What do BJD’s cost?
What BJD’s cost, you ask? A common misconception is that all BJD’s are incredibly expensive, while in reality there are doll companies out there with relatively low prices. One such company is Resinsoul, who offer 1/4 scale dolls around $135-$160.
Of course, on average the same size doll would cost around $250-$350 from other companies and between $500-$2000 from artists. It really depends on your wishes for budget, aesthetic and size what you will eventually pay for the doll.
Total price for a doll
This however is only the start of what BJD’s cost. Aside from the blank doll, you can purchase additional options to complete the doll as you want.
The price for each element highly depends on the quality you seek and your own creativity.
Factors to take into account for determining the price for a doll consist of:
- the price of the blank doll (from a dealer, company or secondary market).
- shipping costs.
- custom fees (not applicable if you are ordering within your own country of course).
- face-up, tattoos, body blushing. These can be painted by the company or artist you order from, an external artist or yourself perhaps.
- eyes (if they’re not included).
- clothing (separate clothes or a full outfit).
- accessories (for instance jewelry, props, furniture).
- hobby materials: if you choose to create some elements yourself, you will need materials and tools to succeed.
Why are they so expensive?
Most BJD’s are made of Polyurethane resin, a two-part polymer which is suitable for hand-casting into silicone molds. These properties make it ideal for artists to work with. They can create the master, the molds and even the final product themselves with relatively small equipment, without the necessity of investing in large injection mold equipment and a production facility.
However, despite the significantly lower initial investment, the actual materials are more expensive than for instance polyvinyl chloride (PVC, the material for many fashion dolls).
Another reason is that these (resin) dolls can’t actually be produced in bulk. Some dolls are released in an edition of for instance 10 pieces, larger (limited) releases would for instance be around 200 pieces. The handling costs are determined by the amount of work involved to create a finished product. Many man hours are needed to create just one doll.
Finally, it is up to the artist or company to decide their prices for what BJD’s cost and up to buyers to decide whether they want to spend this money or not. Simply because I am privileged enough to be able to afford frivolous purchases like dolls, does not mean I have any right to them whatsoever. Some dolls will be more out of reach than others, as with many other hobbies.
Artists and companies
Nowadays, there are some casting services available to aid artists in producing slightly larger numbers of their creations in consistent quality. Using these services usually means that the price for a doll will be higher. This is because the creators need to add handling costs and the casting service itself also needs to make a living.
The dolls still need to be finished, assembled, customized to the customer’s specifications and boxed after they arrive from the casting service. Most artists do all of this themselves.
‘Larger’ doll companies (with usually still only a handful of people working for them) from for instance Korea and China do all of the work themselves. They market their dolls to a larger audience and are based in countries where the costs of producing are also lower. Because of this, their prices are often a bit lower when compared to USA, Russian or European dolls.
A ‘hidden’ cost most newbies to this hobby are surprised by, is that aside from the costs for shipping, sometimes customs fees are charged. The precise costs depend on the country you live in and the local customs rules.
But I saw cheaper dolls on Ebay and in China…
There is an active market with fans of ball jointed dolls paying high amounts to obtain dolls they love. Unfortunately, this also attracts people who wish to cash in on the popularity of these products. The result is a rise in counterfeit products, known by BJD fans as ‘recasts‘. The name refers to the act of creating a mold from the original artists’ doll and copying (by casting) this for illegal sales.
The problem with this, is that it does really impact the original artists who create the dolls we love so much. Aside from the financial damage they incur by missing out on sales of the dolls they created, there is also a lot of emotional damage involved. It really hurts to see someone steal your hard work. The art you put so much love and effort into, and blatantly copy it for profit.
Not all Chinese BJD’s are recasts, nor are all dolls on Ebay. But please make an effort to learn about telling the difference between the original product and the bootleg version. Support the artists who create these beautiful dolls, so they can keep on creating more of what we love!
Many doll makers and dealers offer so-called ‘layaway’ options, so you can pay for your purchase in parts. For some people, this option makes dolls more obtainable.
Pro-artist and recast friendly
The rise of popularity in recast dolls has started to cause a polarization in the hobby. There is a large group of people who support the artists and wish to keep the hobby thriving by only buying legit BJD’s: the pro-artist or proBJDartist camp. On the other end of the spectrum is the group of people who don’t have moral objections against owning bootleg products: the recast friendly camp. As with all aspects of life, many people find themselves somewhere on this spectrum. However, the opposing opinions of both groups do occasionally end up in drama, both on- and offline.
To be very clear: I am pro-artist. I will not bare hatred against people who own recasts, but I will not support them in any way if I can avoid it. I am no saint, but I strongly believe in paying the artists for their work so they can keep creating more art for all to enjoy. Art is a continuous process. The gorgeous doll someone has created that gets blatantly copied, may discourage them from developing their skills further and creating even more beautiful dolls in the future.
To learn more about supporting artists in the BJD hobby, visit Jointed Souls.
So, how do I purchase my first BJD?
That depends on your preference, some good advice would be to inform yourself about all the possibilities (they are almost infinite), so you can better determine what BJD’s cost – and what they should cost.
Let’s say you just want a complete doll, dressed and all. That would be a so-called ‘fullset‘. Some companies (and artists) offer these, others don’t.
Usually, a blank doll option is the default, with optional face-up, bodyblushing, eyes, a wig, clothing, shoes and sometimes accessories or even tattoos.
Den of angels has a really extensive Wiki about almost everything BJD, with links to dollmakers as well as dealers.
Many companies have an easy system for ordering. Just keep in mind that the wait can be between 1,5-12 months, depending on the company you choose. Communication is scarce, after ordering there are usually no updates until the doll ships.
Some artists have a website order system, where others take orders per e-mail or for instance on Instagram or Etsy.
If you’re not sure how to order, asking the doll maker is a good first step. You could also inquire whether they accept layaway, for instance.
Links to doll makers and dealers
Den of Angels links to BJD makers
Den of Angels links to BJD dealers
Secondhand / pre-owned / adoption dolls
There is also a very vibrant secondary market on many forums, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Ebay and for instance Resin market.
As mentioned before, do your homework about recasts and learn to tell the difference between a legit and a recast doll. This way, the chance that you will feel (or even maliciously GET) scammed will decrease. Recast dolls are also on the market, but not all sellers are aware that they are selling a bootleg item. Some very bad apples hide the truth or even flat-out lie about it. You can find lists of these scammers on DOA, as well as in many other forums and other social media.
While on the subject of scammers, be smart and make sure you really trust the stranger you’re sending your money to. They may not send you a doll at all, or a doll that is not as described (whether recast, damaged or incomplete). It really pays off to invest time in researching common scamming practices and scammers. Teach yourself what BJD’s cost: when something seems too good to be true, it most likely is not.
Links to international secondhand BJD sale communities
Facebook BJD Ball Jointed Doll verkoop groep (Dutch)
Facebook BJD Adoption Deutschland (German)
Do you have information to share about what BJD’s cost, or do you have any questions after reading this blog post? Share your comments below!