Dolly Data: Ball-Jointed Doll (BJD) Glossary and a Brief FAQ
New to the world of BJDs? I can help! Here are some commonly used terms in the dolly world. (Note: List not exhaustive and may grow in the future.)
After Event - An opportunity after a Dolpa to purchase Limited Edition merchandise. Usually involves a lottery system online, or showing up at a Tenshi no Sumika/Volks Showroom location in person on the morning of the event.
Anthro (doll) - Dolls that have humanoid bodies but animal heads, tails, feet, etc.
BJD - Ball-Jointed Doll -- This term can be used to refer to any kind of doll with a ball/socket joint, but you will often see "BJD" used to refer to the Asian type of BJD that's become popular over the years. (You may also see them referred to as ABJDs, which stands for Asian Ball-Jointed Doll.)
Delf - The BJD produced by the Korean company Luts. Luts doll categories generally contain the word "delf" in the same way Volks uses "dollfie." From smallest to largest: Tiny Delf, Honey Delf, Kid Delf, Junior Delf, Delf, Senior Delf, and Super Senior Delf. The Super Senior Delf is about 70cm, while the Tiny Delf is about 16cm.
Dollfie - Doll + Figure; a catch-all term for BJDs. Technically a "Dollfie" is a specific item produced by the company Volks, which specializes in dolls and model kits. A Dollfie is a 27cm plastic doll that can be customized with different faces, wigs, etc. by the owner. A "Super Dollfie" is a much larger, harder "resin" version of the same thing. Many people use "Dollfie" to mean any kind of BJD in the way people use "Xerox" to mean any kind of photocopying, although in some circles you might catch a bit of grief for referring to anything but the 27cm dolls as "dollfies."
Dollfie Dream (DD) - ~60cm vinyl dolls produced by the Japanese company Volks. These dolls cater to a slightly different crowd, as they tend to be more anime-styled and have different bust sizes available (from large to very, very large). There are also "mini" sizes of the Dollfie Dream. Although these dolls are not made of resin, many doll communities such as Den of Angels will "allow" them to be discussed, as they are closely related to their resin cousins. These particular dolls have, instead of strings, an internal skeleton that allows them to be easily posed.
Dollpa, Dolpa - Dolls Party -- A Volks-specific doll convention that takes place in Japan, as well as in other countries such as Korea and the United States. Limited edition dolls and other merchandise are made available for each Dollpa. These conventions take place in major cities across Japan, including (but not limited to) Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.
Dreaming Head - Usually refers to a head with a similar mold to an existing sculpt except for the fact that the eyes are closed.
Faceup - The face (lip color, cheek color, eyelashes, eyebrows, etc.) painted on a BJD's blank head. These may be painted by the doll companies, by the individual owners, or by independent faceup artists.
FCS - Full Choice System -- A Volks product where customers can select their doll piece by piece, creating a totally customized BJD. There are skin color choices, several different face molds (FCS-specific as well as standard edition), hands, feet, wigs, eyes, eyelashes, and even custom makeup. The system is available at any Tenshi no Sumika location, as well as Tenshi no Sato in Kyoto. Some faces/options may not be available at all locations.
Gem - BJDs produced by the Korean company Soom. The standard dolls come in four sizes: Mini Gem, Teenie Gem, Gem and Super Gem. The Super Gem is ~65 cm, while the Mini Gem is ~29 cm. There is also a Mega Gem, which is listed as ~68cm.
Headcap, Head cap - The top of a BJDs skull. Usually this part is removable, held on by magnets or rubber bands. The removable head cap allows the owner to access the eye sockets, as well as to pull the tension string through the body and the head.
Idealian - A doll produced by the Korean company Soom to have a more detailed and realistic body. Currently these dolls are all limited editions, available for a short period of time.
KIPS - Silicon disks inserted at the joints of a doll to aid with posing.
LE - Limited Edition -- Refers to any doll that is not generally available for purchase. Some LEs may be re-released or made generally available to the public. LEs are usually more expensive, coming with special makeup, wigs, face molds, outfits, or body parts. Some LE's may be available in limited quantity, while others are only available for a short ordering period.
Lusion - A roughly ~80cm doll produced by the Korean company Dollmore. This doll is, unlike other similarly sized dolls, proportioned to be the size of a very young child. As a result it is about $1500 and very heavy compared to dolls of a similar height.
Mecha Angel - The ~80cm doll produced by Soom. Available for five days out of the month.
MD - Monthly Doll -- Limited Edition dolls produced by Soom, usually with a fantasy theme. Dolls are only available for one month.
Model Doll - A ~68cm doll produced by the Korean company Dollmore.
MSD - Mini Super Dollfie -- Refers specifically to the ~42cm resin ball-jointed doll produced by Volks. Dolls are customizable with various eyes, wigs and outfits available. Some may use this as a catch-all term for any similarly-sized BJD regardless of company. Some may use the term MSD-size to refer to a BJD that is around 42cm. The original Volks MSD is intended to depict a child of about 7-8.
Obitsu - A vinyl doll similar to the Dollfie, produced in Japan. These are produced in 60cm sizes as well as smaller versions. Although they are not made of resin, many doll communities such as Den of Angels will "allow" them to be discussed, as they are very similar to standard BJDs in everything but material.
Pipos - A Korean company specializing in anthro dolls, including (but not limited to) cats, rabbits, foxes and mice. They also produce a few human dolls as well.
Resin - The type of plastic that the BJDs are made from. This varies by company, but it is generally thought to be very hard and durable compared to the types of plastics used for toys.
SD - Super Dollfie -- Refers specifically to the ~60cm resin ball-jointed doll produced by Volks. Dolls are customizable, with various eyes, wigs and outfits available. Some may use this as a catch-all term for any kind of large BJD, or any BJD produced by Volks regardless of size. Some may use the term SD-size to refer to a BJD that is around 60cm. The original Volks SD is meant to be a child of about 10, although many hobbyists style their SDs to appear much older.
SD10, 13, 16, 17, etc. - The number refers to the supposed age of the doll. Older dolls tend to be more mature in their bodies/facial features, and bigger/taller than the "younger" dolls. You may see these used as generic terms to refer to the size of a doll. For example, "This outfit fits any SD13 size doll."
S-Hook - A metal hook in an S shape. A doll may have several of these at the ankles, wrists, and inside the head/neck area. The string may be looped around these, as well as the hand or foot parts.
Stringing - The act of inserting the strings inside a doll's limbs/body. A doll is strung by using a metal tool to pull the elastic cords through the limbs, and then tying the string near the neck. The tension of the strings is what makes it possible for the doll to stand or pose. Dolls may need to be unstrung or restrung when painting faceups, sanding seams, etc.
Super Dollfie - See: SD
Tenshi no Sato - Hometown/HQ of the Super Dollfie. This "shop" is located in Kyoto and requires advance reservations from SD owners who wish to visit. FCS (Full Choice System) can be ordered here, and there is a garden, tea room, museum, and so on available.
Tenshi no Sumika - Home of the Angels -- These stores sell Volks BJD products including wigs, shoes, clothes, and standard edition dolls. FCS (Full Choice System) dolls can also be ordered here. There are several Tenshi no Sumika locations across Japan, with one in Los Angeles and one in South Korea.
Trinity - A 105cm doll produced by the Korean company Dollmore. This doll is intended to represent a 15-year-old girl. Like the Lusion doll, it is proportioned to be more realistic in scale.
U-noa - BJDs in the ~60cm range produced by Japanese artist Gentaro Araki. These dolls are notable for having changeable faceplates, so that owners can change the expression on their doll.
Volks - The "original" BJD company. This company out of Japan produces a variety of dolls and model kits, especially anime-themed merchandise. They have many stores across Japan including the Tenshi no Sumika which specialize in Super Dollfies, as well as showrooms that sell all of their merchandise (including Super Dollfies).
Wigcap, Wig cap - A silicon/rubber cap used on the skull of the BJD to keep oversized wigs from slipping or wig dye from staining the resin.
YoSD - Refers specifically to the ~26 cm ball-jointed doll produced by Volks. Dolls are customizable, with various eyes, wigs and outfits available. Some may use this as a catch-all term for any BJD that is around 26cm. YoSD dolls are generally proportioned to look like small children around 3-5 years old. Some may refer to ~26cm dolls as Yo-size or YoSD-size.
Zuzu Delf - Anthro doll produced by Luts
Brief Dolly FAQ
Q. What makes these dolls different from other collectible dolls?
A. They're not necessarily totally different from other strung ball-jointed dolls. Some would argue that it's the Asian aesthetic that makes these dolls unique. "Asian aesthetic" basically means that they have the larger eyes and smaller noses/mouths typical of things like anime or manga
Q. How much does a BJD cost?
A. Costs vary by company and depend on things like faceups and accessories. Volks dolls, for example, come with standard makeup. Most other companies' dolls do not, and adding a faceup will add extra $$$ to the price. Size is also a factor. The smallest dolls can cost from $150-400, with the 60cm dolls averaging around $600-700. Limited edition dolls sold on sites like Ebay or Yahoo Japan Auctions can fetch $1000-3000 depending on rarity and popularity.
Q. Where can I get a cheap doll?
A. You might be able to get a damaged one for cheap on Ebay. Another option is to get an Obitsu, which is a vinyl doll. They are much cheaper than the heavier resin dolls, which also means that if you decide you don't like it, it's less money wasted. Your other option is to get a doll from a Chinese company (which tend to be cheaper than the Korean or Japanese dolls) or get a small doll. The plus side to the small dolls is that you can use Barbie-sized furniture and accessories with them.
Q. Are these dolls for kids?
A. Like any collectible, these are intended for an older audience. While the resin is very durable, children may not be able to take proper care of a $600 doll. BJDs are recommended for kids 14+.
Q. Where can you buy clothes/wigs/furniture/etc.?
A. Most sites that sell dolls will sell some amount of accessories you can use with the dolls. Ebay is another option, with many sellers in China offering wigs, shoes and outfits. Check size charts to guarantee that the item will fit your particular doll, as all dolls are different, and what fits a Volks doll might not fit the same on a Soom (for example).
For furniture and accessories, it depends on the size of your doll. My Twinn furniture is made for dolls around 22-23" (SD size), while American Girl is about 18" (roughly MSD size). Occasionally you can find SD size furniture on the manufacturer's websites (Dollmore is a great source for furniture and accessories), although they tend to be very expensive, and so is shipping from Korea/Japan.
Q. How do you take care of a BJD?
A. They don't require a lot of special care, but it's a good idea to keep them away from heat, light and water to keep your dolly in tiptop shape. All resin will yellow over time, but leaving a doll in direct sunlight will speed up this process, and water can lead to the strings inside molding and rotting.
You should also take care not to touch the face too much (oils in your skin may affect the sealant that protects the faceup), and make sure not to leave your doll wearing dark colors or dark wigs, as sometimes those will stain the resin. If your doll does get stained on its arms or legs (or anywhere it's not painted), a Mr. Clean magic eraser can do the trick.
(Please feel free to leave other questions or suggestions for additions to the glossary in the comments! Also, if you feel there's something I forgot to mention or need to add to an entry/question, let me know.)