Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Arrival: Lumedoll Atik

I've been admiring Lumedoll's line for years - they are a single artist operation out of Florida and offer some really distinct sculpts.  For a long time they only had three resin colour options, but last year that number doubled.  And they added a new set of 43cm dolls and sculpts.  And then there was a brief sale over New Year's and I found I couldn't resist any longer, and I placed my order for the Atik sculpt on the male body, in ebony resin.  And then just in time for my birthday, he arrived!

My first impressions were twofold - he's gorgeous, and he's tiny!  I knew that at 43cm he'd be at the shorter end of the mini range, but he's also extremely slender, so in a lot of ways he has the body of a large fashion doll.  He also has the smallest head of any of my dolls (including the tinies!), so he's going to have to stay bald for a while - luckily it suits him!

The packaging was interesting; Instead of a box, he game in a bag.
You can see the Lumedoll logo on the bag.

 I was a little concerned for his safety when I saw the bag inside the shipper box, but there was enough padding on both sides (foam bits inside the shipper and bubble wrap inside the bag) that he appears to have been 100% secure.

The bag itself is a nice heavy material, and is approximately the size and style of a wine bag.  I'd assumed this style of packing would make him easy to unwrap, but that knot at the top was actually tight enough to be a challenge!

As for the doll himself, his face sculpt is delightfully detailed with plenty of character.  I ordered him with a faceup, and they (I should probably say "she", since we are talking a one-woman operation, shouldn't I?) did a fantastic job on his eyebrows and lips.  The body is also delightfully detailed - his torso reminds me of the bodies of marathon runners.

Look how modest he is!
The joint engineering is functional, and he can stand on his own, although I wouldn't want to have him standing and then walk away from him.  He's definitely one to display on a stand.  His resin is also lovely, with a good weight to it and solid, even colouring.  He does have noticeable seam lines (in particular on his hands), but that's to be expected on a non-sanded doll.

In character terms, I think he works with a variety of options:  I have a couple of ideas, but am still on the fence. My original plan was to call him Xolani, but now that he's here I'm thinking he might be more of a Geoffrey.  But we'll see how I feel once he has hair (if he even needs hair - I'm on the fence about that now as well!).

Finally, let me share a shot of him with my other mini-range dolls (with apologies for the lighting).  The 50cm guys tower over him, and while the standard minis are clearer of different proportions with their heads being easily 3x the size.  The Iplehouse JID is probably closest in size, but still has a head that's a good size larger and a body that's a good 50% broader.

L-R: Soom ID51 London, Iplehouse JID Boris, Lumedoll Atik, Illusion Spirit ZhuQing, Volks SDC Miko, Souldoll Vito Rouse

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Out of the Box: Omar (Island Doll Kevin)

Day one: these eyes proved to be a little small.
This little guy was my first standard Yo-sized doll, and was a bit of an impulse buy:  a dealer happened to have the tan version in-stock, and the temptation was just too great (it was 2011, which was my Year of Too Many Dolls.  I like to think I've gained some self-control since then ;).

Being an impulse buy, I hadn't done any research into Island Doll's quality before he arrived, so I was a little worried - but I needn't have been, because he's a lovely doll.  The Island Doll resin has a slight translucence to it, which gives it a nice warm tone in certain lighting - there's a slight redness to the tan that only appears in direct light.  In indirect light the colour is a nice light brown (when the red is disguised by shadow, he's quite close in colour to Iplehouse's Lt Brown).

Current wig and eyes
As is common with Chinese BJD companies, he came with sanded seams, and his resin has a nice even smoothness.  But unlike my dolls from Illusion Spirit, Dollzone and Bobobie, the sanding lines are virtually invisible - they really did a wonderful job of it, at least on this specific doll.  The only area with noticeable colour variation is along his headcap, which is always hidden under a wig.

I was also delighted by the engineering.  He has double-jointed elbows and knees but the joints aren't slippery, so he can hold a variety of poses without issue.  He's also able to stand without support on display, which is a fantastic bonus feature.

His face sculpt has a nice youthful quality that could work for a variety of ages.  Painted differently (and depending on eye size), he could work for any age from toddler right up to an eight-ten year old).  The features are a bit stylized, but not so strikingly so that he's out of place with more realistic dolls.

Overall, I would give this doll top marks for pose-ability, resin quality and overall appeal.
Kneeling (he can actually go deeper than this)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lone Wolf (Monster High Clawd Wolf)

Checking out the doll groups on flickr is always dangerous, and while I've always considered it lucky (for my wallet at least) that I hadn't fallen for the Monster High dolls it was probably only a matter of time before one caught my eye.

It was a boy wolf doll that grabbed me, and a quick google showed him to be "Clawd Wolf", the brother of the girl werewolves that I've seen so much of.  Unfortunately he also seemed to be harder to find and more prone to doubling in price on the secondary market, and I was on the verge of giving up when I happened across a listing that didn't have much of an increase over the retail price, and thus did the wolf make his way here (along with his vampire girlfriend, who came in the set).

Since it was my first time buying a Monster High doll, I was excited to see how they were packed - and I have to say I was impressed.  My general experience of unpacking kid-aimed dolls has been of needing to cut through piles upon piles plastic tabs and layer upon layer of sticky tape, but this set surprised me - one layer of plastic and some minimal tabs and soft elastic.  Brilliant!

The clothing is decent - well cut with good use of colour, and I like that the stands seem to work reasonably well with these dolls outfits (although I understand that that's often not the case with this line).   I'm neither impressed nor disappointed with the accessories - I feel like they'd be quickly lost in a play situation and yet they're not really detailed enough for display pieces.  Still, they're a nice touch and certainly work with the theme of the set.

The pose-ability of these dolls is well-known, but even so I was impressed by how expressive the arm movements make these dolls - they really do have an extraordinary level of pose-ability.  I'm also quite fond of the paint work on the eyes - they're much more detailed than I'd expected.

A final surprise was the hair on Draculaura - it's much softer than it looks in the box!  I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with her (she's not really to my taste), but the hair makes me tempted to keep her and turn her into a project doll!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cross-Company Comparison: Tan Resins

One of the big challenges that I hear about from people who want to hybrid tan dolls is the near-impossibility of finding matching colours without having to resort to custom batches or blushing an entire body to match a head.  With that in mind, here are a couple of references based on my own collection:

  1. Illusion Spirit tan (ZhuQing, 2011)
  2. Secretdoll tan (Binu, 2008)
  3. Dollmore Suntan (Mettaa, 2010)
  4. Iplehouse Ebony (Chase, 2009)
  5. Iplehouse old Dark tan (Aaron, 2007)
  6. Soom Dark Brown (London, 2011)
  7. Iplehouse Light Brown (Arvid, 2011)
  8. Limhwa tan (Half-Elf, 2011)
  9. Dollzone tan (Alpha, 2011)
  10. Volks ebony (Irvin, 2008)
  11. Island Doll tan (Kevin, 2011)
  12. Iplehouse old light tan (Cocori, 2008)
  13. ResinSoul coffee/light tan (2010)

Clockwise, starting with the feet:
  1. FantasyDoll Dark tan (Charlotte, 2013)
  2. Iplehouse ebony (Boris, 2013)
  3. Soom dark brown (London, 2011)
  4. Dollmore suntan (Mettaa ),
  5. Island doll tan (Kevin, 2011)
  6. Illusion Spirit tan (ZhuQing, 2011)
  7. Souldoll tan (Rouse, 2010), 
  8. Iplehouse light brown (Arvid, 2011)
  9. Limhwa tan (Half-eld, 2011)
  10. Dollzone tan (Alpha, 2011)

Personally, I thought the biggest find was the similarity between Iplehouse's light brown and Island
Doll's tan (although the IS tan does have slightly more red to it).

That's EID Arvid in light brown holding Island doll Kevin in tan on the left.

Monday, February 10, 2014

New arrival: Taeyang (Pullip) Captain Hook

Did I swear off buying new dolls for the month?  Apparently not!

I confess, I've never been a huge fan of the large-headed dolls like Pullip and Blythe - I've admired what other people have done with theirs, but I've never felt a desire to own one myself.  But then I happened across a low-priced listing for this Taeyang (male Pullip) Captain Hook, and thought "Why not?"

Since he's my first doll of this type, I wasn't sure what to expect, but overall I'm quite pleased - his outfit is wonderfully detailed (and includes an enormous hat that I couldn't keep on his head) and he has a nicely expressive face.  And the body really is fantastically pose-able, just like I've always heard.

If I have any negatives on the doll in general, it would only be that the head feels surprisingly delicate and thin compared to the body's material.  Specific to this release, I found that it's quite challenging to keep the hook on as it's not attached as a hand alternative as I'd expected, but is instead a cover that goes over his hand.  It's nicely detailed, but it constantly slips off, which is a bit of an annoyance, since I prefer to have him displayed with the hook on.

I also thought that he was a bit over-packaged; A good thing, in terms of keeping him protected en route, but it was quite a challenge getting him unpacked without ripping his hair or stockings.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with this doll - I'll probably not be picking up any other dolls in the Pullip family, but I feel that he'll make a nice display piece both on his own (he's my current desk doll) and with a mixed-style group which is how he'll probably be displayed in the long term when he joins my "bad guy" character shelf.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Out of the box: Imran (Volks SD13 Irvin)

Current look.
A unique doll - one of only two (the other being SD16 Ruby) do be released in the ebony, and with a distinct fantasy outfit (and ears) - I was fascinated by this guy from the moment I saw him.   For a couple of years this doll was, as they say, my grail doll - a limited Dolpa release with high prices on the secondary market.  I admired him, but always assumed it would always be a long-distance admiration.

But then 2011 rolled around, and with both the global economy taking a hit and the BJD market shifting to include many more options (and perhaps more importantly, more lower-cost options), the prices of these older Volks limiteds started to drop a bit.  And finally over the summer (when I was on my honeymoon actually) I saw one seller drop her price to a point that I felt I couldn't pass up (I won't lie though, he's still the doll I paid the most for).

Default look (with elf ears)
He has the same standard SD13 long-leg body that my Heath has, but came with removable ears - two sets actually, one elf-style and one human.   And his colour has aged well: none of the greening that some companies' tans have been prone to.  He also has an interesting face sculpt - depending on the angle (and to a certain extent, choice of wig) he can look very child-like or quite a bit more mature.

 That's him looking young on the left, and in his default gear on the right.


Amusingly, given that I fell in love with him because of his elaborate fullset outfit, I've not had him displayed in that style since the first time I photographed him.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Out of the box: Nolitye (Secretdoll Binu)

In a Pipos outfit
Secretdoll's Binu is another non-standard size:  technically in high-end of the YoSD range at 31cm, the doll is proportioned in the style of an MSD, so she has the proportions of a 9-12 year old child, rather than the toddler body that most tiny BJDs have, while still not quite qualifying for "mature tiny" status.

My first non-SD sized BJD, I wasn't sure what to expect of this girl, but she's really quite lovely.  The engineering of the body is imperfect (she needs a stand in order to stay upright) and fairly basic (she's single jointed), but in a way that only adds to her charm.

In a Liv doll outfit
Mine is the tan version, and the colour is beautiful - a solid brown, without the orange underlayer that some companies' medium tans tend towards.  And considering the age (the doll was released in 2008) and that Secretdoll is such a small operation, her colour is perfectly even:  none of the marbling that one frequently sees.

The biggest challenge with this doll is finding clothes in the right scale.  YoSD clothes tend to be a little too short and a little too baggy, while fashion doll clothes tend to be slightly too tight (although I had some luck with the now-discontinued Liv doll outfits).  I do enjoy sewing for my dolls, but her size makes that more of a challenge for my limited skill.

She has an adorably detailed face that matches the body in being in that in-between zone of not-quite-child, not-quite mature - although I've seen other Binus that were painted to look more adult, so it's certainly a possibility with this sculpt.

On display, she generally doesn't look in-scale with the standard YoSD/MSD/SD sizes, but she is reasonably in scale with my taller non-standard sized dolls:
In between Souldoll Vito Rouse and Soom ID51 London