So you just saw a pretty picture of a ball-jointed doll somewhere on the Internet, and decided: ‘Hey! I want one too!’ You google “BJD”, but there is so much information that you quickly give up. Fear no more! In this article I will try to lay down the basics of BJDs, and what you can do with them!
First off, you might see the term “ABJD”, which stands for Asian Ball Jointed Doll. This is because these dolls were typically made in Korea and Japan. More recently, BJDs have started being produced in China, Australia, the US, and Europe. The term BJDs recognizes this geographic diversity.
Most BJDs are manufactured in urethane resin. There are other types of ball-jointed dolls. In particular, some doll artists create original BJDs in porcelain or cellulose-based clay. This article will focus on resin BJDs manufactured by companies.
What makes ball-jointed dolls special is that they are both poseable and customizable.
A BJD’s joints let you pose them in very lifelike ways. The location and number of joints varies by manufacturer. They usually have joints in the elbows, knees, feet, hands, and sometimes the torso. Their heads also sit on a ball so you can also move the head around.
Often, BJD owners customize their dolls to create a unique and original character. Many people start by purchasing a ‘nude doll’ and then customize the eyes, the hair, the makeup, and costumes progressively to create a doll like the one they dream of.
Before you get into the hobby, I want to warn you: BJDs are an expensive hobby! Not to discourage you, but don’t just buy the first BJD you see. Give it some time. Wait and see if you still like that doll after 2 or 3 months…maybe longer! This way, you will avoid buying a doll and then finding out that this hobby isn’t for you. This may sound a bit grim, but it’s essential for enjoying this hobby to its fullest! And it is an amazing hobby.
Be sure to look around and visit a variety of BJD forums to find the one that’s right for you. There are a lot of amazing forums out there that vary by size, language, and focus. Den of Angels is the largest and best known English-language forum. Other forums serve a particular region or country. Some focus on a particular category of BJDs.
BJDs come in different sizes, from as tiny as 10cm, to as big as 90cm! There are also life-sized BJD’s (shotakotake on DA) and 5cm tall BJD’s (DreamHigh studio). The most common names for sizes are SD (Super Dollfie), MSD (Mini Super Dollfie), YoSD, and Tinies.
SD’s are usually around 60 cm (24inch) tall. MSD’s are about 40cm (16 inches) tall. YoSDs are about 25 cm tall. And the Tinies are everything smaller than 12 cm. And there are many dolls in between these sizes.
Every size has positive and negative aspects. SD’s are usually the most poseable, have the most detailed features, but they are also more expensive, the heaviest, and the least transportable. While some tinies lack posability, they are easy to carry around and are more affordable. Though their features are less detailed, they are irresistibly cute. Some tinies are known for being more poseable than others, such as pukipukis from FairyLand.
After deciding which size is best for you, it’s time to look at the different manufactures that offer BJDs in the size you’ve chosen! There are hundreds of companies that sell BJDs. I will provide a partial list of companies at the end of this article. You can order the doll directly from the manufacturers, or you can purchase one from a retailer located in your country, such as Denver Doll Emporium in the United States. Most commonly, when you purchase a doll, the doll is not manufactured until after your payment is received. The average wait for the delivery of the doll is two to three months. Some retailers may carry some dolls in stock.
You can also purchase pre-owned dolls. Most forums have a section called “Marketplace” where members in good standing can list their dolls for sale. The prices are often close to the original prices, as these dolls keep their values, but you will have the doll in your hands sooner this way. Pre-owned BJDs are also offered on eBay from time to time.
One last word of advice: Don’t just look at the companies’ pictures. If you find a BJD you like, look it up on DoA and in the other forums. This will give you a better idea of what your doll could look like with different customizations. These pictures are also a great inspiration for you to consider while you think about the choices that will let you create a unique and original BJD.
Text: (c) 2011, Lea Mars