what are bjds?
In short, BJD is a short hand for ball jointed doll. They are dolls that have ball socket joints and so are capable of moving and being posed in a large variety of positions. They are made of resin and are held together with a combination of metal hooks called S hooks and thick elastic string. BJDs are generally Korean, Chinese or Japanese in make but there exists independent artists all over the world who create their own beautiful sculpts. Most commonly, BJDs are human dolls but there exist dolls from pets to fantasy creatures to such heavy modifications that you’ll be astonished by the sheer level of artistry. They can be heavily modified, unlike common dolls, and you are capable of changing their hair, eyes, hands, feet, clothes and some even have the ability to attach fantasy parts such as horns or wings.
what is a good starter doll?
There is actually no right or wrong answer for this. What doll you pick should be one that you are certain that you will adore when you recieve it. Dolls can take anywhere from two months or longer to create and send to you. So when you order, you will have quite a bit of time to wait until they arrive and you won’t be able to cancel an order if you change your mind midway through. So shop around, look at several sculpts and when you find one that you like, maybe sit on it for a couple weeks. Check around and check back. See if that sculpt in particular still calls out the most to you. If you’re absolutely certain that you want them then that is the perfect starter doll for you. Companies also vary in price compared to sizes. Some 43cm dolls (often referred to as MSDs or 1/4) could vary anywhere from 100USD to 500USD. It all depends on the make, the modifications, if it is a limited time doll and shipping costs. Look for something in your price range and set yourself a limit if those types of prices scare you. You don’t want to wind up paying a lot for a doll that you fall out of love with quickly. It’s okay to take your time in choosing. It took me three months to finally decide on my first ever BJD and I hold no regrets about her.
what are hybrids?
In the context of the BJD community, a hybrid refers to building a doll with parts from a variety of different companies. Such a the head from one company and the body from another. Hybrids can be tricky and require research before hand. Each company generally has four main resin colours – white, pink, tan and sometimes grey. However, each company creates their resin batches differently and so the colours can actually vary company to company. As such, white resin could look completely different across five different companies. On the other hand, sizes are also a factor when it comes hybriding. Although dolls could generally be in the same size range, things like the size of the neck versus the neck gap in the head could mean the difference between a properly proportioned doll to having a bit of a bobble head. Hybrids require research to ensure the best possible match so that you can attain the most seamless colour match and size across all the different parts. If you’re looking to create a hybrid, feel free to ask around! There are always owners who have hybrids of their own and can help you to create good matches. You are welcome to do such customisations but if you are starting out with your first BJD, I wouldn’t recommend you trying hybriding right away.
what are recasts?
Recasts are a touchy subject in the BJD community and this is why. A recast refers to a copy of an existing sculpt that has been made with cheaper material (usually plastic) and thus can be mass produced and sold cheaper. However, because it is a stolen copy, no money that is made from them would go to the original company or the sculpt’s original designer. BJDs are essentially works of art and just creating one doll can take anywhere from a month and onward. They are hand crafted, sanded and painted and so they are viewed by the community as literal works of art. Recasts can be compared to a few things – such a knock off figures or the cropping/photoshopping of someone else’s art without their permission. This opens the subject to a huge debate of controversy. Pro-recasters often argue that recasts can be beneficial. Such as when a certain sculpt becomes discontinued, they are capable of still getting that doll. Some use them as modification practice, models for creating props and clothing or simply prefer them as the cheaper option. It is often said that because it is their money, they are capable of spending it as they wish. Anti-recasters, however, see it as a desecration of the original artist. Because BJDs are viewed as works of art, it would be the equivalent of taking the art of an independent artist, photocopying it and selling the simple paper copies at a fraction of the cost of the original. Sure, you would have it to look at but the quality and value is gone and that original artist has to suffer. Without proper recognition, their own work becomes less in demand, they earn no money from it and most will either cease to create or will pull their art from the market entirely. This means less variety to choose from, more expensive dolls and it ultimately weakens the economy that revolves around ball jointed dolls. How you choose to view this topic is entirely up to you; this section isn’t meant to sway you in either direction but simply to present you with the reality of the topic and both sides of the coin. How you choose to view recasts is ultimately up to you.
where can i buy a bjd/clothing/props?
You can honestly buy from a great number of places and you don’t even need to buy things made specifically for BJDs sometimes. Head out to your local dollar store and you can probably find a handful of cool BJD props that you can use.
Making a giant list of where you can buy things would be pretty hard because there are everything from the BJD companies themselves, to distributors, to independent artists who make for this lovely hobby. Instead, below is a list of places that I have personally shopped at and have had a positive experience, be it in customer service, quality of product or affordability.
Those with a ☆ beside their link are highly recommended by me. These are shops that I frequent regularly and have become a bit of a regular customer.