Friday, March 7, 2014

Bleeding Edge Goth Doll "Olivia O'Lantern"--A Guest Review!

Bleeding Edge Goth dolls, affectionately known as BEGoths or Begoths, are a line of dark-themed fashion dolls that were invented by Steve Varner and his son Stefan back in 2003.  The doll line includes 7 inch figurines, 12 inch articulated fashion dolls, and small plush toys called Kindergoths.   Eight waves of these edgy characters were produced before the dolls were discontinued in 2011.  I showed you my 12 inch Begoth doll, Leda Swanson, as part of an older review of the Mystixx vampires.  I have been meaning to offer a more thorough review of these dolls ever since that post, and feel very fortunate to have a fellow reviewer here to do that for me today.

I am proud to introduce Melissa, my guest reviewer and online friend.  I met Melissa last year over a discussion of goth-style dolls.  After enjoying her emails and hearing her thoughtful opinions for a while, I can't tell you how delighted I was when she offered to write a review for the blog.  Melissa loves dolls but chooses them very carefully--preferring characters with a fantasy, gothic or storybook theme.  Melissa also enjoys reading, and has a special passion for Victorian classics.  She likes cemeteries, wearing lots of lace, daydreaming and anything handmade and/or natural, including handmade and OOAK (one of a kind) dolls.

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Melissa for the enormous amount of care and effort she put into this wonderful review.  The only thing I had to do for this post is sit back and enjoy it.  I invite you to do the same!  

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll
Bleeding Edge Goth doll, "Olivia O'Lantern."

Thank you so much to Emily for welcoming me to the blog and allowing me to take over for a bit! Writing this review took a fair bit of hard work, which really makes me appreciate what Emily does on a day-to-day basis even more. She is such a lovely person and has been absolutely nothing short of wonderful to work with! I hope you all enjoy the review!

The first time I was exposed to the Begoths was years ago, when I was browsing alternative fashion clothing websites. A few of these stores stocked the doll line. Oddly enough, I wasn’t very drawn to them. I have now realized the reason for this is probably because all of the dolls I saw from those retailers had symbols for eyes. Being the detailed eye-freak that I am, this was not something that was doing much for me. Except for, in the case of Storm, maybe putting the ABC song in my head.

"...W, X, Y and Z, now you know your ABCs!"
It was only recently that I found out more about these dolls, prompted by Emily when I asked her for suggestions of gothic and fantasy themed doll lines. Initially, out of all the dolls available on the Varner Concepts website, I was drawn to Silver Screen Greta Vendetta from Series 8, which was the last line of dolls produced before the line was discontinued. However, not all of the Begoth dolls created and sold are available on the official store; Varner Concepts is only selling off the remaining merchandise. This became very apparent to me while browsing websites for Begoth information and photos. I still hadn’t found a Begoth I completely loved, but that all changed when I found an owner photo of this girl:

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll

The second I saw her, I knew this girl had to be mine. Her looks alone were very appealing to me, but I am very interested in (a little obsessed) with folktales and old faerie lore, so for me that definitely added a huge amount of appeal to her. The combination of these two things ensured there was no way I was not going to love her:

I immediately sprung into wildly searching the internet for anything I could find on this girl. Her name is Olivia O’Lantern, she is from Series 7, and she is indeed a faerie!

Before I get into de-boxing her, here's a bit of information that I have gleaned from various sources about this doll line:
As with almost all products which have been discontinued for awhile, Begoths can be a bit tricky to find, but this all depends on which Begoth it is you are after. There are many exclusives, chase dolls, variants, limited editions and even convention exclusives within the Begoth line. If you want a standard edition doll that wasn’t very popular such as Gloria Phobia (who is still in stock at Varner) then you can get your hands on a new, NRFB doll for under $40 US no problem--possibly less if you buy her secondhand. If, however, you want a doll such as Anarchy Annie (who I believe was some sort of super-ultra convention exclusive in the UK, and rarely comes up for sale) then you are looking at...possibly whatever the seller is asking. I think she tends to be around $300. Let’s just say I am very glad I didn’t fall in love with her. Most Begoths tend to fall right in between these two at around $60-$100, without shipping. (Don’t trust the eBay prices though! There is one Lolita Sun on eBay for just under $200 when she can be bought for $47.99 from the Varner Concepts website. Make sure to do your research.) This being said, a deal can most definitely be found with lots of attentive searching, patience and a bit of luck. How do I know? I got my NRFB standard edition Olivia O’Lantern for $40 US without shipping costs, when she tends to go for closer to $70 or $80 and up. She was $56 with shipping to Canada included.

Olivia has two versions; one standard (with purple accents and details and a white streak in her hair) and one exclusive (who has green details and accents with all black hair). The one I have is the standard version.  The green version is shown on the back of the box:

Green version of Olivia O'Lantern, Katerina Moreau, Atara Inferno (Series 7).
Here's the description on the back of the box, enlarged if you want to read it:

Since I have never had a Begoth doll before, I was not sure what to expect for de-boxing. Olivia came to me with her box still in the heavy duty plastic bag from the manufacturer:

Heavy-duty plastic bags?  Who knew.
Once I slid her out of the bag, I could get a better look at her face:

The in-box presentation is very appealing.
However, I wasn't interested in how she looked in her box by this point. I had kept her in it for a full 24 hours already and it was time to set this faerie free!

All I had to do was peel some tape off the top of her box and Olivia could be slid out on the backdrop with no trouble:

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll
Ooh.  Me likes the pretty faerie!
With every bit of packaging that I removed, Olivia was looking prettier and prettier to me. I was getting jittery to have her out of the box by this point.

Next came the worst part: Mission Find and Destroy all Plastic Attachment Devices.

Perhaps Operation Find and Destroy would have made a better title?
Olivia is secured with plastic coated wire ties in five places.

Well-restrained faerie.
The wire ties can’t just be untwisted and pulled out: they need to be cut. This is more difficult than one would expect, as they are very thick ties. It took me three different tools before I finally settled on (carefully!) wedging the super sharp kitchen scissors in between the wire and Olivia herself, then putting a decent amount of weight on the scissors handle. It took a few seconds of this for the wire ties to snap.

Deceptively friendly-looking ties.
After I got all of the ties cut, there was just the plastic strip holding the hair in place to contend with. Thankfully, it is not one of the dreaded sewn plastic strips!! Just a secure band:

She's almost free!
Like this, her hair reminds me of Princess Jasmine's.
I didn't even have to cut anything to get her hair out: I could just gently pull it out of the loose plastic holder!

Olivia O'Lantern, straight out of the box, looking frazzled:

Finally free!
Not the worst I have ever seen.  The packaging I mean, not my feet.
Olivia also came with a bio card that tells you a bit about her personality: her pet, likes and dislikes, etc. These cards are one of my favourite things about the Begoth line: they are unique and very clever.  Here is Olivia's card:

It has a photo of Olivia on the front, and then her written bio on the back:

I find this card hysterical, and tend to giggle whenever I read it. It includes a huge amount of references to old faerie lore. For example, many of Olivia’s dislikes are things that were traditionally used to keep faeries away: things that either weakened them, hurt them, required them to do certain things before they could continue on with their faerie business (often doing things to tease or even hurt humans) or acted as a barrier which stopped them from going past a certain point. Here's an explanation for some of the references:

Iron was believed to render faerie powers useless and could also hurt any sort of faerie creature (quite a lot like silver to werewolves, but a bit worse).

Clothes were worn inside out whenever traveling through an area believed to be frequented or inhabited by faeries, the rationale being that it confused them and they didn’t know whether you were coming or going. One of the most common faerie practices, or even just general enchantments, was rearranging landscapes to make travelers become lost and therefore trapped. This is kind of the oldest trick in the book, and pops up in quite a few fairy tales. If the faeries didn’t know whether you were coming or going, then they didn’t know which way to change the landscape, allowing the travelers to get out of the area safely and in good time.

Ringing bells were believed to be a noise which faeries could not stand, so they would stay far away from anything with ringing bells.

I unfortunately don’t know the reference to goat weed. :( Come to think of it, I don’t even know what goat weed is. This bothers me very, very much. Must find book on goat weed next trip to library. Ahem.

Stale bread was hung around houses and outside window sills to keep the inhabitants safe from faeries, as a ward. Also a good way to attract hungry squirrels.

Magpies: as for her pet, I don’t know very much about the Celtic lore surrounding magpies, but I know that in Irish folktales banshees (in Irish stories banshees are actually faeries, not ghosts) could take on the form of a magpie, so I am guessing that is not the only association magpies have to faerie lore.

I don’t know much about Samhain, either, but (update!) Nethilia has written an excellent description in the comments section.  It's basically a neo-pagan celebration of the end of the growing season.  Thank you, Nethilia! :)

A Midsummer’s Night Dream is a play by Shakespeare. Just guess what it is about! Yep, all about faeries.

Midsummer Night's Dream Henry Fuseli2 courtesy copy
Midsummer's Night Dream.
So it has bucketfuls of references to Fae lore, but it isn’t just a textbook. It adds lots of fun, unique, modern touches that give Olivia her own personality, rather than being ‘just another faerie.'  Her liking Allegra for allergies and hating Lucky Charms (the smell of that stuff makes me gag) are my two personal favourite additions. Have I mentioned that I love her bio? ;)

Even before I took the bio out of the plastic it was in, I noticed something was missing. Where was Olivia's stand? I knew the Begoth dolls have them and I frequently see them being displayed with stands. I searched through her packaging and, despite my hopes, there was no stand to be found. Apparently, the stands are sold separately. That is a bit of a nuisance, especially considering how cheap the stands usually are. Why didn't they just include them with the dolls? Since the Begoths are a discontinued doll line, finding stands for them is near impossible. The website is sold out of them, so the only two sources of Begoth stands seems to be a rather sketchy-looking website which I can't find a single review for and a few collectors selling off their dolls with the stands included but not sold separately. After finding this out I got a little frantic and was certain that a stand must be included with the doll. This ended with me dismantling both the box and the backdrop, and finding no stand. You do not need to see what the packaging looked like once I was done with it. Let's just say there was some carnage.

So, since it was looking like my chances of getting a Begoth stand for Olivia were pretty slim, I decided to see what my other options were.

With her big, clumpy shoes I thought Olivia would be pretty good at standing on her own. As it turns out, this is not at all the case:

Her hip joints seem to be very loose, and they slip out at every possible opportunity. I did, however, get her to stand in this one very particular position twice:

If I put her left foot flat then put her right leg tilted out just enough, she stands for as long as I leave her legs in the exact same position. As soon as I move the feet though, her waist joint gives out and she falls over backwards:

The Drunken Faerie?
So she's not very good at standing up on her own. When she is leaning up against something like a wall then her balance improves:

Are you sure they don't make these out of cardboard?

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll
Put a 'king of the world' quote on this and you won't be able to find your kitchen tomorrow.
She is still quite limited though. This only works if her back is against something; it doesn't work with her side.

So, what about using stands from different doll lines? Unfortunately I only have two stands to try this out with, neither of which are very hopeful looking: Monster High and 16 inch Tonner.

That one is almost as tall as me...
...and that one is about the width of my arm.
First I tried the Tonner stand because I thought the results would be funny:

Goodness, allergies and air sickness?  I feel for you, Olivia!
Olivia: *Gag*
But it actually worked better than I thought:

I can fly! I can fly!
Ok, that was ridiculous.
I guess Olivia's hips are close to the Tonner 16 inch doll sizes? Hm.

Next, I tried the MH doll stand.

You have got to be kidding me.
But this didn't work out that well. Look below for photos of a Monster High stand being used as it was never meant to be used:

Never mind, I was completely wrong about this stand...
it's actually the circumference of my
So, by this point I was very curious to see what Olivia's body looked like underneath her outfit. Even before I started removing her ensemble, I could tell that there was a lot of pieces to it:

The first thing I tried to take off was her neck piece, but this didn’t go very well. It’s sewn on:

This is a little disappointing, as I would like to have the option of taking it off.

I knew her dress wasn't sewn on because I could see a zipper on the back of it:

Ooh.  I love mini zippers!
 So I was a bit confused when it looked like the wings couldn't be detached:

Sewn on?
As it turns out, the wings are detachable! They have tiny black snaps on them, which are so well camouflaged you have to squint to see them on the dress:

A bit like Find the Maggot, but snappier.
They are much easier to see on the orange wings:

I am always curious about how faerie wings attach, in the case of both dolls and costumes for humans. They are something which are quite difficult to execute well. I think the execution on Olivia's wings is bordering on genius. It is very well thought out:

I am impressed!
The construction of the wings themselves isn't quite as good: the wings are made out of a very stiff, shimmery net-like material. This gives them a translucent, gossamer like appearance. Until you notice the wire running through them:

This really detracts from their delicate appearance. I'm pretty sure the wire would have been necessary to help the wings keep their shape, but it is too obvious. Maybe if they had used black wire instead, or ideally even orange? Black would have matched the stitched on veining in the wings much better than the metal. The wire is also bent in one of my wings (my wings?), and the fabric is a little disheveled:

Normally I would put this under a heavy book (I have plenty of those) to help straighten it out, but I'm worried about the snaps getting broken. I may try it anyways, at least on the one really bad wing.

As for the veining, I think it is a really special detail. It definitely gives the wings a unique appearance, one that is better than the wings of any other doll line I know of in this price range:

It has a few sewing errors on the inside:

A few loose threads and one place where the thread is messy.
But it looks much better on the side that faces out when the wings are on Olivia.

Apologies for my wing fixation; I'm not obsessed, honestly.

Now, onto the rest of Olivia's outfit! Her arm bands slide off with no trouble, but they leave something behind that I was dreading:

There is a definite line from where her arm warmers sat. This was something I was expecting with a doll line like the Begoths: dolls with almost white skin wearing mostly black and dark coloured clothes does not a stain-free line make. The line Olivia is from came out in 2007: that means she has been sitting for almost 7 years with mostly black clothes on her super pale skin. Uh-oh.

Not a good omen.
So, I braced myself for the possibility of a purple and black spotted doll and forged ahead.

Her dress unzips and even has a tiny hook and eye at the top:

Again, I am impressed, and there's no black right here.
I gingerly took the dress off to find...

No dalmatian dolly!
There are a few black fuzzies on her torso (probably from her dress bodice) but absolutely no staining! I don't have high hopes for her legs though.

Here I ran into some problems. Not staining problems, but undressing problems. Getting Olivia's outfit off was no easy feat. It took a fair bit of wrestling to get everything off, but her shoes topped everything. I thought I was never going to get them off. I had to yank like crazy. I was afraid they weren't coming off unless they brought Olivia's feet with them. Then all of the sudden one came off with a loud 'pop!' and, after I frantically looked around for a pale white foot and found it still firmly attached to Olivia's ankle where it should be, I tugged on the second shoe and it came off with the same terrifying sound, but no foot came off with that one either. Phew!

As it turns out, Olivia can use a MH stand when she is nude (it's a very tight squeeze though). Here she is in all her unclothed glory:

The Monster High stand actually supports her quite well,
considering how much heavier she is than a Monster High doll.
The staining is nowhere near as bad as it could have been. The worst of it is on her arms, and weirdly some black on her hand:

It was touching her dress in the package.  For seven years.
She also has some odd streaks at the top of her legs. I later tried to remove the stains with anything I could think of (with the one exception of acetone-too risky), even once going so far as to dump a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol directly onto her, and not a single stain lightened; not even incrementally. I think these are here to stay. If anyone has any suggestions on how to remove stains on different types of dolls, I would love to hear them!

The next thing I checked confirmed a suspicion I had when I saw how floppy her legs and waist joint all were: Olivia is strung with elastic on these three joints:

And boy, is it ever stretched out.
This would explain her inability to hold a pose in these parts. Her elastic is way too loose. The only way to fix this is by restringing her...uh oh. It was at this point I became aware that Olivia was going to become a bit of a project doll for me.

Oh, please no.
Despite her protests, I spent about three hours restringing her (or at least attempting to). Olivia has only three strung joints. You do the math.

Long and frustrating story short, Olivia's leg movement is now much better, her torso joint still didn't work properly no matter what I tried so I hot glue gunned it to her hips, I am beyond horrible at restringing and I am never buying a doll with strung joints again. Never. EVER.  

With her tighter leg joints and non-functional waist joint, Olivia can actually sit on her own:

I didn't think it was possible!

She still can't stand without help though; this probably has something to do with my inability to restring, but after all my carrying her around and taking her apart, I realized that the Begoths are very top heavy dolls. They have their, um, sizeable chest, large head and very long hair all on their top half, while on their bottom half they have...rubber legs and tiny feet.

It's not my fault!  It's these tiny legs.
As a general rule, I am really someone who does not understand the appeal of collecting dolls in box; I like to get to know my dolls and their personalities, and I feel like I can’t do that when they are trapped inside a bunch of packaging. However, for the Begoths, I do see why so many people like to collect them and keep them inside the boxes: they are displayed very nicely inside their boxes so you can enjoy how they look without needing to contend with their mediocre bodies or the stains their clothes leave behind. In fact, for someone looking to own a Begoth doll I may recommend keeping them inside their boxes, as there’s no way of knowing what you may need to fix once you take them out. They might have nothing wrong except for staining (which I am pretty sure is impossible to avoid with this line) but if you get really unlucky they may come out of the box with problems even worse than my Olivia's.

Now that I've gone into the details of Olivia's body it is time for me to focus on her outfit! There are many pieces to it:

The quality of every one of these pieces, aside from the shoes (which I have yet to figure out), is very high for a doll line that originally went for around $30. The construction and the details are all impressive. The skirt of the dress and all the purple details are made of a synthetic jersey material. It is very smooth, slinky and stretchy. It definitely feels like a good quality material, despite being synthetic. The items made from this material do not have hemmed edges, but the material is not frayed in the slightest, even with my mad struggle to get all Olivia’s clothes off and on. I think they will stay this way:

The main body of the leggings is made from a different feeling synthetic knit; it is not as silky as the other knit, but it is thicker and more matte.

There is a net petticoat which I did not realize was separate from the dress. I really like that it is a skirt on its own; I think it will be awesome for goth ballerina outfits!

And for puff-ifying skirts, of course!
The dress bodice is probably my favourite material: it feels like a cotton synthetic blend knit, and has tiny in-scale ribbing, which looks great:

The straps are made of elastic and the dress has pretty lace trim around the top, which is teensy!

The shoes look very nice. They are also huge, so you would think they would go off and on Olivia's faerie feet with no trouble. However, they have no cuts in the back to make dressing easier:

No slits.
They are also made out of this really weird rigid, hollow plastic. It does not bend at all. I am not certain how they are supposed to go off and on. Her shoes actually left some scrape-like indents in different parts of her ankles. This is quite sad, as it makes the bottoms of her legs look rather marred. I ended up steeling myself and taking a utility knife to their backseam, telling myself I couldn’t make them much worse than they already were. I made a small slit from the top to about a third of the way down the shoe backs, and to my great surprise, they go on and off with no problem now! And I didn’t even destroy anything!

However, her foot still gets jostled around oddly inside of the shoes. It makes an odd rattling sound.

I love the looks of her shoes and how huge and stompy they are, but I can’t figure out why the designers didn’t spend more time on these shoes. Execution-wise they are way below the quality of the rest of her outfit. It’s kind of like they just stopped caring about the design execution once they got to her ankles:

There is a bit of a discrepancy here.
These dolls have a lot of trouble with staining, and they can’t share clothes with many other doll lines. However, the outfits they come in are so detailed and fit their personalities so well, that I really have zero desire to put Olivia in any other outfit; everything else feels like a step down. When she is in her own outfit, the staining and marks on her ankles are hidden by her clothes--except for one small splotch near her armpit (do dolls have armpits? I don’t think so) from the area being pressed up against the dress in the box for so long. Otherwise, the purple arms or streaked thighs are not visible. If you keep these dolls in their original outfits, then the staining is out of sight and fairly easy to put out of mind. 

The next thing I decided to take a look at was Olivia's hair. I took it out of the ponytail to get a better feel for it, but:

She has ponytail hair. The elastic has been tied around it extremely tightly for a very long time.

There isn't any product in it except for in the white strand, to make it curl a bit.

Boil wash time! I took this as an excuse to cut off the purple neck piece; it did look very nice with her outfit, but it detracted from her lovely vine and pumpkin tattoo, and I also didn’t like how it wasn’t removable:

I love this tattoo.
While we are on the topic of tattoos, she also has a simpler Jack O’Lantern tattoo on her right arm. It is nice, but very much outshone by the pumpkin vine across her chest:

This is the best picture I could get of it, my camera doesn't like it.
I love how atypical both of these tattoos are. Not very many people have pumpkin tattoos, but they really suit Olivia and her theme.

I apologize for the bad lighting in the next photos; I didn't have time to boil wash her hair until evening, and I wanted to show what her hair looked like right after it dried:

That is a lot of hair.
Gothic Rapunzel hair.
Olivia's hair is very long. Fortunately, it is not bad quality. Phew! It combs out exceedingly easily and does not tangle much. It doesn't feel especially nice though. I wouldn't say it's bad feeling hair (and I'm very texture sensitive and fussy about hair feel); it's smooth, but it feels just slightly brittle to the touch. It is also prone to static fly always, though I live in the Canadian prairies and it is immensely cold and dry right now:

And it wasn't even fully dry yet.
In my opinion, the non-silky texture of the hair is made up for by how good it looks, both in photos and real life. If I were a better photographer, this is where pretty photos of hair would go to prove my point...but I am not a better photographer.

I’m not going to do any body comparisons of Olivia with other doll lines: I am just getting started out collecting so I don’t have many dolls at all. Also, Emily covered their proportions and compared them so wonderfully to other lines at the end of her Mystixx review, that I don’t think anything needs to be added to that.

I was going to show you Olivia’s articulation, but I’ve made so many alterations to it in just the few days I have had her that I am not certain if my Olivia would be a very accurate portrayal of Begoth posing abilities anymore!

Now, to get onto what may be the best aspect of Olivia (and all the Begoth dolls, for that matter): her face.

First, her piercings. Olivia has three in total:

One silvery hoop on each ear.
And one piercing underneath her left eye.
I am not certain how to categorize this piercing. I know practically nothing about piercings (never something I’ve personally been interested in because of my proneness to infections. Ew.) so if you know what the actual name is for this sort of piercing is then please let us know in the comments! I do not think it is a stud, it looks too circular to me, but I have no idea what constitutes a stud or not.

I had heard that Begoth piercings could be removed, so I decided to try taking Olivia’s facial piercing out to see what how it was attached:

I think my doll has a worm inside her brain...or a maggot. Corpse Bride, anyone?
Ignoring the hole the piercing leaves behind, it is actually very easy to slide this piercing out--it is very similar to removing Monster High earrings. Here is the piercing removed...and the best part about these piercings?

Completely metal.
If I’m not mistaken, something which was a constant across all of the Begoth series was that if a doll had a piercing, it was always made of metal and never plastic. This is pretty significant in the doll world. Some Begoths have a lot of piercings; a character named Infinity A. Byss had no less than twelve mini-metal hoops on her face and ears!

Now, since we are on the topic of ears, I have something I want to squeal about:

She has pointed faerie ears!
I couldn’t tell from the photos I saw whether her ears were pointed or not; I had hoped they were, but I wasn’t expecting them to be. Then I started photographing her face and gleefully realized they were pointy!

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll
I love them! Also notice how cute her profile is?
From all of the pictures I have seen of other Begoths, I believe this is a detail that was used exclusively for Olivia’s mold. It carries the faerie theme farther than her wings and outfit, which puts it out of costume territory. Also, they make her even more uniquely adorable than she already was.

Pfft, like that was possible.
Olivia has black eyebrows without any texture to them. (Rambling side-note: This actually is quite appropriate, I think: I know of many goths who do their make-up heavily [and they do it very, very well, at least in this bare-faced girl’s opinion] who would shave off their eyebrows and then draw them back on in different colours and shapes to go with the rest of their makeup.) I think the Begoth girls would be the sort to do this. So it may have been cheaper to not give their brows any texture, but I think it is also drastically more suitable than textured brows would have been for the Begoth aesthetic.
The brow shape is a bit unusual; after photographing her face for a little I realized what it was: the eyebrow arch and slope is opposite of where it normally sits:

Olivia's brows also curl a bit on the ends.
This unique brow shape adds a great deal of personality to Olivia’s face:

Her lips have an exaggerated shape, but they don’t look at all out of place with the rest of her stylized facial features:

They are a matte plum colour which goes with her colour scheme without being too matchy. The fact that they don’t have any shine to them allows her eyes to really sparkle.

Olivia isn’t wearing much eyeshadow, if any at all. There is a darker colour around her eyes, but this is almost exactly the same hue as her skin, only darkened; I believe it is made to resemble shading where there is none naturally.

This lack of makeup on her eyes is in sharp contrast with her dark plum lips. I like this contrast quite a bit it--I think it works unexpectedly well.

I have been saving the best for last: Olivia’s eyes. Her eyelid is indicated by a green line; this seems a bit odd to me. A single one of her lower lashes is also the same shade of dark green:

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll

It looks a little out of place with the rest of her purple theme. I’m sure it would look really nice on the exclusive green version of Olivia. Maybe it was something that was meant to be changed from the green version but got missed? Hmm.

Olivia’s eyes are large for her face (I happen to really like big-eyed dolls, so the Begoth eye shape very much appeals to me. Too much anime as a child, perhaps?). They have a lot of details packed into them:

I will describe her eyes as best I can: Olivia’s iris is a very saturated shade of violet. The bottom half of her iris has white lines drawn on top of it, which look like lines of lighter purple from further away. Along the bottom, her pupil is outlined by a semicircle of red. This is an interesting design choice: normally when someone has red eyes it means they are either
A. Demon-possessed, evil and/or a vampire
B. Overtired and therefore probably grumpy, or sick with pink eye (which actually turns your eyes red, but whatever)

In Olivia’s case, however, it adds a really interesting dimension of colour. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like the look it gives, but it has really grown on me. I like it on my Olivia, but this red detail is also in the green-eyed exclusive Olivia. In the photos I have seen of her, this does make her look kind of like she is sick with a rare form of pink eye...or Christmas Fever. This doesn’t apply to the standard purple-eyed version of Olivia that I have, but it is something I wanted to note.

Olivia has three highlights in her eyes: one white circle, one smaller red circle and one white asterisk.

Here is Olivia back in her original outfit with her hair put back up into a ponytail:

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll
I think I actually like her better without the neck piece.  She looks somehow more free to me.

She looks great with and without her wings:

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll
I tried sticking both sides of the wings under heavy books overnight, but it really didn't change much.

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll

In conclusion, Begoths are dolls which are sold by their aesthetic. For the most part, they are very much on the display-only end of the doll spectrum: they’re pretty weak when it comes to articulation and posing. This makes the lack of a stand even more frustrating.  If you know of a stand that may work for them then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!  It’s also important to remember that these dolls originally sold for around $30 and their level of quality is, therefore, about $30 doll quality--not the $80 or $90 that they are more likely to go for now.  This is a discontinued line and the dolls are not getting any younger. Do not make the same mistake I did and assume that by buying a sealed NRFB Begoth they will be pretty much as good as new: even within the sealed box, being seven years old definitely affected Olivia. It was a bit of a bumpy road with her; I needed to re-string her, glue her torso to her hips since it still wasn’t working, make slits in her shoes (after about thirty minutes spent taking them off…), her wings are a little scrunched which I can’t fix, her body is stained which I also can’t fix, and her articulation is still limited.  That’s a lot of problems, and I have also heard of some of these dolls having trouble with yellowing over time.  However, when I look at Olivia, I can’t help but smile warmly. Even with all of the things I needed to go through to fix her, sometimes with little result, I don’t dislike Olivia. Not even in the slightest. In fact, I really, really like her.  She is so much fun to play with, and with her fantasy-inspired face plus her spunky expression, I can’t help but imagine what sort of comments she would make in certain situations. There is a small wood very close to my house which I love to walk through in warmer weather. I am now even more excited for the snow to clear so I can take Olivia into it for a photo shoot; I can just imagine her peeking her head around a tree, looking up at a tall mushroom and climbing on top of an old stump.

So, would I recommend the Bleeding Edge Goth dolls line to everyone? No. My new-found love for Olivia and desire to fix her up so I could play with her were what gave me the drive to endure through all the unexpected fixing I needed to do on her--especially the restringing. Ugh! If it wasn’t for how much I liked her, there is no way I would have gone through all of that. And that right there, is the key. To me, Olivia’s face and overall appearance were worth not only the cost, but also the amount of work I needed to put into her. I love her face, overall look and her implied personality (or rather, the personality I have unwittingly created for her) enough for everything I had to do to feel like it was worth it.  Even in the midst of the hardest part of restringing (you don’t want to know. You really, really don’t). I did not for a second regret purchasing her. The only thoughts in my mind at the time were: “I need to get this to work!” and when it was looking pretty grim, “This has to work. It can’t not work. I need to get her fixed.” This says something quite major about how smitten I am with Olivia, as I tend to second-guess my decisions a lot. 

I think there are two (three?) situations where I would feel good recommending these dolls:

1. If you are interested in owning them as a sort of a “History of Darker Themed Fashion Dolls” thing. Most collectors see Begoths as the root of the tree which grew to include doll lines such as Monster High, Bratzillas and even Once Upon A Zombie. Considering the popularity of these sorts of dolls, owning a Begoth, even if just for comparison, is definitely of value.

2. If you are interested in collecting Begoths and keeping them inside their boxes then I would recommend them without hesitation because the poor articulation would be of no object, and you can still enjoy their detailed looks.

3. Finally if you, like me, have completely fallen in love with either one particular Begoth doll or the line as a whole I would recommend them to you with two caveats: first, you are prepared for and okay with imperfect dolls (I think staining is completely impossible to avoid) which you may have to do some fixing on or rebody, and second, you are able to get your Begoth for a good price--I’d say ideally for $60 or less. In this case, it is ultimately about how much owning one of these dark divas is worth to you; not just in monetary value, but also in how much time and effort you are willing to put into fixing any flaws they might have. My Olivia’s stretched out elastic may have been a sort of a fluke and not very common, but to be on the safe side, I recommend you be prepared to do some modifications on your Begoth if you are planning to debox her. Obviously, it is up to you to decide whether the details and face of a Begoth is worth the often-inflated price and the work it takes to bring a flawed doll up to par. These girls have quite a bit of good (their detailed and individualized outfits, their tattoos, their all metal piercings, the uniqueness of the entire line and of course, their gorgeous faces ) and also quite a bit of bad (their poor articulation, extreme proneness to staining, some bad joints; really their bodies as a whole)--whether their good points are worth more than their bad is up to you. 

As for Olivia O’Lantern?  For me, she was worth all of it...

Begoth Olivia O'Lantern doll
...and does she ever know it!


  1. Love this review - like you I'm weirded out by the symbol-eyed goths so this is a nice change to see. I love the aesthetic but there's something amusing about her Barbie proportions to me.. for an anti-Barbie she's sure built like one.

    Her piercing would likely be a dermal anchor in current terms, this is the 'real' equivalent of the jewellery here:

    1. Love this doll-set. I have a similar passion too. I am a doll artist and have reborn a Chatty Cathy into a goth doll myself. If you care to see my work I am posting a link to photobucket where you will land on an album for two goth dolls. You will need the password: prettydollybay to view my album.

      I came to this blog because I am interested in the Best Friends doll for a re-root but then I paged through this blog. Very nice. Love the pix. Glad to see others do too!

    2. Hi Guys,

      I'm the artist that designed and painted this doll's face and tattoos. Glad you like it. Sorry you're not so stoked about the apparent 'pink eye' on versions of her...hee hee.

      I have to say that I loved painting every single one of the Begoth Dolls and love working with Steve/Stefan, who are both tremendous talents and wonderful people, not to mention Michelle Varner, Steve's daughter, who is also an amazing artist. The entire Varner team are probably the best doll making team in the world at any price point. I'm really lucky to have gotten to work with them on the Begoths, especially now they're no longer in production. Of all the dolls I've painted over the years, the Begoths are my favorite.

      It's really cool to hear that people are enjoying them even though they're discontinued. The Olivia 7" that never made it to production was one of my favorite ever paint jobs, so reading that someone loves their 12" version is at least a consolation.

    3. Hi Amanda! It's so nice to hear from you! The Begoth dolls had the most creative design, it's such a pity they were discontinued. Are you still involved with dolls these days?

  2. My go-to doll stand is the Kaiser stand designed for Barbie dolls. I use them for Monster High (boys and girls), Barbies and Disney Store princess dolls, so I bet they'd work for Olivia! I buy mine in lots on eBay and they're just the ticket!

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  3. thank you so much for the wonderful review! I agree with the previous comment about the weird symbol-eyes, definitely off-putting. But this girl's eyes are just gorgeous, and I can definitely see why this line is considered the predecessor to the monster high line. I also have found myself drawn to winged dolls, and your review has inspired me to de-box one of my Vera Tabray dolls to get a better look at her skeleton wings!

    1. Vera Tabray is one of the Super Nova characters from the latest wave of Novi Stars. She is very difficult to find here in the States, and I missing my chance to get her from the US Amazon site, I ended up ordering her and Mimi Merize from the UK. The dolls seem readily available overseas. In fact, I have heard that MGA is halting all North American sales of Bratz (and I assume Bratzillaz) for 2014. I hope that this extends to the Novis as well, as I think they are a terrific little doll line with a lot of untapped potential.

  4. I would keep her on the same body cuz I like her unique tattoos. Thanks Melissa, I enjoyed this review.

  5. I don’t know much about Samhain, either, but I think it is what Halloween used to be in the British Isles (and probably other parts of Europe too, but I don’t know for sure). I know that it is celebrated on the same day as Halloween, and the names are sometimes used interchangeably. It is still celebrated by those who follow Wiccan and Paganism...I think (please correct me if I am wrong!).

    Pagan here, and the celebration isn't really interchangeable with Halloween. Samhain (pronounced sow-win) was based in Celtic mythos, and nowadays is a neo-pagan religious holiday where many pagans celebrate the full end of the growing season and the celebration of the start of the descent into winter; the days have been getting shorter since the Fall Equinox and all the crops that are getting in are in. It's also a start of a new year for many pagans, and one of the days of the year where several pagans honor the people who have passed on. I'm a little weirded out that it was just added on because it sounds "spooky." There's more details here:

    The doll is really beautiful--I love gothic dolls being goth myself, but I'd likely be more inclined to make my own since not many goth dolls are black.

    1. Hi, Melissa, I have a black Barbie with blonde highlights which I planned to colour red and redo the face to make it goth (the sculpt is very nice), I wasn't sure about that but now I'll put it higher in my to-do list :)

      I loved your review, it's a pity you don't have a blog of your own because I think you and I have many things in common.

  6. Oh she is so cute... sort of. Are the prairies still caked in snow? I don't watch the news and my grandparents live up there. Hope spring get there soon. Nice review.

  7. I see the name/word Faerie and I think Maleficent especially when she looks kinda green. She is lovely doll and her and my little sister share a name, cool!

  8. I dont really like the neck piece. It would be better if it was detachable so you can use it again if you wanted. I dont like how it sort of distracts you from the wings and tattoo a little

  9. Very nice, in-depth review! I really like her decolletage tattoo - so cool! Her bio is great too. Begoth did a super job with her whole theme, everything ties together nicely.

    I'm wondering if you own a Maudlynne Macabre doll, and if so, what you think of her.

  10. excellent very entertaining review, I think she is the most beautiful of its kind doll

  11. Olivia O-Lantern was actually my first "collectable" doll! Begoths are the whole reason I got into doll collecting, and it's nice to see I'm not the only one who loves her! (We also share a name...well, kinda.) -Oli

    1. It's not incredibly loose, but that might be the outfit I have her in. My Atara, from the same series, has very loose stringing though. The legs are practically hanging by a thread. -Oli

  12. I think the loose stringing was particularly bad in series seven. I own a bunch of BeGoths and my Atara Inferno definitely has the wobbliest legs, although Penelope Fabrique's aren't much better. Greta Vendetta's are improved, but that might just be 'cause she's a little newer (I'm sure Penelope and Atara's were bad right out the box though, when I bought them new on release). My older dolls (Abcynthia Chaser and Raven Dragonfire) have hinge joints in their hips instead, so they hold nice and firmly, but they're still too top heavy to stand unsupported. It's a pity they don't come with stands, I never even knew there had been some sold separately ones -- my dolls mostly sit on my display shelfs, legs dangling off the edge (except Penelope, who stands supported by a LDD coffin). It's a shame that the older dolls are prone to yellowing and sticky faces, because the hair was much better quality and the outfits were more nicely made, too.
    I remember seeing Olivia in Forbidden Planet a few years back and being tempted -- that pumpkin tattoo is precious -- but Atara won me over and they were charging too much for me to buy both, at the time. Her dress is beautiful looking up close.

    Oh, and goat weed (Epimedium) is sometimes known as fairy wings, due to the shape of the blooms. It's used as an aphrodisiac, too, but I'm guessing it's the shape that makes her like it rather than the effects (although, who knows with fairies, some of them are quite naughty)!

    1. Your post needs a "Like" button :) I'm enjoying learning about these dolls. The tattoos and piercings are so cool.

      I was browsing the website someone mentioned and I saw they had some stands for these dolls for sale: (scroll down)

      That is one of my pet peeves: if the manufacturer is going to sell a doll that doesn't stand on its own, at least include a stand with it (Mattel, I'm looking at you).

  13. Great review Melissa! Very detailed! I had already looked up some of these dolls after Emily mentioned them. I like the uniqueness of these dolls and the carefully made outfits that come with them. But the inflated prices on these, and the bodies make me wonder if they're worth buying. You're review must've helped many doubting people. Personally, they're not my cup of tea but I can certainly see why people are attracted to these so much.

  14. Great review Melissa, hands down for me is the pumpkin vine tattoo.
    What a shame though about quality and that they have been discontinued, oh well a beauty anyway.
    Glad you found her at a decent price, I may have to start searching....
    A treat as always, Tina

  15. The staining might be removed by using acne cream (strongest benzoyl peroxide), covering with saran wrap, and placing the part in the sunlight or under a strong light. You should cover the rest of the doll to protect it. It may take several tries before the ink fades. This site gives more detailed advice:

  16. Hi! Frequent listener, first time caller. I love how Emily opens up TBP to guest reviews (not that I don't love hers, thus the "frequent" part).
    I overcome my shys to offer some info!
    I'm Pagan and since the ever awesome Nethilia already explained Samhain (I too am a little leery of it being just stuck in there like that), I can offer some info by way of herb lore (yeah, not all Pagans are versed in herb lore and obviously not all who are versed in herb lore are Pagan, but my interest grew out of that, so... yeah)!
    Goat weed is a folk name for St John's Wort, which was thought to keep away ghosts and (yes) fairies, among other spirits.
    Not to be confused with "randy goat weed" aka barrenwort, whose other folknames include "fairy wings".
    < /geekery>
    Loved your review! :^)

  17. What a thoroughly entertaining guest review! I've been seeing Bleeding Edge Goth dolls in my local comic book store for ten years and never gave them a second thought. But now that I collect Monster High dolls I can see BeGoths as the forerunner to them. Your review has piqued my interest, especially since your Olivia is so sweet! I might have to see if my comic book store still has old stock lying around - and it's very possible that they do.

  18. Too cute.
    Emily, I nominated you for the Liebster reward.

  19. Oh no it's a shame to find out they are discontinued :( I have two Be Goths (Esperanza de Muerte and one of the Princess Ai's) I've always loved the aesthetic of them but my doll collecting journey hadn't really progressed enough for me to be brave enough to buy more than those at the time.

    I will say I love this girl as I love fae and the folklore, and those ears alone might have won me over, but there's something about the eyes that at first made me think she wasn't a BeGoth. Maybe the shape could be slightly different, too far apart, or maybe I'm just not used to looking at them without symbols in. :P

    I'm going to have to chase these up now :)

  20. I have two BE GOTH that I purchased from comic con I believe 2005, and had signed by the artist. One is Dagger, and the other is the purple limited edition Malice in Wonderland. I displayed them unopened since I bought them and now looking to sell. I don't know where or who would appreciate them and so I don't know where to begin. Any suggestions?