The immense popularity of the Ball Jointed Doll is undeniable. This is true especially for dolls enthusiasts in Asia, where collectors would splurge humungous amount of money for the maintenance of these dolls and also for their customization. Anything that would make these almost-life-like dolls glamourous and live-up to their reputation.
For those who do not know or has little knowledge regarding the Ball Jointed Dolls or BJD, these are dolls with an articulated joint – ball and sockets. These dolls are dominantly produced in Japan, South Korea, and China. If one would observe a Ball Jointed Doll, one could really tell its likeness to an anime character, after all, it is said that these dolls were inspired by these prominent anime characters who have been dominating the Asian TV and the world like wildfire.
These dolls are intended for adult collectors and customizers, it is no brainer why these are made for easy customization, either by painting, changing the eyes, eyelashes, wigs, and so forth.
BJDs are readily customizable, they are built that way. To take the character and persona of whatever their owners would like them to take upon. The most common customization of a BJD is when their wigs and eyes were removed and replaced to make them look more lifelike, as well as heads, hands, and feet. A doll may even be a hybrid of parts from different companies, this is true for owners who wanted to piece together a masterpiece from different companies. Some BJD owners or customizers even re-shape existing parts by sanding them or applying epoxy putty to them.
The resin material is easier to paint than the softer and slicker vinyl often used for other types of dolls. BJD face paint is referred to as a face-up, to note that it’s not just make-up, but all the facial features that are painted and customized, including eyebrows, lips and blushing to enhance features. Face-ups and body blushing are done with watercolor pencils, acrylic paint — applied with a regular brush or an airbrush — or soft pastels, and coated with a sprayed-on layer of clear matte sealant for protection. BJD face-ups, even from large companies, are always painted by hand, and it takes considerable skill to execute detailed, professional face-ups.
BJD owners usually customize the look of their dolls, and they are often named- like most people do, and sometimes assigned individual characteristics and personality traits. The dolls are often used as subjects of artistic work, such as photography or drawing – which are common these days especially with the popularity of Social Media – the most popular mode of communication to the world. Some use their dolls and characters for roleplaying, the most popular for doing this is with the Korean Horror movie “Doll Master” where most of the characters were dolls. A small minority makes a further emotional investment, going so far as to talk to their dolls as if they were alive, especially to those who lost their loved ones.
Psychiatrists usually give their patients stress dolls, that their patients can use to grieve for their lost loved ones until they can fully recover.
Some BJDs are collectible, as with most dolls; limited editions and skillfully customized dolls can fetch prices much higher than the original in the second-hand market, sometimes as much as the US $5000. However, the customization and personalization aspects are usually more emphasized in the BJD world. Even collectible limited-edition BJDs are played with and used as props in photo shoots, and even dolls that are no longer in mint condition can command high prices in the second-hand market.
Many BJD owners have other interests such as anime, Gothic Lolita, and cosplay, and some dress their dolls in related styles. BJDs can often be seen dressed in contemporary and casual youth fashions like punk or goth. Other dolls may display fantasy elements like elf ears, vampire fangs, different types of wings, horns, hooves, and cyborg parts.
Doll manufacturers sometimes base BJDs on characters from anime, manga, other works of fiction, or even historical figures. Some BJD owners similarly customize their dolls to create one-off representations of existing characters or celebrities.
Asian BJDs have been featured in movies and other works. The Korean horror movie Doll Master from 2004 and the Taiwanese drama film Spider Lilies from 2007 feature BJDs. The virtual band Mistula is composed of customized BJDs, Super Dollfie and Delf dolls. The main characters in the manga and anime Rozen Maiden are ball-jointed living dolls. The horror novel, manga, and anime Another also feature BJDs. BJDs are also an important motif in the movie Ghost in the Shell: Innocence where many dolls have “spirits” of some sort, but at the same time are not quite human, with designs based on the art of Hans Bellmer.
The Most Popular BJD were as follows:
Dollfie by Volks
Super Dollfie by Volks
U-noa Quluts by Gentaro Araki
Delf from Luts and Cerberus Project
Doll in Mind
Dream of Doll
Delf from Luts and Cerberus Project
The Delf dolls were one of the earliest lines from Korea, dating back to 2003. They are slightly taller and slimmer than Super Dollfie and there is a variety of doll types available, including dolls with elf ears and vampire teeth. Delf were originally designed by Japanese resin kit designers Cerberus Project and made and distributed by the Korean company Luts,who also own the rights to use the Delf name. These dolls are often referred to by the acronym CP, or as Luts dolls, after the distributor; dolls produced after 2007 are correctly known only as Luts dolls due to a split between Cerberus Project and Luts, who now trade separately. Minifee are mini-sized versions of the Delf dolls, distributed by Korean company Fairyland.