BJD sweatshops?

Sep 6, 2007

    1. I have always understood that most BJDs are created by hand by small artist enterprises in Korea, Japan or China. Recently, however, I read a quote by an American doll artist to the effect that "most BJDs" are produced in Asian "sweatshops". This has disturbed me ever since I read it because I have no way of knowing if it is true or not. I really love the artistry and beauty of my dolls but I would really think twice about buying another one if I knew I was indirectly responsible for exploiting a poorly treated worker in another country. Does anyone indeed know if such allegations have any basis in fact and would such a situation cause you to boycott BJD companies using "sweatshops"? I realize this topic might become very inflammatory so I want to make it clear I am not accusing any company of such practices. As I said above, I read this elsewhere so it is definitely hearsay.
    2. I seriously doubt it. Sweatshops mass produce things like clothes. These dolls are scuplted and produced by hand and are hardly mass produced.
    3. Casting something in resin is not an easy thing to do, sure if you get a do it yourself kit in the craft store it is not too demanding, but to cast something with such level of detail and high finish standards, no way. Do you know the training each poor soul would have to go through? The companies definately do not want to pay for 100's or 1,000's of people training, it wouldnt be profitable, and would "waste" production time anyway.
      Sweatshops items usually consist of things that do not required much skill, or physical labor really, it is just the harsh conditions, demands and crazy hours (24-48+ hour shifts!!) that make them sweatshops.

      Like mithrilglow said, sweatshops are used for mass production only, otherwise it would not make any financial sense for the company(not saying sweatshops are good!).

      Sounds like that artist was a little ticked/jealous that BJD are becoming a really big market.

      Now, I have incountered several lower end companies in China who's dolls were mass produce-looking, and not high quality. But you really dont know unless you track down the shop and see it for yourself, sadly.

      I know some BJD things on ebay (shoes, some wigs ect.) can be proven to be made at sweatshops, but I dont like to get into things like that.

    4. If they were mass produced like that, wouldn't they be.... cheaper? .... In both price and quality?

      I highly doubt that's true. Sounds a lot more like the American doll artist who said that is just bitter at the high value of BJD.
    5. That's part of the whole DZ = cheap, AoD = cheap, Volks = expensive, wha? Thing.

      Sculpting cannot be mass produced, but casting is mass production. That's also part of how piracy works, they simply recast the pre-existing sculpt.
    6. knowing the honest-to-goodness truth about anything that has some amount of secrecy (especially when things are made in foreign countries) will SPOIL it -- it is best to keep guessing and NOT really know 100% of the truth...

      something that makes BJDs BJDs is the secrecy surrounding the actual "how and where they are made"...

      and who they are being made by
    7. This has already come up before... I don't know if it was locked or not, people were kinda heated up about the issue.

      Personally, I highly doubt that BJDs are made in sweatshops. Like others have mentioned, sweatshops are usually used to produce lots of goods very cheap- ie, shoes. While these dolls are pricey, yes, I doubt that you'd be able to get huge profit margins. Resin is tricky to work with- just take a look at the threads in the Artist Doll board. Plus that steps that you go through to make a doll, I also don't it would be time efficient for a sweatshop to make them. Shoe tops can be stitched together on machines in a couple minutes tops, but most resin take much longer to set properly.

      In the other thread, I remember several people bringing up that Japan and South Korea are no longer third world countries... There may be sweatshops still (just like in America), I don't know, but I doubt that our dolls are coming from them.
    8. besides, people will believe what they want to believe

      kind of like with hamburger -- would you really eat another hamburger if you REALLY knew where it came from?

      doesn't matter if the hamburger is from a fancy restaurant or a cheap franchise , you're paying $29.00 or 99 cents -- isn't hamburger all made the same?

      or is it?
    9. I'm not really sure if this thread is debate, or an open invitation to public conjecture.

      Very few of us know how ABJDs are made, and those that do know are either not speaking, or not believed.
    10. It sounds like whoever made that comment must know nothing about asian culture and simply associates all of asia with cheap labour. Japan I can tell you quite honestly and frankly, has no legal sweatshops. They're a prosperous society, industrialized just like the US and in the respect that also, we will not condone such types of labour, neither will they.

      In any case if they were persay, mass produced. Why would customers have to wait over a month for a doll? Wouldn't it make more sense to get the dolls shipped immediately if they were made in this manner. Wouldn't that boost sales? This whole thing is not only irrational, but insulting to these doll makers who work so hard on their products.

      If whoever made the comment doesn't like the dolls, so be it, no one is forcing them to buy them but accusing these companies of using sweatshops is flatout slander and an insult to asian countries.
    11. Is the post you're talking about this one? (I hope this is ok to the Dolly Debate rules and didn't see anything saying I couldn't)

      I had read this but thought that the accusations may be unfounded. For one the woman who wrote it stated that Volks dolls were made in factories in China but she didn't say Super Dollfies. I find it much more likely dollfies or other Volks dolls would be mass produced. Also the woman is probably bias considering she also produces dolls. I just tend to be skeptical about everything.

      I would honestly like to know about the conditions in which these dolls are produced though. Perhaps if someone asked some of the big BJD companies about it they would respond. If the conditions are good they would be more likely to tell you since it would be positive publicity for them.
    12. The BJD makers I know here in Korea usually have one person (the artist) doing the sculpting and approximately one to three people doing the casting. BJDs can't be made through cookie-cutter factory lines.

      As for Japanese makers - although Volks is a big company, I highly doubt they deal with sweatshops, especially when it concerns BJD. And the only other Japanese maker that I can think of, Gentaro Araki (of Alchemic Labo); can you imagine him running a sweatshop? I don't think so.
    13. As someone else said, wigs and accessories for our kids might be made by sweatshops, there is a high chance unless it was some LE one off outfits. (They seem to be made by the artist) But the actual doll themselves I doubt, if they were we would get them much faster!
    14. Just a note, if you look at a Super Dollfie it has a made in Japan mark on it. That doesn't specify the conditions that it was made under, except that one can assume that Japanese labor laws applied in the production.

      As for the conditions other dolls are made under, I have been curious. I know some companies aren't necessarilly falling over themselves to divulge their working conditions but it would be nice to know. I'd also be interested because to be honest it might play a part in what companies I consider in the future.

      Also, another note, not everything made in China is made under dangerous sweat shop conditions. Labor is cheap there, but that doesn't mean that the workers or the product are cheap.
    15. I don't agree with that at all... personally I find things like the processes and the people behind them fascinating and it wouldn't cheapen the experience for me in the slightest, infact it would enrich it to really know just how much hard work has gone into producing my dolls.
      And if they where produced in less than acceptable conditions then I would know which companies to avoid. Ignorance is not an excuse for condoning such conditions.

      Anyway, on topic... I don't think there's really much more I could add but only echo what others had said, resin is not easy to cast to the quality required for BJDs that command the highest prices and takes skill, so I really don't see how sweatshops could be financially viable for the company in this case because skilled workers would not be willing to work 20 hour days for next to nothing.

      Besides if they where produced in sweatshops, why the long turn around? It can take anywhere between one and two months if not longer for most companies to get a doll out. Surely a sweatshop would be pumping out dolls in a matter of days?
      • x 1
    16. IMHO the original poster of the comment seems to be either an ignoramus, or intent on trying to steer people away from our hobby in favour of hers.

      Resin Casting has to be done in a highy controlled environment to be successful, hence the reason typhoon season is a no no for the majority of companies in Asia. Not only would the employees of a "sweatshop" have to know the science behind resin mixing and casting, the conditions to sucessfully cast would never be found in a "sweatshop".

      There are far too many factors that have to be considered, and given the price of the average BJD and the average quality one only has to ask themselves if such a perfect item could be produced in such horrendous conditions?

      I do not believe it for a second!!

      Edit to add: I have since found that she was misinformed My apologies to Ms Goodreau for calling her an ignoramus...
    17. I read that post of Goodreau's when it was first put up. I find it rather hard to believe as it is based on the word of one new company that's trying to expand and differentiate itself as a BJD producer. Quite honestly, it sounds like a tactic to discredit their rivals.

      I also have a problem with that last paragraph of that article. It's as if to say that being a vegetarian, living in a chemically free (hello, is this even possible?) home, recycling, blahblahblah is a statement of how much a better seller they are. Sounds way too sales gimmicky to me.

      More importantly, she makes a generalization that most BJDs in China are made in sweat shops without presenting any evidence of such. It sounded like an assumption of 'Made in China = Sweatshops'. As for the claim about Volks dolls...again, she made the statement in an unclear manner that provided little explanation, leaving you to speculate about the worst. Was she talking about the many other dolls Volks produces or BJDs in particular? Is she saying Volks dolls are Made In China or that they're made in Japan but in sweatshops? What on earth is that line about making a doll in the States for everyone - not the dolly elite - is impossible? O_o

      As for Korean BJDs, she seems to have neglected to mention them despite Korea producing a large number of our BJDs, unless when she says 'most dolls are made in sweatshops' she means Korea as well. Which I doubt based on what I've heard about the Korean doll communities.

      I was pretty neutral towards this company until they came up with this dodgy post. Too little evidence, too much posturing.
    18. As others have said, BJDs don't lend themselves well to being cast in large quanitities at once, which is where sweatshop labor would come in. Most companies are very small (as in a few people)--Volks is considered a large company, but compared to US toy manufacturers? Not very big. The person in the article was either A) Misinformed and/or B) Trying to make ABJDs look bad.
    19. As many others said before me, with the demanding way that BJDs need to be made - the scienece of mixing the resin, the demand for absolute perfection, the need to even have the weather's cooperation - I simply don't think BJDs could be mass-produced. Perhaps clothes, wigs, that sort of thing - but the BJDs themselves? Nah. And then you take into consideration that they need artists to design and create fullsets and limiteds, to do every standard doll's faceup, and to sculpt new dolls. I certainly don't think you can mass produce even a simple faceup, and why the hell would more complicated, intricate outfits be in such small numbers if they could easily be mass-produced? They would sell, and the company turns a profit.

      I can believe, though, that some companies - some of the newer, cheaper ones - might be experimenting with streamlining the manufacturing process. For the most part, though, I believe each doll is truly made for the person ordering it.
    20. Here's the original sweatshop thread:

      There was a really amazing post in it that the writer went back later to edit - but it was originally a really offended, educated post from one of our Korean members talking about Korea... and stating that it was NOT a third world country and that it was offensive that people were assuming these sweatshop conditions were common there.

      I don't believe Goodreau Dolls' artist, and I think it was a really unprofessional thing to write. It was both justifying why it was okay for their dolls to be produced in China and condemning anyone else who produces dolls in China. It seemed a low ploy to discredit other companies without providing any evidence whatsoever. I actually view it as verging on libel.

      For the actual question, no, due to the necessary equipment and conditions needed to produce quality dolls. I don't believe the dolls are produced in sweatshops. Korea and Japan are not third world countries. Sweatshops are not legal in Japan, and I really highly doubt that a reputable company would go underground for labor on something as trivial as dolls. I know less about Korea, but I would assume the same thing.

      I also have trouble believing that Volks BJD are produced in China at all, just going on the racial/nationalistic issues between the two countries.