What are your thought on how the BJD industry has changed?

Sep 7, 2020

    1. edit to title (I just had to make a typo, haha): *thoughts

      Hey y'all!

      So I've been dipping in and out of the hobby for the past 8 years (often because I would get too busy to even think about my hobbies!), and now that I'm working from home and spending all my time at home with my 3 dolls, I've been getting back into it.

      I'm a bit out of the loop on what's current in the hobby, though. :XD:
      What's changed in the hobby within the past decade?
      Would you say the industry/hobby is growing or shrinking? And what kinds of dolls are trending now?

      Sometimes I wonder if I should go ahead and buy the dolls I've been fawning over for the past few years because I've heard about other companies closing (often due to recasters), and I'd hate to miss the opportunity to support these artists and collect their beautiful sculpts. I've also noticed that some of my favorite BJD clothing creators have closed up shop on sites like Etsy.

      I think that's why I'm so curious about the state of the industry as a whole - I really hope it's doing well!!

      What are your thoughts and feelings about it?
       
      #1 Sheyda, Sep 7, 2020
      Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
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    2. I'd say that the community has shifted over to instagram a lot, and facebook as well. I've been able to connect with people and make friends via instagram :)
      Minifee are always hot stuff, though there is increasing support for small artist companies like dust of dolls, popovy, lillycat.
      Hopefully if a company you like will close, there will be last chance sales sort of event.
       
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    3. Thank you for your response! :)
      I'm glad to hear the smaller artists are getting more support! It's interesting to see how the trends have shifted to more unconventional, art-like sculpts, vs the more traditional cutesy anime-inspired dolls.
       
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    4. I think dolls have gradually gotten cheaper and resin has increased in quality for sure since I was a teenager. There’s a lot more small companies with dolls that are more affordable and with more options like different body types and resin colors. So there’s more pressure on the bigger companies to offer more options.

      Lots of people sell on Instagram and Facebook now along with Etsy.

      Minifees still dominate in popularity, despite being pricey and having quality issues.
       
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    5. Oooh one really interesting thing that has happened in the hobby is the growth and popularity of DIY in areas that didn't use to exist. I remember when DoA was new, it seemed DIY was faceups, sewing, knitting, crochet, fur wigs, and lots of jewelry. Due to some popular youtubers it's expanded into making our own alpaca/yarn wigs, resin eyes, and even shoes. With more and more small artists companies popping up, it's also more common to see people sculpting their own BJDs. It's possible to make a doll and everything for it.
      I've kind of been noticing that instagram is where the trends are. And new doll sculptors can gain a lot of popularity there, and doll runs in small quantities go for a lot more on the secondhand market. "Less popular" doll companies on websites (and not active on social media) tend to not get that exposure/popularity.
      Also, the general quality of handmade goods has gone up as we have been experimenting and sharing techniques and growing as a hobby :)
       
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    6. I started collecting back in 2005, so Volks, which had started the whole trend in 1999, was the standard everyone looked to, sometimes with deep haughtiness. The industry has introduced fantasy colors, through and through colors, more realistic skin stones, various body shapes, ethnic sculpts (still need more) and much bigger dolls since then. In short, the industry finally caught up to my imagination, or at least indulges it much more now. I would also hazard to say the industry has moved from the Eastern aesthetic to a Western one, meaning more adult sculpts rather than childish and more adult clothing.

      The best thing though, which is outside the scope of most industries, is the ability to still connect with and collaborate with the doll companies. We can prove a market for a certain color or body type and get it made. Which I admit, I have taken advantage of for both my own benefit and that if the company. Customers can be highly influential and I really love that dynamic.

      I have 110 dolls now and no minifees. I have one YoSD size doll from my beginning years, but by and large my dolls are 65cm to 75cm, a size that was all but unheard of at the start. I love where it's all headed to and the options we have these days. Can't wait to see what's to come. Seems the companies are having just as much fun as we are with the possibilities. And all the indy sculptors, the stranger designs, the fuller figures, the innovations are so exciting!
       
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    7. The biggest difference I've seen is an explosion in new companies and artists! When I was new to the hobby in 2008, we didn't have anywhere near the variety we have now. There are also a lot more options in clothing styles too...back then, it seemed like everything was lolita or J-rock or 2005 mall goth. :XD: (Actually,I want 2005 mall goth for my girl now and it's kind of hard to find!)

      On a less positive note, recasts have become a lot more easily available too, and now buyers are requiring boxes and CoAs and other paperwork to prove the legitimacy of dolls, which really hurts the value of older dolls who either lost those things over time or likely never had them in the first place.

      I've also noticed the average age of hobbyists seems to have dropped significantly. I was 25 when I got my first doll, and I was one of the younger collectors. Many seemed to be people who were older and had plenty of disposable income. Now, I feel like the old lady of the hobby with so many teens and college age people taking over!
       
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    8. Ooh, more competition. I like that! Helps to bring more diversity in sculpts/colors for sure. :)
      How do people sell on Instagram these days? I feel so out of the loop. Do you just PM people to buy stuff? Or do they usually link to an online shop?

      Ohh yeah, I totally remember that when I first started too. I always felt limited with customization because I don't know how to sew (which... I could learn, but it takes years to get really good!).
      It's kind of cool how the hobby is keeping up with social media trends though. I might have to make a doll insta and see what everyone's been up too...

      Yeah, I've kind of noticed that aesthetic shift too! Would you say that more Western aesthetic is most popular in North America, or is it starting to catch on in other regions too? Are cuter sculpts still popular in Asia? TBH I'm a bit more partial to the cutesy childlike sculpts, but I'm happy to see a wider range of sculpts offered. :) I think it helps to attract a wider audience to the hobby, too, when there's something for everyone.

      Haha, omg, yeah, I remember the mall goth aesthetic. And the lolita (you can see my very dated, lolita-styled doll in my avatar, haha). What's the most popular fashion now? Would you say most doll clothes are heading towards a more casual or colorful look?

      Oof, why do recasters have to ruin everything. :(

      Oh man, it's pretty cool that the hobby is becoming more popular/attainable among younger people! Means more longevity for the hobby. :)
       
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    9. people usually use the tag #bjdsale and you can actually search for that tag and see what's for sale :) Just sort by "recent" You can then send the seller a private message / DM.
       
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    10. I like how the trend for BJDs are more mature looking sculpts with more modern styles. I never really was into the whole goth lolita genre. Volks imo are pretty classic OG dolls to me so having a Volks is always a good idea.
       
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    11. I actually left the hobby about 10 years ago and returned last year. The change has been pretty obvious to me. :XD:
      • Firstly the move over the instagram is the biggest one for me and that has allowed me to connect with other collectors much easier. I remember back in the day when I was only on DOA and had my own doll journal on LiveJournal
      • Companies I was so sure would stick around back in the day have closed down (Dream of Dolls)
      • The evolution of the 70cm dolls. Back then, Dollshe was the one dominating the market when they first introduced their 70cm boys. This style of doll has changed so drastically since with so many different companies offering their own versions!
      • The shift over to more realistic looking dolls is something I'm very appreciative of as well.
      • Minifees are definitely still dominating LOL
      • The rise of artist dolls. As technology advances and we have easier access to 3D modelling programs and 3D printers, it seems like more and more people are creating their own heads and full dolls! It's been great seeing the works of so many different artists!
       
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    12. It's interesting to hear a lot of enthusiasm for Instagram as a platform; I feel a lot of negativity for modern, faster social media, as an older person who remembers a pre-Facebook online time.

      Things like
      • they're deliberately designed to manipulate and hold attention, rather than provide the best user experience
      • there's a real sense of disposability, you have to be constantly posting high quality content and keeping up with your feed, you can't take a step back at a slower pace so easily & be remembered or valuable
      • the platform won't always promote content evenly, making it a literal job for you to build enough brand presence to make friends
      • harder for communities or individuals to self-police who comes into their space or build collective cultures
      • Less generational knowledge or sense of investment in one another
      • Less of a sense of hanging out with hobbyists, more of a sense of everyone self-promoting or being a shopfront
      • Harder to effectively filter and search
      It's good to hear people having better experiences there, and maybe I'll give it another go. But I guess my feelings are, even though this is a change over the past X years, I'm not wholly certain its an improvement. It's good that forum culture still exists here & is going strong.
       
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    13. Honestly a lot of this is because of Instagram’s original design and purpose. It wasn’t made to be a social media platform, it was a space for artists to display their work. It lost that when Facebook bought it but they didn’t change the core of the platform beyond adding ads. So it doesn’t have a forum-like setup at all and is more for displaying images with tags for sorting, sort of like Flickr.

      DoA is still the most discussion-friendly forum experience and Facebook groups are somewhere in between that and Instagram. There’s a bjd group on reddit but it’s small and not super-active. The move to other platforms has happened just because people are using them more for their own personal stuff and it’s easier to join. But it’s also a lot easier to be scammed In those places since there’s less consequences for that there. I still tell newbies to join DoA since it has the best information resources.
       
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    14. I like how so many small artists are starting to make dolls! Especially dolls with new bodytypes and more variety of skintones.
      I also love 3D sculpting (and would like to learn someday), I'm disabled + ashtma so I can't be around the traditional materials. But 3D sculpting makes doll making accessible to more people!
       
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    15. When I first became interested in the hobby back in 2007, I was very disappointed in the male sculpts, who were all very pretty and terribly effeminate. Not that I have anything against pretty, but I wanted to collect male sculpts that were not almost indistinguishable from the girls. In recent years, many of the men have become overall truly male, with strong features that leave no doubt as to their gender. I love that!

      Another trend that makes me happy is the growing availability of larger and larger dolls. I know that they are not for everyone, but I really enjoy the feel of a substantially heavy BJD. It used to be that 65cm was considered a big chunk of resin, but now 75cm has become fairly common, and some companies make 80 - 110cm as basic dolls. Patiently waiting for Dollmore to create a 110cm, truly masculine Trinity guy...
       
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    16. This is so true. I haven't been on a forum in years and came back to the hobby I didn't intend to spend much time on DoA. Butit's reminded me how much joy I used to get from the internet and how little I get now.

      More masculine features on males, and more realistic features on female dolls are probably related trends. I very much appreciate the latter (I find myself turned off many sculpts by very unrealistic little noses) I have no love for the latter. It's good that the variety is there for people who like that.
       
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    17. PREACH. One of the reasons I feel so evangelical about this subject is that there are generations online now who haven't had this experience (forums, blogs, email lists, livejournal/dreamwidth) to compare it to, and also haven't had experience of time entirely offline (which I do every few weeks for my own sanity)

      Perhaps this doesn't matter, and the contrast is only a thing that bugs oldies - if you're a Web 2.0 native, you're made happy by the new platforms. Buuuut....perhaps, people don't know that the alternative exists, and they would be happier if they knew it was an option.

      I had exactly the same experience you describe, specifically swapping from Tumblr to Dreamwidth, and also stopping using modern Windows and using a Linux operating system on my computer instead - which brought back the sheer joyousnous I felt as a kid using Windows 95. I'd thought it was just nostalgia. It wasn't; modern operating systems are designed more for passive consumers than active users, it is a very different experience, and my Linux makes me feel empowered. And exactly that word you choose: joy.

      But it was also difficult, like relearning an old muscle, to remember on my Dreamwidth that...wow, when someone writes me a comment, I have to properly read it and then write a response...I can't just click like. Which was weird until I got back into the groove, because it's a very different way of existing online. It feels like the difference between fast food, glossy but unfilling somehow, and a proper oaty granola - difficult to chew, you can have a lot less of it, but nourishing. Participating, not just browsing.
       
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    18. I love the shift to insta for viewing, but I've also had trouble making friends on it. It doesn't help that I don't have 24/7 internet. But then again I've always had trouble making friends online. I usally made friends by attending meet ups and THEN connecting to them online :sweat
      I love seeing all the artists work, but it feels like a lot of them want consumer interaction. Not looking to make friends.
      I miss how easy it was to find a meet up and meet people(though some of that is more covids fault).
       
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    19. This! Every word of it.
      I am very much a forum person and one of the big changes I've seen in many of my hobbys is how they slowly started to decline as Facebook gained popularity. Many of my old favourite hangouts for doll stuff have died the slow and agonizing "Facebook-death" as new users with shorter and shorter attention spans in combinations with older users giving up, burn out or move on makes posting more and more infrequent. I think one of the differences there is that to me, slow posting is fine, as long as the posts made have quality and substance, while many who come to forums from platforms like facebook or instagram tend to se lack of responses right away as a signal to move away. I don't get that mentallity at all, but I have also never used any of those platforms myself, so what do I know?
       
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    20. I too use Linux, and I really hate how more internet use is via phones and tablets. not because they aren't convenient, (on my phone right now; thankfully one with a qwerty keyboard) but because they so agressively de-skill people, particularly those made by apple. for years I could copy and paste things from facebook and twitter on my phone, and now I can't. Because they made it so you can only copy whole posts/comments/tweets which is NEVER what I want, so that it was "easier" for people who don't know how to copy-paste... But everything that's "easier" is inevitably less flexible. The whole thing is wildly upsetting.
       
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