Saturday, July 21, 2012

Delilah Noir "Pretty in Pink" by Ashton Drake

Well, first of all, I've been having some camera troubles lately, so it takes me ages to pull together a decent post.  Sorry about that.  I think I've got a solution in the works, but in the meantime, please forgive the pictures.

I have been curious about Delilah Noir for several years.  Delilah is a 16" vinyl ball jointed doll made by Ashton Drake.  Delilah was first released in late 2009 and the debut edition earned a Doll of the Year award.  The first Delilah doll was dressed in a modest school girl outfit and wore a long blonde wig, but she also came with an extra, slightly more gothic evening ensemble and black hair.  These outfits were meant to hint at the two contrasting sides to Delilah's personality, a sweet straight "A" student and a dark, edgy wild child.  The subsequent doll releases have maintained this split personality to varying degrees.  Despite declarations to the contrary, there were never any new characters introduced to this line, and I understand that the dolls have now been discontinued.  You can still find the first Delilah doll for $150 at places like Amazon (for full price), and directly from Ashton Drake.  Many of the later releases are still in stock in various doll shops...and lately they are on clearances sales of varying levels.  

I was reluctant to buy a Delilah Noir doll for several reasons. First of all, I have had some bad experiences with Ashton Drake.  Years ago, I was interested in their "So Truly Real" baby dolls (which also retail for around $150).  After about the fifth time I got seduced by incredible promo pictures only to be horrified by the actual product, I finally got wise and gave up on Ashton Drake completely.  The company tempted me back with Delilah and Emily the Strange, but I balked on purchasing Delilah because of her price and also because I found it difficult to get a good sense for what she was like by looking at pictures online.  I was unwilling to take another $150 gamble.  Recently, one of my favorite doll shops had Delilah on a half price clearance, and I decided that the awesome price and her recent discontinuation made this the perfect time to buy.  I chose "Pretty in Pink," one of the dolls from 2011:

Delilah Noir "Pretty in Pink" by Ashton Drake Galleries.
Delilah comes in a shiny cardboard window box:

The slogan on the front is, "Is she what you see or what you believe her to be?"  That's slightly confusing.  It doesn't roll off the tongue.  It's like saying, "Is she what you see or what you want to see?"  Well, that's a pretty good question, I guess.  Do we tend to just see what we want to see?  Probably.

Deep Thoughts.
The top of the cardboard box lifts off to reveal the doll and all of her goodies displayed against a pink cardboard background:

Delilah is tied into the box with three white ribbons.  It is ridiculously easy to get her out.  She's got two cardboard blocks on either side of her head which look bulky and inelegant, but they probably do a good job of keeping her from flopping around in the box.

I was so anxious to see her face!  It looks lovely:

Stapled to the side of the box are Delilah's two accessories: a small stuffed brown ferret and a pink vinyl purse:

That's a big ferret...or a small purse.
This is what Delilah looks like right out of the box:

My first impressions are that her clothes look very nicely made, her wig looks bad and her face looks prettier than I expected.  She reminds me of Dollfair's Narae (and I know I'm not the first to point out that resemblance).  She has a nice weight to her--not heavy like a Sybarite or anything, but substantial.

Her wig is a strange mix of colors.  Part of me loves it.  It's a light brown base with blonde, pink and auburn strands mixed in.  Another part of me doesn't love it because she looks like she's going grey.  Also the fiber of the wig is coarse--like horse hair or really dry human hair. It's not soft or silky at all. My wig has a sewing defect in front and the hair won't lay down flat on the right:

Unfortunate cowlick.
The wig is also really hard to control.  There are always flyaways and loose strands.

Poor quality wig.
Her eyes are a rich brown and made out of plastic.  This color is difficult to photograph, so I wish she'd come with brighter eyes, or that I had some brighter eyes to swap in.  Her eyes can be changed the same way that you would change an Asian BJD's eyes (the back of the head comes off and the eyes are held in place with putty).  Delilah wears 10mm eyes.

Delilah's eyebrows are very nicely detailed and her lashes look good, but I am distracted by her brown eye makeup:

There's something very abrupt and unsubtle about the eye makeup, but everything else about her face is nicely done.  The colors are natural and soft.

Already, I am getting the sense that this is a doll I'd like to customize.  I want to repaint her face (like this Narae...OMG!) and give her a better wig.  Delilah was designed with the idea that collectors would be able to customize her, but it still would have been nice if everything about her factory appearance was acceptable.  Look how crazy the wig is in this picture:

And that's after some effort to tame it.
At around this point, I was starting to notice that Delilah looks kinda vacant.  That open-mouthed expression is not nuanced enough to convey any emotion.  It might look better with a less matte, less uniform lip color.

Delilah's ferret is named Cross Hairs.  That's a pretty cool name.  It's appropriately sinister for a ferret, too, from what I've been told.  I learned in school that when ferrets hear the cooing sounds of infant humans, their predatory instinct kick in and they will strike out at the baby--biting its face repeatedly.  That's not something I look for in a pet.  Maybe I shouldn't think a ferret is a cool pet for a doll, either, but I kind of like him.  He looks so innocent:

I wouldn't hurt a flea.
He doesn't look ferret-y at all, I don't think.  He's more of a teddy bear/raccoon hybrid:

You can trust me, I'm cute.
He actually looks a lot like an adorable red panda.  

I'm cute, and I'm endangered.
The purse is very well made...and it won't bite your face.  Actually, it might bite your face--look at the  design:

Vampire teddy bear?
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the graphic design on the purse represents Delilah's dark side.  There's blood dripping off that...that...that thing's teeth.   I don't know what that is, exactly, but I'm starting to think it's Cross Hairs...after the kill.  That sneaky little weasel had me fooled with his cuteness.

The purse opens and is fully lined.
The purse has a nice long strap and can be slung over Delilah's shoulder:

Here she looks vacant and sad.
If you ask me, Delilah looks way too calm and benign to have such a violent, fanged companion.

I think Cross Hairs is secretly brainwashing her.
Let's take a closer look at Delilah's outfit:

Your wish is my command...
She's wearing a white hooded sweatshirt with a real zipper:

The hood of the sweatshirt is lined in pink striped fabric, and it has bunny ears:

Why does it have bunny ears?
I though we were going with a ferret theme here.
The lining of the sweatshirt matches Delilah's knee-high striped stockings:

When I look at this sweatshirt on its own, I see Easter Bunny, not gothic trendy.   To be sure I wasn't missing something, though, I Googled "bunny hoodie with ears," and sure enough, many of the matches I got were gothic sweatshirts with animal ears on the hoods.  Huh.  There's one particular brand of clothing called Living Deal Souls that even has animal hoodies with pink stripes.  So, clearly Delilah is more in tune to the gothic fashion trends than I am.  No surprise there.  

The sweatshirt is finished very nicely.  It even has pink ric-rac sewn into the hem:

Pink ric-rac is for Easter Bunnies.
Underneath the sweatshirt, Delilah is sporting a bright pink killer ferret groupie tee shirt.

Actually, Ashton Drake insists that the picture is of a bunny, but I think they're just covering for Cross Hairs.

That's tissue paper on her arms.
It's a well made, hemmed tee shirt that closes in back with two snaps.  I actually really like the design. It's more creative that the typical white skull:

Delilah is wearing an ultra short plaid mini skirt (also very goth) with a pink lace petticoat:

The mix of green and yellow plaid with hot pink is odd, but it has an overall bright, cheery appearance.  The lighter side of Delilah Noir:

The petticoat is attached to the plaid skirt at the top.

There are two pleats in the front of the skirt.  It closes in back with one snap.

On her feet, Delilah is wearing her striped knee high stockings and these fascinating high-heeled sueded Converse sneakers:

The shoes are well made, and it's a very creative design, but the high heels make it very hard for Delilah to stand normally.  She can't stand on her own at all.  In fact, the first thing she did when I tried to stand her up is take a massive face plant.  The good news is, her vinyl is very tough--there's just a miniscule white mark on her nose.

There's some pink staining on the sole of one of the shoes.

Underneath those stockings, Delilah has hinge-jointed knees and swivel-jointed ankles.  None of the joints below the hips are strung.

She has nice range of motion in her knees:

She has an odd slope to her feet.
The ankle joints are not quite as nice.  First of all, the way the feet are attached makes the ankles look swollen. Also, the ankle joint can't flex at all--it only rotates around the axis of the leg.

Her toes seem designed to accommodate sandals, with a very separate big toe:

The wig is held in place with two strips of velcro that are attached to the head.  It comes off very easily:

It has nice loose curls and fun colors, but again, I wish they'd chosen a softer fiber.

Delilah can wear size 6/7 wigs.  I don't currently own any wigs in this size, but I draped a larger wig over her head so you can see what she'd look like as a blonde:

Lady Godiva.
Here's her head without the wig:

The earrings are neat, but they are very long and tend to get in the way.  They're prone to getting snagged in the wig.

Each earring is a long bendable wire strung with plastic beads:

Delilah's body has 12 points of articulation.  Only her neck, shoulders, torso and hips are strung ball and socket joints.  Her other joints have plastic attachments and are hinged or rotational.  Does that mean that a doll with any elastic ball and socket joints can be called a ball jointed doll?  Hmm.  Monster High used to have elastic hip joints...

Delilah has a torso joint that allows some upper body movement:

This torso joint is a bit awkward from the back--it looks a bit like a hump:

Yes, Master...

From the side, the awkwardness of this joint is a bit more obvious:

Double jointed...?
If you move the joint into its backwards-pointing position, Delilah can arch her back very slightly like this:

Her body tends to snap back into the other position, though.
The torso joint can also swivel around:

Here you can see the stringing in her shoulder:

Delilah can touch the top of her head (if you balance the hand just right) but she cannot touch her face.  There's limited flexibility in that elbow joint:

While posing this doll, I actually found the strung joints to be the most irritating.  Delilah's head, for example, can only hold about two poses without snapping back into a generic front-facing position.  It could be that she's strung too tightly.  I might have to experiment with that.

She can look up and slightly to the left.
Her arms and hands can hold and manipulate her purse, but she can't look down at it: 

Uhhng.....I think I feel the ferret treats in here.
Similarly, her shoulders can't reliably support her arms in any positions besides straight down and straight up.

Her hips are the best of the strung joints.  She can do a modest side-to-side split:

And a full front-to-back split:

She can also kneel reasonably well and do this:

Interpretive dance move.
Delilah sits very nicely, unlike certain princesses...

The top of Delilah's head comes off, and you can see the putty that is holding her eyes in place.  You could tighten her stringing or re-string her from this access point.  It doesn't look too intimidating.  

The back of the skull just snaps on and off--there are no magnets holding it in place and it doesn't even seem like an especially tight fit.  It doesn't strike me as a very sturdy connection, but so far it has held together just fine.

Doll brains.
At first, I thought maybe Delilah was about the same size as a Moxie Teenz doll.  This would have been awesome, especially if they could share wigs.  Unfortunately, Delilah is quite a bit bigger:

She towers over the Liv dolls:

Delilah is more the size of a Tonner doll.  Tonner dolls are a better comparison in terms of price as well.  Cami cost about as much as I paid for Delilah on sale, and Rapunzel cost a bit more.  Here's Delilah next to Cami and Rapunzel:

Cami, Delilah, Rapunzel.
A Cami-sized dress from "Party All Night Cami" fits Delilah almost perfectly and looks great on her.  It's the tiniest bit tight in back, but that's it.

Cami's shoes almost fit, but the slope of the heels makes it really impossible for Delilah to stand normally:

She has to bend her knees for the shoes to lay flat against the ground.
And...the shoes are slightly too small:

Delilah's clothes fit Cami, too, but the cut of the shirt is a bit too bulky for Cami's finer features:

My least favorite Cami.
Delilah is slimmer than Rapunzel (who has the Ellowyne Wilde body):

Rapunzel's dress fits, but it is a bit too loose and gapes at the waist

Rapunzel, in turn, can squeeze into Delilah's shirt, but can't quite pull up the skirt:

Another doll who is similar in size to Delilah is Tonner's Bella Swan.  Bella has the 15" teen body:

Bella looks awful in this picture.
Ok I am not a huge Twilight movie fan, but I have seen a few of those movies, and I saw Kristin Stewart in another movie (Welcome to the Rileys--good flick) last week.  This doll doesn't look anything like her.  Kristin Stewart is tiny.  This doll has lovely, healthy proportions, but she is a world away from Kristin Stewart.  Just saying.  Besides, this is scary:

Cross Hairs would like her.
This doll's blue chiffon dress is wonderful, though, and it fits Delilah like a glove. I think this is my favorite look for her:

After playing with this doll for a while, I am really glad I didn't pay $150 for her.  She needs a new wig right away ($25), and would look better with some glass eyes ($20).  As to whether or not the retail price is fair, though, let's look at the market.  The competitors in the vinyl BJD market include the Goodreau dolls, the vinyl Evangeline Ghastly and a few dolls from Madame Alexander.  Goodreau and Alexander BJDs are $150-160 and Evangeline costs about $200.  Evangeline looks to me like a nicer doll overall, but the Goodreau vinyls are a fair comparison.  So, I guess the price is good, but I'd be happier about it if she'd at least come with a high-quality wig.

Here's Delilah back in her original outfit, modeling some of her poses:

Notice how the upper arms have to be up or down...there's no in between.  I had to hold very still so that the up arm didn't fall down for this picture:

Don't breathe!
Down.  Whew.
The wig was getting frustrating, so I tied her hair back into a neat ponytail.  This helps hold down the defect in the front, and also keeps the flyaways out of her pretty face:

Bottom line?  There will have to be another review.  This doll is begging so hard to be customized, and I just don't have the necessary materials.  It's a good thing that I got her on clearance because a high quality wig and some new eyes could easily cost the difference between her sale price and full retail. 

In the mean time, what about this doll on her own?  Well, almost everything about her is nice.  Aside from the bad wig and the fact that her articulation is disappointing for a BJD, I can't really find anything to be super critical about.  I guess her problem is that she's just...nice.  There's nothing that leaps above and beyond or makes her special.  Well, ok, she has a killer vampire ferret as a pet, but he looks like a teddy bear.  Maybe the most notably boring thing to me is her face.  Her face is nicely sculpted and painted well, but the expression is a bit blank.  While Narae's open-mouthed face can look heart-breakingly vulnerable or otherworldly and elfin, Delilah just looks...vacant.  There's no sultry edge to her, no ethereal innocence.  I got a bit tired of looking at the same face again and again while I was taking her picture.  To further my point, compare this doll to Meygana.  Meygana is cheaply made and costs a quarter of what I paid for Delilah, but she has some secrets.  You can photograph her and discover hidden moods and expressions.  This Delilah always looks the same to me.

The up-side, and the reason I am excited about Delilah overall, is that I think with a few minor changes, she could become amazing, and she could become anything.  The blankness of her look is...a blank slate.  With strange, glowing eyes and dark makeup, she could be a creature of the night.  With a long silver wig and glistening pale lips, she becomes angelic.  With side-glancing green eyes, freckles and spiked hair, she's a funky teenager who would be an adventurous, sarcastic friend.  She'd could even be done up to look like a convincing Kristin Stewart.  Take at look at some of these pictures if you want to be impressed.

Now that I think of it, maybe the biggest problem with Delilah Noir is that I only have one.

Age Level
14 and up.
The sale price is perfect--it leaves some money to buy customizing extras.  $150 is consistent with the market.
The doll is very articulated with internal elastic stringing. Some joints have low flexibility. High quality vinyl.  Nice inset removable plastic eyes and a poor quality changeable wig.  Well made multi-piece wardrobe.
Wonderful.  Simple cardboard window box and ribbon ties.
Yes.  The recent discontinuation might add to her value over time.
Extremely versatile.  This doll is a blank slate.  Her eye color and hair color are customizable, and her expression could handle a wide range of repaint styles.  Can share clothes with several Tonner dolls.
For the price I paid, I am happy with this doll.  She is fine on her own and would make a nice high-end play doll. She has exciting customization potential.


  1. She has a very child like face, I think you're right that she would look much more interesting with different wigs and eyes

    1. I think you hit on something--maybe I'm expecting her to be more grown up than she is. I guess I like her youthful face, now that you mention it. That makes me think about the new look I want for her more carefully! I should probably steer away from anything too mature.

  2. I agree -- she has a face that would go well with a repaint and eyes to emphasize the innocence/fragility.

    1. Yes! Those are the face-ups that I love..the ones that bring out the protective maternal side of me, I suppose. :)

  3. THANK YOU for this review!!! I've been dying for one of these dolls and was wondering what size they were in comparison to the Moxie Teenz. Sad news that they are being discontinued.

    1. Oh--you're very welcome! I hope you get one--be sure to hunt for a bargain, because there seem to be some good deals out there. Cherished Friends still has Pretty in Pink one sale, I think.

      I was very surprised by the large size. Sharing clothes and wigs with Moxie Teenz would have been SO great, but sharing clothes with Tonner dolls is pretty great, too. I have heard that she can wear some MSD BJD clothes, but those are pricey. She also has some of her own extra outfits which look nice.

      I wish Ashton Drake had done more with her instead of discontinuing. The blank mannequin dolls were an especially good idea! Perfect for customization.

  4. A really interesting review. It will be interesting to read your next review of her after you do any customising - and to see what she looks like.

    1. Well...we'll see if I can do her justice! I have my work cut out for me. :)

  5. I sculpted some teeth out of milliput and set them into my Delilah's face, which made a WORLD of difference, along with a better wig, glass eyes and a full facial repaint. I can't wait to see how you customize yours!

    1. Oh--what a great idea! She definitely needs some teeth--but that sounds very fiddly and difficult to do! I am not so great at face painting, but I really want to give it a try with this doll. She's inspiring. What paints did you use?

    2. I had been expecting it to be a lot harder than it was; I managed tput the teeth in in seconds, and use a Sculpey-brand scalpel (the tip has a flat edge and is very small) to get in her mouth and flatten the bottom of the teeth out, then add some indication of individual teeth as well.

      I used Liquitex acrylic paints; which seem to hold up very well over time and can be thinned easily with water. I'd love to share a photo of her with you, but don't have a Facebook account! What do you suggest? :)

    3. I was planning to use acrylics, so that's excellent news. I would LOVE to see a picture of your teeth! You can pics to me at toyboxphilosopher@ gmail dot com if you want. That'd be great! Maybe I could post a picture here?? :)

    4. hello! I just came across your blog recently. I am linked in this post and I just wanted to say Delilah is one of my favorite dolls to paint. I'm currently in the process of modding a few. The materials i use are apoxie magic sculpt to do the mods, various sculpting tools and artist quality acrylic paints. I had also been using pastels to do some blushing but since the last delilah's i've purchased an airbrush so she may be completely painted with acrylics. I figure at some point i should do a tutorial....but i'm already in the middle of the process...

    5. Invie, your work is INCREDIBLE! I hope you don't mind my link to your flickr account. Thank you for sharing some of your techniques--I am a bit nervous to try my first Delilah re-paint. Do you ever do customizations for other collectors? :)

      It would be awesome if you did a tutorial--please let us know!!

    6. Hi! I emailed you a photo of my Delilah, Salome! :D

  6. Hi Emily,

    I was looking through some files for doll dimensions when I found some patterns that I had saved (I think I was hoping that I could use them for Moxie Teenz). Unfortunately, they were very short on instructions so, I did a search on one of the costume names and found this page:
    Imagine my surprise to see a Delilah Noir staring back at me! Anyway, I do have the pattern for this outfit (as well as for four others, if you are interested). I haven't yet looked up the other names to see what the finished products look like. Maybe one of them will be suitable for your customization!


    1. Oh, wow! That is such a cute outfit! You have good hunting skills. :) The modern twist on a kimono is a perfect match for Delilah's quirky personality. It's weird that the dress looks like a Japanese kimono and the name of the dress is Chow Chow Mein (which is Chinese...).

  7. Hi Emily,
    I decided to find the other pictures (my curiosity got the best of me). The outfit in the prevous post is called Cha Cha Chow Mein.

    Earth Water Air

    Modern Elegance


    The fourth, called Feathered Dream, doesn't seem to have a picture anywhere.


    1. My goodness--thank you, Joette! Those are all so different and beautiful. I can't decide if I like Summertime or Modern Elegance best. Which is your favorite?

      I have to go see if I can find that last one now--my curiosity is wrestling with me, too! :)

  8. Thank you so much for posting this, it has been so helpful!
    My daughter has only just discovered these dolls (and now we find they have been axed ;o( ) but we couldn't find any proper information about them and any 'good' pictures (with close-ups) have given us all of the info we needed and your pictures are so well done and informative, and your writing is so funny too... so I wanted to say a very big thank you, for taking the trouble to review these dolls and for doing such a fab job :o)
    Now it seems I'm going to have to save up fast and buy one (or two he he)...thanks for your help!
    Cee (Oberon's Wood)

  9. Hi Emily,

    Although I haven't made a tutorial yet, I have successfully modded and repainted two Delilahs. There is a third one modded but still blank right now. The next mods I do I will post a tutorial as these were successful. I have photos of my freshly painted girls on flickr here:

    Unfortunately my monitor at home is terrible and I haven't been able to check the color balance on the photos.

    In terms of modding I would say the lips on Delilah are the easiest facial feature to change. Her eyes have fairly thin vinyl all around but should be able to support some mods in properly prepped but I am unsure of whether the thin area is less stable. For my next mod I will try to change her eye shape a bit as well as give her elf ears ^____^.

  10. Hey Emily. I just read your wonderful review. When you stated that supposedly ferrets attack babies when they hear them cooing I got very curious. I have a 7 month old (very cute) ferret myself. I did a little experiment, I turned on some baby cooing sounds but nothing really happend. My ferret just layed in my arms, looking all kinds of adorable, licking my hand. I think my ferret is broken ;). I love your site, keep it up!

  11. Be VERY careful if you ever remove the feet. Not only did my Delilah come 5 months late but she came with a broken knee that wouldn't bend or rotate and a foot that wouldn't come off, not even when I heated it up. It ended up snapping off, leaving the peg inside. Ashton Drake wouldn't answer any emails I sent about this, so beware. I ended up making her a prosthetic leg..

    - Disgruntled Delilah Owner

  12. Good day)
    Please help, really liked the Rapunzel which you used to compare the bodies, who is it? who is the manufacturer? thanks for the answer)

    1. That lovely girl is Robert Tonner's Disney Showcase Rapunzel. :)