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Updating an old doll: do or don't?

Jul 26, 2016

    1. Hey friends, I'm in a quandary. I LOVE old dolls. Retro dolls are my thing. That's not to say I don't like new dolls, I love them! I'm just really obsessed with those huge eyes and tiny mouths (and crappy posing lol).

      So I have my eye on a doll on Mandarake that is a) old, b) a one-off, c) has the original face up, d) has the original eyes glued in, e) is a complete full set, and f) is hella yellow. The face up is ugly, like most old Volks face ups. The eyes don't even really show in the photos, so I don't know what they even look like. She's REALLY yellow, and has a mark on her face (looks like it would come off with a little Magic Eraser).

      Here's my dilemma: should I wipe her face up, whiten her, take out her eyes, and send her off to be beautified? Do I look at her as a collector's item that needs to be preserved in its original form, or as a toy to be played with and modified?

      I'd like to hear your ideas and opinions!
      • x 1
    2. I'm right there with you in the dilemma to preserve or redo an older doll! I recently received a Unoa Light doll with a faceup by Gentaro Araki, so I'm very wary about wiping a faceup that one day I might never get to have redone by the original sculptor/artist. What I've decided is to buy or craft a faceplate or mask for the doll to hold in front of their face when on display, this way I can always have the original faceup by Araki but also change things up with whenever I please! In addition, I can regularly clean the body without having to touch the actual default/one-off faceup!
      • x 3
    3. If you don't like the face-up, then change it ! We all have BJDs for different reasons. Some for collection, others as the way to shell characters, or just as an art/photography support... There is not one best way to have dolls, or one that is superior and should dictate what you do. So do you look at it as a toy or collector item ? That's for you to say, not the community. If you buy it, will you be happy having it just the way it is on a shelf, or would you want to update it ?
      Your doll indeed has an old company face-up, but it's still just a company face-up, to me there's no harm in removing it to whitten and customize it. It's really about what you want to do, and how you're gonna enjoy this doll, I believe.
      • x 5
    4. There is an art and beauty in restoration as well. Taken something old and worn, what many may deem too far gone and breathing new life into it....
      Some things just don't stay forever. Many great paintings have had restoration work done on them so they can be shown in galleries today! From what I can tell from your post you are more enchanted with the sculpt itself, no? Then perhaps a little freshening up is just what the doctor ordered.
      • x 2
    5. Well... I have no idea to be honest. I suppose there's a chance that a few decades down the road, collectors will be clamoring to get original factory default bjds as they will no doubt be extremely rare given that the culture of the hobby is to customize the dolls and few of us keep the default look, and at that point a doll like this might be valuable for her plainness.

      That said, I have my doubts about that scenario coming to pass, and even if it does, if you find the doll ugly as is right now why suffer through owning an ugly doll for years and years to preserve it on the chance that the preservation is worth something? I think it's more important if that default look is something you actually like.
      • x 1
    6. I would wipe off the face up and not shed a tear. Restoration is an art and bringing back the beauty of an older collectible is so satisfying. I did this to an untouched Volks Masha I purchased here on DOA and never looked back.
      • x 2
    7. If you don't like her as she is (since you described her faceup as ugly so that's pretty much a given), I'd say she's a prime candidate for a makeover.

      • x 1
    8. Omg, you got one? :D I'm in love with the Unoa lights and have been searching everywhere for one with the original faceup too! Congrats ^^
      I really like the idea of the mask, I think it adds a little character even, although Gentaro Araki's faceups on the Lights isn't as bad as the old Volks faceups on the SDs or something xD Its really subtle and simple.
    9. I'd fix her up! As much as she's an older doll and you feel like you need to preserve her, she'll also be your doll and you may as well make the most of her :) I'd restore her maybe not to her former look, but a new face up and some de-yellowing would be paying homage to the sculpt by making her look her best!
    10. This is the story of my life . . . :lol: For me, it really depends on the individual doll.

      I have a fullset one-off from 2000 who's staying default, but (a) she was pristine, clearly somebody's precious glass-case baby before I got her, and (b) I think she's adorable as is. But usually I don't hesitate to clean up elderly dolls and get new faceups for them, especially when they're yellowed and dirty and sad.

      I do take and save lots of pictures of the default state, though -- I figure I've done my part for history that way!
    11. I think as long as the sculpt itself wasn't modified in any way, you are still preserving the sculpt and cleaning her up and making her new to you is a great way to enjoy an older doll.
    12. I don't think there's something you "should" do- do you like her better as she is, or would you prefer to renew her? I think you should just do what you feel that you want to do.
    13. That is, indeed, a tough one! I would not hesitate to wipe that faceup, especially if it was ugly. But I can see the appeal of preserving faceups by the company if the doll is really old. I guess if she was in absolutely 100% pristine condition, that would make the argument to keep her as is a little stronger. But since she's incredibly yellowed and has marks on her, it seems like her previous owner probably had her out and handled her. In which case I'd say you should do the same and enjoy her in your own way, if that means cleaning her up and changing her faceup.
    14. I've seen this sort of dilemma in another hobby I hang out in. Do you or don't you fiddle with it when it's got untouched history... What about doing what you want with this doll, but document the heck out of it! Take a bunch of photos, so if some day a person wanted to redo her original look, there would be a clear blueprint. And a clear "provenance" like they say in the antique world. Whatever you do you should feel good about it :)
      • x 1
    15. It would completely depend on my feelings for that particular doll. If I was enchanted by the original idea of that doll and truly admired the original/old work that had been done, I would leave it. But if I wanted to give it a fresh start and wasn't completely attached to how the doll looked in its original form, then I wouldn't bat an eye at re-doing it completely.
    16. It depends on what sort of hobbyist you are. Are you a collector or artist? If you're the type to collect things because they are rare or vintage or may be worth money one day, you should probably leave her as is, maybe clean her slightly. If you're the type to play with your dolls, create characters for them, enjoy customization, then I'd say give her a makeover!

      Personally, I want my dolls to fit my OCs, so I'll do whatever it takes to make them right, even if it does mean changing a really nice or classic faceup or modding a rare doll. But I can see how a collector might see that as ruining the doll.
    17. That definitely sounds like the kind of doll I'd love to bring home with the intent of cleaning up and revamping! Give it new life and a pretty face with a little love and some elbow grease! I love doing that kind of thing though, haha :)
    18. Thank you guys, I love you all! I so want to clean her up and make her a real character in my universe, not just a collector's item that sits in my cabinet! I'm definitely going to take a lot of pictures of her to document her original look, especially in her full set outfit and wig! Now I can't wait until Friday so I can order her! :D
      • x 1
    19. Here's the doll, btw.
      • x 2
    20. That is going to be so cute when you're finished with the update! I'm agreeing with everyone who says that you should do what makes you happy, and what brings out the beauty of your doll.