Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fun and Failure with Acetone

Last year I did [a post] about my attempts using nail polish remover to shrink the heads of vinyl dolls.  A reader commented that they used regular acetone diluted with water to shrink heads .  He said he used a much shorter soak time (10 hours) and that the heads retained some softness but still shrunk. I replied that I'd experiment with that combo and finally have.

I'm using 16oz pickle jars and I placed measurements on them with a sharpie.  In the photo above I'm just trying to determine the least amount of liquid I need to adequately cover a large doll head.  I put 1 cup of water in each jar and it seems sufficient.

I'll be conducting two sets of experiments using 1 quart of Klean Strip Acetone from Walmart ($6.88 - you'll find it near the paint section). Note that you have to be an adult and show photo ID as proof of age to purchase pure acetone.  However, you can buy an 8 oz bottle of Onyx 100% Pure Acetone nail polish remover at the same store for $2.96 and no ID is required. That seems ridiculous to me, but I don't make the rules.  If you are a young person, ask your parent's permission anyway.

Since I have no familiarity with pure acetone my experiments are going to be more about its strengths and testing water to acetone ratios.  Any shrinking that may occur is secondary. First I want to see 1) what 100% does to vinyl in 3 hours, 2) what 50% in 6 hours does to Liv eyes and 3) what 25% in 9 hours does to Moxie Teenz eyes.

As soon as I put the Liv head into jar No.1 all the paint melted away.  I was so busy being in awe that I forgot to take photos of it happening.  Therefore all you get to see is a jar filled with yellow liquid.

I checked the jars every hour to see if any changes were occurring.  After the 1st hour everything was the same.  Fifty minutes later I just happened to glance over and saw this huge hump poking out of the 100% jar.  Man, did I freak out, lol.  It was almost too big to fit through the opening of the jar and once removed I saw that it had absorbed almost 3/16 of the liquid.

Holy crap, look how big it got.  This one only made it to 1 hour and 50 minutes instead of the 3 hours planned, but it sure was interesting!  I actually would have liked to have it remain this big but it shrunk in due time.

The other jars made it their allotted times:

6 hours at 50%.  Her left eye became cloudy but there was no "melting."  She's a little bit bigger but didn't absorb much of the liquid, perhaps 1/16 if even that.

9 hours at 25%.  She also didn't absorb much of the liquid and there was absolutely no change to her eyes.  I let her dry for 16 hours and there was no difference in size at all so I later redipped her in a previously used 75% solution for 6 hours.

My second experiment will test 1) what 100% in 2 hours does to a Bratz's much harder vinyl head, 2) what 75% in 6 hours does to Jake eyes and 3) what 75% in 6 hours does to playline Barbies and the effect it has on every one's hair.

Here you can see the face paint sliding off the 100% Bratz soon as I put her in the jar and how she progressively expanded on the hour.

So yeah, when I pulled her out of the jar I was having a hard time flipping her over so in the end I grabbed her by the hair and pulled upward.  Her face fell off, lol!  Her hair holes created a perfect seam that allowed her much weightier face to separate from her scalp.  The tip with a Bratz is to pour out the liquid first and let the head remain in the jar until it dissipates enough acetone to allow you to turn the jar over and gently let the head fall out.

Jake did not make it to 6 hours at 75%.  At the 2 hour mark I could see his eyes were getting mushy so I pulled him out.  I only have one of him so I don't have a comparison head to place next to him.  He also didn't absorb much of the liquid.

The Barbies completed their 6 hours at 75%.  Their eye paint was fine but I could see that their lip paint was weakened.  They are only slightly larger in size.

The Moxie Teenz completed her redip in the Barbie solution at 75% for 6 hours with a noticeable change.  Her head is quite bigger and her eyes have clouded over.  Additionally, bubbles of liquid that formed over her eyes while in the solution have eaten away at them leaving pock marks in the acrylic.

Without rinsing off the heads or washing or conditioning any one's hair, I left the dolls alone and let them dry for 14 days.  These are the shrinkage results:

100% Liv reduced 1/4".  Although the head has hardened some, it's still actually softer than an original head.  However, a double dip in Walgreen's nail solution at 36 hours each, yielded better reduction.

50% Liv reduced 0".  No change in size and her left eye even lost the cloudiness I saw when first removed from the jar.  Her lip paint isn't as glossy as it was, but it's not bad.  Her head is also softer than original.

25% Moxie reduced 0".  75% Moxie reduced 1/8".  Her eyes got jacked up!  I did remove one to see why her lashes never melted or fell out so that's why one looks super wonky.  The lashes are not glued to the eye socket.  They are attached to the eye itself and seem to be made from nylon.  Not that I'm a materials expert, but they are very well done.  Until you yank one out and make the lashes go all weird.

Her ears got smaller than anything.  Look at the difference in the ear piercing.  That's curious because it's not like her ears are made from a different vinyl but perhaps they were less dense.  The sides of her head are softer than the top.

100% Bratz reduced 1/8".  Since the back of her head is gone I'm measuring from ear to ear instead of circumference.  Her face is very hard.  I feel like if I dropped it, it would shatter.  I always thought it was the way their lips were painted that made them lose their philtrums, but the mouths are actually molded that way.

75% Jake reduced 1/8".  His head still has some give to it.  I remember when I did this using nail remover it took 6 hours for the eyes to start to melt.  Jake's eyes are much smaller than the girls so if you ever reduced a Liv girl really small you could give her Jake's eyes.

75% Nikkie reduced 1/8".  75% Barbie reduced 1/2".  Again, I'm measuring from ear to ear since one of the dolls doesn't have hair.  That Barbie reduction cant be right.  Her head must have been smaller to begin with and I didn't measure her before.  Her original head was exceptionally hard, completely unlike any Barbie I've come across.  I found out she had an excessive amount of glue inside of her.  The head's a little bit softer but not by much.  Nikkie's is just as pliable as when I put it in.  Both Barbie and Nikkie were $5 door busters so I'm not sure why one would reduce so much more than the other. 

Comparing only Nikkie's, I had better playline reduction with nail remover than with the acetone.  The lip paint was better too.  Here's a closeup:

The eye paint is similar (one face looks blurry because I'm using a macro lens) but the lip paint is remarkably different.  The acetone turns gloss into powder but doesn't affect matte finishes.  Good to know.

Some conclusions:

  • 100% yielded some interesting results but I don't recommend it at all.  Even if you intended to repaint it anyway the chemical change to the vinyl doesn't seem worth it to me.
  • 75% is just too strong.  It makes the "skin" of the vinyl feel dry and does the same to hair.  Barbie's hair was silky smooth but now it has a rough consistency.  I left conditioner in it for 2 hours and it combs fine but still feels very harsh.
  • 50% might be the way to go but double (12h) or triple (18h) the soak time and remove the eyes, of course.  25% at 36 hours could also be good but might not give you the "dramatic" reduction you want.  I'll have to test these two out and I have jars upon jars of heads at the ready, lol.
  • Because the acetone dissipates slower than nail remover it gives you a much longer drying time so you can fiddle with eye inserts, rooting and the like.  It also, for a time being, gives you a much softer head than you started out with.

Keep in mind that it has only been two weeks, so these heads may reduce even further.  However, with the conclusions I've reached thus far, my preference is the Walgreen's brand nail polish remover and here's why: 

  • I don't want anything to take more than two weeks to cure.  I mean, seriously, just get on with it.  I want to do what I want to do to the doll now, not weeks from now.
  • There is little to no change in paint or hair quality when using remover.
  • I don't have to measure jack or write fractions on stuff to pour a whole bottle of remover into a jar.  It's 10 ounces and ready to go.

These reasons aren't overly valid and to be fair I need to try 50-25% acetone at longer soak times as it may yield the same results -- but frankly, I'm still leaning toward remover.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Doll Master

I was watching a South Korean horror movie called [The Doll Master] on YouTube.  It's filled with beautiful dolls but gory and scary so don't click if that stuff bothers you.  In it there is this gorgeous built-in display for ball jointed dolls:

It's magnificent. Can you imagine being able to display your dolls like this? It makes me feel all tingly inside.  If you want to see it in the video it's from 10:00 - 11:30 and 16:18 - 17:02.  Don't worry, nothing nasty happens in between those time frames. *looks away shiftily*

To me this custom piece is perfection personified. I would love to view my boxed dolls like this.  To be able to see them proudly displayed in all their packaged glory.  Instead they look like this:

Sigh. Don't get me wrong.  I think they are fine like this.  It's orderly.  I can see what's what.  Easy peasy.  Although, there have been times I couldn't remember if I purchased a particular doll version while I'm in the store.  I inspect so many dolls over and over it gets hard to remember if I bought one, you know?  I have since solved that dilemma by keeping a photo on my phone of every boxed doll. ^_^

Anywho, this is cool, but it's no awesome custom display. So I started thinking. "Hmm. How can I build something like that?" *strokes chin thoughtfully*  Then I realized I couldn't because I'm out of wall space. Double sigh.  HOWEVER! I do have some tall bookcases so I can at least see, if only for a moment, what such a thing might look like!

This is the wall of tall bookcases in my home office. The shelves are pretty deep and because no way am I moving all these items, I'm just going to push it all backwards and stuff the boxed dolls in the space available.  So, 1, 2, 3, tada!:

OMG, I kinda hate it. It's too much and it's not cute at all.  I think the problem is the lack of space between the dolls.  When I tried to space them out you could see all the junk behind them and it got messy looking. I mean, it was nice to see all my boxies out if even for a minute, but meh.  Oh, well, now I can have one photo record on my phone instead of dozens. 

Regardless of this failure, thanks to The Doll Master I'll always have a wonderful memory of what could be possible with enough space.  One day, people.  One day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Just Dreamz at KMart

All my Kmart's are going out of business so I've been swinging by every weekend to see how low the toy prices are going to get.  They have since gone from 20 to 25% off.  In particular I'm keeping an eye on the I Can Be... Fashion Photographer.  See her in detail at [Pam's Blog] or boxed at [D7ana's Blog].

I get the feeling I'm going to miss out on her because even though they are still well stocked, the store might actually close before I get her at the price I want, which is 40% off of $14.99.  This is a gamble but I'm willing to risk it. I guess it's more about getting a low price on an "I Can Be" than about getting the doll itself. Which is weird since I was perfectly willing to pay for this thing which was $16.99 with only 25% off:

But hey, it's made of wood! I like wood furniture a lot, so it was worth the price for me.  I could tell it's not 1:6 scale, but whatevs... it's wood, yo.

These are the other sets in the series; Patio, Bathroom, Living Room and Dining.  They only had one of each so that's why I wasn't going to wait and see if the Bedroom Set was lower priced next week.  Even if the others got super low in price I don't think I'd get them.  They'd have to be like $5.

Out the box and pre-assembled.

Backside.  They are made of thick composite wood and are sturdy as heck.  Perfect for the rambunctious 3 year old or an old adult collector like myself. ^__^. 

Enough deboxing - let's bring out the scale models!

Fashionista body with a pivotal torso and Monster head.  I'm okay with this scale because it's a lounger, not a bed so her feet going over the edge doesn't bother me.  The armoire is too small for her though, so in her case I would make it an entertainment chest and poke a TV in it.

Monster High body with a Fairy head.  Because of her leg structure she can strike some nice poses and her feet do not go over the edge of the lounger when her legs are flat.

Bratzillaz body and head.  She does not have pivotal knees so her posing is limited.  Additionally, her head size is really throwing the scale of the items off for me.

Bratz articulated body with a Fairy head.  She also does not have pivotal knees, but she's so short that her posing options are plentiful and she looks natural in this setting.

Size comparison between a Bratz and Fashionista.  The Fashionista only makes sense if she's seated.  When she's standing she dwarfs the furniture.

The lounger padding is a thin piece of cardboard with fabric glued around it.  The pillow is glued to the top of the mattress and you'd probably have to heat it to take it off properly.  It was pretty easy to pull the padding off the lounger even though it was glued down.

I really like this set.  It's easy to repaint if you are so inclined and you can easily put in your own pad or pillows.  And don't forget, it's wood!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2013 Fashionista Ladies

One of my Walmarts has these for $11.87.  They did not have the 2013 guys.  Instead they had the 2012 males, finally!  However, I still don't have Ryan because of the 6 versions they had of him, each one was hit with a freakin' wonky stick.  Ugh!  I'll have to see if Targets are getting him in so I can score a sale or use a coupon.

I have about 4 dolls waiting on a Nikki body but they'll have to wait for a BOGO.  This Nikki looks like a mermaid in that outfit and there is glitter in her top, sigh.  Her pants are half prints with a solid teal color in the back.

I had noticed before that the 2 Barbies in previous releases had one with an open mouth and one with a closed. They are both open in this wave. I wonder why they made the switch? I like Raquelle's boots and that's about it.

Eeek! Summer's highlight makes it look like she has a head wound and Teresa looks like she has rust running down her hair.

I know I'm being a total Negative Nelly about this wave, but the glitter in every outfit and those awkward highlights are totally turning me off.  I'll be skipping the 2013 girls.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Nie Feng "Life Action Figure"

I'm introducing a doll that I got a few months ago.  He just might be my "Favorite Doll of the Year," but the month ain't over, so he shouldn't get ahead of himself.  Anyway, Black Doll Collecting did a [post] trying to get info on a figure she acquired and I mouthed off that I had the same body but with an Asian character. I was wrong, lol, because their torsos are different.  Other than that, the rest of their limbs and joints are the same.  Here's my guy:

Box: Front and Back

Box: Front Panel and Cutout Interior

Nie Feng (Wind) is a character from a manhua (Chinese comic) called Fung Wan and was made into a movie called The Storm Riders.  Although the box is covered with images from the comic, the doll, pardon me - the action figure itself, seems to be based off the movie character more so than the comic.  The movie was produced in 1998 and the doll, oh sorry, the LIFE ACTION FIGURE was manufactured in 1999.

The coloring of his clothing is a little bland in my opinion. It's all very well made and the garments are of a quality, supple material, but overall, it's not doing anything for his character. Getting those boots off were torture and no way am I going to try to put them back on.

He has the best articulation of any doll I have - no contest. His joints do make this odd clicking noise when you move him, kinda like a Geiger counter.  His hair is rather heavy though so his head tends to lean back.  Probably doesn't help that I tried to pull his head off and may have loosened the ball joint.


His body closely resembles that of the Power Team guys but he has four more points of articulation at the wrists and ankles. The best thing though is that he doesn't have the awkward, protruding hip/butt section that the PT dudes have.

I've had the movie his character is from since 1999.  It's okay.  Achievements in special effects have grown tremendously so watching it today isn't as awe inspiring as when I saw it twelve years ago.

A character still from the movie.

The reason I think this figure is based on the movie is because the box shows the character from a later arc in the comic series in which he wears an eye patch.  However, at the end of the movie he still has both peepers.

I got this guy at Tuesday Morning for $4.80.  Yeah, you read that right.  Talk about an ultimate score.  This particular TM seems to be stuck in a land before time because they have some really old stuff at some super awesome prices.  Everything is always $2 less than the box says and then I got 40% off on top of that.  I went to another TM trying to find a second Nie Feng or the other released character figure (Cloud) but no luck so far.  There are 2 more TMs in my area though. ^_^  I'll get to them someday.