper name for a proper young lady.
She is very much what her name indicates.
An aristocrat with a background that is VERY Vicky!

Very Vicky wears a classical outfit with a hint of Victorian essence.
Her outfit is separated to a shirt and skirt.
The shirt is made of a bluish green fabric, and is a very detailed design.
The bib front panel of the top is made from off-white fabric, and is decorated with pin tucks, ribbon, beads and laces.
The skirt is a simple shape, but the lace at the trim adds a very cute accent!
The little straw hat on her head has a lovely motif lace to perfectly match the dress.
Her black tights and bluish green strap shoes which match the dress color complete her look.
Her hair style is a brown long wavy hair that reaches her knee parted on the side.
Her makeup is a bluish grey eye shadow with pink lip and blush.
Her beauty mark under her left eye is her charm point.
She has a special light green eye chips gazing toward the right.
The face type is Fairest and skin color is Natural.
Scheduled release date: August 2010
Suggested retail price: 14,490 JPY


Oh man...I acknowledge that my collection is beginning to get out of hand and even though I vowed to slow down, I think I might just need this new release scheduled for August as my token FBL. Her hair, those gorgeous special eye chips, and her stock - I mean seriously just look at it - it's damn perfect (OK, I admit to not being totally in love with the dinky little hat, but I can live with that)!

I haven't been this excited about a new release since Nostalgic Pop - she is gorgeous and I must have her!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Poor Poe!




Poe went through quite an ordeal today, as did I trying to get her damn scalp off. Thank goodness Takara/CWC don't use all that glue anymore. What a nightmare!! RBL's have ruined me for customising other face molds. I can't believe how long I worked on her and how little I achieved.

I gave her a good long soak first to loosen the glue on her scalp. While she was soaking her crumpled lashes came out easily from the steam. Then I undid the screws and spring...and I thought I'd zip around her scalp and have it off in 10 minutes or so. Little did I know that I'd spend more than 4 hours wrestling with it. OMG!! I checked out two different methods for removing an EBL scalp. Good ol' Pucchi Collective and one from Sue of We Play With Dolls fame as well as looking at this very helpful tutorial from shershe. Well, Poe apparently had not read these tutorials, she really put up a fight. Eventually I got it off with a little bit of damage to the flange and also a little bit of damage to Poe's back face plate (a sliver of plastic came off). That makes me sad :(


There is an unholy amount of glue in the scalp, the most worrying being this thick strip where her thatching is. I have no idea how to get this off!!

And that is enough customising for one day. My fingers hurt!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bait Blythe



Poe arrived yesterday - my first EBL,and a bait Blythe. I thought I would put up a few pics, as unflattering as they are, so that newbies can see exactly what a bait Blythe is. I think Poe is a pretty good example!

Put simply, a bait Blythe is a doll that has seen better days. She needs some work as she's in pretty bad condition and so is sold off cheaply to someone looking for a fixer-upper. Normally the seller will disclose all of her faults, but in labelling her as "bait" you should be aware that you are buying a doll with issues. Sometimes you can end up saving quite a bit of money by buying a Blythe this way, especially if you are handy at customising yourself. I don't go in for stock girls, and as DB is getting older and harder to find, I wouldn't feel good about sanding off a new one's make-up, so this is a relatively good deal for me.

The person I bought Poe from bought her in this condition as bait herself and was very clear about her issues, so there were no surprises when I deboxed her.

So here she is, pretty much as she arrived.



As you can see, she has had a few "customisations" in a previous life! The worst and most unfixable of which being the poor girls hair, which as you can see has been given a very severe haircut. Her blonde streaks have been cut off at the roots along the thatching and the back has been cut short and unevenly. Such a pity, because I have to say that I love the colour and it is very very thick. The thickest of all my Blythes, actually. I'm wondering if Takara have been skimping out on this in recent years - the quality of the RBL hair does not compare.
She will be rerooted, as her skin is quite dark and unless I can find another DB scalp it wouldn't match.





She's been sanded at some point, possibly with a Magic Eraser type sponge because she is still kind of shiny here and there. She's got lots of superficial scuffs and marks and looks a bit grubby. Her makeup has been removed accept for her lips, she has no blush and the remnants of some black pastel eyeshadow. I don't think she's been sealed, so a light sanding will take care of all of this.



Several sets of her eye chips are very scratched - how does that even happen?? I could possibly buff them, but I think I'll just change them out to new ones. The only ones that might stay are the greys. I think the browns are too dark, although they are in ok condition too. She has lost her original eye lashes, and the new ones are all crumpled up - easy to replace. Her pull string and ring are a bit grotty too, these will have to be replaced.



She will be going to the talented and generous Erica Duh for a new face-up, but I am a fair way down the list so I might give her a temporary face-up until she leaves - I don't think I can stand to look at her for 6 months or so in her current state! I will also replace her chips and eye lashes and with a bit of luck I'll have her new scalp finished in time for when she is posted to, so that Erica has a bit more to work with. So all in all, this is what I need to do - quite a bit!!

1. Order saran.
2. Order and fit new eyechips - 2/3 sets.
3. General clean. She has an odd smell - not horrible, just a little musty or something.
4. Open head. Eep - my first time with anything other than RBL!
5. Sandmatt, temporary faceup
6. Replace eyelashes
7. Remove and prepare scalp, reroot.
8. Order and fit new pullring and replace string.

I'll keep you posted regarding her progress. Fingers crossed that she turns out to be worth all the effort!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blythe - the creative catalyst

I read a post on Plastic Paradise the other day that got me thinking. The writer was commenting that she felt that it seemed to her that everyone who collected Blythe used their dolls as models for amazingly tiny knits, cool felted helmets, Blythe couture, gorgeous custom dolls or just jaw droppingly beautiful photography and it made her feel a little inadequate for just being content to collect the dolls.

I thought this was such an interesting point, my perception is that it's true that so many collectors use Blythe as a muse and sometimes end up finding new creative outlets after taking up the hobby. In addition to the obvious - sewing, knitting and crocheting clothes, I've seen the most amazing paintings, detailed dioramas and even tiny jewelry designed for her. I love this idea by Little Deer - a watercolour portrait of your very own Blythe!


I also am a big fan of Emma Mount's work. I really need to get some of her gorgeous prints.




And I would love a pair of these shoes from TSANFW How funky and different are they?!



Aside from admiring everyone else's work, I can also see that some of my own creative skills have improved since I first became interested in Blythe. This is the first ever Blythe pic I took when Holly arrived in December 2009.



And this is a fairly recent one and one of my favourites.



My photography and photo editing skills are slowly improving and it shows in the snaps that I take of my family as well. This is my gorgeous girl Miss B.



I have never been interested in photography before. It always seems so horribly complicated and technical (and as you can see by the very ordinary template I use for my blog, I have no interest in the technical!). At some stage I may invest in a better camera, but right now I am content to learn how to get a decent photo out of the very very ordinary and probably outdated point and shoot digital camera and how to use an editing program to tidy them up.

I wonder how many other collectors have started taking an interest in a new creative pursuit or set their mind to improving the skills they already have? Could it be that this big eyed piece of plastic is a catalyst for creativity?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Diet no more!!



Well I did it! I was very restrained...and have already blown my budget for the month on this lovely girl, who needs a bit of TLC. This is Poe, a Disco Boogie with a rather unfortunate hair cut. It would seem that at some stage one of her owners (not the person I bought her from) didn't like her streaky hair and cut most of her fringe down to the roots. She's also been sanded and has lost her original make-up apart from her lipstick. I'm planning on rerooting her in a multi-toned blonde and giving her some new makeup. Not sure about her lips, I think I may just leave them as is, although I have seen some gorgeous custom DB with a darker peachy brown lip that looks pretty amazing. Lips are not one of my strong points, so I'll have a practice on Ash or my poor Blythe in bits and if I'm not satisfied I'll send her away to someone who knows what they're doing.

I'm so excited to be getting this girl. My very first non RBL! I hope I can do an OK job on tidying her up. Next month I'll be ordering chips and hair - I'm going to take my time with this one, but at the same time I can't wait to start!