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My doll friends on Figurvore are posting their top ten lists of doll-related acquisitions and/or accomplishments for last year, which naturally gets me thinking about my own achievements. Selecting just ten projects and then rating them comparatively seems like too much effort, though, so I'm just going to highlight some of my significant developments in the doll arena during 2014.

I got back into digital art after a long hiatus. I mostly treat my CG art as a source of digital dolls, meaning that I enjoy creating characters, dressing them up, scripting stories, shooting them [called "rendering" in the digital realm] and otherwise exercising my creativity. Digital appeals to me because I can easily generate a wide variety of body shapes with a few spins of the morph dials. Basic prop creation also becomes much easier with the use of primitives such as planes, cubes, cylinders, etc. As much as I find digital appealing, my first love remains actual physical dolls because I can touch them. They feel realer to me.

I mention digital art because it has definitely affected how I play with my dolls. My photostory setup has changed because of my digital efforts. I used to cram lots of text and story into a small number of frames, but now I have larger, simpler frames that permit the focus on more set detail. Less dialog per frame also slows down the story and allows it to develop more expansively. Of course, the narrative moves a lot slower, but I'll live...

A quintessential project was probably my makeover of a 1:6 scale Angel of Grief paperweight.  It started off looking like the crappy kitsch that it was, but, after I spent six hours on it with white and beig acrylic paint, charcoal wash, dried bits of moss and blue, it transformed into a convincing 1:6 scale cemetery centerpiece. A quarter of a day's work on a small-scale gravestone: yup, that's me all over!

Doctor Z, a key character in Zombieville, reached her third and final iteration. First she was too purple; then she was too dark brown and healthy looking. Finally I took a Triad Alpha head and Dremelled the heck out of it, then repainted it, to create the haggard look I was going for.

I customized Polly, my 1:6 scale mermaid BJD. I used Aves Apoxie Sculpt to create a headback for the faceplate that I wanted her to have, as I didn't like the head she came with].  I also gave her a faceup and made her a wig.

I wrapped up Me and My Muses, my serial melodrama about Ellery and the characters in her head, in the winter. Then, in the spring, Zombieville debuted. I've currently published a prologue and four chapters. The next installment is slated for later this month [as soon as I get around to scripting it]. The influence of my digital art on my narrative style appears clearly in Zville.

I redid one of my 1:6 scale fairy BJDs, Flower. He began life with a default faceup, which was technically well-done but pretty generic. When I was through with him, he had magenta eyeshadow and a profusion of green freckles. ^_^

I finally put together one of my 1:3 scale BJDs, Yamarrah, who had languished in pieces for months. She has body parts from about five different dollmakers, so she required Aves Apoxie Sculpt, hot glue and application of the Dremel to make her pieces fit together functionally.

I acquired two inexpensive studio umbrella lights on Robing's recommendation, and the clarity, evenness and general quality of my photos drastically improved. Now I am even closer to achieving the kinds of photos I envision in my head....

For a Figurvore prop challenge, I made a fridge to fill in a shocking gap in my collection of 1:6 set pieces.

At long last, I finished the walker. This project dragged on far too long and caused me no end of frustration, but I finally assembled a 3D printed 1:6 scale model that a friend had sculpted to my specs. After much spray painting, taping, hot gluing, drilling and swearing, I made for Peter a passable simulacrum of his signature mobility aid.

Muggins the cat,
everyone's favorite character, appeared in Zombieville. Readers suggested a Mugginsville spinoff. :p

The doll club that I run, Chittenden County Doll Club, continued to grow, drawing doll lovers from across the region and all kinds of dolls along with them. I eventually changed the name to Vermont Doll Lovers to better reflect the participants.

I got a Mattel Coca Cola Soda Fountain with most of its accessories in good condition for a steal! My fairies had fun with it.

I attended the largest BJD convention ever on the East Coast, Dollism Plus, in September! I'm never making such a drive again, but I did enjoy hanging out with fellow doll nerds and taking plenty of pictures of pretty dolls. Surprisingly, I won a bunch of wigs and a whole doll!

I acquired some Rement Pose Skeletons, which sparked an idea for Zombieville's photostory within a photostory: Beth and Death, about a woman and a Grim Reaper, a series of comics by Isabel. [I'm still working on Beth.]
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We went to the Stowe Antique and Classic Car Show today, held in, of all places, Nichols Fields in Stowe, VT. This is its 57th year, and it's the largest car show in the state.

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Definitely worth a trip! Contains dolls, dollhouses, trains, planes, cars, trucks, games, etc.
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A woman, weighed down with the baggage of a lifetime, takes a macabre ride on a nighttime train.

I can't stop staring at the beautiful textures at play in this stop-motion animation. I love how the main character's limbs seem to be made of worn, stuffed muslin over a wire armature, but, somehow, the skin of her face is so translucent that her weariness emanates clearly. According to Wikipedia, the animators composited human eyes over the stop-motion figures, which drives the train straight into the Uncanny Valley and only adds to the eerie sense of life in death. Beautiful, disturbing, compelling. Requires multiple viewings to appreciate the melancholy sensibilities, subtle body language and quintessentially dreamlike narrative.
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Janna found the entire run of the Twilight Zone for me on Hulu last right. From what I can tell, it's all available on Hulu regular too, so I don't have to pay for it. Anyway, I watched Living Doll again, which I happily analyzed yesterday, and I found the key lines of dialogue:

Erich lights a match, trying to burn Talky Tina.

Talky Tina: Oooh! 

Erich: You have feelings?

Talky Tina: Doesn't everything?

As I noted in yesterday's mini essay, the whole episode centers around the conflicts between Annabelle, Annabelle's biological daughter Christie and Annabelle's husband/Christie's stepdad Erich. Annabelle and Christie both love Erich, but he doesn't love them. He resents Annabelle for being infertile, as he is, and he resents Christie for not being his biological child. He also finds threatening the closeness, love and tenderness between mother and daughter, an example of what he wants, but can't have. But, despite his snappish demeanor, he maintains a facade of affection, at least in the beginning.

The introduction of Talky Tina destroys Erich's ruse, however. He loses his temper at Annabelle and Christie, suspecting them of using Talky Tina to mess with his head. He mocks Annabelle's emotional insights about his anger and his need to see a psychiatrist, and he flat-out yells at Christie that he's not her daddy. In other words, he rejects Annabelle and Christie's emotions and focuses solely on his feelings of anger, hurt and loneliness. Talky Tina's assertion that "everything" has feelings thus counters Erich's selfish assumption that only his emotions matter. Ironically, she proves more insightful, expressive  and moving [pun intended] than Erich, whose own doubts and misery render him cold, inflexible, rigid and unfeeling -- all traits that one usually associates with dolls.

The more I think about it, the more I become convinced that Talky Tina kills Erich in much the same way that a woman in a relationship with an abusive man may eventually kill the man out of self-defense. I firmly believe that Erich would have escalated his violence against Christie, not just yelling at her, shoving her and mocking her, if Christie had not used Talky Tina to intervene. Talky Tina kills Erich so that he won't kill Christie first.

As awesome as I think Talky Tina is [especially as an actual talking doll!], all my sympathies lie with Christie. She loves her mommy, and her mommy loves her. She just wishes that Daddy would love her the way that Mommy does. But her Daddy keeps hurting her, her mommy and her doll. She starts to realize that Daddy doesn't love anybody. She thinks maybe Daddy could even hate her. Maybe Daddy is going to kill her! What can Christie do? She's only a little girl, and she's so scared. Maybe her friend Talky Tina can help. After all, Christie loves Talky Tina, and Talky Tina loves her; Christie knows because Talky Tina says so....
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I've long been a fan of the Twilight Zone, though I own none of it on DVD. I especially like any episodes that have to do with story characters, dolls, puppets, ventriloquist's dummies, mannequins, robots, computers and other inanimate objects becoming alive. [Of course I do!] I also like stories where the protagonists discover that they are dreaming or that they are being mind-controlled or that they are inanimate objects. [Of course I do!] The Twilight Zone provides hours of entertainment on these themes, and I haven't seen all the episodes in these two categories, though I have vague goals at some point of compiling a list of them.

The iconic Twilight Zone doll is, of course, Talky Tina. She appears in The Living Doll, a one-hour episode from 1963, as the murderous antagonist to anxiety-ridden father Erich [played by Telly Savalas]. The insecure and tempestuous Erich has a hangup about his and his wife's infertility, which prompted them to adopt daughter Christie. He channels his hostility toward his wife and daughter into Talky Tina, who obligingly reflects his hatred right back at him. Erich and Talky Tina try to destroy each other, but Erich dies when he trips over Talky Tina, who gets the last word [literally].

The Living Doll represents the Twilight Zone at its best: a creepy, compelling character study with all the tight plotting and drama of the best short stories. I especially love the ambiguity of Talky Tina. Sure, she says, "My name is Talky Tina, and I'm going to kill you," so we're supposed to think that Erich dies due to the doll. But it's also possible that Erich kills himself out of his inability to actually love his family, in that his rage at his wife and daughter obsesses him when conveniently encapsulated in the form of the doll. His increasing absorption with killing the doll estranges him from his family and, ultimately, proves his undoing.

Alternatively, Talky Tina may be Christie's defender. Christie loves Talky Tina, who also loves her ["My name is Talky Tina, and I love you!"]. They're devoted to each other. Christie, at whom Erich yells, "I'm not your daddy!", knows on some level that her father despises and rejects her -- so much so, in fact, that he initially suspects Christie of messing with his head by making Talky Tina say murderous things. I'm sure that Christie fears her father's verbal abuse and perhaps even fears that he will kill her in the gruesome ways he tries to kill her doll. It's possible that Christie activates Talky Tina with her positive love for the doll and her negative fear of her dad so that she can neutralize the threat of Erich and finally, for once in her life, be safe.

Or hell -- maybe it's just an evil doll.

Ever since I heard that Bif Bang Pow did a limited edition Talky Tina doll, I've kind of wanted one. I suppose that technically she's a "prop replica," but I say she's a doll -- and a pretty cool one at that. BBP accurately replicates her in terms of size, sculpt and outfit. She's also entirely in greyscale, just as she appears to viewers in the original episode, which makes her extra unnerving. She has much of the articulation of the original, and she has wind-ups in her back that make her talk! [What would a Talky Tina doll be without a talking function?] Overall she looks partly cute and partly uncanny -- her level of cuteness depending on how much you can stomach the stylized look of 18-inch child playline dolls, her uncanniness highlighted by her lack of color. But it's her talking function that rockets her into the upper echelons of awesomeness because then you can no longer deny that you are in the presence of one of the original pop-culture killer dolls.

Talky Tinas appear regularly on Ebay for between $150.00 and $200.00. Oh the temptation...

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Burlington City Arts hosts revolving exhibits of local artists' work in the halls of my office building. Down in the basement there are currently some fascinating mixed media pieces by Katherine Taylor-McBroom. I found the architectural collages less interesting than these 3-D collages incorporating 1:12 scale dollhouse pieces, public domain photos and illustrations. Her use of reversed and/or mirrored elements combine with a desaturated palette to give these works a haunting, dreamlike atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the light down there was very poor, so I was not able to do justice to these pieces in my photos, which often washed out. Photocopied figures peek out of windows and lurk behind working doors. The layered nature of the work practically invites peering and poking, while also evoking a palimpsest and/or layers of memory. Brilliant stuff.
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While Janna took a nap in the shade after playing with the trains in the Toy Shop, I ventured into the Variety Unit, where the museum stuffs all its small collections that don't really fit anywhere else. I avoided that which did not interest me and made a beeline for the dolls.

I could have spent all day in there, trying to get good shots of the diversity of small populations. However, I photoed selectively, trying to achieve focused, detailed pictures of the ones I thought most intriguing. I came out about 40 minutes later with ~150 photos, which I whittled down to the results below.

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While I was finishing up the Great Diary Scanning Project, I discovered a diary entry from April 29, 2004, when I was first learning about and coveting BJDs:

April 19, 2004

I spent much of the weekend on the 'Net, paging through sites of BJDs. I reconfirmed that CH [CustomHouse] Gene is the most beautiful doll in the world and that I really want it. I also finally articulated what makes me uncomfortable about BJDs....

Physically, BJDs [speaking about the majority here] look prepubescent. Their heads take up a large part of their body proportions similar to the way that a baby's proportions do. They also have eyes that are large for their faces the way that a child's eyes are. Finally, the girls have no breast development, the boys comically small dicks. They look like kid dolls.

At the same time, BJDs also seem adolescent and adult. They have luxuriant wigs, the hair on which could never be so thick or full on an actual child. Only a teenager has time to grow the waist-length hair popular with these dolls. BJDs' swappable eyes recall vanity contact lenses that teens or young adults use to look cool. As the final point, every BJD's facial paint scheme -- called by the age-neutral term "paint ops" when discussing action figs, is called "makeup" or "faceup." Makeup is associated with teens and adults more than children. Hmm, maybe they're teenaged dolls. [Volks actually has a line of Super Dollfies called SD13 which is supposed to have a "more mature body," but that just convinces me that the default bodies were LESS mature and therefore childlike.]

The same ambiguity about how to relate to BJDs as characters appears among BJD owners. Lots of them refer to the arrival of the doll as its "birthday," giving the impression that it was born recently and is therefore a young child. And then you even get a few people calling their BJDs [as the Volks Web site -- "Choose what kind of daughter you would like to have" -- encourages] their kids. That's just too weird for me.

The overwhelming majority of BJD owners put their BJDs' ages in the mid- to late teens and have them act selfish, willful, mischievous -- like very stereotypical teenagers. BJD owners also usually sexualize their dolls with fetish wear, shirtless modelling and/or photostories about lust, infatuation and sex. Since the dolls are objects and they are frequently endowed with sexual meanings, I think they're sex objects.

Here is my problem -- it's a child-shaped sex object. I don't care if you say that it houses a teenaged character. It's still a child-shaped sex object that exaggerates and stylizes the youth-like features of the object [big eyes, "pure skin" -- actually a type of Volks resin for the BJDs, lack of secondary sex characteristics], so that the youth-like features become salient and attractive. There's a pederastic tinge to BJD ownership when I think of it this way.


I love the ambiguity of the dolls, even though it makes me uncomfortable. They have human-like shapes, but their huge eyes and overall small size make them seem like stereotypical faeries or some sort of non-human creatures. Due to purposely ill-defined sex characteristics, they look very ambiguous and androgynous. Their pre- to post-adolescent age range somehow unfixes them from the aging process so they seem outside of time or age, therefore assignable to any time or age one wants to assign them to.
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 When manufacturers make articulated female dolls, they will often simplify the hip joints so that the hips can swing forward and backward and rotate within the socket, but they have very little lateral movement in the socket, usually impeded by a wide crotch. For example, the standard articulated Barbie body, shown here by Prunella before I Dremelled her, automatically makes the doll's thighs spread apart when she sits:
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...I did 1:6 scale paper dolls. In the fall of 1997, I drew several of Jareth [much to my frustration, he never came out right], myself and various fictional characters. I've selected my two favorites for exhibition today.

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My recently purchased Groovy Girls did not yield any outfits for Isabel. However, two of the Groovies told me that they wanted to join Verity and Kami, who are currently hanging out at my work. So here are the newest members of my small population, Karly on the left and Bindi on the right. Awwwww! The cars on Bindi's pajama pants are adorable.
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Hmmm, I appear to have acquired 7 Groovy Girls and their closet off of craigslist at $2.50 per item. The dolls do not come in the closet. They are definitely out of the closet.

I am purchasing them to see if their clothes fit my fat dolls. If they do, hooray, more meretricious clothes for Isabel and friends. If they don't, they'll hit Ebay, unless they tell me they're too cute to go, which Groovy Girls have a way of doing. >_>

Washed-out pictures from seller below.   Read more... )
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I just finished reading my Tartarus edition of Sarban's Doll Maker a few moments ago. I enjoyed it as much this time around as I did when I read it the first time. This reading actually increased my appreciation for the story because I realized that the author takes protagonist Clare's travails seriously.

As I've noted before, The Doll Maker has a simple, trite plot, in which an Innocent Girl falls in with a Devious Older Dude and becomes Swept Away with Infatuation, which leads her to do some Truly Stupid Shit, which she must save herself from in an Act of Maturity. Lonely and naive, Clare welcomes attention from Niall the power-hungry doll maker. He grooms her to become his latest puppet, while she interprets his caressing focus on her as love, which she, in turn, believes that she feels for him. Sarban demonstrates so clearly the deleterious nature of Niall's predatory interest that I started yelling at Clare, "Don't hang out with the creepy man!!" [She didn't listen.]

Despite Clare's obvious cluelessness, she does not come across as painfully stupid. This is because Sarban does not use a third-person omniscient viewpoint, which would permit him the Godlike distance from which to judge Clare. Instead, he employs a third-person limited perspective, which looks in from outside, but perceives only what Clare perceives. This viewpoint, free from sententious authorial asides on Clare's foolishness, treats Clare's infatuation, peril and self-rescue with exactly as much gravity as she herself experiences it. I really appreciate that because it's very very rare to find a naive young woman taken seriously as a protagonist, especially by a male author.

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There's an interesting discussion currently on Figurvore about the above subject. Seneschal, the initial poster, asked why people don't erase/hide/edit out the articulation in their doll photos. He finds it a distracting problem that's easy to fix.

My response below:

When we engage with fictional realms, we agree to suspend our disbelief. I assume that, in most cases, when people see pictures of dolls, they agree to suspend their disbelief and therefore consider the dolls as representations of actual people. People can suspend their disbelief about pretty much anything if the story and characters interest them enough, so I operate under the assumption that my stories are cool enough to make visible joints pretty easy to ignore. People don't read my stuff to watch for obvious joints, so we [author and readers] are all in agreement that we are going to focus on other aspects. In conclusion, I think about articulation a lot because it facilitates realistic posing and body language, but I don't worry about visible joints.

In fact, I find erased joints very distracting. We all know we're playing with visibly articulated dolls, so we're all expecting [on some level] to see some obvious jointing. For me, erased joints call blatant attention to themselves. I end up getting pulled out of the fictional world and back into this one as I attempt to analyze the photographer's Photoshopping skillz.

People play with dolls for different reasons and wish to accomplish different things with their photos.

Shorter: Because some people think it's a feature, not a bug.
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Look who I found in a box in my closet today! These are Verity [left] and Kami [right], two Groovy Girl dolls by Manhattan Toy. [Incidentally, they are sitting on a sofa made for 1:6 scale figs by Andrea. It's made out of a tissue box.]

Anyway, Manhattan Toy launched the Groovy Girls line in 1998. They are a series of 13" plush, unarticulated girls and boys that are supposed to be between 9 and 13. Every single doll has its own unique name, skin tone, hair color, hair style, embroidered facial expression and outfit. Goorvy Girls' outfits characteristically feature bright colors, large patterns and a cheerfully flagrant disregard for coordination.

Groovy Girls are clearly made with love and attention to detail. Look at the different shapes of Verity and Kami's mouths, noses and eyes. Look at the pale pink undertones in Verity's skin as compared to the light brown undertones in Kami's. Look at the slight blushing at the ends of Verity's smile. Look at the "dyed red" sections of Verity's hair and the dark brown [but not black] yarn ringlets selected for Kami's. Finally, please note that Verity has three silver studs in one ear. While Groovy Girls are definitely mass-produced toys, each one is clearly designed as an individual character with her own personality and her own style. I can tell that the Manhattan Toy designers have fun thinking up designs for new Groovy Girls. ^_^
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I don't care what it is -- a doll, a dress, a lamp shade, a cell phone, anything -- but putting Swarovski crystals on it makes it neither more attractive nor more desirable.
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...Mainly because of my Jareth 2.0 project. Jareth is my most important character ever, and rendering his likeness in 3-D physicality has also been extremely important to me, ever since I first saw Labyrinth, then became extremely frustrated that there were no Jareth dolls. In pursuing this project, I respect the importance of my creative life by freeing it from arbitrary moratoriums.

Now that I think about it, I have no good reason to constrain my artistic expression in such a way. My interest in dolls brings me joy, intellectual excitement and challenge. It helps to give my life some balance. I can afford my interest as well; more to the point, I am able to save for moving and purchase things related to my dolls, so dolls are not really taking money from the moving fund. I could always, I suppose, save for moving all the money that I spend on dolls; that was my reasoning behind my expired resolution. However, the enforced misery that would result would not be worth it.

All this being said, I was motivated to make my expired resolution because of many impulse purchases in the past few months. For example, I got Nathaniel and August because they look cool, not because they represent characters that I love. I do not wish to continue purchasing dolls on impulse, especially when I have to move them all in less that a year! Therefore, my resolution should more specifically be that I will not get any impulse dolls till next summer. That I can live with.

Anyway, I have two major expenditures barring me from dropping major moolah on any doll project. First I have to pay the fees for my estate planning; I just made a down payment of 50% today. \o/ Then the FLE car needs its well-car checkup. Then the fun can begin.

Hmmm, I wonder if I have enough $$$ to get the FLE car's well-car checkup out of the way this week.

[All of this still does not address the subject of that Soom Auber, who, as far as I can tell, is still on the marketplace for a very reasonable price. Does he count as an impulse doll? I've been wanting him since last spring. Should I jump on him because I might not be able to find another at such a price? Or should I pursue 2.0 with the money I could have spent on Auber? Maybe someone will purchase the doll and render my decision irrelevant. :p ]

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Make Millie's hair lie flat!

Pin her stupid little hat to her head.

Buy sticky tack -- a LOT.

Get more 20 gauge [?] wire.

Wire MacKenzie's legs.

Wire Janvier Jett's articulated hands!

Buy Play-Doh.

Practice sculpting feathers for Lura's wingy ears!

Take a picture of Lura's profile for S&M.

Figure out how to create a wire frame on which to sculpt additive mods.

Post extra eyes for sale.

Post Flower's Faery feets for sale.

Post Lura's old wig for sale.
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I'm active on 2 message boards for 1:6 scale figs. On one of them earlier this week, a heterosexual, married woman posted some pictures of her vampire dolls with an inexpensive Barbie subbing for one of the expensive vampire characters that she had not purchased, but wished to. She wrote, "Hubby says no more. At least until Christmas..." In other words, her husband told her that she can't buy any more figs till Xmas.

So her husband issued her an ultimatum about what she can and can't do in pursuit of her interests, and she just accepted it. That's not an interaction between equals; that's an interaction between a superior [husband] and a subordinate [wife]. Where does her husband get off, thinking he can control his wife's interests? Why does she accept his control without complaint?

I know why. Her husband probably earns and controls most of the money in their marriage. I bet she's financially dependent on him. Both of them think of the money as all his because it mostly flows from his job, his inheritance, blah blah blah. Both of them also think that, because it's his money, he gets to dictate its distribution. Therefore, he graciously permits his wife to have interests that involve spending money...well, until the interests become too expensive, in his estimation, at which point he forbids the continuation of his wife's interests because she is taking something away from him. She should be sacrificing for his preferences and wellbeing instead! I mean, God forbid the two approach their relationship from a standpoint of equality, mutual respect and support, rather than a standpoint of sexist, transactional manipulation.

I see the same type of interactions play out on DOA, a forum for people who like Asian ball-jointed dolls. I've heard the following story several times: a young, heterosexual woman writes that her boyfriend feels a deep, shuddering repugnance towards BJDs, not infrequently to the point of forbidding his girlfriend to get any more of them. The poster, of course, feels deep distress and wonders what to do.

Answer: Cultivate relationships with people who respect you and your interests. If a family member, friend or partner tries to control your interests, they're trying to control you because they don't like you the way that you are. They're trying to control you, especially if you're a woman and your interlocutor is a man, because they've internalized the sexist societal dread of autonomous, equal women. They're scared of you. They probably even hate you. Do the world a favor, and surround yourself with people who believe in and practice love instead of fear.

Anyone who says, "No more dolls till Xmas!" instead of "Let's work on our financial goals together" and "You do what you want with your hobby money, as long as you're happy and not hurting anyone" will be kicked to the curb. Anyone who says, "The dolls or me!" as an ultimatum will promptly be dumped in favor of the dolls. That's because I respect myself, while the other person obviously does not.
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Since January, I have acquired the following people [in chronological order]. I'm talking about dolls I purchased this year, not ones that I purchased last year, but finally received this year.

Mellifer [1:6 BJD], purchased in April

Steampink AJ [1:6 action fig], traded for in June

Nathaniel [1:3 BJD], purchased in June/July

Millie [1:6 action fig], purchased in July

August [1:3 BJD], purchased in July

Lura['s head] [1:3 BJD], purchased in July

June and July have been very busy doll-related months for me, what with Too Many Dolls: The Exodus and the purchase of 5 of this year's 6 new dolls. Most of the purchasing frenzy stems from having money available after Too Many Dolls: The Exodus and therefore being able to indulge some 1:6 and 1:3 whims.

I can't keep buying dolls like this, though. I don't have a) the space or b) the money. Well, technically, that's not true. In terms of a), I could always bring some to work to put on my new bookcase, which should be coming any day now. In terms of b), I can pretty much always finagle it so I cover my necessary expenses and then whatever doll-related purchases I want.

But anyway...we are ignoring technicalities! I need to watch my discretionary spending because we are saving up to move next summer. We need to pay for packing supplies, movers and/or truck rental, first + security, pet registration fee [meow!], furniture and all those other things you don't know you need until you get to your new house and realize you don't have them. I've been socking away $$$ steadily for at least 6 months, so I have a nice chunk of change already, but I'd rather have saved too much than too little.

Therefore I have made myself a resolution. I will not purchase any more 1:3 or 1:6 dolls until we move. Getting a body for Lura is fine. Trading for dolls is fine. Buying doll-related things [such as clothes + wig for Lura, 1:3 furniture and 1:6 stands] is acceptable too. Leaching from the bank account to increase the ranks, however, is not.

This way I can settle down and enjoy what I have. I will also ensure that I have plenty of $$$ to cover moving costs. It will be hard, but I can do it!
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Even smaller than my 14 cm Elfdoll tinies, I have a 3.5" Takara Microman/Microlady figurine with no face and no name. [EDIT: She is a rare issue from the Microman line, Material Force, available only at Japanese Toys R Us in 2005.] I keep her casually posed on the bookshelf right next to my chair...

Check out the fidelity in my new photo studio setup! Two lights really add to the crispness of the results.Read more... )
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My earlier plot of putting a Lumedoll Lucas [male] head on a Lumedoll fem body will not work for Mazzy, so he needs a different headsculpt. I may just get another Lumedoll Arine and paint it differently, emphasizing the link between Ellery and her muses by similarity of features. In that case, maybe Jessica should be an Arine as well with a small bust?

Dolls, updated

  • Ellery: Lumedoll Arine, large bust

  • Lucian: Lumedoll Lucas

  • Mazzy: Lumedoll Arine, large bust

  • Jessica: Lumedoll Elin, small bust, or Souldoll Jandi, or Souldoll Metel

  • Avery: ? [the doll formerly known as Cutey Honey?]

  • Kristin: ? [the doll formerly known as Cory?]

  • Melinda: ? [the doll previously appearing as Maybe?]

  • Jo: ? [the doll formerly known as AJ?]

  • MacKenzie: ? [the doll formerly known as Tamsin?]

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Besides poor posing, I really dislike poor doll photography. Like any other visual art, photography has many aspects that one can alter for varying effect: lighting, framing, focus, etc. [No, I don't know the technical terms.] However, I have, unfortunately, experienced way too many photos where these aspects are altered out of sheer ineptitude, rather than artistic consideration. While we poor amateurs may not be able to take photos as beautiful as those of the masters, we can at least follow some basic rules to make our own works functional:
  • The camera should be focused on the subject. If the subject is a particular doll head, I don't want to see fine-grained, macro-level detail of the wall just behind the doll. [Here's a beautiful example in the first panel of Unreal Life 1.5.]
  • Lighting should be appropriate to the subject. Consider that fluorescents make things yellow, and flashes tend to wash out the subject. [And here in Unreal Life 4.6, we can't even see what's happening because it's too damn dark.]
  • The level of blur should be appropriate to the subject. If the dolls are supposed to be running, feel free to move the camera as the shutter is closing. But, if you're supposedly taking a static shot, blur sabotages all the detail that you're allegedly capturing. [Unfortunately, all the pictures of Meg's Onyx that I took at doll club on Saturday were blurry!]
I really can take a decent picture, though, you know!

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I do not like displays or photos in which dolls are poorly posed. A doll's hands/feet shouldn't be twisted around, nor should its elbows/knees bend backward or sideways. A doll should be in a position that is either a) physically possible for a human being or b) physically impossible for a human being, but fine for the character. Ideally, a doll's clothes and hair should behave appropriately for the photo [disarrayed if you need disarray, neat, tidy and controlled otherwise]. I find poor posing such a distraction that I don't care how unusual, rare or interesting the doll is; if it's imitating a pretzel with bed head, I will ignore the overall picture in favor of sloppy details.

There are no visual aids for this post because I couldn't find any suitably anonymous examples and I'm not subjecting my own dolls to the humiliation of illustrating what NOT to do in posing.
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Well, I think it's the best Microman ever because it's basically a super-articulated, naked female figure with a painted face, no hair and a broad array of hands, waiting to be customized. Unfortunately, she comes with some sort of electronic coffin, which exponentially jacks up her price. Yes, I know she's a character from an anime series, but I don't care. It's a little naked doll waiting for a kitbash! Also did you see that she has articulated feet?!
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...and the cities were barren of purveyors of playthings. The people were sore afflicted, and great was the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

This call of distress has been brought to you by the fact that there is a toy store in Fall River, MA, Tony's Toys, where I would like to browse. [I would like to purchase ZC Girls Janice there, actually.] However, public transit does not extend to Fall River, and I feel ridiculous purchasing something from this store and having it shipped from so close [yet so far away].

In the past 10 years, opportunities to buy toys have really dwindled around Boston metro. There used to be an FAO Schwartz in the middle of Boston, but that closed in 2002, I think. There used to be a Toys R Us by Alewife in Cambridge, but I think it might be closed. After years of financial hardship, Kaybee Toys is going out of business, which means that its location in the Cambridgeside Galleria is closing. At this rate, there are no major toy-focused retailers in the area!

One can purchase one's toys from mega department stores such as Walmart or Target, but the selection there tends to be haphazard and disorganized. One can also purchase one's toys from comic shops, but their selection tends to be small and marked up. One can also purchase one's toys from small independent retailers -- I really like Henry Bear's Park, especially since they started carrying Iwako erasers -- but small, independent retailers shun fashion dolls and action figures.

I get a lot of my toys online now.

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Prompting by the recent theatrical release of Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl, some Slate writers have an informal discussion about the series of dolls that spawned said movie.
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From Shakesville. The Times Online covers a thriving tangent of the toy industry in its article "Disability dolls become more popular." Dolls like this are nothing new, as far as I'm concerned, so what interests me about this article is the people who object -- OBJECT -- to the very concept of dolls portraying people with disabilities. 
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Summary: Creepy, luxuriously described dark fantasy about lonely, intelligent Clare and her seduction by titular doll maker. Convincing, sympathetic main character, smooth prose, kinky subtext and great insight into the weird, ambivalent relationships people have with their dolls -- all these things make The Doll Maker a neglected gem.
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...Detailed in this thread right here.  Woo hoo! More to read!
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You know where most of my time, energy and money goes regarding my dolls? This goes for 1:6 action figs, BJDs and my digital models. It goes to CLOTHES. I spend the most money not on the basic figures themselves or sets or accessories, but outfits. And I spend time not on scripting, lighting, posing, shooting or editing, but dressing and undressing.

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Hulu has the entire run of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 2 seasons of 30-minute "playlets" that compare favorably to one of my favorite shows, The Twilight Zone, only with all the thrills, chills and twists coming from psychological exploration, rather than science-fiction and fantasy elements. 

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 Option: 1:6 dolls and backdrops

Option 2: Software like iClone

Option 3: Photos to line drawings

Option 4: Get a drawing partner

Option 5: Draw a simple sketch comic

Option 6: Draw a detailed realistic full-body comic

Option 7: BJDs and backdrops

Option 8: Export from something like Sims
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 My dolls are my actors. They play out scenes from my imagination for the film of my camera.
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For the past few years, I have been looking for books about the affective, psychological and cultural meanings of dolls, specifically as they might pertain to the modern popularity of BJDs. If anyone has more suggestions, let me know!
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The dolls on this site would eat the scads of sensitive vampires and angsty zombies over at DOA for lunch. Sardonix would probably make friends with them... I like them very much. They look much more appropriate to me than the procelain dolls that they were originally. Thanks to Bastet2329, I will direct my hostile urges toward stereotypical undead characters into creative endeavors...



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