What is a BJD?

As promised, I am writing this post to tell anyone who doesn’t know what a BJD is. I don’t claim to be an expert — I haven’t even owned a BJD yet, but I thought I would just share with you what I do know, as I have done quite a bit of research on these mysterious dolls.

Disclaimer: Like I said, I’m not an expert, but I will cover all the main points of BJDs to the best of my ability. If I got anything wrong in this post, feel free to comment and let me know. :)

You see, when you type “BJD” in your search bar, and then turn to the “images” page, it won’t tell you anything. Even if you click on the first website that comes up (which is LUTS, by the way) it still doesn’t tell you much. So I just started digging.

What is a BJD?

I’ll start by telling you what “BJD” stands for: ball jointed doll. While I might have thought that any doll with ball joints would be considered a BJD, I quickly found out that that isn’t the case. BJDs are almost always made of resin, an expensive material that is heavier and nicer-looking than ordinary plastic, and their joints are held together by elastic string running throughout the body, usually attached to the hands, feet, and head by S-hooks.

What is a face-up?

Also, something you should keep in mind with BJDs is that any face paint (brows, lashes, lips, etc.) on your BJD is all part of a face-up. With face-ups, you can order your doll with what’s called a default, or factory, face up, which is done by the company before your doll ships to you. Or you can order your doll without a face-up, and send the head off to an artist who does custom face-ups specifically for you. That is extremely common in the BJD hobby.

 Sizes of BJD

I found out quickly what sizes are called in the BJD world. The smallest size of BJD is Yo-SD, which is around 25cm (10 inches) tall. The height varies between companies. Because, just like with toys or fashion dolls, there are all sorts of different brands of BJD. The next size up from Yo-SD is MSD. This is the 40–45cm size, which is approximately 16 inches. Ellowyne Wilde, though she is not a BJD, is MSD size.

So, moving on. The largest size of BJD is SD, which varies from anywhere between 60–70cm (22–27 inches). I say SD is the largest, but Dollmore has a doll that’s 105cm (over three feet tall).

Prices of BJD

A really important thing that I looked into is price point. Once I realized how nice resin is, how it looks much more like real skin than plastic does, and all the others pluses, the price didn’t seem quite as overwhelming. The smallest BJDs, frequently referred to as “tinies” can be anywhere between 150 and 300 dollars depending on quality and company. Wilde Imagination by Robert Tonner released a line of 4″ BJDs that sell for about 200 dollars or less (she’s called Amelia Thimble).

MSD dolls tend to range anywhere between 300 and 500 dollars. Sometimes you can get a cheapy MSD for under 200 bucks. Around 300 is the LUTS price for an MSD, while Fairyland MSDs are over 400. SDs are usually around 600 or 800 dollars, depending on the brand and if you order it with clothing or not, which is a factor for all sizes of BJDs. I think mostly the limited edition dolls are the ones that have an outfit option.

But I decided I would get the best doll for me, whether it meant I had to pay more or not. I mean, BJDs are expensive no matter how ugly or cheaply the doll is made. After seeing some of the cheaper dolls, and shuddering at how they looked, I knew I would rather pay more, maybe even lots more, for the best doll I could get — and the exact size I wanted.

Single and double-Jointed dolls

I’ll also wanted to mention that which company or sculpt you go with also depends on what kind of poseability you want in a doll. Because, although a lot of BJDs can be made to do things like touch their face, sit on their legs, etc., some aren’t made to hold that pose for photography, display, etc..

The more familiar you get with BJDs, the more you’ll be able to identify the difference between single and double joints. Most fashion dolls and collector dolls have single joints, and quite a few BJDs as well. But just try to think of a double joint as (like the name implies) having two joints in one that allows the arm or leg to bend like a real person’s.

Brands of BJD

Next what I started to realize is that if a BJD was a kind of doll that I might want, I needed to pick a brand. I looked into LUTS and Dollmore as mentioned, I researched Iplehouse, Souldoll, Elfdoll, Leekeworld, D.I.M Doll, and Fairyland. Then I started narrowing down my options.

I really, really like Iplehouse’s sculpts and face ups — the MSD girls are more womanly than, say, LUTS or Fairyland’s MSD girls. I will keep Iplehouse in mind for a future secondary doll, or a boy friend for my first BJD. I prefer the Iplehouse MSD boys rather than Fairyland’s (Fairyland’s are a little too girly for my taste). Next I crossed out Souldoll from my list. The body sculpt is pretty, and detailed, but not versatile enough for me — for example, there were no bust size options. Plus, I didn’t find any face sculpts that I was just crazy about.

Next I ruled out Elfdoll — I wasn’t pleased with the website or the body sculpts, but most of all I didn’t find a face I liked. Over all, Elfdoll didn’t seem to be quite the quality I was wanting. I also ruled out getting a doll from Leekeworld because their website was slightly confusing and they didn’t seem to have any a la carte options for building your own doll. Also, I didn’t like their body sculpts. But I do really like their wigs, which you can purchase through Denver Doll Emporium without having to pay the expensive shipping costs.

Also, I decided against D.I.M doll because, although the body looked nice and had more of the versatility that I wanted, I didn’t find a face sculpt I liked. And since the body I chose was new, and D.I.M doll isn’t all that popular, I couldn’t find many customer reviews for them. So, that left Fairyland. Their MSD is the Minifee. Their are multiple bodies available for the Minifee, but after doing some more research I came to the conclusion that the Active Line body was the most poseable, and the most realistic and proportional. Also, you can order Fairyland dolls through Denver Doll.

When you get a Minifee, you can choose between almost thirty face sculpts, three bust sizes, two leg styles, and nine hand choices (Minifees have magnetic hands that can be changed out).

Recast BJDs

Also, something you should beware of is recast dolls. As I said, I’ve been researching BJDs for a long time, and I only recently found out about recasts. I found a website that was selling a rare and expensive BJD for less than 200 dollars. I knew something must be wrong, and when I looked at the about page I read that “all our dolls are recast.” I thought, “Ooh, maybe these are like refurbished or something.” But when I researched what “recast” meant, I found out that something was, indeed, wrong.

A recast company is basically one who buys a doll from a company and replicates it. Many times the only differences between a legitimate company doll and a recast is size — recasts tend to be smaller because of the replicating process. I don’t know a whole lot about these dolls, because when I realized what they were and how to identify one by price, I kind of didn’t want to have anything more to do with them. Like I said, the main difference is size. The recast is a bit smaller.

Personally, I think that copying anyone’s copyrighted work isn’t morally right — be it photos, fonts, novels, drawings…anything, really. Not to mention, I don’t think it’s legally right. I mean, it’s not like I would completely write someone off for being recast-friendly, but buying a recast doll seems like cheating. Personally, I would rather wait longer or pay more for a doll that is legitimate, and is from a company I can trust.

Thanks for reading!

So, I think that’s it for now, but I’m sure you’ll hear more from me about dolls and BJDs in the future. I hope this post has been helpful, and for those of you who know everything that I just told you, I do not mean to sound patronizing in the least. ^.^ This post is dedicated solely to those who, like me, didn’t understand BJDs and thought they were some weird, creepy brand that’s way overpriced. Or perhaps you knew what they were but needed some more in-depth information. I hope this was helpful, and I will let you know what I decide about getting my own Minifee! :)


4 thoughts on “What is a BJD?

  1. It might be a good idea to explain to people what the terms “SD” and “MSD” and all that stand for. It’s probably more correct to say that these dolls are SD sized or MSD sized. As they are not actual Super Dollfie. Since Volks was the main company to pioneer BJD they should probably get a mention as well.

    • Thanks for your critique, and I’ll see when I can get to it. :) I’m definitely not an expert on BJDs, and this is more a documentary of what I found out on my personal hunt for the perfect doll for me. There are brands, looking back on this post, I can’t believe I forgot to mention. But it’s simply because on my search, if I wasn’t interested in a brand, I quickly moved on from it.

      Thanks again! :)

  2. Thank you Liz! Your search helped me pick the right BJD for me. I want to photograph my doll so your tips really pointed me to the right doll. Now I feel good about getting what I want.

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