Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorite Doll Of 2011

She was supposed to be my "last doll," the one I felt I really needed to "complete" my collection (silly me).  I hadn't bought one for months because the price was just never low enough for me and the face makeup wasn't quite what I wanted.  And then this school version was released and I was sold.  That face, those boots... perfection.  Paid full price without a regret.

The Extras
By Monster High: Doll head, boots, brass knuckle ring
By LIV: Tshirt, vest, wig
By Barbie: Body, jeans
By Moxie Teenz: Earrings
By Rurouni Kenshin's Kamiya Kaoru Action Figure Set: Kitty cat

Thursday, December 29, 2011

LIV Making Waves Jake

Saw this tonight at Walmart.  And nope I didn't buy any dolls.  I only went there to buy groceries. Since I have not yet completed three projects I knew I could not purchase any toy items.  I just happened to be passing by and saw this. [*looks away sneakily*]  Ahem.  Anyway, it's a good deal because when I got mine on sale at TRU, it was $7.50.

I know some people aren't into "short" dolls, but he has so much better articulation than a Fashionista and I don't mind small statured dudes myself.  Here's a height comparison:

His knees don't pivot like a Fashionista, but they can bend at a perfect angle and underneath him.  He also can twist and pivot at the waist and bend his ankles.  You'll have to shave about 1/8" off of his neck nob to get any other head to fit properly, but it was easy to do with an exacto knife.

Next to the ladies he does alright.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Adventures in Repainting

I wanted to try my hand at face painting because I've seen some fantastic One Of A Kind repaints and I love the idea of being able to make my own custom dolls.  I gave it a try early on this year and was thoroughly disappointed with the results.

Before and After: Dolls I purchased back in 1992, I think.

It was so hard!  First off, I wear glasses but I couldn't see the doll closeup unless I took the glasses off and turned my head to the side and squinted.  That alone was frustrating, but when I tried painting... dude, I about lost it.  It's been twenty years since I've painted or drawn anything and I couldn't control the brush, judge the paint opacity, stay inside the lines, nothing!  I did practice first by making small portraits on paper, but applying paint to paper is a whole lot different than applying it to a round, molded face.  From start to finish, which included removing the eye and lip paint (I left the eyebrows), it took me six hours to complete and frankly, she looked better before with the anime eyes.  You can literally see every brush stroke.  Yuck.

Chandra's eyewear are cut and hollowed out Barbie sunglasses with acetate inserts.

I did try again, but in limited moderation.  I bought one of those magnifying circles to help me see without removing my glasses (didn't work) and this time I kept it real simple by just removing the lip paint.  I don't like light pink or coral lips on black dolls and on dark skin dolls I prefer no color at all.  Chandra's eyes became brown instead of that lion like golden rod color and you can barely see the brush strokes this time.  I did a bad job with the Basics lips and had to repaint them twice.

Before and After:  Beach Ken 2012 and Beach Ken 2011 Redux

This last time, I decided to try a paint over, instead of a repaint.  I also find I work better with india ink, which used to be my medium of choice back in the day.  So, his makeover is probably 30% paint, 70% ink.  He turned out much better than my other attempts.  Granted it's not really a "new face," but my hand work and application are becoming more steady.

Meet Riley:  Newly red-headed with olive eyes and a cleft chin.

I'm going to do more of these paint overs before I try completely removing the original face paint and starting from scratch.  Not like I don't have enough heads to practice on.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

So Over Budget... *sigh*

A box full of wasted money.

Each year I set aside a particular amount of money so that on Black Friday I can get myself something nice.  It's usually an electronic item along with the corresponding peripherals, or sometimes it's a few craft type machines along with extra accessories.  Whatever it is, I always say, "This is how much you have to spend and that's it."  I've never gone over my budget... until now.

When I started collecting 1/6th scale dolls this year it was really slow at first and then about 6 months into it, I thought, "Hmm, I'm buying something almost every week.  Maybe I'd better use my annual Me-Me-Me Fund on this hobby and not get any big ticket item for Black Friday."  I made that decision, however, I failed to track it.  I mean, it was $10 here or $1-5 there and okay, one time it was $35 at that store, or $21 over at that other place.  And, except for 4 or 5 pieces, I bought most things on sale.  It just didn't seem like so much money or so much stuff.  That is, until today when I copied all my camera photos to disc. [For insurance purposes I take a photo of every non perishable item I buy.]

In 11 months I purchased 41 dolls, 78 accessories and 84 craft items.  AND of the 41 dolls I got only 22 were for display, the rest were just for re-bodying or their clothes.  AND I bought all the craft items so I could save money by making my own accessories and I didn't!  I just got all the craft stuff and put it away to use for "later."  Oh, it's later now, dummy, it's later now! 

For this "hobby," I bought 203 individual items and went $227 over my annual budget.  You know what?  It's not a hobby, it's a freakin' lifestyle.  I guess it's because I'm fairly neat, and I have this policy of "a place for everything and everything in its place," so I didn't notice I was accumulating or spending so much.  I use bead boxes, craft boxes, storage boxes and an accessory cart to contain all the bits and pieces.  Perhaps if I was messy I would have paid more attention.

The upshot is, the craft portion of this collection is about to come into play.  All that paint, wood, clay, yarn, etc. had better start to get used or I'm putting myself in time out.  You better make at least three things or finish a large scale project with the materials you've already purchased before you buy another single thing.

I'm keeping my eye on you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Barbie Repackaged Set

I don't know if this is something that they do every year, take existing sets and multi pack them for the holidays, but I hope so.  This is the pack that I got on sale for $25.  Separately they would have been about $75.  I only saw it at Target but it didn't say "Target Exclusive" on it.  Here's all the stuff in each set.  I break things down for storage so that's why some pieces are dismantled.  I've also cut off those finger holder thingys.  They annoy me.

This photo was on the back of the box.  I've never seen it before so I'm not sure if it's super old or coming out next year.  I could see some uses for the bottom half of it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

$24.39! No, Not Happening

I went by Target today and saw these.  Now, it's not just that I'm cheap, because I am, it's that I refuse to pay $24.39 for something that used to be $11.68.  I missed the previous Rocawear line and came in during the regular $7.00 play line and the Pastry line.  I didn't even buy the Pastry line because I didn't think that having Rev Run's kids name on something warranted it costing more than the average Fashionista.

It's unfortunate that they are overpriced because I love the outfit and styling on each of them.  However, there is just not enough stuff in that box for me to pay that price.  I bought the 4 pack Barbie play set with the Living Room Set, Bathroom Set, Bedroom Set and Treats to TV Fridge for $25 bucks!  Sure, it was on sale and I had an additional coupon, but still.

You can even get this new Paleontologist doll for $13.89 and she has a hat and bones.  Come on!

At least this Liv clothing pack has been marked down.  They had over 10 packs so hopefully if I go back next week they will have done their double markdown and I can get it even cheaper.

Tsk.  $24.39.  You crazy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

LIV Maple Lodge

I have been eyeballing this play set all year and finally it went on sale for 50% off.  Thank goodness I woke up at 4am Saturday and happened to check my email to see that Toys R Us was having a 6am doorbuster sale on all LIV stuff.  I wanted this and Sophie's scooter, but they didn't have that.  I grabbed like 7 other LIV items but I edited myself and put them back.  Okay, I kept the My Nature Daniela doll, but c'mon, it was half price.

Some of the reviews online say that this is too small, flimsy and stuff doesn't work.  I disagree.  It's a good size even for a Barbie, made of sturdy material and I had no problem with the roof, hammock or seating.

Look at all that stuff!  I will probably modify the structure, make it more urban loft instead of country cabin, but overall, I love it.  My version doesn't have the same paint job as the box does, but promo photos for LIV stuff rarely match the item.  Even so, I'm happy that my countertops are all white instead of tan.  My sink and pots are also copper instead of rust like the prototype.

I wont be using any of the stickers and will change the background card stock to something else.  If I'm feeling really adventurous, I may even install some cabinets!

UPDATE: 12/21/11

I love this thing so much, but I'm still determining what I'm going to do with it.  I don't have much room, but it's a nice set and I want to have it out on display.  I have found that if I leave it in a square shape it fits perfectly on top of my rolling accessories cart.  Right now it's being occupied by my "worker dolls," Jake and Tasha.  I call them workers because I use them to test sets and accessories and I also carry them around when I'm "trying" to make clothes and hats.  This could be their at work lounge or part of a studio apartment.  I don't pay them much so they cant afford a one bedroom.  They are not a couple, just co-workers.

I took off the roof, turned it upside down and placed the sleeping bag on top of it to make it a lounger.  Next I'll tackle that pink wall and put in a back splash.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Justin Bieber Carnage!

I finally got around to opening up the 3 versions of the JB dolls that were available at Big Lots on Black Friday.  I wanted to see if the tops would fit John Cho (1 did, 2 were so small I gave them to the girls).  Never have I had such a difficult time getting anything open!  My goodness, what horrible packaging.  I'm very meticulous when I open stuff as I like to save everything in case I can re-purpose it later.  After getting the first one open I gave up on that.  The back was even perforated to make it "easier" to open.  Lies!

Anyway, the shirts have already been passed onto other dolls, but here are the other accessories.

These hats will fit a Fashionista Ken, but they are a little big for Basics unless they have thick hair.

The belt and buckle sewn into the pants was a surprise.  I like it.  These pants are short though.  They will fit a World Peacekeeper only if he's wearing boots or Beiber shoes.  They will fit a Ken if you like his pants to hang low. :(

Beiber shoes are always the same style, just different colors.  The shades will fit a Monster perfectly, but not a LIV if she is wearing her wig.

I didn't know that this doll was partially articulated, including his feet.  Even so, I can't see me using this body because the neck just turns around and there is no articulation at the wrists.  I tried to introduce one of them to Clawdeen Wolf and she just gave me this look as if to say, "Really?  Are you serious?"  I guess I'll be putting these bodies in the "spare parts" box in my closet.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sale Alert: Star Trek Sulu

I collect Black and Asian dolls and my nerd meter went off just when I was about to leave Toys R Us empty handed yesterday.  I spotted this Sulu/John Cho action doll on clearance for $9.98.  I love when I find something I wasn't even looking for.  They had only one Sulu and two Pikes (which isn't featured on the back of this box).  I'm always wanting articulated males and I thought about getting the Pikes too, but since I wasn't familiar with this body I figured I'd better check out its "fully articulated" claims before grabbing the other dolls.

With some alterations to the tapered legs, I can use those pants on other dolls.  Otherwise, they'll always have to be inside of boots.  You'll notice that the boots aren't in this shot.  That's because the boots ARE his feet.  I hate when the footwear/feet are combined.  I had a heck of a time getting those boots off, so much so, that I snapped one of the inserts and his boot/foot just falls off when you lift him.  I took my dremel to the other insert so I wont have that problem again.  For right now, I'm using a rubber band to give the other insert something to grip too, but eventually I'll fashion something sturdier. 

Final verdict:  I will not be going back to get the Pikes for multiple reasons.  The color complexion of this doll doesn't match any of my other males.  He is not just pale, he's almost washed out.  The boots as feet business is annoying to deal with and very limiting fashion wise.  His hands are not articulated at the wrist, they just twirl around.  His body structure is super thick and I had a hard time finding clothes that fit him.  I can't use this body with other dolls because the neck hole is so much narrower (as is this doll's head) than a Ken neck.

Now, having said all that, I kinda love him.  Just having another Asian doll is a plus all on its own, but at that price, it's super awesome.  He's a little bit taller than a World Peacekeeper but not as tall as a Ken.  From this angle he kinda looks like Choi Siwon from Super Junior, but from every other angle, he does look like John Cho.  An extremely narrow-headed John Cho, but nonetheless the resemblance is similar.

The Extras
By Barbie: Chair, clothes

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fab Find

Lately, it's been my bad habit to make a run by Toys R Us and Target on Thursday's to see if they have any clearance items.  Didn't find anything at Target I wanted (last time I got the Sweet Talking Ken for $6.49!) but I did find a cute outfit at TRU.  It was marked at $4.88 but rang up at $2.48.  Booya!

I could tell the clothes would be a good fit for my original body Monster doll and luckily, the shoes fit LIV bodies so nothing went to waste.  Except for that iron on thing.  I chucked that.

No way that hood is going over a Monster head, but it's so small it wouldn't fit a Barbie either.  I tried to put the outfit on a LIV body.  Though the top would close at the bottom, it would not fasten at the shoulders and those pants barely fit up one leg.  None of that was a problem for Clawdeen Wolf though!

I much prefer this style of clothing to the insistence of making hoochie wear for dolls (no offence to hoochies).

Given that awkward curve that Monster dolls have, this top is a perfect fit.  Also, if you work with these dolls, you know that they just flop over when posing.  However, this outfit is constricting her joints to the point that she can actually stand on her own.  There is no wire work in these shots.

The side and front pockets on the backpack do not open, but you can get quite a bit of stuff in the inside pocket.  It closes with velcro.

All this stuff fit inside.  For the price, I say this purchase was an awesome buy.

The Extras
By Monster High: Doll, notebook binder
By LIV: Glasses, pantyhose, headphones, ipod, phone, laptop
By Moxie Teenz:  Shoes

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yay Collectibles: Laptops!

Without a doubt, my number one play item to collect is laptops.  I'm an electronics junky at heart and I'm more apt to buy a doll or accessory pack if it comes with some type of tech item.  I have to be on my computer a lot, so I guess I just like to see my dolls working on theirs too.  I've only been collecting dolls and such since early this year.  Here's what I got so far!

From Barbie I Can Be A Computer Engineer.  This was all hot pink.  I painted it red and black and stuck a Windows desktop on the screen.  It came with a laptop bag so I painted that too.

From LIV Tech Time Pack.  No modifications were made.  I thought about doing something to that keyboard, but I let it go... for now.

From Barbie Basics Look 01 Pack.  I made the keys black, but that's the only modification. It's got a pretty big slit in the side so I can change the screen easily, but so far, it's cool as is.

From Justin Bieber Fashion Pack.  Hands down my favorite.  It's a great replica of a Mac laptop and even has the side ports and disc tray.  It already came with the keys black, so I just darkened in the ports.  I know it's sacrilege to put a Windows screen on a Mac, but I like Windows, ok?  The Justin Bieber signature logo was on the back in purple, but a little acetone got rid of that.

From Power Team Elite S.W.A.T.  How dismal.  Power Team produces some great realistic military accessories.  That their laptop is just photos stuck inside a case is disappointing.

From Moxie More2Me Set.  Umm.  Yeah.  Considering it's supposed to be a 2-in-1 item and the other side is a boom box, I guess it's okay.  I think that when I get around to making a refrigerator, I will put this on the door.

I'm fairly pleased with the ones I have, so I don't think I'll buy a doll pack anymore just because it has a laptop in it.  The next thing I want is cameras!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Surfs Up

Why, hello.  Not that I don't already have this mold, but I like his looser surfer hair style and the shorts.  It was on sale at one Target for $5.49, but regular price of $6.99 at another.  Out of the line, they only had him in the store, none of the other versions on the box were there yet.

I wish the black dude wasn't smiling.  It just makes him look like he's up to something.  I've tried several methods to close the mouths of smiling dolls.  Each attempt was a dismal failure.  Sigh.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Before and After: Head Shrinking

Using acetone nail polish remover I've made many attempts at reducing vinyl doll heads.  I've tried it on Barbie, Liv and Monster dolls.  I've used Walmart, Walgreens and Target brand polish removers.  I've fiddled with soaking times and drying locations.  All in all, it's a smelly process with varying degrees of success.

I've shrunk two of the Desiree molds (Fashionista and I Can Be) and both reduced to the exact measurement each time.

I used thread to secure the hair from floating around as I thought a rubber band might turn to mush and get stuck in her hair.  Then I poured the bottle of remover into a clean pickle jar.  Using tongs, place the head into the jar, making sure to hold it until the neck hole fills with liquid which makes the head stay down and not float.  Cap the jar and let sit at least 36 hours.

I do not rinse the head with water when I pull it out.  I just pat it dry, being very careful not to touch the face paint.  I try to time it so that I sit the head outside for at least 5-8 daylight hours, but not in direct sunlight!  I've never done this during cold weather so I don't know what effect that might have.

Once I bring it inside (sometimes I leave it out all night), I wash the hair and put conditioner in it for about 15 minutes.  I still don't rinse off the face though.  You could probably skip this step but I have a problem with the odor so I want it gone soon as possible.  After 8 hours it's reduced as much as it's going to for this first time.  If you want to try to make it smaller, dip it again for another 36 hours, but I would do it in a fresh solution.  Double dipping or using the same solution for multiple heads doesn't seem to work.

I've had success with multiple dunkings of a LIV head.  The circumference of the original head was 5.50".  The first dip reduced it to 5.38" and the second to 5.18".  However, there is only so much give in the vinyl.  I don't think you can make a LIV head Barbie sized ('least I haven't tried it). One dip of my Monster head reduced it from 5.28" to 5.00".  I didn't dip it again because I liked the proportions it had on the Fashionista body.

You have about 48 hours from when you start the drying process before the head begins to harden.  Once it's completely hard (after 4 days tops), that's it.  You can't shrink it again, reroot it, reinsert eyes or remove it from the body you've placed it on.

Things I learned the hard way:
  • Don't put the head on the body until it has dried for at least 8 hours.  If you put it on before it has enough drying time, it will eat the top of the neck hole and make it mushy.
  • Take the eyes out of a LIV head before reducing or they will melt into goo!
  • Use fine sandpaper to contour a face after it hardens, not your Dremel.  Otherwise, you'll get groves instead of a smooth finish (see photo above).
  • Don't bother with the Target brand remover.  It's not effective at all.  I have found that I prefer to use Walgreens "Studio35" brand.  It's the purple colored one and comes in 8 and 10 ounces.

Check out this Dec 2012 post, "Fun and Failure with Acetone" for more info on shrinking doll heads.