A pretty song

Collecting high-end fashion dolls can be an expensive hobby, so most collectors have to be pretty picky about what they choose to spend their precious dolly dollars on. I like to think that within the 20+ years I’ve been at this hobby, I’ve acquired “an eye” for the best the market has to offer. I try to avoid passing fads and obvious knock-offs and go for the original–those that have that often-difficult-to-articulate “something” that sets them apart from their vinyl and resin sisters.

In general, I like my dolls to look like real people. With the considerable exception of Ellowyne Wilde, my dolls have realistic sculpts and realistic proportions. Bulbous heads and skinny bodies have never done it for me. In my estimation, a pretty face always outranks articulation. I will pass up the most realistically articulated doll with a mediocre sculpt in favor of a stiff doll with a pretty face. I think this is the reason I’ve stayed loyal to Robert Tonner all these years. His sculpts are among the most realistic and stunning faces in the market. While other artists have successfully created dolls with articulation Tyler Wentworth can only dream of, Tonner’s faces remain among the fairest in the dolly land.

So if anything was going to lure me and my dollars away from Mr. Tonner’s 16-inch girls, it had to have more than posability going for it.

And then one day I came across a face that enchanted me almost as much as Tyler Wentworth did the first time I laid eyes on her. The doll was the work of Mr. Paul Pham of Dollcis, and her name was Stratus. I quickly did my homework on Mr. Pham, and learned that he is a one-man-show who creates resin fashion ball-jointed dolls (FBJDs) in batches of about 50, as well as one-of-a-kind commissioned dolls. Stratus was long sold out, and her price tag on the secondary market was more than I was accustomed to paying for a doll. But several months after I first saw her, she came up for sale on one of the doll boards I frequent, and I purchased her. Today she reigns as one of the queens of my collection. She is far more than a pretty face–Stratus has quite the bod, and she poses like a dream.

In time, Stratus was joined by one of Mr. Pham’s other creations, the lovely, Spanish-inspired Alma. I love her aquiline features and serene expression.

I think one of the reasons I am so attract to Paul’s work is the distinct ethnic flavor of his sculpts. When he first released photos this spring of his latest creation, Sung, I did what I had to do to clear up some space for her. Her face seemed to capture the flavor of the Orient, and I wanted her to take her place among her sisters.

This past week, Sung arrived. I was delighted with her as soon as I opened the box.

IMG_3060IMG_3069Eager to play, I began trying different looks on her right away.

Then I photographed her with her Numina sisters.

IMG_3133IMG_3127Sung looked great in every look I tried on her. She especially favors pink and green, given her pink lips and green eyes. Ultimately, I dressed her in a top from an artist on eBay, a pair of Tonner slacks, and a wonderfully tailored jacket by Yum Yum Couture.

IMG_3163SUI may sound like a “fan girl” saying this, but IMHO, Mr. Pham is one of the most talented artists in the fashion doll community. His face sculpts are exquisite, his bodies are works of art, and although his dolls are obviously created by the same artist, each of one has a distinct ethnicity and is lovely in its own pronounced way. I also see him maturing as an artist with each subsequent doll. His dolls from six years ago are lovely, but the ones he produces today are a marked improvement from what came before. I look forward to seeing where this budding artist goes with his future creations.

Bravo, Mr. Pham. Job well done.

Why the hell isn’t this doll sold out?

Fashion ball-jointed doll (BJD) artists continue to dazzle the collector community with their creations–and there seem to be more to choose from each year. These dolls are typically of very high quality and are produced in very limited editions. They are accordingly very expensive. Nevertheless, the top doll artist can sell out of their creations within minutes.

Which leads me to wonder why the hell this doll is still available. Doll artist Paul Pham was a pioneer in the fashion BJD market, offering extremely well-made, well-engineered resin dolls with perfectly scaled couture. Paul’s dolls are the only ones that have been able to lure away this committed vinyl doll collector into the resin BJD world. Paul’s “Stratus” was my first fashion doll BJD, and I was only able to afford her after selling off a good number of my vinyl girls. I was so pleased with the beauty of Stratus’ sculpt and her versatility in being able to pull off innumerable wigs and outfits, that I knew I was destined to add another one of Paul’s creations to my collection.

When I saw “Alma”–Paul’s Spanish-inspired creation–last year it was love at first sight. And again, I thinned the herd a bit to be able to add her to my collection. Alma is a limited edition of 50, and it recently came to my attention that, after originally being offered in September 2014, Alma is not yet sold out. In the doll world, four months is an eternity–the most superior fashion BJDs do not linger on the virtual store shelves for long.

So here is my plug for those of you who may be sitting on the fence about Alma (or any fashion BJD doll). Buy her. If you don’t have the cash (and she’s not cheap), sell off some of your collection you can live without or borrow against your dolly budget until you have enough. Sell a kidney if you have to. Because, next to the lovely Stratus, Alma is one of the most elegant dolls I own. Her sculpt is different, distinct, and sophisticated. Her face paint is superb. Her gown is regal. And she adapts well to different looks. I’ve had her in dozens of outfits that she has done tremendous justice to.

Below are a few of my very amateur photos of my Alma (as well as several superior photos by the talented Angela Nielson) and my Stratus. Now click HERE and buy yourself the loveliest fashion doll you are likely to own.