Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Confession of a Dollaholic - Luo Strongman

I have a confession to make - I have just done something very bad - committed to the most expensive doll ever in my life ~ Luo Strongman by Iplehouse, Korea. I had been lurking on the release of this doll for several weeks; I did not expect that it would be this HOT (Ouch!!) !!! And the fact is that the amount is large enough to pay for a month of my mortgage!
All my friends know that I am a big collector, but I usually think twice before I buy! I would look at the item or its pictures again and again until my adrenalin level drops! So hopefully, the stimulation on me would turn weaker and weaker. If that did not work, that means I really wanted that doll. However, this time, my spending principle did not work for me anymore! The moment that I saw the pictures, I clicked on the purchase and check-out button as fast as I could ~ in fear that I could not get hold of one of these gorgeous LE50!
In early February, Iplehous has announced the releasing schedule of their new dolls. It is all about the new characters of their popular Noctarcana Circus series. One of them is, of course, Luo Strongman!

In the end of 2008, Akanda debuted as the very first ElD (elder Iplehouse doll). He is a mature character with super hero type of massy muscular body. His debute has created a commotion of BJD fans. The discussion on Akando has never been stopped on DOA forum since then.

A few months later, Evan, the tamper joined the circus. Evan has very similar outlook as Akando, but does not seems as popular. Collectors have been looking forward to the release of the 3rd character, Luo, which has even stronger arms with veins, and they classified it as the “Strong Man”. I guess what really carried me away that much is that Luo has a wonderful tanned skin tone, and his face feature is not as boyish or comic-like as most of the BJD characters! Instead he has strong jaw and nose like Brad Pitt! I am not a fan of Brad Pitt but I do really like this mature manly look. A collector has overlaid Brad Pitt’s picture on Luo’s and it showed that they are amazingly assemble!

(This amazing comparision with Brad Pitt is done by a BJD collector )

Honestly, Luo set is lack of rich outfits or accessories. So some people think that it would not worth that much! Akando has far much better and rich outfits and accessories, so does Evan. But I have the weakness towards tanned skin (that is why I have my very first big BJD, Latino Aaron, 2 years ago.) so I guess I selected to be blinded just for this time!!

Now, being a “dollaholic”, my problem is how to pay off for this hot doll!? I have to sell my other precious dolls to fund him! Interested in my collections anybody?

[Composition of goods]
- Luo basic head (basic no make-up head)- Body, color : Special brown skin
- Eyeballs : 12mm acrylic eyeballs
- Wig : Wig on the photo
- Shoes : Boots on the photo
- Basic assembly hand parts : Basic hand parts (Brushing is not included.)
- Extra hand parts : Fist-shape hand parts (Brushing is not included.)
- Tension line, S type hook and extra magnets
- Assembly manual- Default box
- Certificate- Outfit : Iplehouse team
~ Composition of outfit : Vest, shoulder strap, arm warmer, pants, decoration belt and necklace
* 50 ea limited in the world
* Composition of body brushing is both arms, tattoo on forearm, fist-shape hand parts, basic hand parts and nipples.

[Body size]
* Height : 70 cm
* Weight : 3kg
* Circumference of head : 23.5 cm (9.2 inch)
* Circumference of neck : 16 cm
* Circumference of chest : 38.9 cm
* Width of shoulder : 19 cm
* Length of arm : 24 cm
* Circumference of wrist : 7.6 cm
* Circumference of arm : 14.2cm
* Circumference of waist : 28.7 cm
* Circumference of pelvis : 36.7 cm
* Circumference of thigh : 21 cm
* From waist to tiptoe : 43.5 cm
* Circumference of ankle : 11 cm
* Length of foot : 10.2 cm

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yoshida Style - "Make" Your Dreams Come True!

I think I am not the only doll collector who wants to have his own dream doll created. Have hard plastics and vinyl doll made is kind of a dream to most of the collectors. We all know that making a metal mold could cost a fortunate. (A doll collector has just told me lately that Tonner Robert told her a mold could cost up to US30,000.) And that expensive mould would wear out after certain number of molding. Therefore, making a resin BJD would be more possible to make our dreams come true. Unlike in Japan or in Korea that there are some institutions that you could actually learn how to make your own BJD from the sketch. In Hong Kong, the doll community is very small and there are hardly any big doll shops around, not to mention BJD institution. As a result, another option is to experiment it by following instruction on any doll magazines or online sources.

Yoshida Style:

I am happy to found that there is a very rich pictorial guide book on making BJD called “Yoshida Style”. Mr. Ryu Yoshida is a very well known guru in making amazing realistic BJD in Japan. This book was published in 2006 in Japanese. I was not into BJD then, so I did not pay much attention to it. However, I found this book’s Chinese version when I was in Taiwan several months ago. At first, I was only intended to flip through it briefly. But I ended up spent like 20 minutes checking it out at the book store and still wanted to go on and read more. This book is full of step-by-step pictures with full explanation. Yoshida does not only teach you how to sculpt and mold, make wig, shoes etc., he also teaches you how to make eye balls and teeth! In short, you can make almost anything by yourself. If you learn properly, you do not need to go to any BJD shops anymore!
Below is the content of this book for your reference.

Chapter I Base 9

  • I–1 Drawing & Sketch 10

  • I–2 Make a core of the doll 12

  • I–3 Make a base 16

Chapter II Modeling 19

  • II–1 Model a face 20

  • II–2 Make a body 24

  • II–3 Make arms & legs 28

  • II–4 Make hands & feet 32

  • II–5 Sanding 40

Chapter III Joints 43

  • III–1 Make ball joints 44

  • III–2 Fix balls 50

  • III–3 Make joint’s saucers 52

  • III–4 Set up a neck joint 58

Chapter IV Construction 61

  • IV–1 Artificial eyes 62

  • IV–2 Make artificial eyes & teeth 66

  • IV–3 Set up to put together arms & legs 70

  • IV–4 Set up to put together wrists, ankles & head 72

  • IV–5 Joining 76

Chapter V Painting 79

  • V–1 Foundation coating 80

  • V–2 Foundation coating (Advanced) 82

  • V–3 Create skin 86

Chapter VI Hair 95

  • VI–1 Put hairs on 96

  • VI–2 Top of the head 98

  • VI–3 Hair arrange 102

Chapter VII Shoes 105

  • VII–1 Make shoes 106

  • Tools & Material 8,15,94

  • SHOP·Shop list & References 134

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Retro Midwests - I.T. Vintage - Poppy Parker by Integrity

Further to my previous article on the new I.T. NOW line, I want to talk about another new line of Integrity – Poppy Parker. The theme of this line attracted me instantly – just in case, you do not know, I am a fan of 50s and 60s. I love those B/W movies of Hollywood or Hong Kong. Plus, I like their fashion, their living styles, and the way people talk of that era. I still remembered how thrilling I was when I first saw the Bon Voyage series of Fashion Royalty some years back. Finally, here comes a teenager version of the Midwest 60s!
The Poppy Parker girl retailed at similar price levels of basic Fashion Royalty dolls, which is a bit surprise to me. I suppose LE700 of each doll would be able to satisfy collectors’needs. Poppy does not only has Misaki' lips, she also uses the same Misaki body with articulated wrists and ankles. Mind you that Misaki’s body is kind of slender, small busts but with larger feet than Fashion Royalty! So if you have chic and hip Misaki's wardrobe, Poppy Parker would be jumping for joy!

Retro Furniture:
The fashion as seen from the official website is not so attractive to me. However, I love the backdrops of some of the pictures.
I heard that it is actually a cross-over with Maryann Roy - a very tallented doll funiture artist! I wish that Integrity would also introduce a line of retro furniture set soon. Such as the brick wall painted in white with a funky clock hanging on it. Round and big lighting hanging down from above. Round colorful cushions on a curvy back long sofa, which is the setting that I have seen in many B/W movies when I was a kid. Full length window and sheer curtain which seems to lead you to Poppy's court yard. The simplicity of furniture design in my favorite white is all retro and all so charming. I want to live in a house like that!

(I love the funtiure and the whole house decor)

Picture credit: Integtiry.

My Marketing Strategy Decode - I.T.NOW of Integrity

(Note: this article is my personal opinion with no bias. Purly for fun and sharing)
There have been many news dolls entered the fashion doll market lately. Majority of them are from big names such as Tonner, Integrity, Superfrock etc. while there are new comers such as Paul Pham and RDG or reborn Deva Doll. Needless to mention some bigger BJD manufacturers who are releasing new dolls every single month.

Besides, being interested in the dolls, I am actually also interested in knowing how they would set their individual market strategies under such a bad economy situation. Are they going to retain their customers, or “invading” other market segments. How do they differentiate their products from the competitors under sever competition of nowadays?

The long waited review on the 2009 Integrity lines have finally ended today. It seems to me that Integrity is trying to dominate as many market segments as possible. They are spinning off some lines which could help to retain their collectors, meanwhile getting new customer base. The ambitious of Jason Wu could be proved by the existing lines and the newly launched lines.

This line really caught my attention amongst all the new lines of Integrity.

Some collectors might be happy this time as the new play line I.T. NOW retails at less than US30. The girls of this line have very similar look to Fashion Fever Barbie as well as the more expensive Fashion Royalty line.

The body of this I.T. Now series is the almost the same as Ru Paul and Eve Kitten which were released a few years back. This body has small busts and is not so articulated but with internal click-bend mechanism on the knees. The way I.T. Now poses is similar to Barbie’s top model series but taller. However, the face mold is very much resembled to Fashion Royalty’s characters – I especially find that the AA girl is the teenage version of Adele, and red head is Vanessa. (see pictures here) The dress quality-wise, as I could see from the official pictures, are similar to Fashion Fever.

(She could pass as the teenage version of Adele)
(She looks like Vanessa of FR line) ( If I say that she is a Barbie doll, would you doubt about it?)

Under the impact of this bad global economy, some collectors would become very careful in spending big bucks – me is one of the best example (unfortunately). Thus, this I.T. Now line could serve as the temporary replacement to some of the not-so-die-hard Fashion Royalty collectors until the economy turns better. Or meanwhile, Integrity is trying to foster much younger collectors by building brand loyalty. What made me say that? By my own decoding of the official write up of this line:

“Concept: The brands we will be introducing under this new banner will consist mostly of entry level collectibles. A perfect introduction to the Integrity Toys style!”

picture credit: Integrity,