• Dollfie The Next Frontier

    Part 1

Dollfie The Next Frontier Part 1

In the recent days I have suddenly found myself fixated upon the beauty and allure of BJD’s. What are BJD’s you ask? Welcome to the world of Ball Jointed Dolls!

Presently I’m a figure collector, so why Dollfie’s all of a sudden? I thought I’d take the opportunity to pen my thoughts by discussing the two opposing sides of the fence in the figure collecting world. We’ll discuss about Those Against It and Those For It.

Those Against It

I attended the recent Anime North 2017 at the Toronto Congress Center in May. The weather was mixed, for the most part, it was partly cloudy, sunny and spitting rain on and off plus to top it off the temperature was lower then the seasonal average. It basically sucked.

The one thing that I had going was the best parking spot at the Con with my car firmly placed near the entrance, which allowed me to periodically drop my loot off and a place to rest without being away from the fun! With that in mind, I was quite excited since I haven’t last attended since 2010.

The Con was decently organised (definitely still room for improvement though and much better than my last attendance in 2010). The sheer scale of this Con permitted it to have many “sub-con’s” as I would describe it.

One of the sub-con’s included a Doll-con. They occupied a whole hotel and all the conference and banquet halls alone!

At that time, doll’s didn’t quite appeal to me as much and on retrospect I regretfully omitted visiting the booths during my visit.

More notably though my time was fairly well spent elsewhere at the con, besides – I had only one day to make my rounds as I didn’t buy a weekend pass.

Other than the diverse dealer room booths, I found myself at a panel, more specifically an anime figure panel. There were a handful of high profile anime figure collector/blogger personalities whom were the host of the panel and there was one of the panel hosts who remarked his disdain for dolls.

I thought not much at the time but after the panel, it was what he said that resonated with me.

What he said has since been forgotten in the dusty recesses of my mind but his disdain may have stemmed from two possible lines of thought that may have caused him to make such a one-sided remark.

1) Figure collectors prefer to stay separate from Doll collectors

His remark can be interpreted as elitist, that was my impression at the very least. He identifies as a figure collector purist and that moving into collecting dolls would break his belief system about figures and everything he had stood for.

I concluded that maybe because of the stereotype that collecting dolls remain largely as a feminine thing, he didn’t know how to better phrase it because he may have been a bit flustered when it was his time to speak since there was quite a turn up at the panel.

I quickly reasoned that to a lesser degree, there are certainly people who feel that figure collecting does not and should not include collecting dolls as that would be logically a separate hobby all together which made sense.

So that got me thinking… What would be another logical reason for not embarking on the doll collecting world?


2) The sticker shock might be too much for some people

One of the original reasons I was not fully on board with ball jointed dolls scene is because the average cost of a doll can range from 47,000 JPY (Approx $480 USD) upwards to over 100,000 JPY (Approx $1,100 USD).

This may be a good as time as any to disclose to you that these costs comprise of standard model Dollfies to 2nd hand market equivalents including both new and 2nd hand limited runs.

Limited runs are interesting because, as with wine, there are some limited edition Dollfie’s that were developed only once and are long out of production and can fetch 2nd hand market prices in excess of 500,000 JPY (Approx $5,200 USD+)!

The average cost a respectable setup will run you between 47,000 JPY upwards to about 75,000 JPY ($480-780 USD). These includes the base doll, a custom sculpted face plate, wig, underwear and for a small premium additional clothes/accessories either bundled together or sold separately.

A quick background on how limited runs are acquired…

Aside from standard models available all year round, seasonally the doll manufacturers would collaborate with studio’s to bring anime character equivalent dolls to the marketplace.

The average cost of limited run dolls seem to hover into the 70,000 JPY (approx $720 USD) territory as opposed to standard models that cost about half.

But it is not as simple saying “shut up and take my money”.

There is a lottery system that you have to apply for and in this lottery system only if you are selected (win) do you get a chance to purchase it.

Not only do you need to have the cash on hand but there is also the element of chance as well. If this helps the companies boost profits and increase demand/popularity, why not?

Those For It

I’m certainly fall into this categorical bracket. Let’s talk about: Blurring the lines of figure and doll collecting and Other reasons and considerations for collecting it.

Blurring the lines of figure and doll collecting

It’s interesting to note that how we feel and our perception towards our hobby ultimately shapes our belief system. One in particular that I can describe is that there is a blurring line between figure and doll collecting.

For as long as scaled figures existed, there were a few product lines that brought with it excellent build quality for substantially less then its dedicated doll counterparts albeit at the cost of premium materials and detailed workmanship.

Two product lines come to mind which I had experience with. Most notably the famous Figma series line by manufacturer Max Factory and RAH (Real Action Heroes) product line by manufacturer Medicom.

To describe the difference between the two – RAH is a Figma and Doll hybrid in the sense that RAH are known to use real fabrics like the Doll counterparts while still maintaining the remaining parts including the RAH figure’s hair in plastic (PVC).

The cost of an average figma can range between standard 4,000 JPY to deluxe sets (containing the same sized figures but with additional props/accessories) at 8,000 JPY.

Comparatively RAH is likened to a Deluxe Figma set but at over double the price and are usually 1/6 scale whereas Figma’s although not scaled would appear to be 1/10 or 1/12 at eye contrast.

So what is it I’m getting at? I brought those product lines to point out that in contrast with their doll counterpart, the use of ball joints are prevalent in the product lines.

With the fact that I own these products, its not hard to underestand the appeal that a BJD might offer. Which we’ll talk about in the next point:

Other Reasons and Considerations

I’ll change gears a bit and organize my thoughts in a bulleted list with my thoughts about it:

  1. Quality and Detail – I have said it once before, the quality and detail in Dollfie’s are miles apart then what Figma’s and RAH’s can bring to the table.
  2. Customization – While it is possible to swap parts of Figma’s, I can’t say the same for RAH’s – but in Dollfie land, its possible to swap parts with compatible models. Need I also mention a huge thing with customization is that you can create/sculpt/design and apply makeup to the face plates? That’s right folks. This is one of the core points in owning a Dollfie. There are people who stake their lively hood on creating gorgeous custom face plate masterpieces. On the 2nd hand marketplace, I have seen plates going for as much as 30-45% and in some cases double the cost of a standard production Dollfie SET alone!
  3. Companionship – A weird concept to grasp but I’m sure you seen people at con’s with these Dollfies on their shoulder posing or in their arms in a regular sitting position. As you would expect, there is a deep connection that can be found between the doll and its owners. A very similar phenomena with how young girls obsess with baby dolls at one point of their lives. It’s the parenting factor and to other degrees the companionship factor that fills the primal gaps of our lives. I read an interview about a Dollfie owner and his reasoning was that spending time with someone who doesn’t speak/complain is a very appealing reason to own a doll because they are always consistent and are willing to live its life in complete submission.
  4. Bragging Rights – I’d believe the cost of these dolls can make certain avid collectors elitist and to own several if not dozens of these can be seen among other doll collectors as a social symbol/badge of wealth.

Conclusion

There is quite a bit to digest in my post, I still think that there is more to it then just that. There is still much more to learn about the doll collecting world that I don’t know about!

You may have noticed I left out other product lines like Azone and Smart Dolls – I feel that I wanted to touch base on those in another post. So look out for Part 2!