Trying to Understand the BJD Industry

Mar 25, 2011

    1. Here is a scenario: You walk by the GAP and see some great clothes in their windows with all the spring colors, but when you go into the store you find they only stock white. So you buy a shirt and step out into the sun light, only to find that the sleeves are different whites, and do not match. Would you go back to the GAP?

      Iplehouse has a great website, but 90% of what they show is no longer available. The site says that their orders are delayed due to an office move. Sorry, but I've been with companies who have moved, and business goes on.

      Elfdoll cannot match resin colors between batches. Their new feet for high-heeled shoes will never match existing dolls. This is like a paint store saying that they cannot even come close to matching a paint color. Polyurethane resin and latex paint are essentially the same thing. Contrary to what everyone believes, BJD companies should be able to match color within 90%. It's a recipe for chemicals, nothing else.

      Constant product levels and quality control are business basics. So without making excuses for them, can anyone explain why the manufacturers are so poorly run? Why as a consumer group do we not demand more of them? These dolls are expensive luxury items, but as a group we are saying that we will continue to spend money on an inconsistent product.

      Hugo
       
    2. Because it's an essentially hand produced and finished art form made by, on the whole, tiny companies, most of whom are made up of a small team of people working within the fickle constraints of weather and resin casting, for an increasingly demanding, entitlement heavy, foreign consumer base that demands ever more, ever quicker whilst simultaneously griping about how much everything costs?

      Just a thought.
       
    3. Lulu, will you marry me?
       
    4. Will there be in scale cake? I'm easily swayed!
       
    5. Dammit Cynthia, I wanted to marry Lulu! :lol:

      .hlp
       
    6. I actually think this thread belongs in debate or discussion and not here. But as Lulu says, these are hand-made items produced by small companies. There's no comparison at all with GAP either in production methods or business model. GAP is a multi-national chain with warehousing facilities and the ability to stock cheaply produced goods. BJD companies cannot afford to mass produce in advance in the hope that people will buy their dolls. It's a completely different system. Inconsistencies are also to be expected of handmade goods, but none of my dolls have mismatched limbs. There's been the odd occasion I've heard about like Chroms sent out with head and body not quite matching, but not all Chrom buyers were in that position. And the paint example is not a good one - think about wallpaper batches. You should never buy wallpaper from a different batch if you run out because the company cannot guarantee a good colour match. You buy more than you need from the same batch, and then take unused rolls back to the shop.

      I think it's a huge leap to say that bjd companies are badly run too. Understanding the nature of the product and the manufacturing process helps to explain why the companies operate as they do. It's also worth pointing out that a site like DoA highlights problems when they arise and people buying other products outside the doll hobby don't necessarily get exposed to the same amount of information about the companies they buy from. We have to buy online, therefore we conduct all our business, from buying to giving feedback and interacting with other collectors online. It may well cause problems to be particularly highlighted when they do occur, especially since the dolls are expensive. But I think it's a huge leap and a ridiculous sweeping generalisation to say the companies are poorly run. I suspect they're run by people who actually love dolls, and the same cannot be said for some other industries where products are just units.
       
    7. This. Is. Ridiculous.
      If you want a product that is churned out by a massive company, looks the same every time and has no unique touches whatsoever, save your money and your complaining and buy a Barbie.
      Dolls are NEVER going to be the resin equivalent of a chain-shop t-shirt... and why? Because they're made as pieces of art, to be customized and cherished and finished off to the owner's specifications. Whereas Gap t-shirts are stitched together by hundreds of underpaid women and children in dank little sweatshops in India for mere pennies, so they can be flogged to the undiscerning buyer.
      There is no "BJD Industry" in that sense, OK? And thank God for that.

      >gets into line to marry Lulu<
       
    8. Thanks all, I am learning. HOWEVER, even small teams of artists can run businesses that have policies and procedures and quality control (like writing down the resin color recipe and updating their websites to reflect current stock).

      Sorry, Miren, but the companies are poorly run, by people who apparently have never taken a business class. Where was Iplehouses' contingency plan for their move? Even, a right-brained artist can understand that having a company essentially shut down for two months means you are loosing money.

      I understand that this is a hand made product, but so is the coffee cup I am drinking out of. The potter, my friend Jeni, has a glaze recipe that she follows, so whether she is making one cup, or a series of one hundred, the color is the same. She has a one person shop, but runs it like a business woman, helping to support her family.

      Consumers have rights, and when paying $200 to $1,000 for a doll, the product should be perfect. Just like one would expect when buying a painting from a gallery or hand made shoes. I am beginning to think that as a consumer group we are enabling companies to take advantage of us, in a way we would not tolerate in another setting.

      Hugo

      I agree by the way that this is probably a debate. I am fine if the moderators want to move it.

      Lulu I am already married, but maybe I can bake that cake.
       
    9. You're looking at this from a Western buyers perspective and that's your first mistake. When you purchase from these companies, you are no longer a Western buyer, you're a buyer who happens to be in the west, the distinction is important because these companies do not work the way WalMart, or indeed your friend with the pottery does and you need to learn this in order to chill out and enjoy this hobby.

      The bottom line will always be that what you call perfection in a finished product and what I, and apparently many others, call perfection in a finished product are clearly worlds apart and frankly, that's the way it should be in a hobby that is based on customisation and personal preference. That means that blanketly declaring that you want your consumer rights envoked to prevent this travesty to resinkind is...well...kinda pointless. It's non-applicable.

      Also...the very concept of "us" being a consumer group that enables this outrage is hilarious. *SNORT* Sorry, it just is! Dude, calm down and enjoy the thing for what it is, hobbies are mean to be FUN after all and no one's holding the gun to your head to buy the doll if you don't think it's good enough!
       
    10. I am a westerner and these companies are doing business with westerners, asking for western money. We are a consumer group, dude.
       
    11. You're missing the point by a country mile. They're entitled to trade however they wish and we're entitled to BUY however we wish. If you don't like it, don't buy it.
       
    12. Lulu, you are making excuses for them. They want our money, or they would not have English versions of their websites.
       
    13. What a deliciously colonial response. Here's an idea- perhaps we should get an army together and invade them, and then they can be Western too and oh so much more civilised!
      You may well be your own little consumer group, but I feel the rest of us are appreciators of an artistic achievement. And for the record:
      A chain-store t-shirt does not equal a doll.
      A coffee cup does not equal a doll.
      Any other comparisons you'd like to make?
       
    14. A hand made cup is similar enough to a hand made doll for a comparison of how an artist, my friend Jeni, can run a consistent business.

      I don't think that demanding quality from a luxury product is colonial. I don't want to subjugate anyone.
       
    15. And you're attempting to fix something that ain't broke. I have been one of the less gentle voices, shall we say, when doll companies do dumbass things, but even I recognise that when we deal with them, we do so on their terms and that's fine, because I remain grateful they bother to even sell outside their own countries. They didn't used to you know, this is a very new and shiney luxury that new people to the hobby have no clue about, they just assume that everything should work the way it does in *insert your Western country name here* and entirely fail to take in the massive cultural differences involved with the transaction they just entered into. That's just poor education on the part of the buyer, not a massive cover up of denied consumer rights.

      When I see threads like this, I can see why the one's that don't sell outside of their countries remain enclosed too.
       
    16. Oh good, for a minute there I thought you were going to force the world's economy to your will and make personally sure that every sausage is the same length, every banana perfectly bent, every apple a uniform shade of red and all dogs are kept on the leash at all times.
      Seriously though, this is just silly. You've got entirely the wrong end of the perfectly straight stick and you've kind of misunderstood the whole hobby.
       
    17. Lulu, you are making excuses for them. Yes, when a South Korean company opens up to the west they get rude consumers like Hugo telling them to get their act together. I am not saying this a massive cover up, or even a secret, but making excuses like Oh, their delicate eastern philosophy doesn't allow for quality control, and gee they are putting up with us so I guess I should just be ok that the doll I paid $1,000 for came looking like a spotted pony.

      Making due for cultural differences goes both ways. I cannot imagine that someone in Tokyo would be any happier with a funky doll than I would in Boulder.
       
    18. I'm kinda half and half on this issue. One one hand I agree for the amount we pay we should have some kind of guarantee that at least resin colours might be consistent or that the ordering periods are going to run smoothly. I dont mean things like if my doll comes out with a wonky nose or a different lip those can be customised or make the doll look unique, even a resin bubble probably wouldn't phase me, but knowing the resin is consistent so you could replace a hand if fingers broke or something would be a plus.
      On the other hand as others have said we are buying from Asian companies and they are in completely different jurisdictions from us and there the quality control of a product could work in a totally different way. What could pass the quality control with flying colours in Korea or China could totally flop or just scrape past in the QC over here. I know it probably doesn't excuse them but its probably a legitimate reason.

      In a way though I guess they should try and make a universal QC for buyers over here and locally as ofc we are the consumer group (we are technically a consumer group, though I would prefer to call it a target audience), as we the people who enjoy owning BJDs (albeit everyone likes different companies and different sizes but I'm talking generally) are the people they're trying to please as opposed attempting to force a guy who likes working on cars into liking them. I have learnt that the most important thing in business can be the target market. You could say that is lazy that if they were going to start offering BJDs to westerners they haven't taken the culture and expectations into consideration but if that is the case I guess we just have to accept they've been lazy on that account. It's not really going to make us love the doll any less is it?

      I don't really know a lot about business (other than what I have seen on The Apprentice :P), but I would have thought as we're the ones keeping them in business with our custom we should have a little bit of say in some things, unless they could say as we haven't officially signed anything to say if such and such isn't satisfactory it has to be replaced or whatever it makes that argument void.

      I understand where Hugo is coming from though, my boyfriend often makes similar points but ofc he isn't a collector so I guess it is a little different.
       
    19. By the way, I am older and expect more maybe than someone who is very young. I don't expect everyone to conform to my way of doing things, I just think that when someone pay money, they should get what they ordered. This is the same in Asia as it is in America or Europe.
       
    20. You want to believe I'm making excuses, knock yourself out. Of course it could also be that I'm merely representing the view that maybe voting with your feet would be a better approach to changing things you want fixed than these perennial thread appearances in which people like to get in a good complain about the state of quality control/wait times/costs/elitism/whatever.

      I firmly maintain, if you don't like it, don't buy it. Simple concept that works for both parties involved.

      And now I think I'll leave it to everyone else to see if they can get in the pre-requisite Godwin's Law moment these threads demand cos that always gives me a giggle! :D Come on people, you can do it under 100 posts...I HAVE FAITH IN YOU!