I just want to take a moment to appreciate that three dolls (actually technically four!), all ordered months apart from each other... all managed to arrive within about a fortnight of each other.
I ordered Ringdoll Messenger on the 26th November 2018, Doll Leaves Berg on the 20th February 2019 and Little Monica Little Enrill on the 8th May 2019. And on top of that, I ordered a little Loong Soul Moon Rabbit with Subject's body on the 6th December 2018, but that was holding up the order so Alice's Collections kindly moved him to the Berg order.
With all those dates, is it any wonder I'm still in a state of confusion?? (Particularly that Little Monica move fast.) Not only that, but certain customs shenanigans left me with whiplash. Berg spent a week there, waiting to be assessed, then revised, and finally collected and dispatched.
Not so much.
After an extended stay in customs, my Little Monica Little Enrill has arrived, and there are no words to express how beautiful he is -- and how sad too. I don't know if it just wasn't noticeable on the promo faceups or if it's just mine, but he looks on the verge of tears. I think it just made me fall in love with him more.
I was absolutely paranoid that the extended stay meant he'd arrive damaged (or not at all, given how much of my post has vanished into the 'ether' -- i.e. someone's pockets) and as the box he arrived in was so light, I was almost worried someone had had the bottom of the box open and spirited him away, but he is actually just that light.
His packing was quite odd -- he feels like he was held in place by the other things I ordered him with, but he was wrapped so securely in bubble-wrap that I don't think he was in any danger.
He also came with pretty promo pictures of other Little Monica dolls, little leaflets about where to find them on the internet and their photo competitions, his CoA, a set of eyes and some nicely pink eye putty, and, very sweetly, two Korean candies (plum and orange flavour).
I ordered him with two wigs, one long blond (since his promo images had a short blond wig I knew the colour suited him) and one short bright red one. He's pretty much claimed the blond one for himself -- although he does also look good in a mid-length brown wig I bought for someone else and it didn't suit, so I think he might just enjoy changing his hair a lot.
The eyes were a surprise. I was expecting the usual generic hazel-ish kind (I have about three pairs of those) but instead they're a very pretty shade of purple and suit him immensely. I'd anticipated putting the eyes into the spares drawer and ordering a set from Candy Kittens Emporium, but now I'm in two minds. Still, there's another one still to come, so I'll still probably need to pay her a visit for pretty eyes...!
As far as his structure goes, he's nicely made. His arms and legs are quite thick, and some seams have been sanded, while others haven't. I suspect it's the seams most likely to see the light of day that've been removed entirely: on his arms, for example, and the outside of his lower legs. Ones that get covered by his clothes have been sanded so they're not sharp, but not eradicated. His white resin (I'm so glad I asked them to change it, and that they were kind enough to agree!) is slightly pinkish, as opposed to the slight yellowish of Subject's Dollzone body. He poses quite nicely too: his elbows are double-jointed, though superficially they don't look it. His knees are single-jointed, but he does have a thigh joint that lets him pull his thighs up fairly high and has a two-part torso that bends quite naturally forwards.
I did, however, suddenly realise a couple of awkward things: one, I still have no idea who he is, and two, that... I don't actually have that many MSD-sized clothes, and I couldn't find any to hand. I scrabbled around a bit and managed to find a cream shirt with an oversized collar I don't tend to use (the collar is very disproportionate, it really gives away a doll's scale) and a pair of pleather pants I bought for Maxim and Milos only Milos is in an undecorated pair and Maxim has in his galaxy jeans so neither have used them.
We've made inroads on both points though. Point two has been partially rectified by a visit to Alice's Collections for some more clothes and boots (and there are some coming with Doll Leaves Berg) so hopefully the shorter kiddos won't be left out of the excessive amounts of clothing loop the bigger boys are in for long.
Point one... well. When he shipped (before I realised he'd shipped) I suddenly had a little voice in my head announcing that he was a prince, thank you very much. Which was a bit weird, but given the whole writing thing I'm fairly used to it. Beyond that, though, I was at a loss. When he arrived, I was still at a loss.
And then, when playing with his joints (which sounds so wrong) I sat him with his knees up and his arms around them, and with how sad he looked in just his shirt and nothing else, I suddenly started to understand him a little. Because for all the world he looked like he'd just been chucked out of someone's house half-dressed, and was sitting outside the front door, pants in a heap beside him, going "that could have gone better..."
So it seems he's the youngest prince of several in a faintly steampunk-fantasy world, who likes to wander around the city pretending not to be a prince and picking up guys for no-strings casual sex. Except it seems they usually find out (I wonder why?) and either try to extort money from him (so he leaves, probably laughing because I suspect he's broke) or they kick him out rather than run into trouble.
Hence the sitting there, naked but for an open shirt and a faintly depressed expression. And as he's sitting there, looking for all the world like he's fighting back tears, a hand reaches down and he follows its arm up to a smiling face and the question, "are you alright?"
And as an aside... Doll Leaves Berg shipped today! So hopefully this little princeling won't be alone for too long.
Because there are no words to express the noise I just made on discovering that my Little Monica Little Enrill, that I ordered early May, shipped on the 26th June. He hit customs on the 28th and has been there ever since (boo), but I'm blown away by the speed with which they've worked.
(Now I'm feeling slightly paranoid about it all...!)
I'm still waiting for his boyfriend though, a Doll Leaves Berg I ordered in February. I was fully expecting to receive him first and then have to wait months and months for his boyfriend to come home (yes, I did specifically order LE as a boyfriend for him) but it seems to have all been flipped.
I don't normally order dolls without knowing their characters, so this is strange and new to me. Even when I ordered Caeso, I'd got his personality figured out before he came home. This time I'm waiting to meet them before I get it figured out. (Although LE does seem to have informed me that he'd like to be a prince of some sort, thank you very much. I'm not sure how he's done that, but there we go.)
I'm just... wow.
Now to wait for the customs demand...
His body came from Alice's Collections a couple of days ago, and Subject's head is no longer floating. I actually emailed to ask how much longer it'd be, to find that his body and clothes were all ready and another little doll I'd ordered was holding everything up. (It's from Loong Soul so it's not unexpected...!) I have another order with her though, and the two should be ready to go at the same time, so she said she would send it out with that one instead.
So now Subject has a body and some clothes!
The few photos I'd seen of Dollzone bodies and Kana's white resin looked like they'd be a match, but when it arrived it's actually slightly more yellow than Kana's white, which is slightly disappointing - particularly as they're now doing a sale offering "old white" and I don't know if this resin is "old white" or "new white" because there was no choice when I ordered it... but never mind. I can try to blush him to match a little better (which should be fun with my sub-par blushing skills!) or just hope one mellows to match the other. It's odd: in natural light it's much less noticeable than it is in artificial light, but the image in this post does showcase the difference quite effectively.
It is a really nice body though. I swear Lirio is a little jealous, being that he owns the other really nice body, but the DZ one doesn't have a hip joint and the DF-H one does, so I guess Lirio still just edges it out.
I've already ordered his eyes from Candy Kitten Emporium, which I'm excited to receive (Subject is currently in the hazel-ish eyes Lirio came with, ironically enough), and now while waiting for the weather to pick up enough to do his faceup I guess I should be making a wig cap and starting on his hair.
So much do to! It's always a little daunting, but it should be fun. At least now I've made Paradigm's wig I know a little more about what I'm doing, but it's still a bit scary...
Well, practice makes perfect I guess.
Not a typo or a stray auto-filled header! His name really is Subject.
I've been writing about Subject (along with two other characters) ever since I had a crack at Camp NaNoWriMo and generated characters by drawing cards from my Storymatic deck. Oddly, Subject was the character I saw most clearly from some pretty unlikely card pulls. (In order, that's Subject, Adama the part-time gravedigger and accidental summoner of ghost, and Pete the architect who almost ran Subject over.)
He's a test subject (whose full name is Subject Forty-Seven) for a large pharmaceutical company, and he's spent his entire life as such. But after a large-scale experiment went wrong he was the only survivor and left the facility, although he had no idea where he's going. He ends up embroiled in a weird haunting in a graveyard, mostly by accident... He's also psychic with a particular knack for seeing ghosts, and sets up a YouTube ghost-hunting channel with Adama and Pete. He's a shy, sweet young man who's always determined to do the right thing, particularly if it means he can ease the passing of the restless dead, of which he was very almost one.
He's also the originator of some really, really depressing storylines, which is always fun!
So knowing what kind of character he was and how I wanted him to look, much like several other of my dolls I didn't think I'd ever really find a sculpt that seemed right. I'd come sort of close with some IoS dolls, but also sort of not...
And then Kana re-released her Adrian sculpt, and I couldn't resist.
So Subject arrived home today! I was a little daunted, because when I ordered her Eden he turned out to not be Alex, as I'd hoped he would be, but instead is Ais... and is still waiting for a body. So when I opened up this package, I was so worried that he wouldn't be Subject at all.
And indeed, once I unpacked him, I did have a little wobble...
And then I saw his head angled downwards, and how pretty and shy he looked, and I fell in love all over again.
Now I just have to wait for his body to arrive...! I'd hoped to order it before now, but he arrived so much faster than expected (no customs fee! fastest pass through customs ever!) because Kana is always such a delight to deal with. So now I have to wait before I can do his faceup, in case I need to try to match a little between this and the Dollzone white resin body I've ordered him; he'll be on their 62cm body.
Gives me time to shop for his eyes and clothes I guess!
If I actually did anything useful like make and sell things, I'd be heavily discounting stuff today and for Cyber Monday, because it's what you do, right?
Since I don't do anything useful, I put most of my m/m romance short stories and novellas up for free download on my author website: http://www.paxasteriae.co.uk
I quit writing about four years ago so most of them are stuck in First Draft status (and a couple in 'I never want to see this book again as long as I live' status) but, eh. Might as well give something away. Several of them have characters I bought dolls of in, because I love my massive, heavy, glorified action figures. *grin*
It's hard to believe that while I've always enjoyed photography, it was owning dolls that solidified my interest in it. I wanted to be able to take nice photos of Gabrys, so I ended up with a Nikon D3200 that I loved almost immediately and, more recently, some decent lenses.
My newest lens arrived a couple of days ago, and I love it. It's a Yongnuo 50mm prime lense with a fantastically small (f1.8) aperture, and it's great. I'm finding a prime lens takes a little getting used to because, well, it doesn't zoom and that means manoeuvring the tripod around until it's in the perfect place, but I'm really liking the pictures it takes. It's hard to take a decent depth of field with something as small as a doll that mimics the effect of photographing a much larger human, but this lens does a great job of it.
Paradigm was my first guinea pig, but I'm pretty sure everyone'll be getting the treatment while I practice.
Plus, I think the reflectors were due an outing. Ouch, look at those crinkles...
I kinda bought something, and now I need to buy something else to go with it, and it's driving me nuts because I don't like to talk about 'big' purchases until I have them in case I jinx them! But I'm really looking forward to it. I think. Or maybe I'm scared? Although I shouldn't be I guess.
In the meantime, I'll talk about something else instead...
I always have weird dreams when dolls are Inbound. When I ordered Gabrys, my very first (!!!) doll, I was terrified. Because he's an Iplehouse Chase in Special Real skin he wasn't exactly cheap, especially since I ordered clothes and a wig with him — none of which turned out to suit him after he arrived, but it's okay because Kirill has taken them now — which made him particularly terrifying. Add to that the fact I'd initially ordered him in Peach, only to decide maybe a day afterwards that that wasn't dark enough for the character and had to use the QA board to ask them to change it, which they very kindly did and I paid the extra... The first dream I had was shortly after that, where I dreamed a couple of staff members were grousing about me being a pain in the arse in Korean, which... probably wasn't really a dream, was it?
After he was dispatched, I had another dream: that the box was much smaller when it arrived, and it contained only his head and two shattered thigh pieces. (Luckily he arrived in one piece!)
The other notable one was after I ordered Milos, who's a Dollshe dark grey resin; I dreamed that when he arrived he was stark white and strung like a noodle, so when you picked him up he just flopped everywhere. Again, luckily, that didn't happen, although I had a similar experience when Scott arrived...
I've had others, but they haven't stuck with me in the way those did. I guess as I've become more experienced I'm a little less frightened, although I think I'll always have to maintain a healthy degree of caution given the state of the Royal Mail (isn't it funny how nothing worth under £20 goes missing?) and the fact they own ParcelForce, the (usually good) courier who delivers most of my EMS packages.
I kinda miss the weird dreams though.
The thing with dolls is, you always want them to have the perfect hair for their character, don't you? And finding the right wig is near impossible sometimes (particularly if your character has pink hair *cough*Maxim*cough* or a white stripe from an accident *cough*Kirill*cough*). Which is why I wanted to learn to make my own doll wigs instead. And, thanks to the wonders of YouTube and Mozekyto's doll wig tutorials, it turns out it's not quite as hard as I thought.
Well. It is, but not quite in the way I thought.
Full disclaimer: this isn't my first attempt at a wig. It's actually my fourth hard cap (don't ask about the first attempt), my third go at brushing and then straightening wefts (Maxim was my first), and my second go at actually gluing the wefts down. My first was Kirill...
It turns out the problem I have isn't so much the sticking down of the hair (although that's certainly problematic enough). I just have zero talent with actually cutting hair. I'm sure I must have a natural aptitude for something somewhere, but hairdressing ain't it. Given my approach to hair is to have as little of it as possible this isn't really a surprise.
So the thought of making Paradigm's wig wasn't so much a fear of the making of it, I've done that before. It was the cutting of it. So with great trepidation, I got cracking on the fiddly bits. Because the longer it takes to do the fiddly bits, the longer I can put off cutting it, right?
And there are quite a few fiddly bits to do. I wound the lengths of 100% acrylic yarn around the notebook longways, then cut at top and bottom. I then grouped them into sets of three and knotted them into the rings of the book so each side was approximately the same length. These were tied the whole length of the rings, and then vigorously assaulted — sorry, brushed — with a metal-toothed brush. Once all the wefts were smoothed out and combed until there was no longer any yarn loss, they were smoothed over with a hair straightener, resulting in a noticeable difference in texture. They're also super-soft at this point.
For reasons I've never quite worked out, my hair straighteners have an odd habit of turning the yarn funny colours when it's warm — briefly green, in this case — which you can kind of see on the leftmost picture, but it wears off as the wefts cool.
They're then cut into sections and glued onto a sheet of still-wrapped clear acrylic I no longer remember why I own, and once the glue has set (which takes forever) I peel from the board and trim the tops and edges until they're neat but still useable.
Then comes the 'fun' bit.
Yep, time to glue the wefts down. I started with Mozekyto's method of laying down the parting first, which later proved ... interesting when one of the two wefts used for his parting actually vanished. I have no idea where it went and luckily it wasn't too difficult to replace it at the late stage of, you know, having almost finished.
I'd done my wefts in colour batches, with the lightest grouped together and then a set of increasingly dark ones. (I still have a lot of yarn; I need more brunet characters) The lightest went into the parting, and I then started properly at the bottom with the darkest in an effort to mimic natural hair.
Yes I'm aware the bottom of his wig cap went crump. It was a challenge to get the weft to stick to it, but I got there in the end and you can't see it now. I moved up in rows, trimming the back into a rough, short 'V' shape as I went and setting aside the wefts cut "just in case." When I reached the ears I started moving all the way around the wig cap, and stopped trimming. Obviously I reached the parting on one side faster than the other, so I added more hair to the other side until I'd filled up the cap with fairly evenly-spaced wefts.
...Which left me with a second doll equivalent of Cousin It from The Addams Family. Only this time I couldn't really get away with just leaving him like it. Wellll, I could, but it wouldn't get me anywhere, so out came the scissors and off went chunks of Paradigm's hair. But it's not easy to style hair that's trying to stick out like a chimney sweep's brush so the cling film that'd so recently been under his wig cap went back on over it instead in a desperate effort to tame it, and it got left overnight.
Then it was onto the finer scissors and lots of very cautious, very nervous upward snipping and... well...
There's a spot of Leon Kennedy about his hair I never noticed before and my iffy cellphone photo made it (and him) look a lot lighter than it is in person, but I'm happy with it. It's scruffy, but intentionally — no intergalactically-wanted spaceship thief would stop off and get his hair professionally trimmed every six to eight weeks.
The biggest challenge was getting it to look like my really old drawings of him. He's a character I've had since at least 2007 and he's amassed a chunk of artwork dedicated to him (although depressingly the best stuff is from 2007 and not really the later stuff of him I did). I sat there for a while staring at his hair in the drawings and thinking "you utter moron, why did you draw it like that?"
(Because in 2007 I never thought I'd have a doll version of him, that's why, self.)
Not much to say, but I finished Lirio's faceup a week or so ago and somehow I forgot just how gorgeous the sculpt is, even while I was working on it.
And now it's done and I just keep staring at him. He looks so nice even with my terrible faceup skills!
I swear, I can't recommend Doll Family H enough. The Lingfeng sculpt is adorable and the ~62cm body is an amazing poser. I really need to buy Scott one — and this gets more vital as time goes on; his hands and feet are nearly glowing now. They look terrible. Lesson learned, I guess: don't buy a whole doll because it's discounted from a bit of an iffy company with a habit of it, buy one from a habitually lower-priced company instead. I really wish I'd just bought Scott's head and found a hybrid for him.
Christ knows what I'll do with his body though.
Photos of Lirio inbound when I've actually made the poor little assassin some clothes and his own hair (he's borrowing Gabrys's spare short hair) — ah sod it, have a bad cellphone photo instead. I couldn't resist taking a photo of the pouty l'il boy.
A noodler with a doll obsession.