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Shelling OCs vs. "Their own character" dolls vs. "Canon" dolls

May 3, 2019

    1. Hi! Apologies for the long title, but I couldn't figure out how to truncate it more decently X'D

      I suppose I'm curious about people's opinions on the kinds of characters dolls end up being. There's three ways I've seen people handle characterizing their dolls:

      1. Shelling a pre-existing OC. This seems to be pretty common, and I know I intend to do this for a few dolls/characters.

      2. The doll becomes its own character as bits are added, no pre-existing concept. I wouldn't be able to do this myself, but I'm fascinated by those who can pull it off!

      3. Shelling a "canon" character from some medium. I'm almost considering doing this myself (blame Hypnosis Mic), but I feel a little unsure about it, and this is primarily what I'm most interested in people's opinions on.

      So, to get to the point, you can boil my questions down to this: Which of the above do you tend to do when assigning characters to your dolls, and why? Do any particular characterization options make you uneasy?

      As for me, I plan to shell pre-existing OCs for the most part, but thanks to a certain fandom (...Hypnosis Mic), I'm suddenly considering making dolls of some canon characters. However, I feel like that's perceived differently from OC shell dolls or dolls that become their own concepts. I might just be being a bit paranoid, so I want to see what others think.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      • x 2
    2. Hello! I love hearing about what others do with their dolls.

      For me all my 60cm+ dolls are my OCs that I've had for awhile. I'd spend a long time looking for sculpts and saving up to bring my charcters to life. There's a lot of dolls I'd love to have but honestly I just don't know what I'd do with them because for me personally it's hard to make characters that I don't already have an idea for.

      I do have a few anime inspired dolls though but I do that for characters I love. I have two tinies right now based off of my favorite characters (since tinies are cheaper lol) and a third tiny on the way. For me character dolls are worth it because anime figures are too much money for me to spend if I can't play with them. But on the flip side Ive tried to make a larger character doll for Bucky Barnes and I just couldn't bond with him so I think it all depends on how much you're willing to spend and if it's worth it in the long run for what you want.
    3. I have rather a combination of things. 5 of my dolls are based around real people as the basis but have become their own characters still ultimately (they're not meant to be a minime or embody an actor's character in a show or anything). Very few of my dolls had a character and then I found a doll for (I think maybe only 3?). Most of them I find a doll I love and then base a character around it. Granted, all my characters fit into specific confines that pre-exist (a family structure) but mostly I let the doll influence who they are!
    4. I always buy a doll intending for it to be an oc I already have made. Though I do have several dolls who the sculpt did not work out for the character I had planned but I still liked the doll, so I made up a new character for the doll and add them to my oc list.

      ......actually the 3 dolls I have at home now are all this case X,D Because My partner and I decided we wanted to go in a different direction with our doll plans for our ocs we rp with and are having to reshell everyone.

      I do not have a problem with other people getting canon dolls, but I have never really felt tempted to do so myself, simply because I like to have my dolls be my chance to bring a character to life, and canon characters usually already have a lot of merch existing. Plus I just roleplay ocs more than fandom stuff, so I connect more to ocs.
      • x 1
    5. We've got all three. :sweat All of our dolls rotate through what you have listed as "canon" characters in what I can only really describe as cosplay. Most of them have a "base" character but they'll play other things; ex. one of our Yos is Sora from Kingdom Hearts but he's played Rin from Love Live before. A couple have OC bases instead of a canon base; ex. one of our SDs is an OC who is currently playing a character from FFXV. And then there are a couple whose sculpt/intrinsic character just overwhelms any other base; ex. our Volks Sara Yo, who is Sara and will always be Sara, though right now she's playing Kairi.

      To note though, the actual purchasing of a doll can be at least as much "I love it" as "this is for x character." I still want a Volks Renee because... she's cute. I don't have any particular plan for her - that'll settle itself out as time goes on.

      Also - dolls don't have to be static! I know a lot of people have a "this doll = this character" sort of mentality, but don't be afraid to just change them around! Sometimes they'll just latch onto something new after they've been one thing for a decade. It happens.
    6. Most of my dolls personalities have kinda just grown around the doll. I've tried to shell OCs but it never works out for me, so I just kinda let them be what they are now, lol.

      I'm a bit of an oddity I think... I just like to make tiny things, so character isn't my main priority in the end.
      • x 2
    7. Oh, I love Hypmic! Which character do you think you'll be shelling? :XD:

      My initial plan was to shell an OC I already have, but I think I'm going towards the 2nd option more! I love creating new characters, and I find this is the easiest way to do so! When I was looking up dolls for one of my OCs, I got a little overwhelmed since there are a lot of good sculpts but not enough companies that do tanned skin! So... I find that I should relax and go with the 2nd option more!
    8. I'm a mix of #1 and #2. Most of my dolls are shelled OCs from my roleplay with my sister. Sometimes, I want an excuse to buy a doll, and so I design a new character who would fit that shell. Either way, I usually play out the character first, but because it is an ongoing RP, new stories, quirks, traits and more often come out with the writing.

      I've tried shelling canon characters before and sort of write/play them like fanfiction, but it's not for me. I have no issues with anyone who does, but I feel too limited in trying to stick to what they'd do in canon and not being able to branch out much. If I were just keeping them for display and not my own stories, I might not mind as much, as I do have fashion dolls and 1/6 figures of existing characters I love.

      Mostly, I don't care what others do with their dolls. The only time character really bothers me and feels like it crosses the line is when they create dolls of celebrities--not the characters they play, but the actual people--then do sexy photoshoots, often with other celebrity dolls. I think that would be pretty awkward if the celeb ever saw that, and maybe even upsetting to them. They might be famous, but they're still people.
      • x 1
    9. This has been informative- thank you!

      @MercutioEx Yes, do check it out! Attractive men for characters aside, the music is great.

      @sydick Yay! I love spotting other fans in the wild, haha. It just sort of occurred to me that I could do this; I started out thinking Ichiro could be a pretty photogenic doll with the right sculpt, but then I started thinking about maybe getting Jakurai and/or Ramuda for funsies. Problem is that I plan to stick to MSDs, and I feel like Jakurai would have to be a SD for... Reasons. X'D (but if I get one of those, I'd have to throw in Samatoki, and the list just grows...)
    10. I'm strictly a type 2 kinda gal, I can't see myself ever doing either of the others.

      I have a lot of OCs, but I'm an illustrator and I just... shell them as my illustrations. No doll anyone else has made will ever be as accurate to my OCs as my own illustrations are, so I just don't bother. The closest I could see myself getting to type 1 is literally sculpting a doll based on my own pre-existing OC... which I've considered :sweat

      As for type 3, I have briefly thought about it but in practice it's just not fun to me. Character design is my favorite part of doll customizing, so having a pre-designed character would sort of just make the experience seem like a frustrating chore. I almost pursued making a BJD based on Heather Mason from Silent Hill, but honestly I'd rather just buy official merch...
    11. I have some of each! :)
      I have a few core characters who existed long before their doll forms, some dolls I got who "grew" into their own characters, and I have a couple "based in a specific anime universe" OCs as well as a character doll (Hoozuki from Hoozuki no Reitetsu).
    12. I shelled my first doll specifically on an OC because I have always wanted to shell this OC. My second doll was a bit of the first (I had a character concept) and a bit of the second (she only really became solid in my mind as a character after seeing this sculpt that was perfect for her). She's developed a lot more now that I have a sculpt and I'm enjoying the process of building her more solidly with her wig/eyes and prospective face up plans.
    13. Like @0bsequi0us, I am an illustrator and enjoy sketching/painting ideas for each doll, so I fall under the #2 category ^-^ I then make my own digital doll "boards" to help compare various clothing, wigs, eyes, etc I am considering, editing in design programs to get an idea of how it all looks together. A personality usually emerges along the way, though for myself, actually having and playing with the doll always helps to cement this.

      I do hope to try both #1 and #3 someday, however---like many folks in this hobby (or fellow creatives), I have a lot of OCs developed over the years I'd like to "bring to life" as dolls. There are also a few characters from shows/movies/games especially beloved to me for which I'd like to do the same. There's something very fun and challenging about recreating/styling such characters in your own unique way.
    14. I personally just buy dolls that I've fallen in love with, and then improvise on my customization. I mostly view bjds as art pieces and very expensive toys, and I honestly probably would never be satisfied with a doll if I tried to shell one of my OCs, though I might try to in the future. I just like to have pretty dolls, so I customize each to fit a certain aesthetic that I like. As for #3, I'd probably never do that, for anime and video game characters I prefer to simply buy official merch. Dolls for me are more of an artistic hobby, and my dolls normally sit on a shelf surrounded by random doll-sized things I've bought, so that I can look at them. I think shelling characters just isn't for me.
      • x 1
    15. I have kind of a mix of equal amounts (if we count head sculpts only) of OC "dolls" and fan-art "dolls." I love video games and anime, so I own a few heads sculpts based on some of those, and one full doll based on my favorite video game villain. I also own complete dolls based on OCs that were created by my best friend. So, in a way those are also fan-art from my perspective, but they are not "world-known" characters so they are OCs, that are not publicly known. As far as whether fan-art-character-dolls are perceived differently that OCs, I believe that they are. I have read a few threads on the topic, and it seems most people seem to think that fan-art dolls are not as creative as OCs. However, I don't believe that to be true. I am having a hard time doing justice to any of my fan-art dolls, and it's not due to lack of creativity. It's mostly due to lack of resources, time and skill. DX Just being able to capture likeness alone is a huge pain in the gut for me (although I am obsessive when it comes to accuracy, and not as talented as others might be at modding, crafting, sewing and face-upping). I feel that there is creativity in both OC-based dolls an fan-art-based dolls, not because I'm biased but because I own both types and it takes a lot of work and effort to make either work, and feel satisfied with the end result. I think there's even a bit more pressure with the fan-art ones, because there is always a person (or more) willing to let you know, just how awful your doll looks in relation to the cannon-character you are trying to recreate (whether you asked for their feedback or not). You may or may not care about other people's opinion, but at the end of the day it's still going to bug you a little, because it's going to add to doubt when you're already whether doubting you're doing it correctly (more of you are obsessive like me, and are already extremely critical of your work, more so as a fan of the character yourself -- otherwise why even bother, right?). I appreciate dolls in general, and I'm of the opinion that as long as the person is doing what they want to do with their rightfully purchased doll, and not hurting other living beings in the process, then it's none of my business what they do with it.
    16. I’ve tried both OC’s and Cannon characters, always ended up in failure and frustration. Now I just let the dolls become their own character and take on their own personalities. I’m much happier now with how my crew is, and a lot less frustration (only with finding clothing, wigs, or shoes that fit).
    17. Yep! I get no luck trying to matchmake characters to dolls in advance, or heck even names except for one very rare case. When there's something about a doll that strikes a chord, I just sort of let it develop. Sometimes it takes a few years for them to fully realize, but I really enjoy the characters they evolve into.

      Three of them did end up inspired by cartoons or games that I like, but they're more of a homage to certain aesthetics than a proper shelling. Something about it just agreed with them, so... that was that!
    18. I only have one that was my character before I shelled him into bjd form. The other 3 I own have decided who their characters should be, haha
      I am a fan of character dolls, especially if they're from an anime. I don't think I would make a canon doll, but I applaud the people who do.

      Big fan of @Wolfie Pie 's Hoozuki
      • x 1
    19. I've shelled a couple of my pre-existing OCs, then created characters from the others. For a couple of them, I had character ideas, but not much else, so developed once I saw a sculpt I like.

      Kazhiel is the only one of my dolls that had a super strong OC concept before I shelled him. I was so happy to find that blue ponytail wig, it looks just like him! Meta was based off of a fan original character from the Legend of Mana series, and most of my other dolls became characters based off of the story I sprouted off of that idea, after breaking away from the original series.

      I would like to shell a few of my other OCs eventually though, especially my bird hero boys.
    20. I’ve tried shelling pre-existing OCs and they never seem to work out. I guess because I can never find a sculpt that matches how I’ve always pictured them in my head. I also tried to shell a doll as Jareth from the movie Labyrinth, but that didn’t work, either. Unless I can get my hands on a David Bowie sculpt painted to look like the Goblin King (and I’ve seen one or two floating around) I don’t think I would ever be satisfied with it.

      So most of my dolls now come as blank slates to embody new characters I create. Most don’t have much more than a name and a brief backstory but a few I’ve practically written a novel around. A few I’ve actually added as new characters into novels I’m already writing.