Asian collection dolls
A very good friend of mine is a collector of Asian collection dolls. She introduced me to her hobby, and through her I’ve learned quite a lot. There are lots of different types of dolls, brands and manufacturers. From the world famous fashion doll Barbie to the more unique (and very expensive!) so-called ball jointed dolls of the highest quality. Then there are the in between dolls. The dolls are not toys, but are seen as collectibles or as a piece of art. Some collectors buy the dolls as they are, others modify them to make them their own. There are even specific artists who make a living on modifying and painting the dolls (doing “faceups”) and turn them into amazing creations. This industry is big in Asia and, of course, big in Japan. In this post I will introduce you to one of these collector dolls, and it is the Pullip doll.
The Pullip dolls
Pullip is classed as a fashion doll, originally from South Korea. When Pullip was first launched, it was marketed by the Japanese company June Planning. Nowadays the dolls are released by a company called Groove.
The Pullip doll is about 30 cm tall and has eye mechanism that allows the eyes to move and blink. Each month a new doll is released, and each doll is unique, often being a part of a specific theme along with previous and future releases. A popular set are the Sailor Moon themed dolls. Another on going series are the Rozen Maiden themed dolls. Sometimes a doll is a collaboration with a brand, like Japanese clothing brand Innocent World and Hello Kitty.
Where to buy Pullip
I’ve found a few places in Tokyo where they sell Pullip dolls. Kiddy Land in Harajuku, Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza och Radio Kaikan in Akihabara. I’m sure there are more shops, but those are the ones I’ve stumbled upon when I’ve been in Tokyo. If you want to buy online, there are quite a few places to get them. Ebay or Amazon is a good start.
Collecting Pullip as a creative outlet
It is common to buy a Pullip second hand, or get a Make It Own kit (which is a nude Pullip with no clothes, hair or painted face) to work with it. You can change wigs and eyes, carve the face to change it’s features and paint the face (faceup) to make it look completely different. It is also popular to replace the body to a more disposable body of the brand Obitsu. Many collectors also make their own clothes and other types of accessories for the dolls clothes.
“I think the biggest misconceptions about doll collecting is that it is for kids.” says Pullip collector Kiki from Canada. “The reality is that doll collecting is often paired with other things such as clothes making, photography, customization, set design, etc. I believe that very few collectors actually play with their dolls like they did when they were five. So in this sense, doll collecting is no different from other forms of collecting (i.e. stamps, coins, model cars, etc.) except I will go out on a limb and say that doll collecting is even better because it often pushes collectors to become more creative and artistic.“
Kiki got into Pullips after first seeing a picture posted by @tokyofashion on Instagram in late 2012, from a window display at Matsuya Ginza for Groove’s annual Doll Carnival. “I’ve always been interested in big-headed dolls and Japanese traditional clothing and it just so happened that the Pullips in the photo were all wear kimonos. I started to research more about them and fell in love with them.“
TimmiLynn Johnson is also a Pullip collector. She’s from Minneapolis, and got into the dolls after her twin sister came across Pullips while searching for information on Blythe dolls, and then told TimmiLynn about them. “I bought Jaldet to customize but when I got her I thought she was too pretty to customize.” she says. “There are quite a few of my dolls that I am really found of.“
The Pullip doll community
Doll collectors meet other like minded collectors both online and in real life. They share their hobby, ask and give help and advice. “It is great to see that there are other people who are as enthusiastic about dolls as I am.” TimmiLynn says. “I also really like seeing owner photos and reviews. I have fallen in love with dolls that I originally didn’t like. The doll community is a good resource for all sorts of doll related questions that I might have.“
Kiki has the same experience. “Everyone I’ve met so far has been incredibly friendly and helpful.” she says. “Many of the experienced collectors are always willing to share tips and tricks that they’ve learned and I’ve made quite a few friends from the community. Overall, it’s very inclusive and relaxing place to be.“
You can find Kiki and her dolls on both Flickr and Facebook. Check them out, because her work is amazing.
Kiki on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kikiandherdolls
Kiki on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kikisdollyservice
Learn more about Pullip dolls
If you’re interested in the Pullip dolls and want to learn more about them, here are a few places I think is a good start.
Pullip Style – Link: Pullip Style
Web shop based in the USA and discussion forum.
Omocha Crush’s reviews on YouTube – Link: Omocha Crush on YouTube
Angela is a serious collector and goes through each doll in detail. You get to see exactly what you get before you buy.
Omocha Crush Pullip and Doll HQ – Link: Omocha Crush on Facebook
Angela also has a discussion group on FaceBook where people share photos, ideas and ask questions. It’s a “safe, happy place for Pullip and doll lover’s to post pics, ask for advice, and promote their favorite links to dolly goods.”
Many thanks to Kiki and TimmiLynn for taking their time to tell me about their hobby.