Morality of Modification

Apr 13, 2021

    1. I've had this thought a few times and wondered if anyone else had:
      In a hobby like this, are really truly permanent mods okay if there's even a slight chance of selling it in the future?

      When dolls are sold in a finite quantity, their sculpt's unique features are part of the appeal. With BJDs and other dolls, obviously part of the appeal is the customization of a basic figure into a unique character, but if there's a plan of reselling it, then the option ought to be there for any of those customizations to be removed..... Right?

      What do you think? Should a permanenti mods be reserved for only dolls you plan to never sell? Should all mods be some level of reverseable? Are all mods technically reverseable to a degree? What's the morality of doing any sort of permanent mod on a doll you might not keep forever?

      In retrospect, 'morality' probably wasn't the right word. And I didn't mean for it to come off as me asking about it exclusively for the resellability of modded doll.
      Rather, when I think about modding, I think of the fact that these dolls are all essentially collectibles and how 'proper care' of those is usually to try and keep it as "mint in box" as possible. I realize these are obviously meant to be customized but some times it seems like with all the mods I see on some dolls that they may as well have gotten a different sculpt entirely. That said, I also have a doll I'm planning to mod pretty heavily (or rather I want to pay someone with skills to do so).

      (((Either way, I'm really enjoying reading everyone's thoughts.)))
      #1 kdrashner, Apr 13, 2021
      Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
      • x 2
    2. Personally, I think permanent mods are fine. If you decide to sell down the road, then you'd be selling the doll in it's current state. All the dolls change a little (like yellowing and junk) so would just be mod as an additional change. Only resulting thing I could think of would be maybe they wouldn't be worth as much as they would without the mods? Otherwise, people would just have the option to buy or not buy it with the mod. Who knows, people might like the mods more?

      personally, I have two dolls I modded a little bit, one I don't plan on selling, and the other I'm still 50/50 on if I'll be selling them or not? the one I'm not sure if I'll be keeping, I did some mods to their arm joints cause when I ordered them I had no idea that they only had a single joint in the elbow and not a double like the other dolls I got. so if I do end up selling them, I'll just plan to take pictures of what I did and toss in either a discount on what they are worth or do a price negotiable sorta thing? (with what I did, it's on the reversible side, but there are some minor scuffs on the insides of the joints from the process)
      • x 9
    3. I personnally don't plan to sell my dolls when I'm making their customization. Even if I might end up by selling them. I usually try to do it on no limited heads and no sold out heads, because most mods might end up in lowering the value of the doll (usually people want dolls without modification).

      Well, when you carve a modification in the resin of the doll, aside filling them with resin (or epoxy, but that is less nice), the mod is not made to reversable.
      I have a doll that was carved to be a zombie by previous owner (a hole in the head, an other in the chest, ribs carved and a femur carved). I filled all the mods with epoxy, but the doll has definitively lost some value.

      But it's your doll, IMO you can do all the mods you want, permanent or not, OOS or limited or not!
      • x 6
    4. You can mod all the dolls you want, keep in mind that the value of the doll will go down or up depending on the mod you intend to do (and how good the mod is performed).

      I would be more than happy to spend some good money on a crazy, creative mod, but not on a mundane one.
      • x 9
    5. From what I've experienced, the general opinion seems to be that once you own a doll it is yours to do whatever you want with. If a limited sculpt is "ruined" by a mod, that's just a natural consequence of this being a hobby with heavy emphasis on collaboration. If these artists didn't intend for their work to be customized, they wouldn't offer them blank.

      Honestly selling doesn't really make any difference imo outside of value. :sweatHeavily modded dolls have a risk of not selling for anywhere near as much as they would have originally. Of course if the mod is extremely cool and well done it could fetch you more, but that requires skill that not many people have.
      • x 7
    6. I don't think there's a morality beyond "it's my doll and I would like to do what I want with it, because I bought it." That's it. Full stop.
      When I'm buying a doll, I am buying it for me - not for any future buyer if one day I decide I would like to sell the doll. I don't believe that there's any sort of morality involved, and if you believe that doing a modification on a personal possession of yours is a moral issue, then....there probably should be a larger conversation had about morality.

      I also think perhaps you're overstating the idea that permanent mods could potentially dissuade a future buyer - in my personal experience, I've purchased dolls and parts that have had permanent mods done because of those mods, which I wanted for a character but didn't feel confident enough to do myself. Mods can always be undone, or if they're permanent, they can be modded over or implemented into a different modification. Never doubt the creativity of the doll hobbyist to take a lemon and make it into lemonade.

      There's also something to be said about "permanent mods being reserved for dolls you plan to never sell." People join the hobby all the time and say, "Oh, I will never ever ever sell this doll!" and some of them never do. Yes, a doll can be extremely special, but when an emergency vet bill or car trouble pops up, it really puts into perspective what you are and aren't willing to part with.
      • x 21
    7. Couldn't have said it better myself.

      Also this is a hobby born from resin 'kits' and encouragement of modifications, companies like Volks in the early days were all about the personal customisation. It's not really that deep, just having fun and being creative, enjoy it!
      • x 9
    8. Not really.

      Once a person buys the doll (as with any other commodity) it's theirs to do with as they pleas. So long as they list any modifiactions if/when they sell it there's no reason not to modify it, if that's what they want to do.

      If I bought a table that was too tall for my requirements so I sawed two inches off each leg, then, later, decided to sell it, I'd just be selling a shorter table. There's nothing wrong with either making the modification, nor selling on he modified table as-is.

      • x 8
    9. I like to modify my dolls; mostly I do a lot of facial modifications. Some really heavy with a lot of additive mods, and some with permanent (to a certain degree, undoable) reductive mods. I had never planned on selling any of my BJD, and further still would never sell any of the ones I have modified (which are mostly heads). I have sold a BJD body once, because I wasn't doing anything with the doll, but I had already heavily modified the head sculpt so I kept the head -- the body was only sprayed with MSC and had its nails painted with acrylics, but that's minimal amount of customization and I did state that in the sales page as well as included photos of it.

      I have always felt that as long as you are not physically or mentally hurting other living beings, you can do as you please with your money and belongings (as long as they were legally acquired). I would never part with a toy I modified myself, because of the amount of work and dedication I put on those mods. Not because I think it's morally wrong. If people want to mod, chop, burn, etc., their dolls, that's their problem. Once again, as long as no one is doing harm to other living creatures, and the items are actually theirs; it's no one else's business. Whether it's a limited doll, a OOAK sculpt, a retired no longer available head sculpt, etc. As long as the person who wants to mod it, paid for it and got it legitimately, it's their to do with as they please.

      Just like a seller has the right to sell whatever material possession they own, in whichever condition it is in. A buyer has the right not to purchase. No one is forcing anyone to purchase anything. The only way it would be morally wrong is if the seller blatantly lies about the item they are selling.
      • x 7
    10. Permanent mods are fine, even when you're going to sell the doll at some point. In the past, there were experienced modders who did exactly that: Buy a doll, and mod them with selling the final product in mind. Often these dolls were limiteds (Volks mostly). I still remember a well done sleepy Volks Heath head that I would have loved to buy, but I lacked the funds at the time.

      As long as you are honest in your sale thread, modification doesn't have to be a problem. And depending on how well it's done, it doesn't have to have an impact on the price.
      • x 6
    11. There is nothing morally wrong with buying an object and then doing whatever you please to the object that you own. You are under no moral obligation to consider hypothetical future owners of that object and their possible wishes.

      Think about this: every single one of us, at some point in time, will no longer be alive, and every object we own will belong to someone else or be thrown away. Does that mean that we have a moral obligation to keep every object we own pristine and untouched because someday, someone else will have it and they might not like how we used or wore or altered it? Of course not-- that would be lunacy. Today the doll is yours, do with it as you will.
      • x 10
    12. A lot of people have already covered most of what I would say on this topic. The doll is yours, if the mods are what make you happy then mod away. However, if you are in this hobby and your interest is in reselling dolls then most modifications do come with a price. The price always depends on who is buying it. As the saying goes, one person's trash is another person's treasure. While the mod may devalue the doll in the eyes of some people it will increase it in others. A well-done mod can increase a doll's value (as we see with many of the sleeping heads from fairyland who get an eye-opening mod).
      • x 5
    13. I definitely believe in “it’s your doll, do what you want”, but there is a bit of sadness when someone mods a limited doll. I have a tan sleeping liria head that I struggled with not to mod open because the sleeping heads were more rare—-a lot of people modded them open. In a way I wanted to preserve her. In the end I’m glad I did because I managed to find an OE head. In dolls that are even fewer in number like limited to 10, that thought of modding makes me even sadder lol
      • x 5
    14. The only concern with permanent modding is that it will almost certainly affect resale value, IMO. So if value is important/you plan to sell one day, mod with caution. I buy exclusively artist-made dolls so some molds have only 10-30 dolls in existence, but I still don’t feel any kind of guilt about modding them. I don’t think people have any ethical responsibility to never modify art they own.
      • x 2
    15. I know buying and selling secondhand is a large part of the community but I don’t think people should be afraid to have fun with their dolls in fear of some possible future sale. If someone doesn’t want a mod, they won’t by a modded doll. There will be someone else who will be interested in it!
      • x 4
    16. Honestly, this has been a topic already many years ago.
      I even had this discussion within Blythe circles, and a friend and me got a bit of "gasp, how dare you" comments back then when we mentioned we would mod two very limited releases. Haha, good times :lol:

      Anyway, I understand the overall thought process of course. There are some dolls where I would also feel very conflicted to mod them, for example when I would receive a doll second-hand that is pretty much history (like some of these really, really old Volks releases from pre-2000 or heads from some obscure artist nobody has seen in 20 years). There is also something very nice about finding one of these rare old, still completely pristine gems. We once got a still sealed Volks Ian from Mandarake, which also still had sculpted lashes and eyebrows. It was a pest to paint, but I could still not remove them because it's hard enough to find an Ian nowadays as it is.
      I also would flinch when I'd see someone buy one of these rare, really old dolls in pristine condition, just to turn around and do some mediocre hackjob on it. Yeah it's their doll, but I am pretty sure a different head could have been sent through the meat grinder for the same result :sweat

      Generally though I have no qualms modifying dolls, and I don't mind when others do it with theirs. As long as any modifications are mentioned once the doll is sold, it's okay.
      Doesn't change that there are some dolls where I can't help but sigh "and another unmodded one removed from this already very small pool".
      • x 6
    17. As I've seen been said, morality doesn't come into play here. There is no "right" or "wrong".

      Modifications might alter the price you can get in the future - in both directions! I see your concern about lowering the price, but I've seen many OOAK mods that sell for 10-20x what the original doll sold for because it became its own unique piece of art.

      My thought process is, why would I buy something I'm already planning on selling? Especially in this hobby, dolls don't really appreciate much in value to make that kinda thought process worth it to me. YMMV :thumbup
      • x 5
    18. IMO, there are far more lucrative ways to invest money than buying and selling dolls.

      But I do understand the conundrum: it still seems like a shame to mod a LE doll? But it's also a shame to buy a doll and not to what you wanted with it!

      Basically, if I buy a doll, it's to enjoy it. I would mod away and do the things I wanted to without remorse. I don't think about the sales part, that may or may not come to be. I understand that some people may not be happy with what I do with my dolls, but I am not going to restraint myself for a potential future sale (again, that may or may not happen!).

      Besides, people are not entitled to an unmodded doll. If they can find it, good for them! But they have no right to demand the dolls, even LE or OOAK, remain unmodded. (It may be different with some items, notably a famous painting, because of the historical value, so it's considered human heritage, but this is not the case with dolls, to the best of my knowledge.)
      • x 2
    19. As others have said, it's not really a question of morality- if you own the doll you can mod it as much as you want. In my own collection, I have a doll I bought for the mods done (elf ears added), I've modded a long-discontinued event head (made a sleepy eye a little more open), and specifically sought unmodded discontinued sculpts of a couple others. I don't get mad when I see a modded sculpt come up that I would've otherwise bought, I just scroll past because that one is clearly not meant for me -shrug-
      • x 3
    20. My dolls, for however long I own them, are part of my own private collection. I don't view them as some sort of "potential community property" that I am obligated to preserve in an unmodified condition.

      Whether modifications are executed by an experienced and skilled artist, or by someone having fun experimenting with the process for the first time, the community at large does not have a real stake in the outcome. I can understand if some people cringe at the notion of modifications being performed on a particularly rare doll, but at the end of the day, it is at the sole discretion of the current owner and I don't feel that there is anything inherently unethical about it.
      • x 6