What is a BJD?
BJD stands for Ball Jointed Doll and is often in reference to a specific kind of resin doll, originating in the East. Many different companies now make these dolls, Luts being one of the original companies and each group has their own aesthetics.
You can find out more on the internet of specific histories of the BJD, but essentially they are completely malleable dolls with incredible realism.
They come in various sizes, usually denoted by 1/3+ (about 70-74cms tall), 1/3 (between 60-70cms tall), 1/3 midi (between 50-60cms tall), ¼ (between 35-48cms tall), 1/6 (anything close to the 28cms height) and 1/12 (often tiny can be as small as 12cms tall!). You will often hear these sizes referred to as SD (1//3), MSD (1/4) and YOSD (1/6) but this is a little inaccurate, as they refer to Luts’ sizing names. For example, the company Iplehouse calls their 1/3+ EID and Dream Of Doll calls their 1/3 D.O.I (Dream of Idol). Again, more about this can be found online.^_^
The idea behind the dolls, is that they are completely customizable. They can be sanded down and built upon, limbs changed, eyes changes, wigs changed, they can have wings, centaur legs and 6 arms. You paint them, tattoo them, pierce them, and clothe them. There are even animal moulds. It’s up to you what you do with them. They are a cross between a collector’s item and a creative outlet. You find a company with a mould you like, buy the full set (with clothes, face up [how their face is painted] and limited items) or you buy a plain, basic set and go from there.
Do you have any?
I am indeed lucky enough to own a few BJDs. I’ve liked them for a long time after one of my dearest friends introduced me to them. I searched for one I loved for years but didn’t really come across anything. There were hundreds I liked, but none that I “bonded” with. Until I saw Dream Of Doll’s Code 2. He was my first doll and the obsession started from there.
Why are they important to me?
For me they are a creative outlet for characters that I have had in my life since I was a young child. They are physical representations of my story characters or aspects of self and they help focus an incredibly restless and distracted mind! ^_^ That….and they are pretty cool.
Are they expensive?
Now here’s the catch. Yes. They are very expensive. You’re looking at hundreds of pounds in most cases. The thing is, these dolls take a long time to produce, are made from natural resins and are sculpted by artists. Often your doll will be made to your specifications too and it is, in fact a luxury hobby sadly. Also, the majority of the main companies right now, reside in Japan, Korea, China and America, so you are looking at shipping costs too. This was another reason that I didn’t get one for a long time. It’s not something to spend the money on lightly!
Having said that, some people spend that much on handbags or clothes shopping or going out every weekend. That’s fine, I guess my spare cash just goes on BJDs and music! The other thing to mention is that most companies will offer a Layaway. This basically means paying in installments. All you need to do is email them and ask what their layaway options are. This is the only reason I can afford them!
What is all this chatter of “Recasts?”
Recasts are a sore subject in the BJD world. Basically, they are companies’ dolls that have been re cast by non official companies of the same ilk. They sell the dolls for a much lower price, but the quality is often poor.
It’s a grey area in the BJD world and I personally don’t agree with recasts. They are essentially pirating. I know the dolls are expensive, but as a creator myself, I know how I would feel if someone ripped me off. Other people do not feel that way and so, you’ll need to make your own mind up about this subject.
Are they hard to care for?
Not really. There is a lot to consider initially, but like with most things, you get used to the considerations. Different skin tones will need different care, but all B.J.Ds should be kept out of constant day light to prevent yellowing or fading. This does not mean you can’t take them outside. Many people use their dolls as subjects from photography.
Restringing can be terrifying at first. I would always recommend watching tons of you tube videos, chatting on forums and having the right tools with you before you attempt it. Restringing will help your doll to stand and pose well (if tightly strung) or to be loose and limp.
Face ups (the make up that creates eye brows, lip definition etc), can be removed, rearranged and layered. The same with most body modifications involving paint. People use pencils, acrylics and water colours, some even ink! You layer and protect, layer and protect. Most people will use Mr Super Clear to spreay between layers. This protects what you have already painted before you start the next step.
You should keep your hands clean at all times. Something as simple as stroking a pet and then touching your doll could leave nasty oils on their skin. Again, this is skin type dependant and it also relies on how “used” you want your doll to be, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
I will be adding more about this from time to time.
How do I get one?
Like most things in the modern age, get yourself online and search for BJDs. I would recommend Dream Of Doll, Iplehouse, Ringdoll and Doll Love as they are my current favourites, but there are many different companies out there. You can always look at other people’s images of their dolls on Deviant Art or Google images or Tumblr and if you see one you like, they usually have the mould and company noted down. Good luck!