BJD is short for "ball-jointed doll", also commonly referred to as "ABJD" (asian ball jointed doll) and you guessed it, they find their roots in Asia. These dolls are not to be confused with the antique composition ball jointed dolls of the past. They do have similarities in that the joints of these modern dolls are made of ball and socket construction giving them much more freedom of movement and greater ability to pose than other dolls.
BJD are making a major appearance in all the latest doll magazines. They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. They can be the likeness of humans, vampires, elves, fairies, centaurs, or even little pigs.
You can find them in as many variations as you can think of. Their sizes range from wee little tiny things to 70 plus centimeters tall.
BJD are strung with elastic cord which holds the parts of the doll together. In the majority of cases, the doll is jointed at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees, and ankles. With some adjustments they have the ability to hold a pose, even standing on one foot, without the aid of a doll stand. (Not a recommended postition to be in for very long.)
Since most are made from resin material,
they have another quality that separates them from vinyl or porcelain dolls. Resin has the ability to be sanded, shaped and modified. This characteristic gives artistic owners a canvas on which to modify and create their own unique version of the doll from a basic mold, if they so desire. For example, eye sockets can be opened or closed, ears lengthened, or scars added. If the owner lacks the artistic talents to do this themselves, they only need to commission someone to make modifications for them. There are many customizers available that provide these kinds of services. Or an owner may opt to order a default version from the company and make no changes at all.
Being made from resin, they do tend to be more fragile than other modern dolls. It is not uncommon to have a broken finger, or in the case of elves, a broken ear. The good news is that these breaks are repairable in many cases . Most companies also sell replacement hands and feet.
The dolls need to be handled with greater care for other reasons. Their facial features are hand done with paints, pencils, chalks, or other artistic media, then sprayed with a sealant. Eyelashes are applied with glue. Because of this their faces must be handled with great care.
(The boy in the photo above is exactly what I would envision Huck Finn to look like. - Sorry Jamie!)
This is not the only characteristic that makes the dolls so versatile. Bjds are generally wigged, making hair color and styles as varied as the wigs available in the market or from artisans who make their own. Hair for the wigs are generally made of either mod acrylic, synthetic mohair, mohair, or human hair. The companies that create the dolls also typically sell wigs, eyes, shoes and clothing for them.
If that’s not enough, they also have the ability to have their eyes removed and exchanged with whatever suits their owners tastes. The head cap comes off, either held on by elastic or magnets, and the eyes are held in place with eye putty so that they are not only replaceable, but also have the ability to look to the right, left, up, down, or cross-eyed.
With these characteristics, it is not too difficult to create your own version of a basic doll that is so unique that it is hardly recognized as the same doll that was shipped to you from the company. Having a doll that no one else has with the ability to pose like no other doll does, is perhaps what draws BJD owners to spend as much on them as they do.
They range in price from $100.00 to well over $1000.00. The dolls can be ordered blank, with no faceup (face paint is referred to as a faceup)for a little less, so a faceup still has to be applied which includes eyelashes. Other modifications include body blushing, pedicures, manicures, etc.
Ordering a doll from overseas can be a bit of a challenge. Since most come from Asia, primarily Japan and Korea, and are not made in mass quantities, it may take from 6 weeks to 6 months for them to arrive after they’ve been purchased. Also shipping costs are pretty high. Two companies that I know of have opened stores in the United States, and some doll shops now carry them as well.
Outfitting them presents some drawbacks. None of the dolls are made exactly the same size. Especially between the different companies. When purchasing outfits from one company to fit a doll from another company, a good fit is not always guaranteed.
Those that make quality clothing for the dolls, rightfully insist on having the doll available as a model to insure a perfect fit.
Reactions I have seen to the dolls have been as varied as the dolls themselves.
Some are down right scary looking and cause people to gasp when they see them. The most common reaction is, "They look like aliens!" Others have been created to appear very beautiful and produce the opposite reaction.
Those that possess BJDs typically enjoy photographing them. Many internet forums have been created for owners to share their dolls with each other through their photography. Their owners outfit them in themes and styles such as; contemporary, period costumes, renaissance, gothic, horror, mythical, steampunk, and anime to name a few. They make great models for doll collecting photographers everywhere.
Owners share their dolls with one another in other ways, too. Meetups are places where owners gather, bringing along their favorite dolls. At these meets, other doll enthusiasts may find a specific BJD in person that they have only seen in photographs previously. At a typical meetup, those that sell accessories such as eyes, wigs, clothing, and furniture may bring their wares.
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