So what the Hell is a BJD? What does that even stand for? It stands for on of the most disgustingly expensive hobbies you could ever hope to get into. Every collector will nod their heads sagely at such a comment. I’d imagine none of them are in denial over that simple fact, but it can also be one of the most fulfilling.
BJD stands for ball jointed doll (also referred to as ABJD or Asian ball jointed dolls) and is fairly self-explanatory in that respect. It is a figure, generally human-like in appearance (with some variations, but that will come later), with ball joints and sockets that aids in pose-ability. It’s a simple concept, but the details are what truly matter in dealings of dolls.
Normally, a ball jointed doll is either made of resin or vinyl, resin being the more expensive option. The resin vs. vinyl argument is more a matter of preference for the hobbyist than anything. On both sides, I’ve seen the argument made that one is more realistic looking than the other, or one feels better than the other. Resin is definitely heavier than vinyl, but once again, some people consider that a good thing.
The hobby has developed significantly since the late 90’s when it became more mainstream (and I use that term very loosely because while there are companies that will stock BJD’s in the US, they’re not really produced here), and at almost every anime convention you’ll see at least one in passing. BJD’s aren’t really directly linked with anime, but with their Asian roots and occasional anime style (ex: large eyes, adorable appearance, over-endowed breasts), they are sometimes associated as such. That’s not to say that every BJD looks like it came straight out of anime town, either. Nowadays with a cornucopia of options, you can find very realistic looking dolls as well. Once again, matter of preference.
Speaking of styles, you wouldn’t believe what ‘weird’ kinds of dolls you can find in this hobby. Centaurs, satyrs, anthropomorphic, winged, etc. Really, the only limits are how far your imagination will go. There are different body sizes from almost anorexic to pleasantly plump, different colors from snow white to jet black, and different accessories from… Well… Whatever you want, really. Think build-a-bear on crack. A lot of crack. Mountains of crack. Mountains of glorious crack.
What it all boils down to here is customization. You could very well consider a Ball Jointed Doll as a canvas. A canvas that serves a vast amount of purposes for a vast amount of artists. With faceups there is the opportunity to hone painting and makeup skills. With sewing, there is the opportunity to create amazing clothing that you’d otherwise have a hard time finding a model for, and with photography, you have a model that never complains, no matter what situation you stick them in, which was my reason for getting into the hobby in the first place.
I’m not going to talk money in this post. It’s better that I don’t. Instead, I think some links are in order. These are some of my favorite doll customizers/photographers and a couple awesome companies. Hope you enjoy!*
And for companies, here are a few of my favorites:
*As a disclaimer, while I’ve tried to keep most of the links work save, there may be a few NSFW images contained, so browse with caution.