Friday, April 25, 2014

Works in Progress: The Unfinished Dolls

SDC Miko in his default look
Some people never buy a doll without a plan for what to do with it.  I am not one of those people.  Naturally, that means that my collection is sometimes a little less cohesive than some, but it also means that it's full of unfinished projects, and I thought it might be fun to share a few of them.

WIP #1 is my Volks SDC Miko.  I'd been eyeing the SDC line for years, but had never had the opportunity to pick one up (at least at a price I was comfortable with) until coming across this guy whilst browsing Mandarake late last year.  I was surprised to find him at all, but to have found him with his complete fullset was even better, so of course he landed in my cart.

But when he arrived, I realized that while he's a fabulous doll, I don't actually like his default look.  So the first thing I did was put his head in the freezer and take out those big blue eyes (if you've never taken the eyes out of an older Volks doll, tossing the head in the freezer will make it easier - although the newer ones seem to use a freeze-proof glue, so the newer your doll, the less likely it is to work). 

SDC Miko and Fdoll Charlotte
in their most recent styles
I replaced the eyes with some brown glass ones, but felt like that wasn't enough of a difference - unfortunately I didn't have any flashes of inspiration, so the poor guy ended up in cast-off wigs and clothes.  I'm thinking that a faceup with darker colours may be in his future now, but we shall see!

In his most recent photo (there on the right), you will also see WIP #2, a Fantasy Doll Charlotte.  I ordered her last year, when rumours that Fdoll was discontinuing their dark tan started circulating.  I didn't have a plan for her, but I'd been thinking about picking up one of their tinies for years, and had a good experience with sister company Angel Street, and had always wished that I'd picked up my Angel Street doll in dark tan.

So as with the Miko, this girl came home without a plan.  She also (unexpectedly, since I didn't do much research) came with a free faceup, which I believe may be one of the barriers to knowing what to do with her.  I should wipe it, because it's not to my taste, but it's just cute enough that I haven't done it yet.
Fdoll Charlotte in looks that just didn't quite work.

I will say that one great benefit of not knowing what do with with a doll of this size is that it's so much easier to find clothing for them since they can share with standard size fashion dolls.  In these photos she's wearing a Liv and Barbie outfits (and even a Liv doll wig in the pool photo), and another taken from an anthro doll.

Li Shang's default look
Lest anyone think that it's only BJDs that end up in the unfinished pile, WIP #3 is a customization project built around a Disney Classic dolls - Li Shang from Mulan

Years ago, I had a plan to turn the old McDonald's Li Shang (more an action figure than a doll) into Sky from Jade Empire.  I never got around to it. In part that was because I lost the base figure during a move (although he would have been easy enough to replace), but primarily because I was getting away from working on smaller action figures in general.

Jade Empire's Sky
But then I was wandering through a Disney Store last week (looking for a t-shirt for a nephew), and the "Sale! $10!" sign caught my eye.  And remembering my old plans for the figure, I thought I'd give that project another go, doll scale this time.  We'll see if I actually get around to it this time! ;)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Sew-Dolling's Sew-Able Madison

In the package
The Sew-Able doll line has been around for a good decade now, but somehow reviews are still thin on the ground - I've seen maybe one or two, but that's been it.  And that's also what made me hold off on ordering one of these dolls for a solid 7 years.  So I thought I'd share a more detailed overview of this doll than I usually do, just in case someone is like me and waiting to hear more about these toys.

Sew-Dolling's dolls are 18" play dolls similar in size to the American Girl line (the company also sells outfits that fit dolls of this size).  The Sew-Able dolls come with two options: bald, or with prosthetic legs (one above-knee, one below knee), and Madison (the doll that I have) is one of the latter. 

There are boy and girl versions of the doll, with three hair/eye choices for the girls and one of the boy (the bald dolls obviously only have eye choices).  There is only one skin tone available, a pale colour similar to AG's light skin (there will be additional AG comparisons further along).

The doll's packaging is solid: cardboard with a plastic front panel.  The doll and her accessories were firmly attached to the inner layer (which has a cartoon-y hospital design) but simple enough to remove (not as simple as an AG, but less complicated than most store brand dolls).

Out of the box: doll and accessories
The included accessories include an outfit (this particular one included a dress, turtleneck top, socks and boots), crutches, a backpack and a teddy bear. 

The clothes are a little cheap-ish (you can see that the button on the left overall has come off), but the boots are of a decent quality.  The teddy is cute, well-stuffed and is actually jointed, which I thought was lovely.  And the crutches are fantastic - realistically designed, and solid quality material.  They could easily be used as an accessory with more detailed dolls and not suffer by comparison.

There are two other default outfits available for the girls - a hospital gown, and a khaki pants set - and a khaki shorts set for the boy doll.  The teddy and crutches come with all versions of the doll, while the backpack (functional, although the material is a bit thin) is replaced with a suitcase for the hospital gown version.

With her legs off
Foot blushing
The prosthetics are made of the same material as the dolls regular limbs and are held on with a belting system (which strikes me as a little old school, but does make the doll more versatile if you're looking to make a historical character out of her).  I was surprised to see that she also came with stump socks, and thought that that was a nice additional feature.  Amusingly, the feet are blushed in the same "realistic" style as the hands, which strikes me as a bit of an odd choice.

A better view of the body's construction
This doll's body construction is very similar to an American Girl doll, with a plush body and plastic limbs.  I'm less that thrilled by the seam placement running right down the middle of her chest (on AGs the seam runs down the back), but she's well-stuffed and her limbs are well-attached, so she is a well-constructed doll (although it's hard to get her to sit upright without her prostheses on).

Her head is tied on with a thick zip-tie, rather than the strings that some similar dolls have in order to allow for easier head removal/cleaning/restuffing.  On that note, I have noticed that some of her body stuffing has started to pop out around the neckline.

Another Sew-Dolling outfit
The braids struck me as a little messy, so I took them out and was fairly pleased with what I found. The doll has hair of a good thickness and looks like it would hold up to hair-play.  It's a little dryer than some doll hair, but not to an extent that worries me about breakage.

The photo on the right also shows one of Sew-Dolling's general outfits.  The dress isn't the best material, but it's cute (and better constructed than the default dress).  The necklace and bracelet are a cute touch, but a little tighter than I think they should be (and again, not great material).  The outfit also came with a clutch purse and a pair of black dress shoes.  For the price point (lower than AG outfits, slightly higher than Springfield), I thought the outfit set was a solid value.

In an AG chair, holding an AG mini
One of the main questions I hear about these dolls is how they compare to American Girl, and my general answer is that they're quite similar in terms of construction and size but a bit different stylistically.  The most noticeable difference is the face - the Sew-Able dolls have a face sculpt that's reminiscent of a porcelain doll more-so than a play doll in that they have pursed lips and a heavily blushed face.  Some of that difference could be minimized by customizing the face paint, but these dolls will always clearly look a little different.  I will say, for the people who are turned off by the face, that I've found the doll to be quite a bit cuter in person than I expected from the sales photos.

Since taking my original box opening photos, I've kept this doll on display primarily in American Girl brand clothes, which I would take to be a good indicator of compatibility.  And this week I had the opportunity to compare her to my sister's childhood AG dolls, so I've taken some comparison shots for anyone who is interested (with the caveat that these are AGs from the early '90s, and are thus a bit wider and a slightly different style than the current ones).
In an American Girl outfit.

Next to AG Kirsten

AG Kirsten on the left/S-A Madison on the right
A list of differences: The old AG body is slightly longer and more rectangular than the Sew-Able doll, and the Sew-Able doll's arms and legs are slightly skinnier.  The AG has a narrower neck, while the Sew-Able Doll has a broader stance.

In this photo, the Sew-Able doll appears to have a significantly larger head, and while it is slightly more round, most of that extra width is static in her hair (I'd just taken off the knit cap that she's wearing above).

In low light the two appear to have similarly coloured heads and bodies, but in full light the Sew-Able doll is slightly darker skinned, with more of a red-brown tone, as opposed to the American Girl doll's yellow tone.

From behind, the most obvious difference (aside from the prosthetics, of course) is that the Sew-Able doll has a large tag sticking out of her back seam.

Overall, I'd say that Sew-Dolling has done a fantastic job with these dolls, in that they're well-made and compatible with popular dolls of this same size.

It's a shame they couldn't offer more skin colour options (as the Extra Special Dolls manage to do), and the faces aren't going to be to everyone's taste, but I think they're a wonderful addition to any doll posse, whether your dolls are for play or display.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Back at the ranch...

I'm on the road for the month (currently in Toronto, having just spent a week in Vancouver), so my toy documentation project is on hold for a bit.  That said, there are some new incoming/unpacked dolls in the queue, and I have access to my mother's collection of toy storage cubes, so I may try to dig through some of that.

In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of the toys who are waiting in line:

A confession about my guilty fondness for the Bratz Boyz line, an unboxing of the Play Arts Commander Shepard, and perhaps an introduction to Ivy, the newest member of my accidental AG mini collection.
I ordered an Aiden from Withdoll back in February, and have been informed that the box arrived yesterday.  Photo source.
A review/overview of Sew-Dolling's Sew-Able line is in the works.  I've had the doll for a while now, but wanted to be able to compare her to the same-sized American Girl dolls in person before posting about her.
If today is a long weekend for you, I hope it's a good one!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Out of the Box: Pipos Dark Rabbit

Sometimes called "Shorty", sometimes "Devil Bunny" and sometimes just "The Gentleman",  this well-dressed rabbit is my only anthro-doll.  One of the releases from Pipos' 2010 Alice in Nightmare series of limited edition versions of their dolls, this bunny stuck me as the perfect animal to add to my otherwise very human collection.  The fact that he would also be a welcome adventure to my humour blog "Project Evil Bunny" was also an added benefit.

Despite having what looks like a blue glow, this doll is actually cast in purple resin - the pinks, blues and blacks are all paintwork.  Being painted in such a specific manner (and as such a specific character), I've kept this guy in his default outfit since day one.

The outfit itself is lovely, and is comprised of 8 individual pieces.  The cape in particular is fantastically detailed for such a small piece, including lace edging, embroidered details as well as beadwork.  Incidentally, I believe most of Pipos' outfits have a similar level of quality and detail - I purchased a simple black dress from their basic collection at the same time, and it proved to be a very well made (and again impressively detailed) piece of doll clothing.
The gentleman rabbit on his chessboard stand.

Up-close and personal with the Dark Rabbit.
In addition to the doll and clothes, this doll also came with a pocket watch and a chessboard-inspired display base.  While attractive, the base is not a doll stand, and since one is really required to keep this doll upright, this piece is less practical than it might be.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Out of the Box: West (Iplehouse EID Arvid)

I've talked about Iplehouse's massive (70+cm, 2.5kg) EID line when I unpacked my Chase, Murad, but there are a few differences between that doll and this one.  Unlike my Chase, I ordered my EID Arvid direct from Iplehouse when he was first released, so any damage to this doll is 100% my fault.

He was also ordered in a different colour (Lt Brown) and has the default faceup that was offered with that particular Limited release (from their 2011 cowboy themed series, although I didn't purchase any of the outfit or accessories that made up the rest of his listing).  Like most of my other Iplehouse dolls, his colour is solid and even, and unlike my older Lt tan Cocori, his colour has stayed even and not greened.  In fact, I would say that it hasn't even mellowed - I purchased a back-up pair of hands with him, and also removed his left leg when I originally restrung him (for character reasons), and when I packed him up for the move I compared him to those pieces (which were hidden away inside the box in the dark) and everything was still a perfect match nearly 3 years later.

With my Limhwa tan half-elf, Laura

With an older wig
  In fact, the only issue I've ever had with this doll is from my recent move: his faceup started to flake a bit.  Given the changes in humidity and temperature that were involved in a long-distance truck-based move that's not necessarily unexpected, but he's also the only doll out the 20+ that made the move that had the issue, and I know that the original owner of my Chase removed his original faceup after it flaked during a seasonal shift (although to be fair, my other three - older and more recent - Iple dolls are fine after going through the same temperature shifts).

As an amusing side story, I have a couple of friends who are generally not doll people who have called this guy the exception to their doll-hating rule.  One of them even calls him "the hot one"! ;)

With EID Chase