Friday, January 31, 2014

The Captain Britain wall

Before we moved, I had the clever idea that I would frame some of my favourite comics and let the rest go into storage.  I searched for comic frames, decided they were overpriced, found Youseph Tanha's Ikea Comic Book Photo Frame Hack post, discovered that the Ikea in Burlington didn't have those frames, and then finally discovered that Dollarama did have the size and picked up a few.  And then our move was bumped up by a month and the project fell by the wayside.

But the frames (and the longboxes) made their way south with me, and this week I finally put a few of them together along with a couple of figures in/on a shadowbox.  Making the cut for round one (I still have a couple more frames waiting to be used) were issues #1 and #100 of Excalibur and #1 of Captain Britain and MI:13.   I'm not 100% sold on the spacing (I may rehang to get the gaps a little more even), but overall I'm pleased!

On top of the box is my mystery Captain Britain figure - I picked him up from the loose figure box at Chinook and Hobby West back in 2008ish, and there were a couple of releases with the same look, so I don't actually know which one he's from.  The smaller figure in the 70s-style uniform is from the recent "great battles" release, which I found in the clearance bin at Winners about a year ago.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Visiting toys: Mulder, Scully and Krycek (Sideshow Toys X-files)

Krycek's ready to stab some shape-shifters
My sister and I were huge X-files fans back in the day.  Even now, when the show's been off the air for more than a decade, when we get together we randomly insert quotes into our conversations.

But even so, back when Sideshow toys released their X-files line we passed on them - the $65 price tag seemed steep when there were still $15 movie tie-in action figures floating around. 

And aside from that, my sister isn't much of a collector - being more of a minimalist, a doll would be out of place in her house. But as a pathologist, the ghost of Scully has haunted her:  When she finished med school, a surprising number of people asked her if she was specializing in pathology because of CSI;  "No, because of X-files" she'd joke.  The joke was repeated often enough that we started joking that it was too bad there wasn't a figure of Scully in scrubs that she could put on her desk at work and point to.

"But I don't wanna do an autopsy!"
Fast-forward a couple of years, to 2013, when I decided to pick up the Krycek doll on the secondary market (I wanted to add him to my "evil amputee" shelf, which is a story for another day).   And while I was checking out the ebay listings, I noticed that there actually was a version of the Scully doll in scrubs - "Autopsy Scully"!  So of course I decided I'd found the perfect Christmas gift for my sister.  And when I found a listing for both that doll and the Mulder one, I went for it.  Unfortunately they didn't arrive early enough for me to take along on my holiday visit to Toronto, so the dolls are still with me for now.

On the doll quality: The likenesses aren't great - they all look vaguely like the actors, but are all just a little off.  The proportions are also a little strange, although I think if they had slightly longer necks and legs then they'd all look a little less blocky.  That said though, the dolls are very well articulated and have nicely detailed outfits.  My Krycek doll was still in his original box and came with a branded stand and some nicely detailed accessories.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Out of the box: Sarah (Volks SD16 Daria)

Her default outfit and hair.
This is another doll where having slightly off-trend tastes made the acquisition so much easier:  Your average Volks Dolpa exclusive involves luck and lotteries to purchase, but Daria wasn't the most popular offering, and as a result she was available for preorder.  No lottery or second-hand searching necessary!

I don't know why she didn't sell-out; She's a lovely doll - fabulous face and a fantastically detailed fullset outfit (just the shoes are a work of art!) - but hey, there's no accounting for tastes.

Lovely though her default outfit is, I ultimately ended up keeping her primarily in very casual, very modern clothing.  Until the move, I generally kept her displayed with Grant (my Dollmore Glamor Model Suntan Mettaa - that's them up there in my site header), but since he's still boxed up, she's currently on display solo.

Modern style, with an Angell-Studio wig
For whatever reason, she's the doll that gets the most comments from friends and relatives who check out the doll collection, and the feature that gets the bulk of it are her eyes - her "big, sad eyes" as a friend of my husband's said.   I don't think she's particularly sad-looking myself (wistful, maybe) so I find the fact that so many people comment on it a little amusing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Out of the box: Mmabatho (Iplehouse YID Lt Cocori)

I love how ridiculous this hat is.
This girl was the first female BJD to join my collection, and she was my first attempt at a hybrid.  She was actually my reason for joining the Den of Angels forum - I told a doll-owning friend that I regretted missing the general order period and she told me that there was a head for sale on DoA.

The head wasn't in perfect shape - the original owner had left the head on display in a lit cabinet and it had significant greening, but at the time there weren't any other options for getting the doll (outside of the normal skin pre-orders), so I decided to chance it.  And honestly, the green is apparent in person, but generally she still photographs well.

The second challenge was finding a matching body.  At the time I hadn't done nearly as much exploring into the options, and ended up going with the lowest priced option and put her on a Resinsoul body.  People who love the whole sueding-and-wiring process generally rave about these bodies, but being lazy I honestly think it's way too light and floppy.

Her current wig
If I were buying a body now, I'd probably get an Island doll tan body instead:  I prefer the engineering on that one, and I believe the colour would be equally close in that it would be slightly too dark rather than the slightly too light colour of the RS Coffee body (Island doll tan is actually very close to the newer Iplehouse Lt brown).  But since she's been on the floppy body for nearly 4 years now, I'll probably just leave her as she is.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A new aquisition: Daken (Marvel Legends Dark Wolverine)

He's glaring at you.
I was looking through action figure collection photos on Flickr the other day and noticed this guy in someone's collection.  My first reaction was to assume that it was a custom work, because considering that the Daken comic was cancelled, and he's not a character in the movies or the TV series, would there have been demand for an official figure?

But apparently the demand was there, because this is a real thing!  So of course I bought him, because I loved his solo series while it lasted - it had all the soap opera + action that makes a bad/good superhero book (Vague spoilers here: planting bombs in schools!  Tricking people into fighting!  Psychopath girlfriends and power-stealing boyfriends!  Silly crossovers!).

In any case, the figure is decent - well-articulated, clearly looks like the character (although I think the tattoos are a little wrong), and included the random extra of the arm of a build-it-yourself figure.

I did think it was a little weird that they only used the name "Dark Wolverine" on the packaging.  If someone who isn't familiar with the comics saw the package, would they know it was a different character and not just Wolverine with a mohawk?

Invasion of the fashion dolls

Opening the boxes
I've never had any fashion dolls - even as a kid, they were just not my thing (sure, the occasional barbie-type gift might pass through my hands, but ultimately they would be passed along to my sister).  But having seen so many interesting ones lately (the perils of meeting BJD collectors whose entry to doll collecting came through fashion dolls rather than action figures), I've found myself tempted by a few.

And now that I have access to more dealers and more reasonable shipping costs (crossing the border does have its benefits!) I found a couple of dolls on sale and decided to see what they're like.

The dolls in question:  "TJ" from Integrity Toys' mid-range Dynamite Girls line and "Martha Jones" from Tonner's Doctor Who licensed line.  Interestingly, despite the difference in size and company, they were packed in exactly the same fashion.

Dynamite Girls TJ
I was most impressed with the Dynamite Girl - she's tiny, but the face paint is still quite detailed.  The articulation is fairly natural, her hair is decent and the outfit is fantastic - loads of detail, decent materials, and so many individual pieces!  Just the details on her tights are worth raving about - I was very impressed at the quality for something so small scale.

She also fits nicely on the included stand, which is always good (the stand itself had both saddle and waist attachments)  I'm not sure if the differences between this line and Integrity's higher priced Fashion Royalty line are worth it though - from what I've heard the differences are primarily in the accessories rather than the dolls and clothes, and that doesn't strike me as a huge selling feature. In any case, I was very pleased with this doll, and would probably have been happy with her even at full price (I ordered her at 25% off).

Tonner Doctor Who Martha Jones
Unfortunately, I was less than thrilled by the Tonner.  The doll itself is of good quality - a nice smooth plastic with an even colour,  but it looks nothing like the actress.  In fact, the face is so undetailed that it could be anyone - she's a pretty enough doll, but you don't look at her and automatically recognize the character.   That would be forgivable if the focus of the doll were the outfit, but the details on the clothing were minimal.

Considering that this is a fairly large doll, the simplicity of the jeans and jacket was disappointing - there are really no details on either (there is a simple pattern on the tank under the jacket, but again: standard quality).  The zippers on her boots were also a challenge to unzip (they needed to be opened in order to get them on the doll).  As with TJ, she came with a stand, but it's saddle-type only and because of the thickness of the denim, the doll doesn't actually fit on the stand.

Because of all of that I'm not really certain that she was a good value, even at the 60% off price that I paid.  I certainly would never have wanted to pay the $175.00 sticker price.  Still, she's not a bad quality doll - just a bit generic.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Out of the box: Murad (Iplehouse EID NC Shadow Chase)

I missed this guy when Iplehouse first released him, and pre-CDS, that meant watching the secondary market for ages - I actually missed this very doll once (I messaged the owner just hours after she accepted an offer from someone else), but then that owner later sold him and so he came to join my doll posse (minus his chimera parts at that point, but I wouldn't have used those anyway, so I wasn't complaining).

Despite being third-hand, he's actually in very good shape still - the hook on one ankle broke, but that's a common issue with the EIDs, and so it's not really cause for concern.  Everything else is near-perfect.  I've heard of dolls from this same release who went purple, but his colour is actually near-identical to my 2012 JID Boris, so I think it's safe to say that it's aging quite well.

He's become the doll that I've put through the most reinventions as well, so let's take a look at them:

Day 1: Painted as the last owner's character ("censored" with a cigar, because ha!)

I actually loved how owner #2 had painted the eyebrows, so the real challenge was trying to keep them while taking off the rest of the face - it worked reasonably well, I feel.

Look #1

Look #1:   big blue eyes and orange-red hair (the default wig from my SD13 Heath - despite the huge size difference, they actually wear the same wig size).

At this point I had no EID-size clothing, so I had to squeeze him into anything that fit (the pants I'd made based on online measurements ended up being a good size too small).

Look 2 (with Angelheim Venetio)
Look #2: Same blue eyes, but now with a white fur wig.  Same clothing issues too, since my attempts at getting him into Angelheim's Elderheim sizes and Dollmore's Glamor Model clothes had a 90% failure rate.

Several more failed attempts at other-company clothing and weak attempts at sewing (finally foiled when the tension on my ancient sewing machine finally died), but this guy was finally saved when I ordered another EID (an Arvid) and bought a selection of clothes along with him.  Around the same time I snagged some smaller brown eyes as well, and thus was his look finalized (although the clothes still rotate, of course).

Final look (with Lt brown EID Arivd)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

#7: Roland (Soom ID51 London)

Another day, another non-standard sized doll!

When the original steampunk London was released, I debated ordering him, but held out - I wasn't that taken with the narrow Soom faces, he was strange size and would be a challenge to dress... But when his sale period ended I kept thinking about him, so when a second release popped up I went for it.

I still rather regret not getting the original outfit, although the cream white suit that was released with the second period was nice too (just a little hard to keep clean, given my fondness for photographing dolls outdoors!).

I got him in the dark brown resin, which is a nice even colour (it's slightly lighter than Iplehouse's ebony, and quite similar to their old dark tan).

The default outfit
The sculpt is awesomely detailed - both face and body - but the real standout is the detail on the hands and feet.  They're probably the nicest in my collection.  On the downside, the knees are single jointed, so the posing options are limited, and his resin is actually quite thin around the joints, which makes me a little nervous.

In terms of scale, he's too short and too realistically proportioned to fit with standard SD-sized dolls, and his tiny head (he shares wigs with Yo-sized dolls!) means he looks odd with standard minis.  He's only slightly shorter than the Souldoll Vito though, so they work together, and depending on wig choice he can look in scale with the Iplehouse JIDs (although the head size on those is slightly larger on a shorter body).

With Souldoll Vito Rouse
On clothing - he's slightly to broad in the shoulders for the tighter-fitting Souldoll Vito and Iplehouse JID clothing, but anything baggy can work.  I've had better luck with putting him in SD10-sizes (although obviously the bottoms are always too long if they're left unaltered).

In storage: American Girl Samantha

My husband likes to insist that I didn't put nearly enough stuff into storage when we moved (even though easily half the furniture and the vast majority of my books - probably close to 85% - did), but of course "stuff" generally just means toys, and that might not be too far from the truth.

But some toys did go into storage, and my AG Samantha was one of them.

Didn't everyone think up AG fanfic about how maybe in 1914 an older Samantha runs off to Canada to join the red cross and ends up as a nurse in Flanders? And then runs into all of the war poets?

No?  Just me then?
  It's a little odd that I even have her - she's from back in the day when there were only three dolls and they were sold through a paper catalogue.  They weren't as widely known, so it was just a fluke that one of my mother's American-resident sisters happened to get a catalogue and, not having daughters, brought it along on a visit instead of just throwing it out.

My parents naturally thought the dolls were absurdly expensive (not to mention the added cost of international shipping), so I didn't actually get this doll until I was a teenager and my younger sister somehow convinced the family that she only needed one gift for every event of the year, and that gift should be the newly released Felicity.

Anyway, now that I've sent this doll to storage I've (of course!) started finding all kinds of interesting sewing projects for the size.  Ah well!

Sixth out of the box: Shep (Illusion Spirit ZhuQing)

This wig?  On another doll now.
This poor doll keeps losing his wigs.  Not literally, of course - it's just that nearly every one of them eventually finds itself on someone else's head!

One of the questions I get about tan dolls from lines that only do promotional details in normal is whether or not the colour is even - and his is.  That said though (and this is an issue with several companies), Illusion Spirit sands all of their dolls before sending them out, and because of that there are colour variations where the seams were sanded off.

In retrospect, I wish I'd asked them not to do it (although some companies - like Dollzone - will refuse and do it anyway, which baffles me since it's more work for them), but it's ultimately not a huge issue since my dolls generally stay dressed (at least while they're on display).

In comparison to the Iplehouse JID body
Aside from the sanding issue though, I'd say that this doll is probably one of the most impressive when it comes to value for money - he poses well, can stand unsupported and is strung with decent elastic.  If I were going to complain, I could be petty and say that the sculpt is very simple, but I think that's actually part of the appeal of this doll.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fifth out of the box: Osman (Iplehouse JID Boris)

One of my newest dolls, I've still not figured out exactly how to style this guy, but he's an attractive doll and a good size, so he still got to be one of the first on display.

I ordered him via Iplehouse's Custom Doll System (which I believe has since been renamed) after noticing that the blank sculpt had more than a passing resemblance to their EID Chase.  And since I already had a Chase, it seemed like it would be promoting cohesion in my collection by bringing home a doll that looks like family.

I'm normally not a fan of ordering a sculpt in a colour for which there are no examples, but given the resemblance, I figured that an ebony Boris would still be a safe buy - and I was pleased to discover it was true (I was even more pleased to see how close the colour was to my Chase, who - being a NC Shadow Chase - was from the first batch of ebony after Iple stopped doing the old dark tan).

The JIDs aren't really in scale with the EIDs, so I don't frequently photograph the two together, but there they are on the right (along with my dog, because why not).

The JID body is not the most natural of posers, but it has fantastic detail, stands like a rock and has a nice weighty resin, so I give it top marks.

Fourth out of the box: Tali

Right now there's only one action figure out and on display, and that's Tali here.

She's nothing special -  not the collector's edition from Square Enix, just that original playline figure that gets the colours wrong, but I still felt like she deserved a place on the display shelf.

Third out of the box: Karel (Volks SD13 Heath)

Ah, here he is - my introduction to BJDs, the oldest of my dolls (released 2005) and the first member of my doll posse.  I found him on ebay with his complete fullset (which he never wears, because regency finery is not my thing), and the rest was history.

His original faceup was notoriously unpopular, but I actually like it - something about the way it works with the sculpt makes his expression seem to shift depending on how light hits the face, and that's always a plus to me.

As is standard for Volks, his resin is heavy, and while the colour has shifted over the years, it's mellowed more than discoloured.  He also has the unsanded seams, which I often hear complaints about, but I find that it just adds character (there's a particularly high one on one of his hands that's almost ridiculously sharp).

I always say that I'm glad that this doll was my introduction to the hobby, because I'm not sure anything else would have convinced me that these absurdly large playthings were actually worth the cost (in terms of buying them and in terms of storage space!

Second out of the box: Tshepo (Iplehouse YID Dk Aaron)

With a casting date of 2007, this guy is one of the senior statesmen of the doll posse - only two dolls are older - and he's probably the one I'd keep if I had to give the rest up (although my Volks Heath would probably be running neck-and-neck).

The old YID bodies are less realistic and more traditionally SD-sized than Iplehouse's later EID/SID/JID lines, but it's still a solid piece of engineering.  Not the most natural of posers, but not bad by any means - and capable of holding a pose, which I always appreciate.

Much has been made of colour-shifts in early tan dolls, but this one has held his colour beautifully - no greening or purple-ing here (unlike a Lt Cocori that I'll have to show off another time - she is looking a bit seasick these days).

Being one of their older dolls, this guy also game with a full set of clothing, which was also quite good quality - his default leather jacket (pictured on the right) is actually one of my favourite pieces of doll clothing overall.

First out of the box: Davu (Souldoll Vito Rouse)

The Souldoll Vito line: a strange size - too delicate to be SD-sized, too tall to be MSD-sized, and so few in number. I remember watching this limited edition part of the Tarot series during his run in 2010, but held off on buying him because, having just joined DoA in the spring, I'd picked up way too many dolls already that year.

But he stuck with me, and I was sorry to have missed him. Fast forward to 2012, and I saw a dealer page that had his fullset version in stock.  And the tan version as well!  I waffled about getting him (I didn't need the fullset! They charge a premium!), but eventually I surrendered. My only doll purchase of 2012, as it turned out.

 If only this size weren't so challenging to outfit and out of scale with other BJDs, this would probably be one of my favourite doll bodies.  The engineering is fabulous - he poses very naturally and yet can stand solidly for days - no wiring or sueding required.  And the sculpting is wonderful - lovely details with a solid balance of beauty and realism.

As for the fullset, even though he's not displayed in it, it's all solid quality and lovely to look at (aside from the fur wig, which I didn't bother even photographing - it looks a bit like a dead muskrat).


An introduction

I moved recently, crossing the border, ready for a three year stint in the United States. Packed up all of our stuff, and divided it up into stuff to take, stuff to go into the storage locker, stuff to go to mum's house and to mum-in-law's house.

A terrifying amount of that stuff turned out to be my toy collection, and this blog is my effort to tame the beast. Or at least to document it. Either way, the toys are ready to come out of their boxes and party!