DOLLSHE FASHION GRANT PHILLIPPE

Date of review: 10/12/15

INTRODUCTION

Dollshe is an established doll company, based in South Korea.  It is run by Master Sculptor Kim Kiyong, who came to the
BJD market in 2003.  They are a respected and influential company and are arguably the originator of the now standard
70cm mature, male size.  They also produced the perennially popular Saint head sculpt.

SUMMARY

This doll is the Grant Phillippe head on the Fashion 28M body.  The original 28M body of 2013 was a departure for
Dollshe.  It marked the transition from their distinctive attenuated, highly stylised body shape to a more realistic doll,
reflecting the general move towards realism in the ball-jointed doll community.  The Fashion 28M dolls are scaled down
versions of the 70cm originals, presumably via a 3D scanning technique.  The Fashion line currently features the original
Grant Phillippe and David Kuncci heads, as well the more recent Rey Lewis head.  It also features female and child
sculpts, all being reduced versions of larger originals. 

This is a urethane resin, elastic-strung doll (called a ball-jointed doll). 

VITAL STATISTICS

Height: 44cm
Head: 13.3 cm
Neck: 8.2cm
Eye size: 8mm
Chest: 23.3 cm
Waist: 16.6 cm
Hips: 20.5 cm
Shoulder width:  10.7 cm
Feet Length: 6.6 cm
 
Flexibility

Any well-behaved doll should be able to sit straight.  He can with ease, although he has a slight backwards lean, due to
the front of the hip socket being a little low.  However, he is stable in this position and doesn’t need to prop himself up
with his arms.
 
I already have the full-sized version of the 28M body, so I knew what to expect in terms of the sculpting.  However,
seeing that degree of detail at this scale is mind-blowing.  The veins, tendons and wrinkles are beautifully observed
and executed.  The feet and hands in particular are miniature works of art.  The positioning of the hands is good, with
the relaxed hands being a natural and elegant neutral shape.  The gesture hands look fun and I suspect they will be
versatile, in spite of their designated functions.
If this doll is considered to be truly 1:4 scale, he would be 5 feet 9 inches or 176 cm.  This is a good, realistic height
for a Western adult male.  The 44cm size is a not uncommon for vinyl male fashion dolls, such as Tonners.  However,
there are as yet few mature, realistic resin BJDs in this size.  Dollmore have a range of fashion BJDs at 43cm, but most
others are either taller or shorter, stylised or immature.  This will prove frustrating for those who like to construct
viable worlds in which their dolls could co-exist.  It also hampers clothes shopping.  However, with the recent increase
in realistic, 1:4 dolls, particularly from Russian sculptors, this is becoming a popular scale and it waits to be seen
whether a standard size for a realistic, adult male emerges, as it did for the 70cm dolls. 

From left to right:

Fairyland ChicLine Rou at 40 cm
Dollshe Fashion Grant Phillippe at 44 cm
aGatti Guarvo at 47 cm
Due to the well-locking knees, and possibly helped by the silicone stoppers, he stands as steadily as anyone would
want and with ease.  The tight stringing is also a help here.

With some fiddlage, he is able to stand with weight on one leg, in contraposto.  He is quite stable in this, providing his
bent leg doesn’t flip up unexpectedly.  Due to his extreme stability, he is also able to perform what most other BJDs
can’t, which is stand on one leg.  It isn’t easy and, due to the standing leg not wanting to move towards the centre, it
requires some patience to redistribute weight, but he can do it, and that is quite an achievement.
Wrist flexion is fair and, once placed in a flexed position, the hands will stay in place.  There are dolls that do better,
usually those with separate wrist pieces, but there are many that do worse.
The body is two-part, with the usual under-chest cut.  Personally, I would have liked this to be a three-part torso,
with an additional waist cut.  Although this breaks the line of the lower abdomen and can compromise stability (as it
infamously did with the “classic” Dollshe Hound body), it allows a more expressive range of movement.  Given how
stable the rest of the articulation is, this body could have taken the additional cut. 

On a plus point, the edge to the high torso cut is softened, meaning that the upper body is relatively easy to move and
fluid placing is possible.  This tends not to the case with realistic bodies, as the cut tends to be a sharp ledge, for the
sake of maintaining the body line when in an upright position.  In my view, Mr Kim has done the right thing here and the
softened cut in no way compromises the harmony or realism of the body.

Having said that, range of movement of the torso is limited.  He can do a modest backbend which is probably sufficient
for most purposes.  At this angle, there is a slight gape in the chest.  However, the line remains smooth and this
wouldn’t show under clothing.
The crunch is even more modest.  He can achieve a slight stoop but, because of the lack of a lower torso cut, it is
nothing to write home about. Stooping this far also produces a gape at the back.  However, it is not hideous enough to
worry me.

The elbow flexion is excellent, with as much movement as anyone could want.  The knee flexion is less stellar, due to
the bulk of his calf muscles getting in the way.  One frustration with the arms is that when fully extended, they still
have a slight bend.  This limits dynamic, extended poses.  The other is a lack of rotation.  This also applies to legs.
Lateral flexion is good.  With a gentle push, he can lean over well enough, whilst maintaining a good line.  With more
force, he can lean right over, although this causes a gape and disrupts the line of the body.  However, most people
aren’t going to want to lean their doll over quite that far.
Because of the squared-off shape of the torso, he is unable to twist, even if the upper torso is dislocated and twisted. 
He just won't do it.

Head movement is severely limited.  Probably due to the tight stringing, movement up and down is slight and sideways
movement almost non-existent.  This is disappointing as a lot of emotion can be conveyed by the angle of the head. 
Loosening the stringing might help in this, but it would likely be at the expense of the overall stability of the doll. 

Due to the tight stringing, I also managed to ping off the metal edging to the head socket when changing heads.  I
haven’t bothered to re-attach it and have no worries about it not being there.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR

The limitations in articulation and the idealisation of the current head sculpts are the two issues with this doll. 
However, since my initial testing of this doll, I have discovered that Dollshe are bringing out a “Pose” version of the
full-sized 28M body, with arm and leg rotation joints and a lower body cut.  This is a distinct improvement and will
hopefully filter down to their smaller cousins.  It waits to be seen if the company will bring out more realistic head
sculpts in the future.


SUMMARY

This is a very well-made doll.  The sculpting is excellent, although the engineering is somewhat patchy.  The
articulation foibles can be frustrating, but don’t detract from the overall fun factor of this doll.  It is one of those that
you want to pick up and fiddle with.

With the increasing interest in 1:4 scale dolls, Mr Kim has done the right thing to bring out a range in this size.  He is
also ingenious to have done it by shrinking down existing sculpts.  I suspect other sculptors will follow his lead and
produce a fun-sized range of their larger sculpts.  It is my hope that Mr Kim will also bring out some of his older,
popular sculpts in this size, perhaps when he has finalised the new, slim body. 

To monopolise on this, he needs to be rather more consistent in his marketing and make these available either
continually or at regular intervals, without chopping and changing the pricing or the composition of the packages or by
discontinuing then re-releasing them, as he has done with other dolls.  This is furstrating for customers and undermines
trust.  He will also need to be able to cast and deliver these within a reasonable timeframe.  He has had difficulties
casting these but, if he can find solution to that, he is onto a winner.  My hope is that he will be able to achieve these
things and that we will many more of these miniature works of art in the community.

Grant Phillippe customised by me.
Another success is the genitals.  Unlike with most BJDs, the penis looks as though it has been sculpted by someone
who has actually seen one.  The poor man has no testicles to speak of, but I suppose he has a choice between a
proud scrotum and being able to put his knees together.  This is common in BJD sculpting and many sculptors resort to
no detectable scrotum or the mono-testicle, for the sake of mobility.  The disadvantage of a well-sculpted rigid, resin
penis is that it can look positively obscene under tight clothing.  The full-sized version had a resin cup that could be
used to soften the line.  The minis are missing this addition.  However, having tried it with my full-sized 28M, I can’t
say it is a loss.  The options were either the impression of a semi or of pants stuffed with a drawerful of socks. 
Choices…

The head doesn’t carry quite the same degree of realism as the body.  The large eyes in particular give it a rather
stylised look.  However, it doesn’t jar.  It is a striking face, with a long nose and chin, strong jaw and full lips.  The
eyes give it a slightly feminine look which is somewhat at odds with the strongly masculine jaw and nose.  Personally, I
would have liked to see realistically-proportioned eyes to mesh with the realism of the rest of the sculpt, but that is a
matter of taste.  The sleeping head has a slight, lopsided smirk, which is charming, although overt expressions such as
this can limit the versatility of a sculpt.
The resin is even and has a slight “tooth”, or roughness, which helps with pastel painting.  There are minor casting
seams, but these are easy to remove with sanding and they are not obtrusive if left.  All pieces fit together well,
including head caps to heads.  My one concern was that the right leg sat slightly higher than the left, meaning that he
tends to list slightly to the left when standing.  The leg might actually be shorter or it might be that it is sitting higher
in the hip socket, due to an unevenness of the silicone stoppers in there.  It is not a deal-breaker, although it is
somewhat frustrating when wrangling him into a standing pose.  

ENGINEERING

There are many things that can be done to help with stability, such as restringing, sueding joints and wiring limbs. 
However, not everyone is comfortable with this sort of tinkering.  The following articulation tests are therefore all done
with the doll straight out of the box.

Overall, the balance between aesthetics and engineering in this doll are exemplary.  The cuts are well placed and the
jointing is well thought out. The double joints of the knees and elbows in particular are innovative and successful, being
the most elegant solution I have so far seen to the problem of line versus function.  The cuts are well placed and
follow the anatomy of the limb.  They look harmonious with limbs extended and pleasing when flexed, with no gapes. 
There is still the square knee and elbow effect when fully flexed, but the detailing makes this less offensive than it can
be with some other double jointed limbs. 

Stability

The hip, neck and shoulder sockets are fitted with tiny silicone stoppers.  This is an ingenious touch, intended to help
counteract slippage and help stability.  However, the stoppers can fall out (although mine haven’t yet) and the thought
of trying to replace them with a bit of shaped eraser appals me.  These things are a few millimetres across.  I will have
to cross that bridge when I come to it, or just remove all the stoppers and use hot glue to line the sockets instead. 
From the stability tests, it doesn’t look as though they are doing much anyway.
In terms of arm stability, he is able to raise his arms to roughly 90 degrees and hold them there.  In spite of the silicone
stoppers, he is not able to hold his arms at other angles for more than a second or two before they start gliding
gracefully down again.  When bent, the limbs also have a tendency to snap up into a flexed position.  However, the
snug fit of the double joints in their sockets and the tight stringing mean that the limbs will lock straight without a
problem and hold 90 degree and full flexion steadily.  The angles in between could probably be managed by shoving
some wire in there.  However, this might be a frustration if you are not into DIY fixes.
ORDERING

This sculpt was released in December 2014, with a number-limited, 100 piece pre-order of the full set package.  Full
and basic sets have been available periodically since then, with some discount events.

Dollshe no longer use distributors and the doll can only be ordered via their website, available in English and Korean. 

Payment is via Paypal and, due to the vagaries of the website, can be an exercise in confusion.  Sometimes the
website will total your purchase before checkout, sometimes you will only be charged the shipping fee.  There is also no
automated process for scheduling layaway payments.  However, questions addressed to the site email account are
answered promptly and all things can be sorted out.

As well as being a doll company, Dollshe also offers a casting service for other sculptors.  There is therefore a
bewildering range of different resin colour options, including translucent resin and fantasy shades of green and blue. 
Colours other than the whites and light pink “normal” colours cost extra, sometimes a lot extra.

The current 28M Fashion Grant Phillippe full package set includes the base doll with open eyed head and relaxed hands,
a sleeping head, flip flop feet with separated big toes and “paddle” dressing hands.  It also includes six additional
hands, described as two cigarette-holding hands, two hands for doing hands-on-hips poses and two glass-holding
hands.  So, he can enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc, have a ciggie and look impatient, just not all at the same time.  The hand
options for the Christmas full package were described as a pair of cigarette holding hands and “secret parts”.  What
arrived were the hands-on-hips hands and the pair of glass-holding hands. No cigarette holding hands.  The additional
pair of hands must be the “secret parts”.  All in all, rather confusing.

The base price of a blank fullset in a standard resin colour is $570.  This can increase to $744 if you opt for one of the
more exotic colours.  Whilst this is not a bad price for a set with so many components, not everyone will want all the
parts offered and it is a lot of money to be forking out for things you don’t need.  I hope future releases will see the
body and open eyed head sold as a basic set at around the $350 mark, with the optional head, hands and feet being
available as extras.  Failing this, Dollshe holds occasional 30% off events, so it might be worth waiting for one of those.

I placed my order on 13th December 2014 and the doll arrived 11 months later, in November 2015.  This is an
unacceptably long waiting period and Dollshe has apologised extensively for this, citing final sculpting work and health
issues as the reasons.  However, orders from Dollshe can be slow to ship and one year waits are rare but not unheard
of.  This is not a doll for the impatient.

PACKAGING

The doll arrived double boxed in a sturdy shipping carton and attractive, foiled inner box.  The doll and his various body
parts were well protected in foam cut outs. 

AESTHETICS

The body-to-head ratio is natural, with 7.3 heads to the body length and two heads to the width.

The body is of the slim but muscular athletic shape.

The sculpting is near the extreme end of the realism spectrum, with the anatomy being well-observed and sculpted.

As with his larger brothers, however, the proportions are slightly off.  He has a rather short torso and long legs and
neck.  This gives him the impression of a squat top half and lanky bottom half.  The arms are also slightly short, given
the length of the legs.  The result is a silhouette that is a touch off the classical, but is just about viable in terms of
real life body shapes.
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