Sunday, September 8, 2013

From Artist's Model to BJD: Doll Joint Musings

First of all, this is post number 200.  Can you believe it?  I would have reached this milestone sooner, except I deleted some early posts called Foto Friday in an attempt to delay paying for picture space.  It worked--for a short time anyway.

Today's post was inspired by an online chat I had last week with a collector looking for a BJD to use as a life model for drawing.  That resonated with me.  Some years ago, before BJDs, I was collecting stiff, vinyl fashion dolls and wondering if there was a doll anywhere that would serve me as a model.  I'm sure anyone who draws is familiar with the standard wood mannequin.  Yes, it is flexible, you can pose it in all sorts of ways, but it has no flesh.  When I draw from a wooden mannequin, my drawing looks like a wooden mannequin.  Not satisfactory at all. 

I am so tempted to paint the faces on these two.
Enter the anatomical models of Art S. Buck, manufactured by Slideshow Toy and made in China.  (The information is stamped on the right butt cheek of each model.)  I got mine from Dick Blick Art Materials.  There are two models, a male and a female.  They are made mostly of hard shiny plastic with some matte, almost rubbery parts, i.e., heads, hands and feet, and in the male, elbow and knee joints.  About Barbie-sized, they have more points of articulation than I know what to do with.  Unlike BJDs, they are not strung with elastic.  Their jointing appears to consist of pieces that insert tightly into the adjoining limbs.  I read somewhere that this was called mechanical ball jointing, but when I looked up that term online the articles all seemed to refer to automobiles. 

The Buck models can assume all sorts of poses.  I put mine through their paces this afternoon and took photos.  My female model has a bum knee that won't flex as much as its mate.  Other than that, both male and female appear to move in every direction they are supposed to move.  What's funny is that I can see the genesis of many BJDs in these two.  A few companies have caught on to the rotating upper thigh joint (Iplehouse calls it the mobility thigh).  The Buck models have additional rotating joints above the ankle and in the middle of the upper and lower arms.  Where they are lacking is in the crotch, where anatomical correctness abruptly disappears.

Here is where I appreciate the softer hands.  It's easier to make them clasp.

The jointing system, whatever it is called, appears to be the same used by Wilde Imagination's Ellowyne Wilde.  Granted Ellowyne has fewer joints, but those you can see look much the same as the Buck models.  I had what I thought was an accident once with Ellowyne.  As I was dressing her, one of her hands came off.  I was surprised when I was able to pop it back into place.  Too bad I don't remember what the piece looked like inside.  All I remember is the total sense of relief when it turned out she was easily fixed.  Poor Ellowyne suffers from Barbie Foot Syndrome, i.e., there is no ankle joint and the small foot is perpetually frozen into high heel shape.  She must either sit or else stand with the aid of a doll stand. 

Note the similarity in how the joint fits at the back of the knee.  Ellowyne is single jointed whereas the Buck model is double  jointed.

Similar joint piece in Ellowyne's elbow.

At the other end of the doll spectrum is FairyLand's MiniFee.  I put MiniFee Siean through her paces alongside the female Buck model.  They were pretty much able to match one another pose for pose, except for sitting cross-legged.  There the Buck model's rotating thigh allowed her to sit more naturally, whereas I had to pull Siean's knee joint apart slightly to achieve the same look.  If I were drawing, however, I would opt for the BJD, simply because the doll looks more like a real person.

Siean and Buck female.
Siean is too tightly strung to get into the Japanese seiza sitting position, but she still comes closer than my Buck model, whose one knee won't bend completely.
I had to dislocate Siean's knee to get her to sit cross-legged.  It's no problem for the Buck model.

"I can do that, too!" says Ellowyne

That said, I never have time to draw anymore.  I'm too busy buying and selling dolls, doing face-ups, sewing for them, dressing and wigging them, taking photos and blogging about them.  Ironic, isn't it?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I wish now I had added a few more BJDs to the chorus line, just for grins.