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While the general term of “ball-jointed doll” refers to any doll articulated with ball-and-socket joints, the term more commonly refers to contemporary dolls made of polyurethane resin, whereas originally they were made entirely of wood or bisque. BJDs range in size from the smallest at 8.5 centimeters (3 inches) tall to the largest at 70 centimeters (27.5 inches) tall. With most dolls you can change their eyes, wigs, facial and body paint, and even modify the sculpts/molds with a dremel or sandpaper. Ball-jointed dolls can be purchased as unassembled kits, or fully assembled dolls, from most companies and retailers. Limited edition dolls are released by companies in addition to basic or completely customized dolls; although, sometimes dolls are reissued with different outfits and accessories due to overwhelming popularity. Be careful purchasing BJDs from secondhand markets though, quality is often easily overlooked or unknown. With that said, purchasing secondhand opens buyers up to a wide variety of dolls that may otherwise be inaccessible.
Purchasing Your BJD
Until recently, acquiring a BJD took much more time and effort than many individuals cared to exhaust. Shopping services such as Rinkya or Noppin (formerly Crescent Trading) were the original means for most people to get their hands on BJDs. The individual would create an account, place a bid through the shopping service on Yahoo! Japan Auctions, and usually have to wait months and pay premium prices for shipping and customs. Nowadays, companies and US based distributors make it much easier to acquire your very own BJD. Shopping services are often still used though to purchase outfits, optional parts, and even full dolls in the case of limited editions or hard to acquire dolls such as the U-noa Quluts dolls. In addition, many owners across the globe offer their own personal services to help other doll admirers acquire their very own doll; however, some companies such as Volks frown upon proxy buyers, and some individuals do not always have the best interests of others at heart when offering services. Prices may be inflated, dolls may never arrive, or dolls may arrive damaged with no way to return them. All in all, make sure to research your buying options before you make the jump into BJDs. Many people can be turned off of the hobby quickly based on negative purchasing experiences.
While obtaining both the dolls themselves and information about them can be difficult in the beginning, the BJD community encompasses thousands of individuals all across the globe. Perhaps the largest of all, and surely the largest English forum for BJD hobbyists, is Den of Angels. The site is members only, with registration that is usually invite only, but finding and making friends in the BJD community is made much easier thanks to modern social networks. Tumblr, Flickr, and even YouTube are just a few of the places you can find and befriend fellow BJD enthusiasts. In addition to their English counterparts, there are BJD forums in all different languages like Legión in Spanish and Materiel Celeste in French. Finally, if memberships aren’t really your thing, the BJD Collectasy can offer all the information you might want and then some.
Please make sure to visit the “Links” section for links to additional distributors, dollmakers, and other retailers both listed and not listed above.