How do you approach "refining" a BJD collection?

Feb 14, 2021

    1. I searched for this topic but could not locate one. The question I have for those with larger collections (and to illuminate what could become a future challenge for new collectors) is:

      How do you (or would you) approach "refining" a BJD collection when you like them all?

      Here is a bit (okay, a very long piece) of background information about why I am asking this question.

      After speaking with a number of collectors over the years, I know I am not the only person with this challenge. And, let's be honest in that it is a great place to be in in many respects, because I do not regret buying any of them. I had the privilege of enjoying them and then let them move on to new homes. But, as I get older and wish to direct energies in other directions, I do not have the time and energy for all of my dolls. So, for the past two years I have been slowly refining the collection. I started with selling boys as I decided to focus solely on girls. Then, I decided to focus on my "core aesthetic" and saw so many beautiful girls go in YoSD, SDM and SD sizes. I referred to it as a "like" versus "love" kind of enjoyment of the doll. I basically decided by choosing dolls I did not want to restyle anymore (it was easier to sell than to restyle them). Then, I decided further by analysing whether I felt "guilty" when I did not wish to interact with a particular doll because I actually preferred to interact with others.

      Now, though, it is becoming harder and my previous approaches are not working. I used to have over fifty BJD and now have a little over twenty. Although it feels like a lot of dolls, I am having a really difficult time trying to "refine" it further. It is time to make some really hard decisions about how "refined" I want my collection to be and how focussed I would like it to become. I do not want to sell them all, because I am not leaving the hobby, but I also do not want to make a wrong decision about selling a doll. The reason for that is that selling the wrong doll could potentially kill the enjoyment of the hobby for me. I do not want to go to "play dolls" and then find myself pining for a doll I no longer have as that could result in me simply selling all my dolls. Metaphorically, I perceive a doll collection as a knitted sweater. Pull at the wrong string and you get a big gaping hole in it and the whole thing is no longer salvageable. It is simply better to start afresh again, and I do not want to do that after fourteen years in the hobby and being at a point where I really like all my dolls. Honestly, I would never be able to create the same kind of collection again.

      So, how do you (or would you) approach "refining" a BJD collection when you like them all? And, where would you define the "stop point" where the collection is as refined as it can become for that point in time?
      • x 9
    2. Instead of an answer, I have questions for you :

      Having shed around 30 dolls from your collection, why do you need to refine it further?

      Don't you think that, perhaps, you are having a hard time singling out dolls to move on now because you have reached the core of your collection and this is the group, deep down, you want to keep?

      I'm at the 50(ish) BJDs stage and, while I occasionally see new dolls I like the look of, I don't have the urge to buy much any more. If I need that "new Doll" feeling I can always face-up one of the floating heads and marry it up with one of the headless bodies, but given that I've had one of those heads sat on one of those bodies for well over six months now, with no urge to complete the doll, I think I'm safe from that urge, for the moment at least.

      My primary reason for having the dolls is to play with them, if I don't play with them, I move them on, so my collection is, effectively, refined as I go along. I don't have preconceived characters I need to fill, each doll, "lets me know" their character once I have them and start to play with them. Sometimes the character is fully formed form the start, sometimes it is revealed slowly over days, weeks, months, or years, and sometimes it takes the introduction of another doll to our play for a vague character to suddenly spring fully into focus.

      I don't know if any of that is relevant to your question but it seems (to me, at least) that refining down your collection by shedding 30 dolls is a LOT of refining, so you might want to take a break from it for a while to see if you are happy and settled with this smaller group, before thinking you have to carry on shedding dolls.

      • x 26
    3. I think that "put it away and see ify ou miss one"-trick works very well. I love Iplehouse and love to build characters. I write my story and when a character becomes important in my story I think about getting as a doll but there are dolls I would never want to add as a character.
      So I think about it first before buying- and as am in a "25% custom fee on top-country" it´s even trickier. Cause if you have to sell a doll you always lose money. I had characters that I bought that were not so important. So i sold them. I also think that 70 or 100 dolls don´t make you happier than 30 you truly love. I know some people having 200 dolls and more that that would stress me.

      So i think- trying to write down what you love and what you hate on a special doll to see the pros and cons would help. And just to sell it with the thought "it was not limited, i could get it back"- to me. Gone is gone. Maybe you could try to do that with the list to think about what needs to stay and what has to leave? Hope it works
      • x 5
    4. I agree with @Teddy that having rehomed over a half of your collection is already a tough job and you could end on it for a while. enjoy with the dolls you have now and interact with them as they are, without the intention of downsising further. For a while.
      And as @greeneyed-soul says - they 'put it away' trick really works :) If you re-open the box after a couple weeks or even months and the doll makes your heartbeat accelerate, then it means you miss this doll to the point it the 'love' one.

      In my experience, I downsized my collection a little less than a year ago by nearly a half (I had 12 dolls, I now have 6 (for-now) keepers and one fs, so he's sitting in box and no on the shelf along with the keeper crew lol). I did it also due to space reasons. And yes, I lost some money on this. But, I calculated in the fun time I had, the opportunity to try out different sculpts and they time the dolls spent with me and gained on yellowing. And it turned out I didn't lose anything.

      I also refined it with a few guidelines in my mind: I also wanted to keep only girls and only one size of them. I can't still decide between styles (I like the 80% realism like Supia or Zaolls as much as my big-eyes Four Sister twins). However, I'd love to one day only have 2-3 dolls. I've wanted that for a loong time now. But, I know I'd miss them all equally if I sold any of them now. Sure, I have two I love best and if I really had to choose, I'd keep them, but I'd miss the other four.

      However, my plan is to have 'enough' interaction and fun with them and become bored with them on purpose. Right now, thanks to 'life', I have no opportunity to do that. But I know there will be time in my life when I have more time and then I'll do the second phase of refining again :) For now, I don't want to make decision I could later regret.

      It's sort of like I have with some clothes. With some pieces, it's easy. I just give them to containers collecting unwanted clothing or I throw them out (depending on the condition, etc.). But some I need to wear till they 'die'. Like, at the moment I am wearing a dress which is pure cotton, second hand from about 6-7 years ago I got for such small money, it's funny. I recently decided it's too worn out to wear in public, but I love it. It doesn't have any sentimental value to me, but I'd just miss it if I threw it out. It works as my pyjamas now. And once it gets stained or torn due to excessive and careless wear, I'll get rid of it. Maybe use a part of it in some patchwork project... All I know for now is that I love it and even though I don't like keeping clothes that are old & worn out, this dress is special and I am not ready yet. The same goes for dolls...

      Time is the key and there will come a time when your need to refine & downsize will overpower the need to keep certain dolls. meanwhile, enjoy them as they are and don't worry too much about keeping too many of them. They're all paid for and arrived, so the deed is done anyway :)

      At least that's my approach, because I somewhat feel I'm on the same boat. Right now I have 19 dolls in total (6 BJDs and 13 Barbs that I love just as much :D), I'd love to go down to no more than about 8, but I still haven't 'used up' their potential and I need to wait, interact, have my share of fun, and then be able to rehome some of them. I know that when I interact with dolls, I do grow to like or dislike some of their features and, thanks to it, Ifind it later easier to rehome some of them. I keep a full list of the dolls I used to own (which is about 40 BJDs) and whenever I miss any of them, I know there always was a reason (aesthetic, photogenic qualities, posability, size, condition) and I am not ready yet to see this about my current crew, so for now they're here. As soon as I start to interact with them, these drawbacks will show and I'll probably soon see which 3 bjds and which 5 barbs are the ones of the "8 keepers' team :D
      • x 5
    5. Thank you for your responses! I truly appreciate it.

      Teddy, these are good questions. Why do I need to refine it further? And do I need to refine it further? The truth is I do not know. Dolls wait for us, and there is no need to play with them all the time. Is my desire to be less materialistic (the objective to be to simplify my life, in general) overriding my enjoyment of my dolls? It is entirely possible.

      I agree with you that selling 30 dolls is a lot of refining and a break is exactly what I need. That is good advice, thank you.

      The putting it away in a box thing is something I have not done yet. It is a good idea, thank you. I do not do characters, but I totally relate to being stressed by having too many dolls. I know people who juggle them and enjoy it, but I do not want to juggle dolls. I want every BJD interaction to be with a doll that truly inspires me. And, therein lies the problem. I do not dislike anything about the dolls in my collection anymore. Okay, maybe I could find fault with one of my YoSD so will stick her in a box and put her away to see if I miss her or not. Thank you!

      Thank you! You are absolutely right. Time is often what one needs to arrive at the right decision. Like you, I have other dolls so will focus on refining those and my bear collection for the time-being.

      I am trying hard to not focus on the numbers, but also like you, I am kind of hopeful I can at some point aim for a number and just do it. You were clever to focus on one size. Part of my challenge is that I collect SD, SDM/MSD and YoSD and then I perceive that one size as a group. The individual groups are fine but then I add up all the numbers and I get overwhelmed again.
      • x 2
    6. heh, may I say, 'high five, fellow minimalist!" ? :D

      I tend to keep a separate box of accessories, wigs and shoes for evey single size/gender I have. So... having boys and having MSDs was another 4-5 boxes extra :) Once I got rid of it, things got easier :D

      Also, another analogy I could find is the crafting hobby. i love everything: painting, sketching, decoupage (I'm not good at the latter but love it lol) and doll crafts/sewing. I had to give away my painting supplies (oils and watercolours) before they'd expire. Now I have go through the last bits of cute paper napkins and unfinished decoupage boxes and I'll downsize on that and never go back to it. And as long as I don't downsize then on dolls, I'll not go back to painting and sketching. I guess with all crafty/creative people you have stages. It's just that some people experience anxiety over having too many things they know they can't engage in all at once. it's all a matter of choosing the priorities that really warm the depths of our hearts :) it's intuitive, but sometimes this insight into ourselves takes time <3
      • x 2
    7. For me, I’m one of those eclectic types who love surrounding themselves with bohemian decor...and I definitely brought this style into my doll collecting. It’s really helped me in refining my collection through the years, as the refinement was always more about aesthetic than numbers. I started off concerned about the end numbers, like most collectors perhaps, but soon found that my true connection to them was really all about their stories and how they were displayed in my home. Rather than hang a poster or painting on a wall, I would set up a doll vignette on a tabletop or shelf instead in that a 3-dimensional art installation I could interact with and change on a whim. This gave the illusion that they were “living their own lives” while I just dropped by on occasion as I was walking through my home. Everyone in my family loved this, so I just kept doing it wherever there was a space needing a bit of pretty decor. Refinement became easy then, and completely story-based. If I purchased a doll who didn’t quite suit their character, they moved on. If they didn’t look quite right with the others in their destined display, they moved on. In the meantime, I happily sewed them wardrobes which I stored in pretty boxes tucked neatly away, or in a refinished dresser purchased for a song at a charity shop whose top became another display area for one of my vignettes. Today I have approximately 45 dolls total in my collection, but it doesn’t feel to large or overwhelming at all because they are spread in smaller groupings here and there throughout my small, very comfortable home. Walking through it is kind of like Alice wandering through a Tim Burton’s Wonderland, encountering fascinating and unique personalities along the way. It makes me happy every single day. I have no further room for display of anything yosd or larger so my active collecting of larger dolls has finally come to it’s inevitable end, and now I can just relax and enjoy what I’ve created through all these years because I naturally refined my collection as it grew. There’s still a little room for a few more teeny-tinies to fill in gaps however.;)
      #7 PoeticSoul, Feb 14, 2021
      Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
      • x 10
    8. I did some major refining a few years ago. At max, I had 38 dolls and a floating head if I recall correctly, and I wasn't really enjoying any of them. They were a ragtag team I had pieced together for as cheaply as I could, so I had a few nicer dolls, but mostly a lot of low budget dolls I didn't truly love and some downright awful hybrids because I got the pieces dirt cheap. Hardly anybody had good clothes or accessories. When I started cutting back, I asked myself if I was willing to sink in the time and money to reshell or otherwise "fix" the doll and buy them nice things. If the answer was "no", then I didn't have enough interest to justify keeping the doll. This helped me cut back a LOT. My dolls are also shells of my roleplay characters, so I asked myself if I was invested enough in their story to want to continue writing for them and get in depth. The answer was mostly no. Any doll whose aesthetic looked really out of place (like too anime in a mostly realistic group or an unusual size) had to go. With the remaining ones I was uncertain about, I did the "box in the closet" trick, and most of those got cleared out. When I start seeing dollar signs instead of the doll, it's time to go.

      One thing that has helped me keep my collection small now is setting a limit to how many dolls I can own at a time. My goal limit is 13, but my hard limit is 19. So I try to stay around 13 (I have 11 right now and two planned), but absolutely will not allow myself to go over 19 again. If I get to that point and want a new one, then I'll have to decide if I'd rather keep what I have, or sell one to make room for the new one. Sometimes I think I'd like to cut back even more to about six dolls total, but I think at least for now, I just love the crew I have way too much to do that. I agree with @Teddy - if it's just impossible to cut back further without worrying about making a major mistake, maybe you are at a good number for yourself at this time. That could change in a few months or a year, but if you're really feeling upset about it right now, I'd say don't force it.
      • x 4
    9. This sounds absolutely lovely! I am not into creating characters for my dolls but adore the concept of doll vignettes throughout one's home. Although it is not realistic for me, since I have cats, I do enjoy creating photo spaces within which to photograph my dolls. I can certainly relate to the inevitable end of "active collecting," and I think that is truly the difference between doll enjoyment versus doll collecting. Collectors never stop buying dolls but those who truly enjoy their dolls have refined collections where every doll is special. Thank you for sharing your experience as that place of relaxing and enjoying my collection is where I want to be without feeling overwhelmed.

      That said, I have a feeling my shifting priorities could be playing a bigger part in my decision-making these days and that could be influencing my thinking. I no longer want "pretty things on a shelf" but rather only things that inspire me to not only enjoy material items but also have a deeper sense of importance. I do not want to invest in only the superficial aspects of life anymore.

      As much as I have tried to set a number limit, I find it so difficult because, well... I do not do well with hard limits because if I see a rule I then seek to break it simply because there is a rule to break. But, the other side of it is I do not need fifty dolls to enjoy dolls. I only need one. And, there is that part of me who, when I did have one SD doll, remembers taking that one doll out to Tenshi no Sato for meet-ups every month and sometimes twice a month. Why is it that I feel compelled to have so many dolls? And, that is a question I need to answer, but to be honest, I know part of the reason is because I have so many doll clothes:doh

      You are right, though. It is not something that can be forced. It really needs to happen naturally as time passes. Thank you!

      Oh, how I wish I were a minimalist! I am working hard to be more minimalist, but it is a process.

      And, you hit the nail on the head when you spoke about priorities and engaging with things. The truth is that the more one has the more one has to deal with, and there can be times when even five dolls can feel like a lot. It is not really about the numbers but how one is feeling within a moment, and it is not always easy to define how one will feel tomorrow.

      Ultimately, I need to find the balance where I am no longer a "collector" in terms of being a "doll consumer" but rather someone who truly enjoys all the dolls in my possession so that I can find that place of peace. Instead of feeling guilty about having "too much," I need to focus on creating joy. Part of that has to do with "empty space" for me, I think, within my doll room but also about the space that is used being maximised with something that is truly wonderful and inspiring in my eyes.
      • x 1
    10. {laugh!}

      I tired to set a limit at 30 BJD when I reached that number and realized that a few of my dolls weren't getting played with, but :

      a) They were dolls that would probably have moved-on anyway as part of the "refining-as-I-go-along" process of shedding any doll that doesn't get played with.

      b) The thirty limit was almost immediately circumnavigated by my deciding that the smallest tinies (Pukis and Banjis etc.) were a separate group who didn't count toward the 30 which immediately gave me another 10 slots to play with....

      c) I have a house full of other (off topic) dolls, bears, and stuffies, so setting a limit on just the BJD's didn't make sense anyway.

      • x 2
    11. I'm currently waiting for BJD number 25 (not counting those who've gone on to new homes), and am feeling a bit overwhelmed. Most of my gang are tinies, so they don't take up that much physical space but they still feel like too many. I have some I love and definitely want to keep, but there's some I'm not so sure about. My dolls have characters so I do have a conflict of whether the character needs to have the doll to be part of the story. Right now I'm trying the method of putting those I feel unsure about keeping aside for a while and seeing if I miss them and how I feel about them later. That's how I decided the first doll I sold needed to go to a new owner.
      • x 2
    12. I can relate to this, Teddy, because part of the reason I have felt compelled to part with so many dolls is simply to reduce the stuff in terms of all my collections. Today, I shipped off another bear and a another off-topic doll. Over the past two years I have sold about fifty dolls total. It felt so good to simply have less stuff that I am finding it hard to stop, to be honest.

      I understand the feeling of being overwhelmed so well especially when it comes to the smaller dolls. I swear that my Yo-dolls simply started multiplying at some point and magically appearing in my doll room. I know it is not true but that is how I felt at one point. Good luck with your refinement. It is so important to know when to buy but it can be just as important to know when to sell, too.
      • x 1
    13. You need to do whatever works for you, of course, but I'd advise taking a breather from it, for at least a while, before you get carried away and sell on something that you then get sellers-remorse over.

      • x 2
    14. I give myself some tough love, I have become more strict with myself and set rules. Is it weird to say that I parent myself in my head? Probably. My rules are key but I wouldn't have them without knowing myself. So knowing what you really want in your hobbies and knowing "why" is important. Sometimes those "whys" can be discarded like "because I want something like my favorite band". Know what you want and don't stray from it. No ifs, ands, or buts. But I think most people might find this to be to harsh and unrealistic.
      • x 4
    15. Seeing alot of the suggestions already given so far, I agree with the bit about taking a breather first, to avoid any situations where you may sell a doll you may get seller's regret over.

      As for my own experience with refining my collection, it sort of happened in two parts. At one point I had over 20 dolls and I'm not even sure what the total is because I felt overwhelmed by the number and I didn't want to count it. The first time I reduced my collection, I sold dolls that I was quite sure I won't do much more with, often because they either needed more wardrobe or new faceup/work, or because their aesthetic didn't fit with the rest, or because I was fed up with their lack of poseability. They mostly needed too much work to work out for me so it was easier to figure out that they needed to go. After this I left my collection as it was for a while (I was probably at 15ish dolls then).

      After a year or two, I felt that I still needed to cut my collection because I still felt overwhelmed by the number of dolls and how I couldn't find enough energy to play with them or work on them. At this point, I found Marie Kondo and her decluttering method which involves holding a physical object to you and asking yourself if it sparks joy. That was what I did with all my dolls and it enabled me to really get truthful with myself. I realised I had kept a few dolls that were not really sparking joy but out of fear that I'll regret selling them (e.g. hard to buy dolls). I talk more about how I decluttered my dolls here in a video.

      If after some time you still feel like you may want to sell more of your collection, you may want to try the Marie Kondo method out ^^
      • x 4
    16. OOf very good question. Totally agree with taking a break until you feel more comfortable with either further refining or wherever you end up.

      I only have one doll so far and to keep it that way I have been applying a very strict set of rules regarding what a future purchase may look like (high fantasy, sort of realistic, particular expression etc) and whether I would be happy with a cheaper purchase that did not meet all of the aesthetic vs just waiting for a sculpt and set I really love. It helps that I am taking the time to kit out my doll with a full wardrobe and fantasy set.

      I guess I'm refining before I get to that state :)
      • x 1
    17. I'm sort of thinking of sorting my collection. But I don't even know where to start. I really like them all so much. I'm just questioning space concerns, organization.
      • x 1
    18. I'm a good bit lower on the collector scale for myself, as I'm super picky but my patterns are kind of strange and I get stressed when there's dolls I don't work with much just around.

      Mostly what I did for starters was to make a list of my dolls, in order of "worst came to worst, which would I keep".

      Some of them were also paired/grouped (I'd only keep X as long as Y stayed too). I came down to having just a few I absolutely don't want to part with, and the rest are just kind of loosely ranked, with the lower half being put away and seeing which bothers me (one returned to the display shelf after a week, which did surprise me).

      Some of those lower on the list are due to a lack of ease of me to interact with them. At least two of mine are obnoxiously difficult to pose, even when being left on a stand. Over time this has diminished my desire to play with them.
      Some of it is coming from a shift in interest. I've been in the hobby for a long time, some of my interests then have not carried over to now, some of my characters have been rewritten and others have faded.
      Some have been mostly in their boxes anyways over the last few years due to repeatedly moving and not having much space. When we got a place with a lot of space and I took them all out again, it was kind of overwhelming.

      Even then, some of them easily go at the lower half of my list, but still take a lot of thinking since they're not easily replaced if I do regret selling them.
      • x 1
    19. For me, a big part of keeping my collection manageable is making sure my dolls aren't redundant. My focus with dolls is creativity rather than collecting-- designing the way I want my dolls to look, and making things for them, from wigs and eyes to sewing them clothes. Although I want them to look cohesive as a group, I like to give each doll their own distinct personal style/look, and I don't want overlaps, where I have two dolls that are too similar. That's where things start to feel cluttered to me. For instance, my Islanddoll Noah girl is a pale girl with black hair, dark eyes, and dark, heavy, dramatic makeup, who I dress in goth-ish/dark/high fashion type of clothing. So I don't want another girl doll in my collection that has that same coloring and styling. If I saw another doll sculpt I liked, but that same visual concept was the only way I could imagine styling it, I'd pass--- because I already have that.

      Because of that, I haven't ever needed to refine my collection by moving anyone on...I just don't buy a new doll unless I have a unique concept for them that adds something new to the group and doesn't just repeat a doll I already have. But if I were to approach refining a large collection, that's where I would start--- by weeding out dolls that are too similar to another one, choosing my favorite from the pairs of repeats.

      If I were at a point where I didn't have repeated looks and concepts, and I liked everyone I had, I'd say that was the point where it was refined enough. As long as I still feel like each doll is sparking my creativity in a unique way and bringing out ideas and facets of my aesthetic that the other dolls aren't already doing, I'm happy with the group and wouldn't feel the need to reduce.
      #19 thedarkeststar13, Feb 20, 2021
      Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
      • x 4
    20. Through refining, you will eventually hit this "threshold" of having your minimum of equally desirable dolls. I'd say... that is a signal for you to stop. In my process of curating each and every collection I have ever owned (as I had to move countries), I went from owning more or less nearly 60 dolls all the way down to my current 17 (plus a few floaters that only get to share bodies) but ask me to part with any of them and you'll find it's pretty impossible to do. Would I be able to let go of some if I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO? I mean if it was a life or death situation I'd have to make hard choices but curating/refining a collection is not that.

      My SDs are all characters from my book, and the MSDs belong in one of two storylines really dear to me that I share with my closest friends. To top it off most of the dolls themselves have an actual story related to them. For example, Wisp comes from a fellow collector and friend who I have long admired in the hobby (the doll himself being one of my biggest doll crushes in the hobby for a really long time). She would have never even considered selling him to anyone but me and she needed the money to begin her journey as an expatriate and so he came into my care. He's irreplaceable. Some of my others are heavy restorative mods I slaved over for years, or otherwise tied to specific events in my life.

      I believe people have mentioned this above but... the hard work is already done, you're cut down your collection to half, if you feel like you need to keep refining for whatever reason weigh the pros and cons of letting an individual doll go. Don't try to approach this by looking at all your dolls at once as this will only overwhelm you. Separate the dolls that for one reason or another you really can't miss, that you can't imagine your collection without, and approach the others one at a time and ask yourself why are they not irreplaceable to you in the same way the others are. Note you don't have to feel the same way for all of them but it will certainly aid in maybe deciding who has to go.
      • x 2