The Marwencol chat and project got me very, very curious about the dolls and action figures that Mark Hogancamp uses to people his town of Marwencol, Belgium. He focuses on one-sixth scale, and while he does use Barbies and loves them, it seems his primary named-and-charactered population is made up of highly articulated action figures.
For the doll collector in my soul, let me pause a quick moment for definitions. “Action figure” is a term coined in the 1960s by Kenner to market the first GI Joe dolls, because the zeitgeist of the moment would have tanked any doll labeled as such that was marketed to boys. “Free to Be You and Me” was still a few years off. Thus an action figure, as far as I’m concerned and for our purpses here, is a type of doll marketed to men and boys.
I bought an inexpensive female action figure doll myself, at first for Mark, then I realized that there was a real dearth of available non-military, non-fantasy ordinary everyday-type clothes for the female dolls. It seemed to me that a small Belgian town was not going to be peopled by women in military uniforms and Barbie gowns. I’d bought a fairly generic and inexpensive 12” action doll, so decided to keep it and use it as a fit model for clothing for Mark’s many female dolls.
The doll I bought is a Triad Toys Otaku 1.2 body blonde female, from Triad’s eBay store, for $29.99 plush shipping, and later I bought a pair of black boots ($6.99) and a brunette head sculpt set, ie, a replacement head ($19.99), from Triad Toys’ website.
The first thing that struck me was the packaging—or, really, the lack of packaging. The doll, which I’ve named Butch, was in a fold-out plastic shell with two extra pairs of hands. She wasn’t tied in, stitched in, wired in, or otherwise artfully contained; the simple plastic shell was molded to contain her, her hands, and the brand identifier and info. The shell was easy to pop open, and there she was, unboxed. Enclosed was a small slip of paper with a few instructions. No poetry, no back story, no pretty ribbons, no fussy hairstyle and clothes, just a doll. Ta-da!
Poor Butch wasn’t wearing much, as you can see, and that bikini top does NOT fit, which is how I first discovered that this figure is body-blushed. I have yet to see a fashion doll that’s body-blushed; maybe a manicure, but that’s it. The occasional BJD is blushed either by the owner or the factory, which costs either extra work or extra money. Our girl Butch is fully blushed, all right, down to her pristinely hairless crotch, which isn’t otherwise especially graphic, just a tasteful indentation. I don’t know if the male dolls have similar painting, but I rather doubt it.
This girl has joints almost everywhere that a human body can, and a few twisting parts, and is advertised as having 20+ points of articulation, although I’ve counted 17—and weirdly enough, her torso is all one piece. Seems to me there ought to be at least a 3-piece torso on this girl, to effect various poses, and in that case I’m reasonably sure the male dolls are more fully articulated. Her joints are VERY tight and stiff, so I advise caution in moving her about. The joints will loosen with use, though, based on my experience with jointed dolls, so having her tight to start is a good idea.
Butch is heavier than a Barbie, to be sure, to reflect the greater mass of plastic involved in her manufacture. When I picked up the package, I understood why she’d cost around $12 to ship, and as the plastic shell is about 15” tall, she’s quite the substantial mailing parcel.
|Why, yes, I do have cats. Why do you ask?|
Her three pairs of included hands are the default open/flat, pistol-grip, and fist. I’ll be putting pencils and flowers rather than guns in her hands, but hey, not my usual playground, after all, and I know at least Mark’s world of Marwencol requires a great deal of self-defense. The default hands are easy to pop off and on, and the others require heat application to soften them up to be taken on and off.
Her head is nicely painted even though her expression is aggressive. The hair is okay, not great for hair play, but I’m sure it serves its intended purpose fine, and it’ll pull into a ponytail easily. It’s not the best quality saran, but it’s fairly evenly rooted and not unreasonable quality.
I got an extra head, because I thought Butch might like the occasional change, and as her eyes are painted and head rooted, changing her entire head was the only choice for a makeover. The additional head looked rather like Kristen Stewart on the website; I’m not a Twilighter, but she has a nice likeable face. The actual head is a tad less pretty, but again, it’ll do nicely for the intended purpose. The hair on this head is nicer, though, slightly better quality, but still with little play value for a doll hair junkie like me. Second Head will be just as pretty with a ponytail, though, so I’m content enough.
The boots are all soft vinyl, like Barbie shoes but bigger, and fit closely but not impossibly so, and come off more easily than I expected. Again, not a lot of shoe play is going to happen here unless I spring for the heeled feet also. There’s a nice assortment of heeled plastic shoes available that could be customized with some glue and sparkles, so that may happen. Butch with ruby slippers could be a lot of visual fun.
Overall, I’m glad I bought Butch. She’s well out of my usual collecting mode, and rather makes me think of a cross between a girl GI Joe and Pebbles Flintstone, but she could be a great subject for photos. I’m looking forward to designing some clothes for her that will expand her play horizons.