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Why Resin?

Mar 2, 2011

    1. Okay, I admit it: I have thousands of dolls, and they're all vinyl. I have not got a single resin BJD, and I'm on these forums because I want one. That being said, I'm wondering why these Asian doll companies all make resin dolls. I understand they are easier to paint than vinyl, but the benefits seem to stop there. Resin is more expensive, it's heavier, and to top that, it yellows over time. I have vinyl dolls that have faced all manner of abuse and don't look any the worse for it. So why do these companies use a material that everyone knows is less archival than other popular doll plastics in one of the most the most expensive doll "genres" in the world? If I lay down hundreds of dollars for a doll, I expect that doll to last me a lifetime. I don't want her yellowing, chipping etc. I have ten-dollar dolls that will never do those things.

      So why do these companies do it, considering all the downsides to resin? Is it because they can charge more if they're resin? Or is it just a "fashion" thing--a BJD is, by unspoken definition, made of resin, so all the companies make resin dolls? It seems a little strange to spend so much on a doll that will change from its intended form so quickly. These dolls are so beautiful, I'll accept the yellowing risk for a couple cheaper ones. But because they are not as archival as I feel they should be for their price, I won't go further than that.

      Unfortunately, I was so intent on avoiding the yellowing issue I bought an American vinyl BJD and I'm pretty much furious with the company. I love the doll but for God's sake my 30-dollar BFC Ink doll poses better than she does. I have resigned to the belief that if I want a BJD that will really pose in all the ways I want her to, I'll have to get an Asian BJD.

      BTW, I'm using "archival" as an artist--in the art world, "archival" means acid-free, resistant to yellowing, staining etc. and usually refers to papers, media and glues.

      Hope I don't sound mean. :):) I love these dolls, I do, but I'm just a bit flummoxed--I just can't for the life of me understand why anyone would use resin over cheaper, more durable plastics.
    2. I'm sure you'll get all kinds of answers, but as someone who has vinyl, resin, and procelein dolls I have to say I actually like the resin best. I have a few vinyl BJDs from Obitsu, and they are wonderful posers. But the detail is severely lacking. I'm constantly impressed by the depth of detail in fingernails, musculature, and even veining in my resin BJDs. The resin is also very durable, much less likely to chip than porcelein or ceramic. I think that while the resin is more expensive and heavy, it gives the greatest detail and the strongest material. It also doesn't have to be fired to be painted. Best of all, the resin is sandable and carvable, allowing you to further customs the dolls!
    3. I guess if we are to trace back the origin of asian resin ball-jointed dolls it would come down to this: Volks was the first company to make these sorts of dolls. Before making these sorts of dolls, they already made resin anime figures and resin kits of airplanes and other such things. Thus, they were a company who knew a lot about handling resin and had a staff who knew how to sculpt with it and that was a material they already had on hand, so they tried making a garage-kit doll to market to girls alongside the kits of airplanes and anime figures they were already marketing towards boys.

      Those became popular, so a lot of companies started to make their own and that's pretty much how asian resin ball-jointed dolls came to be. It really wasn't about using the best material in the business, but using what they already had and expanding on it to test out a new market. Could you imagine if a company who only worked with resin figures decided to suddenly sculpt ceramic dolls and sell them? The end result product would not be nearly as good since it would be learning a whole new medium. That being said, as you can see, over time vinyl asian ball-jointed dolls did come into existence as well as many types made out of material that's not resin or vinyl.
    4. I am not 100% sure, but I think it has to do with the fact that Volks, the first company who
      made the so called “modern Asian ball jointed dolls,” were a figure/kit/toy company,
      before they released their first ball jointed dolls. I think they wanted them to be a hybrid
      of a doll and a figure-kit (customizable type), which are customizable largely due to the fact that
      they are made of resin – one of the most customizable (synthetic) materials there are.
      While resin might not be the most archival-ready material on earth, it is one of the easiest
      to customize and fix (modify).

      - Enzyme
    5. This is subjective, but most will agree that resin just looks nicer as a material.

      The biggest benefit of resin though is the way is can be cast. I really don't know much about vinyl, and I could be completely wrong, but from what I understand it requires a hard (metal?) mold that would not allow any sort of undercuts. This makes complex shapes and details difficult if not impossible to produce. With resin, their are very few limitations. Silicone, which is used for the molds, can pick up the most minute detail, and can range from super stretchy to hard like tire rubber, making it useful in many situations. There aren't many other materials that can be cast like resin can that would be suitable for a BJD.
      The reason these dolls are expensive is not because resin is that expensive (though it isn't cheap either), it has more to do with the fact that they are hand made (which again, comes down to the molds).
    6. Lack of details in Obitsu is not the trait of vinyl as material, see hyper-realistic Reborn babies. Obitsus are just sculpted like that.

      The main advantage of resin from my point of view is a great customization ability. I tried to carve out of vinyl and it was much more difficult to control the shape. Also vinyl is more porous so it stains and takes the dirt, Dollfie owners admit that.
      The rest is not important to me. Vinyl dolls can be casted heavy enough to stand nicely, I like the feel of vinyl. But the resin casting process is more suitable for a small batch processing, when we talk about independent artists.
    7. Why does an artist choose the materials he chooses? Because he likes it. Same way why some sculptors swear by paperclay where as other only want to work with oil-based clays or wax. Not every ball jointed doll made in asian countries are made of resin; just the ones accepted on this board. Remember those Yoshida-styled dolls? They are made of clay and then painted. They are very much asian and very much ball-jointed (very beautiful too... I'm jealous when I see the quality of that sculpting, lol)

      Besides, I have two very old vinyl dolls and they too have yellowed significantly. Apparently yellowing isn't a property only for resin, but other plastics are prone to it as well. Maybe less, but still. And I have to say; yes resin yellows, but it stops yellowing after a while and I usually do love the yellowed skintone more than the new colour. Perhaps, though I'm not sure, this is another reason why some artists choose resin. Perhaps they like how the material ages overtime.

      Some see flaws where others see quality.
    8. Resin is easy to mod and relatively easy to cast even for lone artists and small workshops -- hence the garage kit scene.

      As others have previously mentioned, Volks was and is a primarily resin kit maker, with the dollfie dream dolls as the most notable exceptions.
    9. It's most practical when you think in terms of engineering (pressure on limbs because they are strung) and it's a lot more customizable.
    10. These :)

      The resin used for dolls can have a beautiful texture that cheaper plastics just don't have. If I had a barbie and a BJD side by side, it's obvious which one is better quality. You could create the same effect with porcelain (normal clay is just too rough imo, even with sanding), but it's easier to break. You'd also need a firing oven for porcelain and clay, and the cost of a good one AND running it is phenomenal!

      On the other hand, basically resin is just two different liquids mixed and poured into a mold. And the curing time is a heck of a lot shorter than firing clay.
    11. Thank you for your insights. I appreciate it. I myself am not a big fan of porcelain dolls, simply because I like to "play" and I'm so worried I'l break them! I had two porcelain dolls that I can think of off the top of my head, but I believe I gave them both away. They weren't special to me as my American Girls (and now vinyl BJDs) are.

      I agree the resin is quite beautiful; it's been nearly a year since I've seen a resin BJD in person ^^;; I see the detail on all these dolls and it is incredible!! But I know detail can be achieved with vinyl too; American Girl dolls have fingernails and knuckles etc. I don't pretend to be a genius on the sciences of different plastics but I can believe resin is easier to cast than vinyl (the only thing I've ever cast is plaster).
    12. Thank you Silk. As I said, I do not have a BJD, so your reassurance is comforting. I wasn't aware the yellowing slows down/stops!
    13. I am not familiar with American Girl dolls but when I googled them I have to say they look quite typical of the shallow definition moulding that is common with Vinyl and other plastics. They in no way compare to the detail in the moulding of Resin BJDs. I work in the toy and giftware industry and have designed products to be produced in many different types of plastic. The amount of detail that can be faithfully reproduced in the plastics classed as resin is unparalleled in my experience. Yes there are problems such as yellowing and it's brittleness compared to vinyl but it's simply the best material for the job available at the moment.

      Yes, Ryo Yoshida and other artists produce BJDs from air drying clay and such, but the amount of time that goes into making each individual piece, let alone full doll, is incredible. Once finished, as far as I am aware, the doll is a one-off? The resin BJDs we have on the forum seem mass produced in comparison!

      Besides, I have bought second hand many dolls and some were yellowed horribly, I presume because their owners took them outside or whatever, others, just as old have simply mellowed. The colour just slightly warms in my experience. If you buy a doll from new and keep it out of direct sunlight for the majority of the time you won't really notice the very slow gradual deepening of the colour over the next few years. What you will notice, if you are anything like me, is how incredibly "real" your resin beauty is compared to your old vinyl collection! ;)
    14. I'm not so sure that vinyl is the best archival material either. I have barbies and Strawberry Shortcake dolls, etc from 20-30 years ago, sometimes more. Some of them, seemingly at random, have turned color, flaked, and gotten these horrible pox spots all over their legs. They also can melt if exposed to high temperature. I'm hoping that resin will hold up better in the long run.
    15. @Alessi: No problem. When, I just entered this hobby I was terrified of yellowing. Now I have two dolls that were produced in 2003 and although they have yellowed, it hasn't become worse the past few years. I used to think that these dolls would slowly turn into lemons, but I was wrong there :lol:.

      As opposed to the masters that were sculpted to create the resin sculpts we're buying? Sometimes I think we forget how much time it takes to sculpt those. Yes, the casting might be a little less time-consuming (although it is still hard work, especially molding), but before it even comes to casting, most artist take about a year - if not more - to sculpt a complete doll.
    16. I have vinyl dolls from my childhood and some of them have started to break down and have become sticky to touch. I would rather have slightly yellowed dolls than sticky ones. I think all materials have their weaknesses. Porcelain can last almost forever, but cannot be customized, once fired, and is breakable as well.
    17. If you want something that won't change, you need porcelain. As an artist, I think you will appreciate these porcelain BJDs.
    18. Actually vinyl is far from "Archival" Bacteria and fungi love to eat the plasticizer, and the plasticizer loves to migrate out of the vinyl, too... after a certain number of years. Vinyl does weird things if exposed to too much light, too.

      When I first got into the hobby I wrote Twin Pines of Maine, who makes products for cleaning and restoring plastic dolls and action figures and asked him about resin bjd, if they were "archival" at all. His answer (I know I've posted it here before, but it'd be in a very old thread) was that properly formulated resin is "inert". Nothing can grow on it, it won't decompose, etc. Note the expression "properly formulated". Not all resins are created equal, unfortunately.

      I didn't read all the responses above, so if this has already been said 3 million times ignore me: But I read somewhere that Akihiro Enk, who created the first Super Dollfies (Volks) created them to be heavy, to feel like (quoting the article to the best of my memory) "a cat or a baby". Plus this company were already makers of resin models called garage kits.

      So I think you can dive into the resin bjd world without undue worry! Just keep your dolls out of direct sunlight! In general the more translucent a resin is, the quicker it will yellow.... but I've seen dolls the color of beeswax (French Resin) that with the right paintwork are just gorgeous.

    19. Haha... the notion that vinyl is forever... :whee: Honey, ain't nothin' forever except death 'n' taxes (and possibly Keith Richards).

      Resin looks nicest, & has the prettiest skinlike luminescence, is incredibly durable, and can be reshaped/refinished/repainted easily by the end-user. I'm sure others have different reasons for liking it, but I am neither a materials scientist nor a collector of other dolls, so that's why I like it. For me, vinyl is for action-figures, shower-curtains, & cute fetishwear.

      As for why doll companies have chosen to use it, see any of the above Volks-history lessons... I suspect that its customizability (sandable, sculptable, repaintable) was probably the key reason it became BJD material-of-choice.

      Well, it certainly works! Their weight is pleasant in exactly that way. A friend of mine, who is amused by the way I hold my giant Iplehouse Akando on my lap all the time at meetups & squeeze him like a teddybear, once said, "I know why you have EIDs... it's because you don't have cats." xD
    20. I don't really have much to add in terms of the debate, only that I'm really glad this topic came up. It's really interesting to hear about things like this and learn more about BJDs and the materials and such. Thanks for posting everyone. I almost wish I was in school still, this is actually making me want to do research and writings. Ha ha ha~!