Even though I already had one Character Model Original Doll (see my review), I was still eager to get one of the Character Model sets where you had to assemble the doll yourself. Additionally, I needed a fully wired doll in my collection. So when I bought Marino I killed two birds with one stone.
I've already written that Character Models was a kind of a magazine supplement series consisting primarily of garage kits. The doll box resembles a GK box a lot... while the contents resemble a GK.
What you get is an Elegant Collection body by Volks, a painted head and two sets of clothes (some Character Models got three of them!) together with a detailed instruction, although it doesn't take a rocket scientist to assemble the doll without a manual.
The body is a 27cm wired one, not too smooth but very sticky. It was first released in 2000 and I think it was used for several UFS dolls. At least its smaller variation can be seen on UFS Al Azif. It is called seamless, but I can see the seams very well.
The head seems to be made of resin and painted with matte acrylic paints. It gives you a feel of an old GK head consisting of three parts (the red part being a hat, I think).
I have to admit that the assembled doll doesn't look particularly well - in other words, the head neither fits nor matches the body. It's too small and yellowish.
Marino has a nice wardrobe which includes a casual winter outfit and a miko (shrine maiden) garment. Both clothing sets are made by Volks with amazing attention to minute details and neat stitching.
For some reason, Marino looks more proportional when she's wearing hakama. The casual clothes reveal that she is awkwardly tall while her head is too small.
After this dress-up game I unassembled Marino again. She might not be the best doll, but as a doll kit she is a worthwhile experience for any collector.
- Written by Yoruno
After receiving one of the School Casual sets today, I decided to speculate a bit on doll outfits. The initial idea behind any doll is that you can undress it and change its clothes.
If we talk about anime dolls, it will be correct to start with Candy Candy. These toys weren't intended for collecting, so the dress-up fun was highly encouraged. Almost every type of Candy Candy dolls had extra clothes that were bought separately. Most of these outfits didn't appear in the anime, but at least the manufacturers often applied Candy's favourite colours, red and white. Candy Candy dolls were also released wearing exactly the same clothes that you could buy in a separate pack. Compare this outfit with one of Itazura Candy dolls:
Female leads always had a better chance of getting more outfits than the rest of the cast. For example, Sailor Moon Boutique was a series of extra outfits that was almost entirely made for Usagi, while School Casual was intended for Miki. At the same time, other dolls in Sailor Moon and Marmalade School line could also wear these dresses because they all had similar bodies - except Chibi Moon who had her own wardrobe, although not so rich as Usagi's. The Sailor Senshi also had their own distinctive uniforms which couldn't be worn by other characters.
After Sailor Moon dolls, random outfits were neglected in favour of character clothing. For example, Free Pose Selection series only included the clothes that Sakura and Tomoyo were wearing in Card Captor Sakura. This series of outfits was particularly important as the main character changed battle costumes in each episode of the anime.
While you had to buy new costumes for Sakura to make her look like a mahou shoujo, it was the other way round for another magical girl, Saint Tail. The doll was sold wearing her magician's dress, so in order to transform her back to an ordinary student you had to buy her a school uniform.
Not only were clothes made for magical girls, some clothes were magical on their own! These were the outfits made for interactive dolls. A good example is Oshaberi Pendant Dress: it could make the talking doll produce new sounds.
Some dolls were (and are) released with a bonus which is an extra outfit. This outfit is either included in the box...
...or it can literally be a bonus, e.g. for early pre-order:
There are cases when such an extra outfit can transform the character into another one. It probably started with Henshin and Beauty Change Sailor Moon dolls, but it is a predictable mahou shoujo change. As for the Boogiepop doll, changing clothes will reveal a big plot spoiler, and if you undress Dal Gloomy, you will see his master, Pity:
Outfits are very important for doll kits. For example, buying a Resinya body without adding the character clothing would be senseless.
Now a couple of words about major character clothing manufacturers. Bandai, Takara and Volks make clothes intended for the dolls they produce. Outfits by Volks (worn by Dollfie Dream dolls) are widely known by their high quality.
Azone also makes clothes for its dolls. What's more, it makes clothes for the dolls that don't exist yet! For example, there are no Kanon dolls, but you can dress an Obitsu using this set and make a custom one.
Cherry Milk and its former collaborator Ginger Tea are doujinshi (amateur) doll clothing makers. Their works are licenced, but made by hand in very limited numbers.
- Written by Yoruno
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