Saturday, January 31, 2015

Phicen's Super Flexible Seamless 1:6 Scale Figure with a Stainless Steel Skeleton

Ok, so here in the Northeastern United States we have been getting quite a lot of snow.  I think Maine has had 25-30 inches of the stuff over the last few days...with more to come.  I very much hope that all of my fellow New Englanders are faring well in these storms.  The weather has certainly made my week strange--with a mix of snowed-in days and hectic catch-up days--but I did get the chance to spend some time with a very unique action figure doll that I've been admiring for quite a while.

I am a relative newcomer to the world of action figures, but lately this style of doll has become increasingly appealing to me.  One of the reasons I'm drawn to action figures is that many of them have excellent articulation and balance.  This flexibility can come at a price, though--some of the figures I've purchased (like my Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Otaku figures) have unsightly joints and/or bizarre, exaggerated proportions.  I also admire how action figures can have such realistic faces, and both my Daryl Dixon figure and Séverine's Avenger's Black Widow are great examples of this.  With all of these things in mind, I set out to find a 1:6 scale action figure with a good blend of articulation and realism.

In my quest for this ideal action figure, I spent a lot of time browsing BigBadToyStore, Entertainment Earth and several of the big manufacturer's websites.  I also lurked around on the information-packed forum, "One Sixth Warriors."  After all of this research, the company that stood out to me the most was Phicen.  What makes Phicen figures unique is that they are extremely well-articulated, but they're also "seamless"--meaning that they have very few visible joints.  The skin-like covering on these dolls can make their bodies look startlingly real in some photographs.  In fact, the body on the Phicen figure in this review is so realistic that I left her partially clothed for most of the pictures.  Even so, I would like to start off with a quick warning:

WARNING: The realism of this doll might make some photographs inappropriate for the workplace or for young children.

1:6 scale seamless Super Flexible Phicen body with stainless steel skeleton, $105.
Phicen is a Chinese company that makes a few different kinds of 1:6 scale figure.  They have regular seamless bodies (these bodies come with rooted heads and underwear, but are still called just "bodies" in the online stores).  The bodies come with different face molds, different hair colors, a few different skin tones, and two different bust sizes.  They cost around $80.  There are also standard seamless figures that come fully dressed--often with a character theme.  These cost anywhere from $110 to $180.  Phicen's newest innovation is a collection of bodies (again, with heads and underwear) that have stainless steel skeletons.  Saying that makes me think of The Terminator.

I have read a lot of complaints about the standard (non-steel) Phicen armatures or "skeletons."  It seems that these dolls can break quite easily.  I assume that their armatures are made out of plastic, and so perhaps the problem is similar to what Disney is experiencing with their rubber-legged dolls.  This made it very clear to me that I wanted one of the stainless steel skeleton figures. There were only 4 of these figures to choose from when I was shopping (there are 7 now) so it was a pretty quick decision.  I opted for the pale-skinned, medium bust figure.

My doll came in a cardboard box with the cutout of a female figure on the front:

The back of the box has a text-based design that says "super flexible," and the sides of the box have some simple drawings of the figure in many different positions:

Inside the cardboard box, the doll is packaged in a plastic shell.  She comes with instructions, a stand, and two extra pairs of hands:

The instructions are actually quite helpful.  They go through every one of the doll's 26 joints and describe how it can move and how it should be manipulated.  I found myself looking at these descriptions quite frequently as I was posing the doll.

Here is everything that came in the plastic shell (it's all very easy to get out):

Here's a close-up look at the two pairs of hands that came with this set:

The hands are made out of bendable vinyl and have painted pink fingernails:

The stand is made out of black hard plastic and comes with two different interchangeable grips:

The wired hook grip reminds me of the Hot Toys stand (which was the only stand that would fit my Lammily doll) and so I chose that design over the simple waist grip:

Here's the figure on her stand...still wearing the skimpy string bikini she came in, with a plastic strip over her face to control her hair:

The moment I removed the plastic strip from this doll's head, her hair became unruly:

I do not like the leopard print string bikini that this doll came in, although I understand the desire to show off her realistic body style.  I spent quite a bit of time online trying to find suitable clothing for her to wear for the review.  I wanted clothes that would fit the Phicen proportions without running the risk of causing dark stains, and I also wanted something that would show off the flexibility of the body without being tacky.  

I ended up purchasing a few swimwear and underwear pieces form a store I learned about through One Sixth Warriors, it's called SMcG Customs.  Here's a blue sailor-style bikini ($9.99) that I think looks great:

The skin-like covering on the Phicen figures feels and behaves like silicone or a silicone mix (although I can't figure out exactly what the material is).  It has a slightly sticky feel to it, so tight clothing can be quite hard to get on.  The skin material also attracts lint and dirt like crazy.  Here you can see some fuzz from the swimsuit pilling along the doll's legs:

I was able to wipe those fuzz balls away with a Swiffer cloth, which I used in very light brushing motions.

Another thing I want to point out in the photo, above, is the inside of the doll's arm.  The steel skeleton is visible through the skin covering on the inside of the elbow joint, and to me this looks just like the visible veins in a real human's arm!  It's startlingly realistic.

I am fascinated by the fact that dolls like this one are being sold as "bodies," as if they had no head or personality.  In fact, all of the Phicen "bodies" have fairly attractive heads--with different face molds and hairstyles.  Let's take a closer look at this doll's face:

The head is made out of plastic and is slightly yellower than the skin-like covering of the body.  This is not as noticeable in real life.  

The doll's features look Asian to me--at least from the front.  I think she's quite beautiful:

She also has a very pretty half-profile, but her full profile is off.  I think it's because the angle of her jaw dives down a little too dramatically into her pointy chin:

This doll's hair kept getting in the way as I tried to photograph her face.  It seemed like the more I smoothed it down and brushed it, the more out of control it became:

The hair is black, but there's an unnatural dyed quality to the color.  The hair fiber also feels terrible and has very little shine.  It is coarse and dry and has unsightly rough ends.  The wavy texture of the hair makes it very hard to control.  It won't even lay flat, and so it always looks puffy and out-of-scale:

I tried pulling the hair back at the top--just to help it lay flatter and to keep it out of the doll's face:


Let's take another look at this girl's face now that her hair is out of the way:

She has brown painted eyes with a high-gloss coat that makes them look like inset glass:

Her eyebrows and eyelashes are both painted in a fairly simple style, but her eyebrows have nice thickness and an interesting cross-hatched hair pattern:

There are a few molded eyebrow lines underneath the paint, too.
Her mouth has slightly-parted lips painted in a delicate coral shade with a light gloss:

I really like the shape of the mouth.

Before I look at this doll's articulation, I think she needs a name.  Her face has more than enough personality to move beyond the zone of just being an action figure body.  

She looks a bit like a Jennifer to me for some reason, but I decided to go with "Leila" instead because it means "dark-haired beauty."

Leila is advertised as having 26 points of articulation.  The joints are tough to count (since most of them are concealed), but many of them have movement consistent with a ball-and-socket design.  Here's a diagram from the instructions that gives an overview of the articulation (the numbers correspond to steps in the instructions--not the number of joints):

Areas of movement are in red.
 Now, let's see how all of those joints behave on the actual doll.

Leila's head doesn't move very much at the top of the neck.  At first, I was quite disappointed by this lack of flexibility.  She can swivel her head back and forth like this:

But she has only very minor side-to-side movement:

However, what I discovered (by reading the directions) is that there's an internal joint in her neck that allows for some very dramatic head positions:

This neck joint, combined with the swiveling movement of the head, allows for a great range of poses.

When the neck is tipped back as far as it will go, my doll's head tends to lift up and away from the rest of the body, like this:

Leaving an unattractive gap:

However, the head can be re-seated back against the neck with a little push, and then it looks much better.  I still don't think that this doll has an especially graceful head and neck profile, though:

Leila also has joints on both sides of her clavicle region.  These joints allow her to lift her shoulders up:

With the left shoulder raised.
And also to slouch her shoulders forward or push them back:

 With both shoulders hunched forwards (left) and pushed back (right).

Front view of the shoulders pushed back.
Leila has ball-jointed shoulders that allow her to lift her arms straight up to about a 120 degree angle from her body:

To lift the arms higher than 120 degrees, the shoulder joint has to be rotated forwards:

This rotation causes a bit of odd twisting in the "skin" of the armpit area, although most of those creases look pretty realistic to me. 

After rotating the arms around so that they could lift up over Leila's head, I had a bit of trouble getting the shoulder joints back into their correct position.  It's hard to know which way to move everything when you can't see the joint!

If the shoulder joint is misaligned, the arm can only lift up about this far:

The shoulder joints allow excellent backward movement of the arms, too:

Leila has ball-jointed elbows with amazing flexibility.  She can easily put her hands on her hips:

And she can also bend her elbows so that her hands reach any part of her head or face:

Combined with the up-and-down shoulder movement, Leila can strike a very convincing shrug-like pose:

Leila's wrist joint is nowhere near as fluid or flexible as her other arm joints.  Her hand attaches to the armature with a ball and socket, but the hard edges of the hand restrict the movement at this joint:

I also find this joint to be unattractive--especially in contrast to the hidden joints on the rest of the body.  I would gladly trade the hand-swapping feature for a nice seamless joint in the wrist.  

Doll hands can be so emotive, but I think this clunky wrist joint really detracts from Leila's realism and expressiveness.

As I was posing Leila's hands and arms, I frequently felt like the hands might pop off if I bent the wrists too much (and anything past about 120 degrees felt like too much).  I mostly took advantage of the rotational movement in her wrists and tried not to bend them too much.

When Leila has her arms raised above her head like in the picture, above, you can see a few of the weaknesses in her realism.  

Some things about the underarm region seem very realistic to me (like the small creases right in the middle of the joint and the large fold of skin at the shoulder) but other areas (like the two thick creases at the very top of the arm and the sharp angle at the back of the joint) look unnatural.

The areas with blue arrows look great to me, but not the areas with red arrows.
On Leila's other arm, you can see that the steel armature shows through the delicate skin right in the middle of the upper arm, and the wrist joint has a very unrealistic thick crease:

Leila has a double-jointed torso that allows her to lean back quite a bit:

And to lean forward:

This joint also has side-to-side movement:

And can even twist!

What's amazing to me is how realistic Leila's skin looks with all of these torso poses--especially the twisting movement viewed from the back.  She gets a little indentation along where her spine would be and everything!

Leila also has double ball-jointed hips.  These allow her to do outstanding front-to-back splits:

She can even twist around while she's doing them:

Show off.
 Or lean forwards and touch her front leg:

And, of course this hip flexibility translates into excellent high kicks:

Leila's side-to-side splits are also perfect--she looks like a gymnast to me!

She can sit on the floor in a number of graceful ways

And of course touch her toes in this position, too:

Or maybe lean back and take in some sun...if only there was some of that here in Maine right now.

Leila also has very flexible knee joints (again, probably ball-and-socket) that can flex and rotate beautifully.  Adding knee movement to this doll's sitting poses is really fun.  There's nothing she can't do!

One thing that I want to single out is that Leila can lay on her stomach and lift her head up to look at the camera.  This is an extremely rare thing for a doll to be able to do.  It's all because of the extra joint she has in her neck:

Even though she can look straight up in this position, I think she looks more natural when her head is tilted downwards a little bit, like this:

Leila also sits in a chair perfectly--and can easily cross her legs:

In fact, she can even sit cross-legged on the ground:

One of the things that amazes me about this doll's flexibility is that her joint movement is incredibly smooth and effortless, but she holds poses with no trouble.  For example, her knee joints bend with practically no resistance, but they can hold their position well enough to support the doll's weight:

Even with only one knee on the ground:

I really like this pose, too...

...although my mom told me never to sit like this because it would ruin my knees.

As you may have noticed in some of the pictures, above, Leila also has some modest ankle movement.  Her toes are very flexible and rubbery, but she has a joint in her ankle.  This means that even though her feet have a high-heeled fashion shape, she can still stand flat-footed.

She has no hope of standing on her own, though, simply because of the lack of armature in the highly flexible material of her feet.  I'm not sure how she'd fit into shoes with these squishy feet, either, come to think of it.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Leila in her blue swimsuit:

For size reference, here's a picture of Leila next to a Barbie doll.  Both dolls are considered 1:6 scale, but you can see that Barbie has different proportions and is also shorter:

Barbie Style doll, Phicen Super Flexible figure.
Barbie and Leila can not share clothes, but I probably wouldn't try most play doll clothes on Leila, anyway, just because of the risk of staining.

Here's Leila next to two fashion dolls (Mixis and Lammily) that have more realistic proportions:

Mixis Opal, Phicen Super Flexible, Lammily.
Of these two, Leila is most similar to the Mixis doll, Opal (who I have not reviewed).  Leila can wear Opal's blue sundress, but it's short on her and also tight through the chest:

My Lammily doll Mia's shorts are much too big for Leila, but her shirt fits.

Here's Leila next to one of my other action figures, Sideshow's Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Poor Buffy is horribly stained from her dark clothing.

Sideshow Buffy figure, Phicen Super Flexible figure.
Buffy's hard plastic body is highly articulated, but it has very odd proportions and obvious joints.  Buffy looks great when she's fully clothed, but I don't think I'd dress her in a swimsuit.  

There was no way I was going to get Buffy's black pants or tee shirt anywhere near Leila, but I did try out the imitation red leather coat:

Here's Leila next to my action figure by Otaku:

Otaku figure, Phicen Super Flexible figure. 
The Otaku doll's joints are much more natural-looking than Buffy's, but I have never liked her exaggerated body shape or angry face.

The brown dress I bought for the Otaku doll fits Leila fairly well, but isn't very flattering.  Again, the friction on Leila's skin makes her very hard to dress--especially in outfits like this that don't have any buttons or velcro.

I am not sure which one of the outfits I tried on Leila is responsible for this, but something gave her horrible staining on her back and arms:

This staining happened fast, too, because none of those clothes were on Leila for more time than it took to snap a few pictures.  I was so, so sad to see this.  I am pretty sure it was the brown dress I showed at the end.  I am going to be super-careful about what I dress this doll in from now on!  The reading I did at One Sixth Warriors suggested that the shop I mentioned, SMcG Customs, has clothes that are safe.  I hope so.

I tried washing the marks off of Leila with warm water and soap--and also with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  While I was at it, I boil rinsed her horrible hair to see if I could improve its texture or appearance.  Unfortunately, washing didn't do anything to the stains (and not much to the hair), and it made Leila's skin-like covering very (very!) sticky.  I sprinkled a little talcum powder on the sticky parts and this restored the original texture.  I hope the talc is safe and won't degrade the skin or anything like that.

I let Leila's hair dry overnight and then re-dressed her for another photo shoot.  I wanted to try out another item I bought from SMcG Customs--a white tank and underwear set.  The tank top in this set has to slide over the doll's head and arms, though, and this was very difficult to do.

Notice all of the hairs sticking to the backs of Leila's legs, too....
I like this set, but I don't feel like the color and fit of the tank top show Leila off as nicely as the blue swimsuit:

I pulled the tank top back off over Leila's head, and this is what she looked like afterwards:

Notice that her head is pulling off again and also the ball joint at her shoulder is very visible next to the thin skin of her armpit.  I hope the joints don't end up ripping the skin.

I decided to dress Leila in a red version of the sailor swimsuit she was wearing at the beginning of the review.  This suit is very easy to get on and is flattering.

I should point out that Leila's hair is straighter after its boil rinse, but the texture is still bad and it still looks very shaggy and unkempt.  I think this is (no exaggeration) the worst doll hair I have ever encountered.

With Leila in her new swimsuit, let's take a look at how her hands can be swapped.

The current hands pop off pretty easily, revealing a small steel ball:

This visible ball is not the main wrist joint, but simply the attachment point for the hand.  This ball attachment allows for rotational movement of the hand.

The wrist joint is higher up on the arm and can't be seen in this picture.

If I peel back the skin covering, you can see the wrist joint and some of the thick steel skeleton of the arm:

Maybe that roughened texture on the ball joint is what allows the doll to hold her poses so well?
The other hands can just be snapped into place.  No softening of the vinyl is necessary or anything like that.  Here's one of the gripping hands that came with Leila--probably this would be good for holding a weapon (she is an action figure, after all):

One of the other hand options has a finger that points outwards.  This hand is good for contemplation and realization poses...

Hm...I wonder...                                                                                             Aha!  That's it!

The optional hands are fine, but I prefer Leila in the relaxed hands she came wearing.

Next, I wanted to see how easy it would be to swap Leila's head.  I really like her facial features, but her hair doesn't even come close to being as nice as the rest of her, so something will have to change.

It's almost as easy to remove the head as it is to remove the hands.  It pops right off.

Without the head, you can see the large steel ball perched at the top of the skeleton:

I'll be Back.
This ball fits into a hole in the bottom of Leila's head:

Here's Leila's head next to my Otaku doll's head.  The attachment hole is much smaller on the Otaku head, so I wasn't sure that head swapping would be an option.

I put the Otaku head into a plastic bag and then soaked it in boiling water for about three minutes. This softened the vinyl enough for me to fit the head onto the Phicen body.  The Otaku head does not look thrilled with this arrangement.

This head also attaches a bit more firmly to the neck, making the neck length shorter...and pretty funny-looking:

The skin tones match pretty well (the Otaku head is slightly darker) but overall I don't think this is an aesthetically good body/head match.

I put Leila's original head back on and took some time to play with her.  I wanted to see what kind of extreme poses she could manage.

She's a great ballet dancer...

...and even has a bit of a jazzy modern side:

It also seems like she might be something of a martial arts prodigy!

And of course she is excellent at just striking a pose and looking pretty:

It was when I put Leila in the pose below that I noticed something funny on the inside of her left leg...

It's a tear in the skin covering:

It looks to me like there's a seam that runs along the inside of Leila's leg (marked with red arrows, below), and this split is right on that seam.

Leila also has a rip on the bottom of one of her feet which looks like it's right in the area where the steel skeleton ends.

Look at all of the lint on her feet!
Another thing I noticed at this point is that one of Leila's hands looks very yellow.  I don't remember it being this yellow when I first got her out of the box, so perhaps this is the result of something I did?  Washing?  Redressing?  Maybe the talc made the rest of the body paler?  It's a mystery.

Oh--and, listen to this.  I briefly set Leila down on my kitchen table, and her legs happened to touch a piece of paper with math homework on it.  The pencil marked her legs and these marks won't come off.  I washed her again, rubbed her legs--nothing.  I don't know of any other doll that can be stained by pencil.  It's really frustrating. 

Calculus calf.
On the bright side, the marks on Leila's back seem to have vanished!  I don't know if the ink soaked into the skin or what, but I can't see any trace of those marks anymore.  Maybe the pencil marks will eventually disappear, too??

I have to say, by this point in the review, I was starting to feel like Leila was falling apart...which is not a great outcome for any doll, let alone one that costs $100.

Still, I pulled myself together and rallied for one last photo shoot--trading back and forth between Leila's two sailor swimsuits, since I can't decide which color I like best.

Here are some of the better shots:

Bottom line?  This will be a fairly straight-forward summary because I feel very strongly (and differently) about the various features of this doll.

To start with, I can safely say that I have never owned a $100 doll with hair this terrible...and I can't remember any $20 dolls with hair this bad, either.  The hair is coarse, dry-feeling and scraggly.  It's nearly impossible to make it look good.  The color is bad, the ends are rough, and it looks puffy and out-of-scale.  I almost got my scissors out and just hacked it off.  Bald would be an improvement.  I will need to re-root this doll, wig her, or scrap the Phicen head and buy a new one.

I'd rather not buy a new head, though, because I think Leila has a gorgeous face.  She is wonderfully photogenic--especially front-on and in half profile.  Her full profile is not as attractive.  One concern for me with the head is that the color is slightly different from the color of the body (the same is true for the hands) and I worry that as the different parts of the doll age, the mismatched colors will be magnified.

The durability of this doll is also a huge concern for me.  Not only does she seem to take on stains and marks with frightening ease, but her skin-like covering is fragile.  My doll's skin has already ripped in two places, and it shows signs of wearing very thin in other areas.  On the bright side, some of the stains on my doll have magically disappeared on their own...only the pencil marks remain.  

Another troubling thing is that this doll picks up lint and dust like nobody's business.  I wash my hands every time before I touch her, but my fingers still leave behind little bits of fuzz and dirt.  If I try to remove one thing from her body, I usually end up smudging six more spots in its place.  If her hair sheds, it gets stuck to her body.  When her clothes are changed, tiny bits of fabric are left behind.  If she's left on a shelf, she'll be covered with dust in a matter of days.  Furthermore, if her skin gets wet, the stickiness increases tenfold.  It's very high maintenance.

It must sound like I hate this doll by now, but I don't.  I am actually mesmerized by her and have already ordered another one.  Why?  Well, mostly because the articulation is breathtakingly good.  Leila moves like a dream.  Her joints (all 26 of them!) are smooth and sturdy and have a range of movement that is hard to beat.  This doll's posing repertoire is more limited by my imagination than it is by the design of her joints.  In addition, the skin-like covering on Leila's body makes her vast range of poses look amazingly realistic...and beautiful.  Even some of the creases that form at her joints look like those on a real human.  I have never owned a doll anything like this.

I am often asked which of my dolls has the very best articulation of them all.  This has been a tricky question to answer.  There are so many dolls, and quite a few of them have wonderful articulation.  However, there are usually little shortcomings here and there that make it hard to pick an absolute winner.  I can pick a winner now, though.  This Phicen body has the best, most attractive, most realistic articulation I have ever seen in a doll.  That alone is enough to make me push the flaws aside and invest my hopes (and money) in this company, with the idea that some day they will get all of the details just right.  I certainly want to be there when they do.


  1. Oh wow. You know I had always wondered about dolls like that, the ones with the realistic skin and inner skeleton? I've see quite a few online and was debating which was better, dolls with visible joints or dolls with that soft skin, and after this review I think that the dolls with visible joints are more durable for what you get. I'd be destroyed to find a tear in her skin after just one day.

  2. Yeah, I've always stayed away from the rubber-skin-internal-skeleton ones too, partially because of the price but mostly because it seems the risk of the skin or internal plastic parts breaking is too great, and with the cheaper models you get gumby arms. That's clearly not the case here. I'm glad they're switching to metal for the internal joints, and I'm really impressed by the posing abilities - particularly the shoulders! I've never seen a doll or an action figure that can do that before. Personally I'll stick with the hard plastic bodies for now: I think $100 is a bit too much when you have to worry about staining.

  3. Wow, such a beautiful doll! If it helps, my hair is exactly like hers, colour and texture :)

  4. Dang, that just makes AG dolls look like stick figures. I'm impressed! She's like the perfect gymnast.

  5. I can't get over how realistic this doll photographs...just amazing! She would be really fun on outdoor photo shoots. I am totally shocked that they couldn't do a little better with the hair. My MH dolls have nicer hair than her...and it really is too bad about the body staining. Besides that though, she is definitely unlike any other doll I've ever seen. Great review!

  6. Wow! I don't collect action figures but she's SUPER impressive. The articulation looks so natural and beautiful.

    For her hair, I think it looks like kanekalon? This stuff can be really difficult to straighten if it's the lower quality stuff, if you want to try straightening it again, use a fine-toothed comb and comb it out after you pour the boiling water on it and then do it again until it's straight!

  7. Great review! I have been considering this doll for a while now because of the steel skeleton. I own a Phicen with the plastic skeleton and so far, have not broken her in any way, but I do handle her very carefully. I love the face of your Leila, it is beautiful. My first Phicen, for some reason, did not have bendable elbows which I didn't realize until I tried to bend them and I broke her arm. I do love the realism of these dolls and now that I have read your review, it is very likely that I will order one soon! Oh, and I keep baby wipe handy and I wipe down the doll with those after dressing and undressing. They seem to do a nice job without damaging the doll. I have dressed her in Mixi's clothes and also in Triad clothes.

  8. She's beautiful but sadly, I can relate to her hair issue . A girl can't have it all apparentl . Her facial features remind me of my kids: high school Latin teacher, the very pretty Magistra.

  9. This was a brilliant review to read - I've been wondering about Phicen figures (although I'd only looked at the dressed ones), and this answered all of my questions and more!

    It's a shame about the hair and the rips in the "skin", but the posing really is beyond fabulous. I might have been on the fence before, but seeing this (even with all the issues you experienced), I think I'm sold on them!

  10. She's very pretty but a shame that she has so many issues:(

    Looking at the pic of her and Barbie I wonder if Leila would be able to wear Jem clothing and shoes? Jem is bigger than Barbie and her feet look very similar to Leila's. (if you want that 80's look, lol)

  11. I'm so glad you reviewed one of these! When I was first interested in customizing, I looked at the action figure lines first, for the same reason. Really good articulation! The price tag of the better lines put me off and I hadn't thought about them again, until a few weeks ago.

    The articulation seams don't bother me too much. I'm not really a fan of the bolts showing, but unless they're proportionally odd, like Buffy, it doesn't bother me terribly. I love the look of the silicone skin over a skeleton, but I already know the fear of it tearing (and being a lint trap.) She looks so realistic, but I just don't want to deal with that. If I get anything, I think I'll stick with pure plastic, at least until they've worked out more of the kinks with Phicen. Although... I wonder if anyone makes a silicone repair kit? This isn't a new problem... Something to look into!

    But I'm struck by how odd Lammily looks beside her. I realize many fashion dolls, and action figures, tend to be unnaturally leggy, because it's great for showing off outfits and probably for getting better articulation (bigger, potentially doubled joints.) Plus, Leila is a lot taller and generally anything taller tends to be less compact.

    However, I really, really think they did something weird with Lammily, now that I've seen your Otaku doll.

    I think the Otaku one looks more average, even though having breasts that big might not be average. Lammily's torso looks like a 16" torso with 11.5" arms, legs, and head attached. I always thought the groin looked odd and added to her stocky look. I thought the idea was to make her hips seem to connect to her pelvis, and the indention point is supposed to be where the groin is. Not very elegant, but less sexual and somewhat realistic.

    Looking at her now though? I realize breasts can sag a good deal, and they're nowhere near as perky as dolls tend to be, but it seems lower down for a different reason. Perhaps this was a cheap alternative to making a really detailed and unusual torso, but I think it defeats the entire purpose of Lammily and it may deter people from liking her. I know that I was put off by it when I initially read your review, but now I'm even less pleased.

    You have more experience with the larger fashion dolls. What do you think? :(

    P.S. Have you considered looking at the 12" G.I. Joes? I don't think they can compare with any of the custom action figures on the market, but it makes me wonder what the newest ones might be like. I picked up two off eBay, probably well over ten years ago, and I wasn't terribly impressed, but they were certainly more mobile than Ken was back then. I have to wonder if they've improved their overall look or increased their range of motion any.

    Actually, since you have sons, you may already know what the past and current crop are like, but not every kid likes G.I. Joe, so... I thought I'd ask. XD

    Oh! And the new Pure Neemo type bodies by Azone! I saw those recently and their seams are almost seamless on a plastic body! They look lovely and they seem to have different heights too, with a more child-like body, proportionally closer to EAH than Barbie. I'm super enticed, especially since they seem to have two 1/12th scale bodies too! One is more action-figure sized and the other is exaggerated to be a bit more elfin/fairy-like/otherwise supernatural. I'm chomping at the bit, but I've already spent a lot on dolls recently (even if a little over half were on sale.) And I still haven't gotten a Back to Magic Bratzillaz doll or an EAH doll yet... argh. I've just exploded with dolly coveting over the past few months. My wallet hates me right now. :P

    1. I was struck by how the Lammily doll looked next to Leila, too. The Phicen body is so gorgeous, it's going to make most dolls look less attractive, but there's more than that going on--I agree. I think Lammily really is created from an average of body measurements, not the actual measurements of any real person. On the other hand, if we saw a lineup of 100 average real women, I bet some of them would look very odd compared to most fashion dolls! ;)

      My boys used to have G.I. Joe (that'd be about 10 years ago now, though). I wonder if I still have him? Probably. I keep everything. It would be fun to compare that doll to the new ones! Great idea. Thank you for the suggestion!

      Thank you also for the mention of the Pure Neemo bodies! Those look wonderful! Time to do some research....

    2. Yeah, the human body is significantly different from the fashion doll world; even the ones that aren't extremes. They're designed to resemble the proportions that fashion designers use, to show off the drape of the cloth in the best way possible, etc.

      I do remember people mentioning how the mathematical average could generate something odd, in the comments section of Lammily's review, and I wouldn't discount that possibility at all. I just can't help feeling like the pelvis region of her torso was a bad idea; whether it's because her torso is in the wrong scale or because it's just an odd design choice. It's not the width of the waist, even though I know the "hourglass" figure is consider generally more attractive. Real people are just wider in the torso. The strangeness is definitely somewhere else and I always thought her hips and groin weren't very flattering. But I digress!

      I am eager to see your review of those two, if you do. If nothing else, it would certainly sate my curiosity. Also, I found out there's apparently two lines of Neemo body? There might be one with more of a specific pose, called Advanced, and then another one that's much more general in the articulation? I've only skimmed researching it myself, so I don't know any more detail than that, or if I even have the right idea. I'm sure you'll find out more (and I might find out more by then too. I love research, but I'm also lazy.) :P :)

      If the Neemo's have really good articulation, I think they might be exactly what I'm looking for.

    3. I'm a transformers action figure collector, and during the g1 era in the 80s( I want to say it was season 3 in 1986) there was an episode titled "Only Human" where four characters found themselves turned into humans. One of the characters, and also the most popular female transformer in the franchise was Arcee. When I first saw these phicen seamless bodies, I knew I wanted one to do a custom 1/6 scale "Only Human" Arcee. However hearing about the sticky skin and staining issues, I'm kind of unsure if I want to now. Of course it would be a display piece and not played with much but I'm not sure if its worth the trouble. Im also glad you provided a link for clothing I can check for the outfit I need. Does anyone here know if blonde hair is tamer than this black hair?

  12. Oops, and I forgot to add that Mixis Opal intrigues me. I went to look at their website and I think I like her best with curly hair. Being half off makes her super tempting too (all of them seem to be half off right now?), but I'm betting she has limited knee articulation, if any at all, so I'm holding off on her too. I really do love the wider torso and think all of the Mixis dolls look more realistic, especially dressed. Those Mixis outfits look really nice too. :3

    1. Opal is nice. I took her to the beach one day for review photos, but I only got a few shots in before I was distracted by swimming, etc. I will review my other Mixis doll at some point soon. They have internal knee articulation that is very limited. At first, I assumed they had no knee articulation, so what they do have is certainly better than nothing. :)

    2. That's true! Anything is better than nothing when it comes to articulation (unless it's prone to breakage, and then it's worse.) I don't blame you for getting distracted though, especially if the weather was nicer, but I am eager to see either of those reviews. I can be patient though. I already have way too much on my want list, so waiting before buying another type of doll is just going to happen anyway.

      I've said it before, but thank you for spending so much of your time on these wonderful reviews! I imagine you have a passion for photography and writing, at least some, but it's still a lot of time and effort to run a blog like this. You and your guest reviewers go above and beyond to give us the real deal, and I really do appreciate it. <3

    3. I waited for a long time for a doll like this; I am a avid BJD collector, and this doll, though smaller that what I normally work with, is crazy with opportunity for lots of creativity and room for more than just re-customizations. I just got mine in the mail yesterday, and I am planning on introducing her to a group of ladies at the Regional UFDC program this September in San Diego - I will be one of the presenters at the function and the topic will be on Ball Jointed Dolls. The Phicen will make the surprise appearance. Many of our ladies are from the Antique collector's world and BJD have just become an interest to many of our gals, who want to "branch" out and "be brave". My presentation will encompass various "types" and "models" of BJDs' - I really think the Phicen will stir in some interests. Thank you, as always, for you wonderful inputs, both of you. Emily, I love your blog!!! A couple of my 'very" best dolls came out your reviews.

  13. As others have mentioned above, I too have always been curious about these Phicen figures, and you did a very good job covering all the bases. I've been an action figure collector long before I got into MH and EAH, so anything with articulation is usually aces in my book. Never went beyond 6" figures though, wasn't sure I wanted to invest in the more expensive, larger figures. Closest I ever came was picking up a couple of Revoltech figures, though they're primarily only expensive due to being imports. I'd still like to try something more articulated and detailed along these lines, but I'm iffy after seeing the ease of tearing on this one. Maybe the Otaku might be worth looking into, or just wait and see if Phicen can improve on the quality of their skin.

    Moreover, I've been following this site for a while, yet never before noticed that you're in Maine. It's hard enough coming across another collector in these parts, much less one running their own review site, so it's nice to finally know I (kinda) have company. And there's a 50/50 chance we use the same TRU, so whoo-hoo! Best of luck to you during our current winter gauntlet.

    1. A fellow Mainer! :D Can you believe this weather? The kids have had 3 snow days in 2 weeks. They're loving it, of course. :) I bet we do frequent the same Toys R Us--in South Portland? I have to admit that I like the store in Bangor even more, but it's 2 hours away from me.

      The Otaku figure has some good qualities. She's heavy and stands very nicely, and she does have pretty good articulation. She's nothing like the Phicen, though. The Phicen is just so stunningly real--both in how she looks and how she moves. I should be much more turned off by her horrid hair and skin rips than I am. The articulation is just SO good. It seems to me that each new wave of Phicen figures has improvement, so I am optimistic that many of these issues can be resolved over time. Fingers crossed!

    2. South Portland is the one! I just wish they would restock, or at least rotate the stock, more often. I doubt they will ever have the new MH I Love Fashion as they still have far too many Scarahs and Wydownas. Their EAH is relatively bare, though at least they actually got in Spring Unsprung once. I do sometimes travel to the TRU near Portsmouth, NH, but lately they haven't been doing much better. I did get lucky with findings there in the past, and it's almost the same distance as South Portland from me, so I still keep it on my radar.

      I really, really hope this is the last "big" storm to hit us for a little while. It is getting ridiculous; I too had a snow day...from work! To think December was so quiet and now all of a sudden one week has laid waste to us all. I'm no outdoorsman, but even I'm ready to get all this stuff melted and get back to some warm days.

      What was the point of this to start...oh yeah, the figure! I actually took a look at the line-up at BBTS after reading this. A couple of the head sculpts were a little odd, but it was nice to see such a variety. And the complete package figures weren't nearly as high as I expected compared to the basic bodies. I remember looking into these doll figures in the past and considering these along with those by Triad Toys, though I never made a purchase either way. Triad seemed very similar, with the option of bodies or full figures. I'll definitely make use of that link you provided to One Sixth Warriors too, as it sounds like they have a wealth of information for whenever I finally decide to make the jump into these.

  14. She's very pretty in many of your photos. There are a few with her arms raised up that were a little frightening. But oh, I love how real her skin looks. It's very lovely and I feel almost jealous. She would be great as an artist model and I kind of want her just for that. In that case, staining and such wouldn't bother me very much.

    1. Oh, that's a great idea! She would make a wonderful artist's model. Her poses are so realistic...and she sits perfectly still! I know what you mean about her skin, too. I am definitely jealous! ;D

  15. She is gorgeous! However, I can't help thinking she reminds me or you ever see that Ryan Gosling movie Lars and the Real Girl?

    1. I did see that movie! Oh dear...she does have a bit of the Real Girl quality to her, doesn't she? Great observation! She has a sexuality to her that's unusual in the doll world and might be uncomfortable for some collectors, that's for sure.

  16. Is this same doll still being sold? I browsed Phicen's website and one doll looked kinda like this one, but I wasn't completely sure if it's the same, at least it comes in different kind of bikini. I think this doll is absolutely stunning and would love to add her to my collection, but I still have to think about it because of the hair quality, skin ripping and staining issues. It's quite a lot of money to put on a doll that's so fragile.

    1. She is still being sold--yes. She comes in that leopard print bikini and is called "Pale Mid Bust with Stainless Steel Skeleton" Here she is on BBTS (not a great picture):

    2. Thanks for the link, she looks quite different in shop photos! She definitely looks better in your pictures, having a more natural look.

  17. What a beautiful doll, it's a shame she's so delicate. As far as how to care for and clean her skin, it seems very similar to cyberskin used in adult "toys."

    "These materials are extremely sensitive and should be cleaned with warm water and a mild antibacterial soap. Do not use alcohol-based or other household cleansers as they will damage the material. After cleaning, pat dry with a lint-free towel and allow your CyberSkin product to air dry before applying renewal powder. This will prevent discoloration and protect your toy when not in use." I won't post a link because there will be some very nsfw stuff on the page, but there is a product (available on Amazon) called CyberSkin Renew that is meant to maintain the lifelike skin texture, and cornstarch is also a good alternative; if you keep the skin powdered, it should keep the lint from sticking quite as badly.

  18. She's really pretty... wow. Out of my price range but she seems like she'd be good for drawing poses (she poses WAY better than artists mannequins). But I got distracted when I saw the Mixis, though, as I was going to ask if you had any plans to review them :)

  19. She is wonderful and I'm so glad you took a chance on her! Even despite the durability problems, I think she is a great doll. Perhaps you could consider giving feedback to her company, maybe they could take some constructive criticism about her durability (or, well, I guess they might already be developing in that direction, I certainly hope that they find some sort of better formula or alternative to the fragile silicone).

    I realize given the price difference this may not be a fair comparison, but to me this doll achieves everything I had thought Lammily might do but... didn't. She is very pose-able, she is realistic, she isn't unusually thin nor overly sexualized (heck, even nude with realistic painted nipples, she looks to me not sexualized... ok the tacky leopard print bikini might be pushing it, but even then she is simply a naturally proportioned person wearing a tacky bikini, not an exaggeration like Jessica Rabbit), she even has distinctly asian features. She is pretty, AND she also looks very much like someone who lives next door, an ordinary person rather than a supermodel or a caricature.

    I hope that you might show her again after you have done the re-rooting, I'm sure with some better hair she will look even more amazing! If the material of the head does not take well to re-rooting, I suggest clipping off the hair as close to the scalp as possible, measuring the scalp and then purchasing or creating a little wig for her. Bjd wigs are available in sizes as small as 3-4", so that might be an option.

    It is rather difficult to find wigs for such a small size that aren't too bulky and out of scale, but it is possible to make one yourself. Here is a tutorial:

    Part 1:
    Part 2:

    And lastly, I really really hope that some more companies look into making outfits for this doll! The site that you linked has some very nice outfits, certainly, but I'm thinking more like fashion doll outfits, like Integrity or Tonner level. Truly, a doll with this level of realism and articulation being outfitted like a fashion doll (...and hopefully with nicer hair) would equate to the doll of my dreams. Ah, if only I were a good seamstress!

    Thanks again for the review! I must think about buying one of these beauties someday soon.

  20. Your head swap made me think of this - I would love to swap my Tonner Agnes Dreary head to a more adult body. She's on the Marley child body, but her features to me are too grown up for this body. Do you have any experience with Tonner head swaps or suggestions for what bodies might work?

    This Phicen doll is just gorgeous. I really like her body - do you think it might work with Agnes Dreary?

    Thanks for a great review!

  21. Do you still have your mini Mooshkas? In my latest blog post, there are pics of a new play castle and new animals friends that I took at the store, if you're haven't seen them the newer stuff.

  22. what a beautiful doll

  23. The realism of this doll is incredible! I hope she survivies stray homework. I was wondering if you could do a sort of overview of affordable/play dolls with African American hair. It's severely disappointing to me to see the lack of dolls with this beautiful type of hair. One of the things little girls rely on is a tangible thing (like a doll or movie character) who looks like them, and is obviously beautiful to help them realize how beautiful they are.

  24. Great review, as always. She's a beautiful doll. The thought of the skin tearing scares me, though. I'd be broken-hearted if I got one and the skin tore.

  25. Emily, have you seen the new live action Disney Store Cinderella dolls? OMG NEED AT LEAST ONE OR I WILLL DIIIIEEEEE! Sorry, I am just as excited as you are for the movie. My favorite is the fairy godmother one, but Cinderella and Lady Tremanine are also gorgeous.

  26. Your photos are fabulous and your discussion enlightening. Would have been thrilled to see this review when I was deciding whether or not to buy my Phicen super flexible "Pandora". I agree completely about about the difficulty with hair--I tried a hot water "perm" which improved things slightly. I think the only real solutions is a braided "crown"to keep the rest of the hair in check, which is what I attempted, but am not satisfied by. I also found the stickiness after washing off lint to be a problem. Most frustrating to me is that my doll's head truly seems to be a bit small for her body. I've have been pondering swapping heads--I have a "movie star" Barbie head with a close skin tone match, so was delighted with your comment about the ease of head removal. Either your doll's head is a very slightly different size, or you are extremely clever with photographic angles. I've played a bit with that with my photographs of her. At any rate, I plan to acquire some fresh talcum powder and experiment with clothing her. I have the Janet Arnold costume histories with charted patterns of real clothing and have sewn three costumes for myself and one for my daughter with them, and dressed one Barbie doll in a replica of one of my costumes by photocopying the charts directly from the book and playing with the zoom.

  27. Wow, this the most detailed doll review I have ever read, very helpful. I won't be buying this doll, looks like there's tons of room for improvement for the price. Thanks

  28. I don't use to leave comments in blog posts but I had to this time. This is the best figure review EVER! I bought my first Phicen (the S07 head) that should be here in a couple of days and can't wait to try this new body.
    Too bad about the tearing skin and the hair quality...also the stains! :{

  29. Your review of this doll was thorough, helpful, informative and much-appreciated :)

  30. Forgot to mention that your article was also beautifully photographed!

  31. use facial cleansing foam OXY10 can remove stain, I found it on internet and I tried, it works

  32. While I can see how beautiful this doll is, the appearance of the joints on the external part of the dollr is something that looks beautiful for me. A doll with inner joints is like a big no-no for me (maybe because of the breakable knee joints in my barbies as a kid? Whoi knows). I don't know how to explain, but I love the visible joints on a doll, the more, the better. It makes it look...I don't know, artificial?

    On the other hand, mein Gott this doll is gorgeous! I feel you when you say about the maintenance: my first Monster High doll, albeit not that expensive, had her hair falling a lot, and her joints very hard on some point, qand I felt like I was doing something wrong, and I didn't want her to break or something. Now that I know more about them, I see that is something rather normal, and I'm less scared. I guess the same will happen to you with your second doll from this company.

    I love your doll collection and blog, can't stop reading it. I was a bit taken back at the start of my doll collection, because I'm an adult and people don't see doll's collection very well where I live, but you make me want to have it. Is a wish i have as a kid, and now I can fullfill as an adult (job, hehehe).

    1. Sorry for my mispelling, english not my main language and sometimes I still make some mistakes here and there.

    2. Oh, goodness--don't worry about that for a second! I love reading your comments. I don't mind visible joints, either. But I also don't mind the internal joints! For me, the more joints, the better--regardless! ;D

      Your thoughts about how you can now have the doll collection you wished for as a kid really resonate with me. I feel the same way! It's fun to enjoy the things we might have missed as kids.

  33. I really hope i can have that doll,and also the made-to-move barbie dolls..btw,i love your reviews,it's been a year since i first viewed your blog!!i really love your blog!!

  34. nice review. mine is all phicen plastic version. had a rip on the left leg same as your doll :( and the left shoulder is already broken. planning to buy the stainless version. try using masking tape to remove the dust and fibers on your doll skin. its very effective. hope to see your next phicen doll when you buy it. i have also the very cool doll lines.

  35. Great review! You can cut her hair off, and buy her a wig at They have an excellent selection!!!

  36. Thank you very much for such an in-depth review, eye opening, and it answered most of the questions I have about the dolls. I myself have multiple made-to-move dolls, so the comparison with the barbie was exactly what I was looking for - namely, an answer to the question: Can Barbie wear her clothes? Glad I checked before placing the order.

  37. This is an incredible detailed review. I want to create a Power Girl figure, and am looking at several bodies. Would you suggest this figure for this project? Thank you! I hope by commenting you capture my email!

  38. I have been considering a Phicen for some time. I'm still unsure whether or not the issues are worth the beauty of the seamless construction. (Although, I have three 1/6 scale dolls that broke quite easily). I have two Otaku dolls. I absolutely LOVE the material they're made from, I think their measurements and bodies are GORGEOUS, but they break SO easily! One fell from my sewing machine cabinet (I was trying to make her something to wear that FIT) onto the rug, and she broke! That easily! And Otaku aren't cheap, either. So, I def feel sorry for your doll's skin tear and stains! Your review is super helpful, even though it kinda magnifies my doubts about buying a doll with such issues, at least I now feel more well informed about them. I'm still considering a Very Cool doll instead (just wary of plastic breakage, and obvious joints, like what happened to my DID and Otaku dolls). Ah well, thank you for your excellent review and best of Luck with your Phicen!

  39. Excellent review! I want to do Jane kneeling by a pool of water. Has anyone any info on long term knee bending? Thanks!

  40. Não sei se vai adiantar para sua boneca Leila, mas eu lavava os cabelos das Barbies já velhas e com horrorosos cabelos com shampoo e depois passava Novex para cabelos com química. Ficavam maravilhosos. Macios e com brilho.


  42. I found some ways to get stains off, and that wild hair kempt. I read (and tested) mineral oil on stains works wonders. I also have the newer dolls, so the remixed material over the skeleton is a factor as well. To tame that mane, I use spray starch. Head comes off, and a good spray goes on the hair, followed by a small brush for combing it. For spot stuff, I spray it in a cup, grab a Q tip, then brush it down. Let it dry, plop the head back on.

    I also use pastels, a small brush, and a steady, steady hand to create realistic details. I am able to take pictures that you'd swear were of a real woman.

  43. Hair taming tips: Dye-free Woolite acts as a conditioner and smooths doll hair. Regular or super-strong hair gel. YouTube is bursting with Barbie and other doll hair tips. I just wish I could find some decent little bobby-pins for styling. (Practice on inexpensive dolls, of course!)

  44. Be careful not to leave knee's & elbows bent for a long time their body/skin tend to crack especially phicen, tb leave dolls jiaou dolls fair much better in bending in long term