Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Does customising de-value Blythe?

I must be feeling a bit pressured at the moment, because I've found myself sneaking off to do dolly things during the day and really enjoying every moment of it!

I read a really interesting thread on the This Is Blythe forum recently that kinda got me thinking. It was from a new collector who was asking if customising her doll would devalue it. After considering it for a while, I think that if you look at your collection as a long term investment (and with the amount of money sunk into the hobby, you might as well!), and assuming that you have a mint NRFB Blythe then yes, in the long term if you look at it from a strictly financial point of view it probably does.

I guess the thing to bear in mind is that a doll that may be cheap and considered prime customising fodder right now may end up becoming very valuable in years to come. Tastes and fashions change and an older release doll that was previously thought ugly or odd (like the original Kenners as well as Goldie and Kozy) may suddenly become highly sought after. If most of these dolls were customised back when they were easy to come by, suddenly it's really hard to get one in stock condition and the rule of supply and demand comes into play. Who is to say that Mango, one of the most frequently customised Blythes might not be the Goldie of the future. There's no real way of knowing!

Another thing to consider is the quality of the customisation itself. If it's not well done then regardless of the base doll it is going to be worth less than you paid for it. Even if you are willing to pay for a professional to do the work you still may come out behind due to the amount of money it cost you to have the work done. The services of a customiser, materials and postage add up really quickly, so even though you might be able to sell the doll for a lot more than you originally paid for her, you might well still not get back what you have invested in her.

This is the kind of money you can expect to pay all up for a commissioned mohair rerooted Blythe with a new faceup from a customiser with a good reputation. Not the most expensive, but also not the cheapest.

Original cost of doll - lets say it's a new release RBL that you bought nude.

$80 + $25 shipping from somewhere in Asia - $105

Plus the cost to send to the customiser - $20 ($125)
Plus the materials used - reasonable quality mohair - $60 ($185)
Cost of reroot $150 ($335)
Eyechips $10 per set including fitting. Let's say you changed 2 sets. ($355)
Faceup$65 - sometimes more, sometimes less - ($410)
Lashes $10 ($420)
Lip Carving - $15 - again, sometimes more, sometimes less ($435)
Return postage - $20 ($455).

That's a lot of money to have to try and make back, even when you consider that people will pay more for a well known customiser's work!

Even if you did the work yourself and assuming you already had the necessary tools and art supplies, you would still be paying about $185 and spending a lot of time (days and days of rerooting alone!). And a lot of us just don't have the artistic ability that the well known customisers do. Sometimes the doll ends up looking worse than when you started!

So bearing that in mind you would think that I am anti-custom, but nothing could be further than the truth. Most of the stock girls just don't appeal to me at all and I'm not interested in having a shelf full of NRFB dolls that I'm too scared to touch. I love my custom Blythe - even the ones I did myself. Although I am sure they are not to everyone's taste, I enjoy them so much more now that they have a bit more personality.

I think the question you need to ask yourself before you busy with the sandpaper, is how upset you would be if you customised the doll and it looked bad or if you knew that you had just devalued a hard to find and expensive Blythe. If you have any niggling doubts, perhaps you'd be better off either leaving her stock or buying a pre-customised one to begin with.

For me personally, I'm only comfortable working on bait dolls or new releases with a few flaws that I'm just not liking so much, but even then I am aware that the amount of money spent on the customisation might be a lot more than the doll is worth at the end of it - especially since I am no expert! With the exception of the Basaak, I like the way all of my rescue girls have come out, but when I think about how much I spent on them, I know that I will make a loss when I come to sell them.

Roxy started off being a very inexpensive factory girl and she cleaned up quite nicely. I didn't try anything very adventurous with her at all.

Then I bought another doll for her scalp (more $$ invested as she was more expensive than the original Saffy factory girl) and now she looks like this.

I might just be able to break even with her if I was to sell her as her scalp is very nice and I also managed to recoup a little bit of the costs by selling her blonde scalp. I consider her to be a good investment.

On the other end of the spectrum, there's Poe. She came as bait back when EBL's were really quite expensive. At the time that I bought her, she was a bargain with a lot of potential, but still cost quite a bit more than Roxy.

Her hair was beyond redemption, so I decided she should get a reroot. The mohair cost me about $25 and a lot of time to prepare it. She is still in pieces and the reroot feels like it'll never be done!

I think I will send her face plates away to an Aussie customiser, but even with the saving on postage, she'll still end up costing me a LOT more than a stock Disco Boogie would now and if I was to sell her I would probably make a loss. At one point I did consider getting another EBL scalp for her at least, but it still ends up not working in my favour.

So as you can see some things even depend on how the Blythe economy itself is currently working, and there are no guarantees that you will come out on top, even if you buy a bait girl to do up.


  1. Roxy looks amazing! Whose scalp is she sporting? Even though I liked her blonde, the new color is fantastic on her.

    I also relate to you and Poe! Hana's reroot is almost done, but she was in pieces for a year. Good luck with finishing her reroot. The mohair looks beautiful and you are doing a wonderful job!

  2. Gosh I'm so sorry I have taken so long to respond to this comment. I've been working and not Blytheing as much as usual. Roxy thanks you for the compliment. She has a factory girl Veronica Lace scalp, but without the bangs.