Did you ever have something that was both right up your alley yet complete foreign to you? That’s what I got when I had the opportunity to interview the presenters of the Korean Ball Jointed Doll Show. It’s a convention for and about Korean ball jointed dolls, which are basically dolls amped up to eleven. These people want to show the whole world how great their stuff is, and they’re taking it to America.
While I am (by default) 91.8’s Asian culture expert, I must admit I am lost in the realm of Korean ball jointed dolls. I can’t say no to an opportunity to learn about a new interesting world, and they were very eager to guide people through it. So let’s learn together and discuss some dolls!
Kayarath: Tell me a little about yourself and your involvement with the Korean Ball Jointed Doll Show.
Tamara: My name is Tamara. I am the Social Media Manager for the Korean Ball Jointed Doll (KBJD) Show. Basically, I am responsible for keeping our Facebook page up to date and [ensuring] that we are reaching out to our fans/attendees. I want to make sure that they are aware of everything that is going on with the KBJD Show. Lately, I have also been assisting with a bit of marketing, but I think that comes with the territory of being responsible for social media!
K: Tell me about the Korean Ball Jointed Doll Show.
T: Our doll show is all about the ball-jointed doll hobby. Specifically, it is a convention to showcase Korean ball jointed doll artists and companies. We have a huge variety of Korean-based companies that are coming out to our convention, some even for the first time! Our primary focus is to present the American ball-jointed doll collectors with companies that are not normally main stream. We want to bring more attention to the indie brand of dolls. We will be hosting this grand event in the beautiful Los Angeles Airport, at the Westin hotel!
K: The Korean Ball Jointed Doll Show is gonna be full of people who make, collect, and appreciate high quality dolls. What type of guests do you have lined up?
T: Since our convention is primarily Korean in nature, we will mostly be featuring Korean doll-makers and companies. Some of those include Crobidoll, Peakswoods, Dollheart, DollinStyle, MigiDoll, and Nine9Style to name a few. Some of our vendors are very well known within the doll collector community, while others are indie type brands that haven? quite been recognized for their awesome talents! However, since we are fans of all different types of ball-jointed dolls, we will also be featuring American indie brands such as Susan Lake Designs, Bo Bergemann and Xtreme Dolls to name a few. We are truly excited for the lineup!
K: Running a convention can be tough. There’s scheduling, renting space, budgeting, promoting, etc. How are you preparing to handle all of it?
T: The wonderful gal in charge of putting this entire event together is Ms. Cholong. She is truly an inspirational person, with a heart of gold, great energy and spirit. To be honest, I don’t know how she does it! I wish I could give more details on how she is preparing and handling everything, but that is a question more suited for her!
K: Calling these products “dolls” is like saying Gurren Lagaan has “big robots.” It really doesn’t do justice to the craftsmanship and detail that goes into these things. Doesn’t it take a lot of work to make these things? What else makes ball-jointed dolls unique?
T: Ball-Jointed Dolls are definitely a category in it of themselves. Ball jointed dolls are normally made with polyurethane resin. The process is tedious in the fact that it must be sculpted, created into a mold, molded using the resin, sanded, and cleaned before anything else can be done to it. The beauty of all ball jointed dolls is that they are fully articulate. All their joints sit on balls, which allow for flexibility in posing. They are put together using strong elastic running through all the joints, being held together using S hooks or magnets.
Once that long process is finished and it is finally in the hands of a doll hobbyist, they put the rest of the pieces together: eyes, hair, clothes, accessories, make up (if they do not want the default), etc. That is why it is very rare to find two dolls that look the same, even if they are the same mold or from the same company.
K: All that craftsmanship and work adds up, doesn’t it? It can’t be cheap to make these!
T: This is definitely an expensive hobby! These dolls are beautiful, original and creative. They are a wonderful outlet for that creative spirit in all of us. They range anywhere from $100 to $1,000, but it really varies depending on their size, resin color, rarity, etc. There are dolls available for all budgets!
K: What’s the plan? Today, the convention; tomorrow, what’s next?
T: That’s another question for Ms. Cholong! However, I would imagine that eventually they want to host this convention annually, and grow from there. This will be our first year, and based on its success, I am sure we would love to offer an annual ball jointed doll convention in Southern California on an annual basis!
K: Is America ready for ball-jointed dolls?
T: I would say yes. Every day they are becoming more and more popular. There are people that find ball jointed dolls creepy because it reminds them of porcelain dolls, but I feel that ball jointed dolls have more personality. They are more versatile and are truly beautiful creations that definitely deserve more attention!
K: Do you think your products will gain traction among the average anime fan? What about Aisan culture fans in general? If not, what is your target demographic? Do you have a target demographic?
T: Ball-Jointed dolls in general are something for anyone and everyone. Whether you fancy reproducing your favorite Anime character in art form or bringing to life an original character, there is something for everyone. There are so many different types of dolls that even males find themselves venturing into this hobby. I would say that most people who are into Anime or Asian culture are already aware of ball-jointed dolls… at least that is what I have noticed! They either see them at conventions or other events, and a lot of the time their interest in this hobby stems from there.
K: I heard that there are resin and non-resin dolls. How do they differ?
T: The main difference is obviously the material. Resin is sturdier, tends to be heavier, and usually reflects the stronger material in their price tag. Non-Resin dolls are normally made of different types of plastic, which means they are more sensitive to certain chemicals (primarily when you do their makeup). Their look does not necessarily vary, but the biggest way to tell the difference between resin and non-resin is how much they cost.
K: What’s your favorite types of doll?
T: Personally? I love all of them. I know that sounds really vague, but I haven’t found a doll I don’t find beautiful. I actually own 7 different dolls, of different sizes, colors and molds. They are all unique and gorgeous in their own way. They definitely make for amazing photo subjects!!
K: Do doll makers accept commissions?
T: I do not believe so. I have never heard of doll makers taking commissions on dolls themselves. Generally speaking, the doll makers/companies create their own designs and sell those. I have heard of certain companies making molds of real-life actors or paying homage to certain anime characters.
K: Let’s talk accessories and clothes. Hats! Dresses! More Hats! Your convention must be a gold mine for people wanting to make their dolls red carpet ready.
T: Some of the biggest doll clothing companies will be at the Korean Ball-Jointed Doll Show. Nine9Style has a mighty huge selection of doll clothing and accessories. Literally ranging from underwear to the most elaborate outfits you have ever seen! Another huge clothing provider is DollinStyle. They have shoes, hats, socks, complete outfits, everything! In all shapes in sizes. Honestly, having the opportunity to save on shipping fees just by visiting the convention is one heck of a deal since most of these companies are overseas.
K: What about costumes? Can a person get a maid outfit for their doll? A butler suit? A kimono? A business suit? MC Hammer pants? Armor even?
T: Yes, yes and more yes! You would be surprised at the vast and endless variety of outfits, clothes, costumes and everything else in between that exists in the ball-jointed doll community. There are seamstresses and tailors that can make any idea into reality. Talent is ridiculously bountiful in this hobby, and I have rarely ever heard of an occasion where an outfit could not be designed.
K: How can people learn more about ball-jointed dolls and your convention? Can you recommend some websites?
T: The first stop is our official convention website at http://www.kbjdshow.com. Next I would recommend our Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kbjdshow. Finally, for more information regarding ball-jointed dolls go to http://bjdcollectasy.com/.
I’m sure you’re now all eager to start your own Korean ball jointed doll collections! But before you spend all your money on doll hats, be sure to preorder your tickets to the KBJD show! It’ll be April 24th to the 26th in L.A. May your doll be the fairest of them all.