Sunday, May 15, 2022

Is This Blythe?

It is so easy to fall down rabbit holes in the doll world, isn't it?  Well, I've fallen down another one.  A really, really big one.  Bigger, even, than I suspected the first time I wrote this review (more on that in a sec).  It all started with my wonderful Patron Katrina's suggestion that I look more in-depth at the Blythe universe.  I haven't purchased a Blythe doll in about ten years, and I've never written a formal review of the brand, so this was an excellent suggestion!  Today's review will not address authentic Blythe dolls, though, but rather a few of the enticing imitations that I stumbled upon by accident.

As some of you might recall, the first version of this review featured an imitation Blythe doll that I purchased from the shop that sniped Gina Garan's old website and is named after her iconic book, This is Blythe.  Because of the shop's familiar name, I thought it was selling authentic Blythe dolls.  It's not.  The doll I ordered was nice, but once I realized she was an imitation and started to research her background, I found many vendors selling the exact same doll for significantly less money.  I stated this fact in my post, which was apparently not okay with the shop--nor was my talking about their competitors.  They asked me to edit the review to remove all mention of other retailers, and also any reference to DBS--the company that makes the dolls.  In hindsight, their request was ludicrous...and suspicious.  I went along with their demands for a while, feeling icky about it the whole time.  But when I (finally) put my foot down and refused to edit and lock the comments section (!), they abruptly threatened to sue me--using private information that they'd obtained from my purchases.  That's not nice.  A quick Trustpilot search revealed that they have a history of threatening similar nonsense to other customers (including two fellow bloggers).  I dislike bullies, so I didn't want to imply endorsement of this shop by featuring their products.  I would advise avoiding this shop at all costs.  After considering my options, I decided to delete the old review and write a new version using equivalent, much less expensive items that I bought from other retailers.  And it's a happy ending, because I had so much more fun this time around!

I didn't want to delete the old review without replacing it, because looking at imitation Blythe dolls is an important part of a bigger series of articles that I'm planning.  This is quite an exciting (and nerve-wracking!) time for the authentic Blythe brand because Hasbro recently severed its long-term connection with Takara/TOMY (the manufacturers of Blythe dolls) and has entered a new relationship with Good Smile Company.  Good Smile has a wonderful reputation in the figurine world (they make Nendoroids), but they do not have an extensive resumé in doll making.  So everyone's been waiting anxiously to see if the new Blythe dolls will be as good as the old.

Today's review will include an in-depth look at a girl I bought from Blythe Homes (an AliExpress vendor), and a more cursory look at a few similarly-priced dolls that I found at various other places.  I'll also throw in some terminology, market observations, and thoughts about what it means to be Blythe.  At a later date, I'll follow up with a review of an authentic Takara-made Blythe doll, and then compare her to a new Good Smile Company doll.  Are you ready for a review re-do?  I hope so!  Here we go again:

Imitation DBS Blythe doll from Blythe Homes, $35.20 (outfit not included).

I decided to name this girl Fiona.  I associate the name Fiona with red hair, and while this doll didn't come with red hair, she'll have it by the end of the review.  That will come as a surprise to exactly nobody, I'm sure.

The only other Blythe doll I've owned is Phoebe Maybe, a Hasbro Blythe that I purchased about ten years ago.  I no longer have Phoebe, but she made several cameo appearances here on the blog.

Phoebe Maybe posing in front of the Blythe photo in the Creepy-Ass Dolls book.
When I started this review the first time around, I purchased a doll very similar to Fiona, and smugly assumed I'd acquired an authentic Hasbro Blythe doll.  In my defense, the shop-that-shall-not-be-named did their best to make me think that.  My purchasing experience was quite different from what I remember about buying Phoebe (so many more options and face molds!), and the doll I bought didn't come in a fancy box, but I naively assumed that the retail method for the Blythe brand had simply changed a lot in the last ten years (it hasn't).

I quickly realized that I'd ventured into imitation Blythe territory, which is not a world I knew anything about until a few months ago.

Phoebe Maybe is judging me for my ignorance.
The reason I delved into this topic with such gusto is that there are a lot of dolls on the market right now that look like Blythe dolls, and so it's easy to get confused or fooled--as I was--about which are authentic and which are not.  I wanted to make sense of it all.

Authentic Blythe dolls are awesome, but I'm not trying to imply that they're the only good option.  In fact, a Hasbro Blythe doll might not be the best choice for some collectors.  Imitation Blythe dolls are much less expensive, and they open up a huge array of fun, guilt-free customization options.  Today I'm going to focus on these imitation dolls and evaluate a few of the many options on the market right now.

To start off, here are some of the terms that I've come across and how I interpret them:

Authentic Blythe: some people will say that the only true Blythe dolls are the original Kenner creations from 1972.  Kenner Blythes are very rare, though, and so I chose to expand the authentic designation to include Hasbro dolls.  Prices for these dolls start at around $200.  The dolls are limited in their release and come in decorative, themed window boxes.  While there have been a few different face molds over the years, none of them have visible teeth like Fiona.  Junie Moon is an official, reliable Blythe retailer that I've used several times with excellent results.  Authentic Blythe dolls can also be found on eBay, but in that setting you have to be wary of fakes.  Blythopia has a great resource on how to buy real Blythe dolls.  This is what an authentic Blythe looks like:

Authentic Hasbro/Takara Blythe doll from Junie Moon (~$200).
Fake Blythe: these are dolls that were made to intentionally copy a specific Hasbro (or Kenner) release. They even come in decorated boxes and might have factory marks that look legit.  It can be hard to tell if the doll is authentic or not until you hold it in your hands.  Fakes are very deceptive and I am not a fan.

Imitation or mimic Blythe: this is a more generic grouping of dolls that look very similar to Blythe, but are not necessarily being marketed as authentic Blythe dolls; they are not actively trying to trick you.  Here are two examples from Amazon (neither of the doll's listings mention the word "Blythe"):

Imitation Blythe dolls from Amazon (~$40 each).
Factory Blythe: these dolls, typically found on eBay, are marketed as being made from "real factory parts," i.e., parts that were leftover from the Takara factories.  Perhaps some parts were made in these factories without the addition of copyright marks--as a generic version of the product?  I'm not sure about this.  In general, I don't trust this designation.  I think "factory" dolls are just imitations trying to use the Blythe name in a creative way.

ICY Blythe: the ICY company makes many different kinds of dolls, one of which is a Blythe-style doll that is similar to Hasbro's version, but has a distinct face mold with chubbier cheeks and more almond-shaped eyes.

ICY Blythe-style doll.
TBL (Taobao Blythe): this term is basically an in-joke invented by someone in the Blythe community.  Taobao is a massive Chinese website that sells various doll items, one of which is a specific kind of imitation Blythe doll that got some traction in the customizing world for being higher-quality than other imitations.

I find the TBL label confusing.  Taobao isn't a doll company, it's just a retailer--like Amazon or Walmart.  Furthermore, so-called TBL dolls can be found at many different retailers, not just Taobao.  

After lots of reading, I've determined that there's a better name for the type of imitation Blythe dolls that's found on Taobao, and that's "DBS."  What led me to this conclusion?  Well, the Taobao website is hard to decipher, but it has the letters DBS in front of all the imitation Blythe listings:

DBS Blythe on the Taobao site.
Blythe Homes (the shop where I purchased Fiona) uses the same letters in their descriptions for this specific kind of doll.  Look at this listing, for example:

DBS dolls on the Blythe Homes site.
The description here says "ICY" and "DBS."  The ICY part is incorrect for this listing.  Those aren't ICY dolls.  It's just word salad to get you to land on this page no matter what Blythe term you search.  But the DBS is accurate.  I suspect DBS is the company that manufactures the particular kind of imitation Blythe doll that's sold at Taobao, in many AliExpress shops, and at the evil-shop-that-shall-not-be-named.  So here's a new term:

DBS BlytheZhongshan Debisheng Toys,* or DBS, is a company that manufactures several different kinds of doll and doll accessory, including a specific high-quality imitation Blythe doll.  DBS Blythe dolls are distinct because of their wide variety of face molds, including three molds with open mouths and visible teeth.  These dolls are sold at various vendors including Taobao and Blythe Homes on AliExpress.  

A DBS Blythe-style doll.
*The new information about DBS is all thanks to BlackKitty.  She researched this company for her wonderful review of some Fortune Days girls.

Fiona is a DBS Blythe doll and she cost me just over $35 (with free shipping).  I purchased her and two extra wigs ($22.95 each) for $84.75:

For reference: when I shopped at This is Blythe, I purchased a doll with a medium-quality outfit (dress, jacket, shoes) that cost $199.99 ("marked down" from $329.99), and an extra red scalp wig (equivalent to the ones I bought for this review) that cost $49.99 ("marked down" from 79.99).  The total was $270.80.  Needless to say, shopping from Blythe Homes was vastly more economical.

My interaction with Blythe Homes was friendly and professional and my order arrived in ten days.  My personal information feels well-protected through AliExpress, too, which is a nice bonus after being threatened by the other shop.  Eyeroll.

Fiona arrived in a plain cardboard box (shipped from China), with practically no excess packaging:

The box with my Blythe Homes order.
Interestingly, the box has the exact same return name and address as the box I received from TIB:

The box from the first version of this review.
Weird, right?

The speculation online is that TIB is taking orders and then just having the dolls shipped directly to customers from AliExpress or places like Etsy--pocketing the 100% mark-up.  That wouldn't surprise me at this point.  I've learned a lot about this company since they started harassing me, and none of what I've learned is good.  They also try to sell artist dolls that are listed on Etsy--again, marking them up 100%.

Anyway, Fiona was safely cocooned in a layer of bubble wrap:

Her body was also protected by a clear plastic bag:

Her head came encased in a plastic shell.  The shell has large bulges over the eyes, to keep any part of the plastic from rubbing up against Fiona's eyelashes.  There was also a band of plastic around her hair to keep it laying flat:

The packaging worked well, because Fiona didn't have any damage to her head or body.

Fiona can't balance on her own, so I used an old Hestia stand to help her:

This girl always looks downwards, and her neck joint does not allow any up-and-down movement of the head.  I had to compensate for this by always photographing her from a low angle looking upwards.

Authentic Blythe dolls have an eye mechanism that allows the position and the color of the eyes to be changed by pulling a string at the back of the head:

Public domain shot of a Hasbro Blythe doll.
DBS Blythe dolls have the same mechanism:

You can see that there are no factory marks on the back of Fiona's head:

Many of the imitation brands have marks on their dolls, and certainly an authentic Blythe would have some molded lettering, like this:

Public domain photo of a Hasbro Blythe head.
Sorry it's so blurry; it reads (from top to bottom): Blythe TM, ©1996 Hasbro, Inc, ©CWC, TOMY, CHINA.  Incidentally, CWC is the design company for Blythe, TOMY and Takara are the same company, and they were the Blythe manufacturers until recently.

Sometimes the eye colors on imitation Blythe dolls are random, but I think all of the DBS girls have the same combination of colors.  There are forward-glancing pink eyes:

Left-glancing grey eyes:

I really like these!
Forward-glancing blue eyes:

And right-glancing light brown eyes:

Fiona has skin-colored eyelids and long, wispy eyelashes:

The style and color of Fiona's eyes is similar to what you'd see on a Hasbro Blythe doll, but her eyelashes are much longer and wispier.  Here's a look at Phoebe Maybe's lashes for comparison:

Don't disparage my lashes, Emily.
Fiona's wig is quite nice; the hair fibers feel smooth and silky, and the cut is pretty even.  I don't tend to like dolls with bangs (they hide too much of the face), but there weren't many non-bang options for this face.

Here's the back of the hair right after I brushed it:

It brushes out nicely and does not seem prone to tangles.

The rooting is fairly dense and the underlying scalp is painted brown to help keep it camouflaged:

I bought this particular doll with the knowledge that I would swap out the wig, so I didn't care too much about the hair, but I have to admit that I like this brown wig way more than I thought I would!

Let's get all of that hair out of the way for a sec, though, so that we can see Fiona's face better:

The thing that jumped out to me at this stage was that the color of Fiona's body does not match the color of her head.  The body is darker and has more yellow tones.  One of the things I learned from my last attempt at this review is that there are replacement bodies on the market that are nicer than this one for several different reasons, so the color match didn't concern me; I knew I'd be changing the body.

I really love the happiness in Fiona's expression--especially with those big, bright eyes! 

Much of Fiona's personality comes from her open-mouthed smile:

Her lips are a bit more orange than red, which wouldn't be my first choice, but they have a nice shine.

There are a lot of visible teeth, and they all seem to be painted well:

There's even a little tongue peeking out from behind her lower teeth!

The tongue isn't painted as well as the teeth, but it's really hard to see.
I've always said that teeth are a risky venture in doll design.  I can definitely see how these teeth might freak people out, but I find them quirky and charming.  The only thing I don't like is that the bottom lip is shaped like an inverted upper lip.

Except for the placement of the teeth, the mouth looks better upside-down!

I blacked out the tongue and two of the outer teeth.
Despite its flaws, I like Fiona's features much better than the other grinning DBS Blythe face.  Here's a snippet of that:

The spacing of that doll's teeth is really weird.  Maybe it looks better in person?

Authentic Blythe dolls do not have eyebrows of any kind, but Fiona has some stenciled brows that include a block of light brown covered with some more delicate darker brown hair lines:

Fiona has a cute profile.  I especially like how her mouth and cheeks look from this angle:

She has pierced ears!  I have no idea where to get earrings that would fit, though.

Fiona's body is made out of solid vinyl and feels heavy and dense.  It has an amazing eighteen points of articulation:

This body is very reminiscent of an Azone Pure Neemo body.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it is an Azone body, but it does not have the factory marks.  Azone bodies like this tend to be marked on their feet, and these feet are blank.

As a reminder, here's Azone's Tsumugi Kotobuki, who I reviewed in 2015.  She has a slightly different style of Azone body, but you can see the resemblance:

It's funny to see this body with such a small (normal!) head.
Authentic Blythe bodies have very little articulation.  Here's an old comparison photo of Phoebe Maybe to show you her body style:

Phoebe Maybe (on the right) with a Beatrix Girl doll.
One nice thing about almost all of the imitation Blythe dolls on the market now is that they have highly-articulated bodies like Fiona's.  For joint freaks like me, this is one thing that makes them preferable to traditional Blythe dolls.

Let's take a closer look at those eighteen beautiful joints!

First of all, as I mentioned earlier, Fiona's head can spin around, but it cannot look up or down.  To be more precise, it cannot look up:  

Well, I guess there's one way to make the head look upwards.  Because the head tilts up more and more as it rotates to face backwards, if Fiona's head is facing completely the wrong way...

...she can actually look at the camera:

Hi there.
The shoulders are rotating hinges, and they can lift straight up quite a bit:

The shape of this joint is different from what I normally see.  The underside of the upper arm is angle-cut so that it creates a more realistic-looking seam with the upper body:

And the shoulder hinge is more visible than it would be on a doll like Barbie.

The shoulder hinge is hidden in a Barbie doll's body.
Here's a closer look at the unusual hinge design:

The rotation in these joints allows the arms to spin all of the way around:

There's an additional point of rotation just below the shoulder, too.  This allows the lower arms to turn independently of the shoulder movement: 

The elbows are simple hinges than can bend to about 90 degrees:

The hands do not have any hinged movement, but there's a rotating seam at the wrist:

Fiona's arms are designed to come apart in several different ways.  The peg attachments are especially easy to disconnect:

Here's a closer look at all of the separate parts:

The two halves of the arm come apart at the elbow, too, but this was harder to dismantle than the other joints.

Fiona has a rotating joint at her waist:

That picture demonstrates how hard it was to get this girl to look at the camera!  She's literally always looking at the floor.

After I crouched down to a better angle, I could get her to look at me:

There she is.
When the torso joint is rotated 180 degrees, it causes the upper body to face downwards.  This, coupled with Fiona's natural tendency to look down, creates quite an extreme!

The floor isn't that interesting, Fi.
Fiona has rotating hinge joints in her hips, but these don't allow for much in the way of side-to-side splits:

I can do better splits than that.
Or front-to-back splits, for that matter:

That's a good effort, though.
The front-to back splits are inhibited by the shape of Fiona's bottom.  She really can't move her legs backwards at the hip much at all:

But she can move her legs forward at the hip nicely.  This allows her to sit on the ground:

She has an extra rotational joint just below her hips, too, so she can turn her legs inward and outward independently of her hips:

Fiona's knees are simple hinges.  They allow her to kneel on two knees:

But not on one knee very well:

Okay, okay, I stole this photo from the earlier version of the review, but Fiona's body is exactly the same.
Fiona may not be able to kneel very well, but she can sit on the ground in many different ways:

I think this is the most impressive pose!

She struggles to sit in a chair, though, mostly because her head is so big and heavy:

With some careful balancing, she can just barely manage it:

Fiona's ankles are rotating hinges, in theory, but the shape of the lower leg gets in the way of their full flexibility.  I suspect this design also keeps the ankles more stable, so I can't complain.

You can peek in and see the joint mechanism a bit in this photo.  It's a ball-shaped hinge:

Fiona may not be able to balance on her own, but she's a really fun doll to pose!

She looks so happy and enthusiastic all of the time.

When I took Fiona's hair back down, I was initially worried that her bangs wouldn't hang straight again:

But the hair quickly went back to its original shape:

She really is a charming doll for only $35!

All it would take is a simple outfit and she'd be ready for play--or even display.

But of course one of the really fun things about these imitation Blythe dolls is that they can be customized in a lot of easy and affordable ways.

Because of the mismatch between Fiona's head and body color, the first thing I wanted to do was get her a new body.  There's a shop on Etsy called BeBeBlytheCo that sells many different items for Blythe customization.  At that shop, I found this pale, small-chested body with an articulated neck:

DBS Blythe doll and replacement body ($30).
The body costs almost as much as the original doll!

The replacement body is not a perfect color match for Fiona's head, but it's better than the original.  I also like the smaller chest on the new body, since these dolls have such childlike features.

Original DBS Blythe body (left) next to replacement body.
The articulation on the new body is exactly the same as the old body, with the addition of an extra joint at the neck (this will allow Fiona to look up and down!).

In order to swap the bodies, I had to take Fiona's head apart.  This gave me a chance to poke around and see what other customization options are available!

Brain surgery time!
This type of head can be opened up by removing the three screws at the back:

Once the screws are gone, the two halves of the head have to be pried apart at the seam:

It's best to separate the head gently by pushing on the seam until it opens, but I've found that I occasionally have to use leverage from a small screwdriver.  The screwdriver method isn't ideal because it can leave little dents in the plastic of the seam.

There's also a metal spring that pulls the two sides of the head together:

I used pliers to bend one end of the spring and release it from the back of the head.

After the spring is detached, it's easy to look around inside the head:

The exposed eye mechanism makes it very easy to swap the eye chips, and this was another customization technique that I was eager to try.  

The BeBeBlythe shop stocks a huge variety of realistic replacement eye chips.  You can mix and match colors for about $10 per pair or you can buy a four-pack of slightly flawed, similarly-colored chips for only $22 (this is the option I chose) 

The consensus on the internet is that the best way to remove the old eye chips is to pull them out with a glue stick.

...d-d-d-do what??
I cut a standard glue stick in half, and then heated one of the ends with a candle so that it was melted but not dripping.  I pressed the heated end of the glue stick to the old eye chip, and let it cool slightly--until it could hold its position, like this:

I let the glue cool completely (waiting about 20 minutes did the trick) and then pulled on the two sticks.  It worked!  The old eyes popped out of their sockets when I pulled on the glue sticks.

I separated the extracted eye from the glue stick by gently heating the glue with a hair dryer:

Ready to be used again.
I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the empty eye mechanism at this stage, but I found this stock picture online to show you instead:

That's pretty much what Fiona's blank eyes looked like.
Behind where the eye chip would sit, you can see that there's an indented chamber.  The chamber appears to hold the eye chip in place with no need for glue or putty.  At least it didn't look like there was any glue behind Fiona's old eye chips.

The new eye chips slotted perfectly into the indented shape, and, indeed, they don't seem to need any glue to hold them in place!  When I compare this to swapping the eyes on a My Twinn doll, this is like a walk in the park.  It's so easy.  

I used some hot glue to secure Fiona's new eyes, but I really don't think this was necessary.

What a difference new eyes can make!

For reference, DBS Blythe dolls use 14mm eye chips.

The other customization option that's available while the head is opened is to change the hair.  The hair on these imitation Blythe dolls is attached to the plastic scalp, so changing the hair also means changing the scalp.  It's also possible to buy bald scalps if you want to use a conventional soft cap wig on your doll.

All of the replacement wigs I bought came attached to a scalp.  So when I was ordering the wigs, I had to be sure that I selected the correct skin tone (white) to match Fiona's head.

The top of the head is attached to the face plate by a single screw that sits just above the eye mechanism and behind the spring:

Once that screw is loosened, the top of the head lifts off

And then a new scalp (with new hair) can be slotted into place:

With the eyes and hair updated, I was finally ready to give Fiona her new body!

You can see that the new body has a different shape at the top of neck, but both necks have a similar groove that's designed to connect to the Blythe head:

The new neck fit nicely into the bottom of Fiona's head:

And then the face plate snapped back into place and I secured everything with the screws.  

Here's the new and improved Fiona!

Now she has blue left-glancing eyes:

And brown...uh, wait a sec:

Don't go to sleep on me, Fiona!
The eye mechanism was really sticky.  Poor Fiona kept getting caught with her eyes half closed!

I love the sass in that last expression, but it isn't an ideal outcome.

I tried my best to diagnose what was causing this problem, but I couldn't find anything wrong with the mechanism.  Maybe the new eyes aren't quite flush with the sockets?

In any case, the problem is fairly easy to fix.  Whenever the eyes get stuck, I simply move them into place with my finger.

This is why, in the future, I'll use either no glue or maybe a tiny amount of tacky glue to secure the new eyes.  I suspect that would be less likely to cause problems.

Here's Fiona with her new body, new eyes, and new wig!

The new wig is really pretty--and it doesn't have bangs, which I like:

The hair has soft waves throughout, but it's still really easy to brush.  The fiber is beautiful and silky.

The only issue I have with this wig is that it's almost impossible to keep it looking tidy!

There are always flyaway clumps and strands of hair going every which way--even immediately after I brush it (maybe especially right after I brush it!).

I already think Fiona is cuter than her original self, but I'm not done with the customization options yet!  There are a few more fun and easy things that can be done to greatly enhance the expressiveness of these dolls.

It's also possible to purchase alternate hands.  Here's the hand set I bought for $14:

Extra hands for the Pure Neemo style body ($14)
I bought these hands from BeBeBlythe when I was purchasing the replacement body.  It can be hard to match skin tones with all of the customization products on the market, and so I wanted to be able to ask the shop owner if the specific body I was buying would match these hands.  Can't be too careful.

The set comes with nine new hand shapes.  First, here's the "I love you" sign: 

There's also a pair of "thumbs up" hands:

And peace sign hands:

There are a bunch of different fisted hands, like these tight fists:

Gumby-hand fists:

And loose fists:

There's a pair of gripping hands:

These can hold small things like a purse strap:

And these flat hands look good for saluting, or swearing an oath in court:

I really like these delicately-relaxed generic hands:

The extra hands add a lot to Fiona's expressiveness, but I'm not done yet!  It's also possible to buy alternate ears for these dolls.

The ear extensions work by fitting over the doll's existing ears, so all of the alternate ear shapes are big!  In theory, you could glue the new ears permanently onto a doll's head, but it's also possible to hold them in place with putty, so that they can be removed and replaced at will.

There are four different ear shapes available in five different skin tones, and the prices vary widely.  Blythe Homes charges $5.40 per pair, and BeBeBlythe charges $16.99.  The benefit of Blythe Homes is obviously the price, and the benefit of BeBeBlythe is that the ears come quickly because they're being shipped from the United States.  The shop-that-shall-not-be-named charges $14.99 per pair and they still take weeks to come (or they never come, as was the case in my experience).  I couldn't tell any difference between ears from the different vendors.

Here's a pair of large realistic ears and the putty that came with them:

The putty fits into the indentations on the backs of the ears:

And then the new ears can be pressed into place over the original ears--for a completely different look!

I think large ears are super-cute, and I love that these extensions don't damage the doll and aren't permanent.

The next style of ear is even bigger--if you can believe it--with fewer realistic details:

It's like a mouse ear!
I don't think Fiona likes this style as much as the first one:

These are too big, Emily!
There are two varieties of elf ears available.  The first is large and broad:

Chihuahua ears!
These are really cute:

But the other style of elf ears is my favorite.  These are long and skinny and have a lot of molded detail:

I think Fiona would make a good elf!

Those are all of the customization options that I had planned for Fiona.  Let's run through how adding these extras changed the total price:

Base doll: $35
Extra eye chips: $22 for a set of four
Red wig: $22.95
Replacement body: $30
Hand set: $14.99
Extra ears: $5.40 per pair ($21.60 for all four)
Total cost: $146.54

I should note that the total is still considerably less expensive than the base doll I bought from TIB.

I made one more alteration to Fiona that I didn't originally plan.  I was frustrated by her constantly messy hair, so I decided to boil wash the wig and straighten out the waves.  I wasn't sure if the quality of the hair fiber would be good enough to handle this procedure (some hair fibers melt), but it worked beautifully!

No more flyaways.
Finally, with all of her modifications complete, I gave Fiona something to wear.

There are some incredible handmade Blythe clothes on Etsy.  I didn't want to go nuts in terms of expense, but I found a few less-expensive treasures, like this lovely $17 orange plaid dress from DolliThings:

The dress is simple, but it's impeccably made and looks wonderful with Fi's coloring:

I paired the dress with some handmade leather shoes from Crafty Cora:

The shoes are so tiny and well-made!

I had a blast trying out different combinations of eye color, hand shape, and ears with this girl.

She looks delighted with everything!

My favorite ears for Fiona are the large, realistic ones:

Monkey girl!
She can tuck her hair behind those ears and it stays in place really well:

I also like how Fiona's hair looks in braids:

Channeling Anne of Green Gables.
Here are the big ears paired with the braids:

Or maybe Pippi Longstocking?
She's such a cutie!  I love her:

Now that we've looked in-depth at an imitation Blythe doll and some of the fun customization options that are available for this style of doll, let's take a quick look at other similar dolls that are on the market.

First, here's a pair of imitation Blythes that I found on Amazon.  They each cost around $40:

These dolls typically come without clothing, even though some of their advertising photographs show lovely outfits.  Their product descriptions do not mention the word Blythe. Here's an example:

"1/6 BJD Doll, 4-Color Changing Eyes Matte Face and Ball Jointed Body Dolls, 12 Inch Customized Dolls Can Changed Makeup and Dress DIY. Nude Doll Sold Exclude Clothes (SNO.37)"

But you can find them by searching "Blythe doll."

Both girls came packaged in the same style of decorative box, so I suspect all of Amazon's imitation Blythes come from the same place:

Let's look at the blonde girl first.  I'll call her Sunny.  Sunny looks mad:

She came home with a vengeance.
Sunny has a very strong chemical smell that I don't enjoy.  It was overpowering when I first opened the box, and can't possibly be healthy to breathe.  The smell has dissipated somewhat over time, but it's still there.

Sunny's face is very shiny and is much more conventional than Fiona's.  It actually resembles an authentic Blythe doll:

Her features are distinct from Phoebe Maybe's (Phoebe has the Radiance, "RBL" face):

Phoebe Maybe (RBL face).
But she's quite similar to my new Plaid Parade doll (who has the Radiance Renewal face):

Plaid Parade (RBL Renew face).
Sunny looks angrier than both of the authentic Blythe dolls, though.

She came with yellow forward-glancing eyes:

Light brown right-glancing eyes:

Forward-facing baby blues:

And left-facing (slightly wonky) pink eyes:

Note that Sunny's eyelashes are more like an authentic Blythe doll's lashes than Fiona's are.

She has earring holes and the sides of her head are well-matched and nicely aligned along the seam:

Sunny's body has the same basic points of articulation as Fiona's body, but it's made out of shiny, hollow plastic, not hard vinyl.  It doesn't feel as solid or nice in my hands as Fiona's body.

And it's hard to get past the awful smell!
Sunny came with five pairs of extra hands, all repeats of shapes that we saw with Fiona's extra hands:

These hands fit onto Fiona's body, but they're not a good color match, and the shiny finish makes them look strange next to the hard vinyl arms:

Fiona using one of Sunny's extra hands.
Fiona's body with one normal hand (left) and one of Sunny's hands (right).
I don't care for Sunny's grumpy expression, plastic body, or smell, but I was hoping to be able to salvage her wig to use on other dolls.  

Unfortunately, the scalp design is completely different from what we saw on Fiona:

The inside of Sunny's head.
The eye mechanism looks roughly the same, although the white parts of the eyes are nowhere near as crisp and white.  Also, the inside of the scalp is flat, not domed, and the scalp and face plate attach differently.

Here's a reminder about what the inside of Fiona's head looks like so you can see the differences:

The inside of a DBS head.
So, sadly, it's impossible for Fiona to steal Sunny's wig.

The way Sunny's body and head connect to each other is different, too.  The body has a huge plastic piece at the top of the neck that inserts into a similarly-sized hole in the bottom of the head:

An Azone neck would not fit into Sunny's head.  So there's no easy way for me to upgrade her body.

Sunny's body (left) and a DBS body (right).
Honestly, if Sunny's plastic doesn't stop off-gassing its terrible smell, it won't matter what bodies can or cannot attach to her head.

The second Amazon girl, who I'll call Violet, does not smell bad, and she feels more solid in my hands than Sunny.  Her lavender hair is soft and pretty, I just wish she didn't have bangs: 

Violet looks downwards all of the time, just like Fiona did before her body transplant.

I crouched down to get a better look at her face:

Violet's face mold might be similar to an authentic Blythe face, but it's hard to tell for sure because there's a real disconnect between the molded lips and the painted ones:

Violet's molded mouth is thicker, with the corners turned up in a smile, and the painted lips are thin and straight.  Here's a closer look:

Here's what the face looks like without any paint, in case you're curious:

The molded shape is so much nicer than the painted shape!
Violet's face has a matte finish, but the back of her head is shiny.  Also, the seam between the two sides of her head is not as neat as what we saw on the other dolls:

No earring holes, either.
Violet has a factory mark on the back of her head.  Apparently she's called a Blygirl:

That's subtle.
Violet's body is just like Fiona's original body, but it has a slightly different complexion.  It also has the Azone marks on the feet:

Violet has pink eyes:

Neon green eyes:

Light brown eyes:

And dark purple eyes:

Like Sunny, Violet's eye mechanism isn't as nice as what we saw on Fiona; the whites of the eyes have a yellowish cast and a slightly rough finish.

The great thing about Violet, though, is that her scalp is attached the same way as Fiona's, so wig-sharing would be an option between these two types of doll.

The inside of Violet's head.
Even if I discount Sunny's body odor, Violet still seems like the better deal here.  Her face paint is funny and the two sides of her head are mismatched, but I see more potential in her.  With some new face paint and new eyes, she could be really great.  At the very least, she can share her lovely purple hair with other dolls.

My original intention was to give Violet a makeover, but during the time between writing the first version of this review and now, I actually stumbled onto some other imitation Blythe dolls that I got more excited about.  I chose to spend my time on them instead.

The first girl I want to show you is this blue-haired ICY Blythe who I mentioned at the very beginning of the review.  I call her Winter:

ICY imitation Blythe doll.
I purchased Winter from BeBeBlythe for $50.  That seems like a lot, but she came on the same replacement body that I bought for Fiona--with the smaller chest and the articulated neck.  So I didn't have to spend $30 to buy another body for her.  She also came with four free pairs of replacement eye chips, so I didn't have to spend $20 for those, either.  Considering all of that, Winter was an even better deal than Fiona.

Winter has a very shiny face with unique features.  The things that make her distinct from an authentic Blythe doll are her pursed lips, chubby cheeks, and almond-shaped eyes:

She has a lot of personality, although I think she looks irritated some of the time.

She has unique ears, too, which is a shame because they don't accommodate the ear extensions that I bought for Fiona:

The back of her head has the ICY trademark:

The funny thing is that the pull string on the back of Winter's head has the name Angela on it.  Maybe we should be calling these "ICY Angela" dolls and not "ICY Blythe" dolls!

In addition to her lavender eyes, Winter also has right-facing orange eyes:

Forward-facing brown eyes:

And left-facing purple eyes:

Like an authentic Blythe doll, Winter does not have any eyebrows.

I didn't need to change Winter's body, but I wanted to try out her fancy free eye chips, and I also wanted to see if I could reduce the gloss on her face.  So, I opened up her head.

The inside of Winter's head looks very similar to a DBS Blythe head, but the eye mechanism is slightly smaller.  ICY Blythe dolls need their own special size of eye chips (13.5mm).

The inside of an ICY doll head.
The scalp attachment is exactly the same as a DBS doll's, though, so Winter can wear Fiona's wig and vice-versa:

An ICY Blythe wearing a DBS wig.
I removed the eye mechanism from Winter's head, swapped out all of her eye chips using the glue stick technique I described with Fiona, but this time I didn't use any glue to install the new eye chips.

I also sprayed Winter's face plate and the back of her head with Mr. Super Clear matte sealant.

Then, I found her a lovely little dress with a bluebird that matches her hair:

ICY doll with matte sealant on her face and new eye chips.
The dress is from an Etsy shop that my friend Darcy recommended to me.  It's called Blythes Big Closet and all of the dresses are adorable and well-priced at $18.

Winter has some trouble with her eye mechanism sticking, so I guess it wasn't the glue that caused this problem for Fiona!

What did you do to me, Emily?
Winter's head is also really wobbly on her body.  So wobbly, in fact, that the plastic edge of the head bumps up against and cuts into the softer vinyl of the neck!

This little girl has loads of personality, though!

I like her so much better with the matte face and realistic eyes:

She has a really short neck, though!  I don't think the Azone body suits this head shape quite as well as it suits Fiona.

She's definitely sweet, though, and I love her blue hair!

So the Amazon imitation Blythe dolls were a bit of a bust, and Winter is cute, but it's the DBS line that really captured my imagination.

One of the best things about the DBS Blythe dolls is their variety in skin tone.  As far as I can tell, there are five different skin tones to choose from.   The other imitation brands (and even authentic Blythe dolls) have nowhere near this variety.  In fact, Hasbro never bothered to produce a Black doll until the very end of Takara's reign.  So, as far as I know, there's only ever been one Black Blythe doll.  One.

So, I decided to order yet another DBS doll and this time I chose one with a dark skin tone:

I named this girl Seline.

My phone did its best to ruin Seline's photos by dramatically over-exposing her, so apologies about that.  She's gorgeous in real life.

She has the same exact eye color options as Fiona.  I really like the grey side-glancing eyes on her!

And the bright blue ones are fun, too!

But I think the brown eyes are my favorite:

Selene is a DBS Blythe, just like Fiona, but she came with the glossy face instead of matte. And it's SO shiny!

Her face is reflecting every light in the room.
I found her extremely difficult to photograph like this.

My face is reflected in her face!
I'm definitely going to spray Selene's face with matte sealant.  It's just too shiny.

Seline is almost a dead ringer for the Radiance Renewal Blythe face.  Here it is again for comparison:

Plaid Parade (RBL Renew face).
The inside of Seline's head is just the same as Fiona's, so the two girls can share wigs and eye chips and everything.

I completely disassembled Seline's head so that I could give her some new eye chips and spray her face with Mr. Super Clear:

Seline's body has a non-articulated neck, and I didn't feel like spending $30 on another replacement body, so I took a different approach.

BeBeBlythe sells a little joint piece gizmo that can attach to the neck of an imitation Blythe body and add articulation  to that area.  It looks like a screw with a huge head and costs about $20:

The top of the joint piece has an indentation for a screwdriver head:

To use this gadget, I cut off the top of the original neck:

Then I screwed the new joint into the vinyl neck, being as careful as I could to keep the screw running straight up and down:

Then the head attached normally--or almost normally.  I had to shave off a tiny bit of plastic from the face plate to get it to fit around the new neck joint, but that was no big deal.

Once I was finished with all of Selene's customizations, I gave her another lovely dress that I found at Blythe's Big Closet.  This one has tiny cupcakes all over it!

I chose a few different brown shades for Selene's new eye chips, because they look so nice with her hair and skin:

But I also gave her grey side-glancing eyes like the ones she had originally:

And some dramatic purple flower eyes, just for fun!

I just adore how Seline came out.  I even like how the new neck joint made her neck slightly longer.  It's so elegant compared to Winter's squidgy short neck!

I was really having fun with these dolls at this point.  Can you tell?  What a difference it makes to be able to buy a base doll for $35 and not $200!

This is a crazy-long review already (longer, even, than the first attempt, I think!), but I want to show you one more doll.  This is the other open-mouthed sculpt that's available from DBS.  It's very sweet:

This girl, who I've named Bianca, is exactly like Fiona except for her face sculpt and wig color.  She has the same mismatched body, the same unarticulated neck, the same matte white skin tone, the same eye mechanism...and I bought her for the same price from Blythe Homes.

Her lips are parted, with two tiny teeth showing at the top:

I like the bright red color of Bianca's lips, in contrast to the slightly orange color of Fiona's lips:

She looks really worried about something!
Bianca's hair color is pretty, and the fibers are silky and soft, but the hair cut on this particular doll is not very good.  The bangs and the back of the hair are both uneven.  This didn't matter much to me, though, because I had a different plan for her hair.

A few of you might remember from the first version of this review that I had big dreams of making a fairy doll using the elf ear extensions and a lovely little flower dress that I found on Etsy.  Well, Bianca is the girl I used to realize that dream!

I gave her some new eye chips, replaced her wig, attached some elf ears, put her in the flower dress, added some wings, and--voilà!  She's the lovely fairy I've been dreaming of:

The dress is from Rylann's Roses (RylannsRoses) on Etsy and cost $34:

The wings are also from Etsy.  They're attached to wires that I glued to a ribbon and tied around Bianca's waist:

I gave this girl an assortment of realistic eye colors that are beautiful, although in retrospect I should have chosen some fantasy options!

I left the wig tied back for a few photos so that you could see the magnificent ears and the tiny wings!

When the wig is let down, though, you can see all of the layers of color.  It's so pretty!

Bianca might be my favorite of all the dolls I accumulated for this review.  She turned out just as I had hoped.

She's not the sturdiest doll I've ever encountered, though.  Her dress slips down frequently, her ears can get bumped and fall off, and her wings are only tied in place, but she'd be lovely sitting on a shelf as a display doll.

Fairies can be mischievous, though.  Bianca looks like she'd be quick to escape the display shelf and flit around the house causing trouble!

You bet I would.
Ok, whew!  Now I'm finally finished showing you all of the dolls I examined for this review.  And since this is technically a review of Fiona, I'll end with another photo of her cute self and her big ol' ears:

It makes me so happy to look at Fiona's little face.  Sadly, by the time everything unfolded with the last version of this review, I couldn't look at that other doll and not feel terrible.  But with Fi, every step of the journey was a delight.  

And what a journey it has been.  I don't think I've ever spent so many hours on a doll review.  Not only was the original review long and research-intensive, but it took at least eight additional hours of stressing and editing when the shop-that-shall-not-be-named started to threaten me.  Then, of course, I managed to take another 882 photos and write an even longer review the second time around!  Classic.  There were some dark moments in this rabbit hole, to be sure, but a huge bright spot has been my (nearly 50!) Patrons.  Your support (emotional and financial) allowed me to delete the first review, put all of the nonsense behind me, and then take the time and accumulate the resources to start from scratch.  I also greatly appreciate everyone who messaged to see if everything was okay when the first Blythe post was pulled down.  Thank you, all.

Bottom line?  I haven't explored the Blythe doll world in at least a decade, and a lot has happened since I checked in last.  First of all, the manufacturing of Blythe has shifted from Takara to Good Smile Company.  That will be an interesting transition to watch over the next few years.  But what has shaped the market more during the last decade is the influx of a huge number of fakes and imitations.  The problem with having so many knockoff dolls linked to a certain brand is that it starts to become very confusing for collectors--especially newbies like me.  If what you want is an authentic Blythe, it can be tricky to avoid fakes.  And if you're specifically looking for a less expensive Blythe-adjacent doll for customization or play, some options are dramatically better than others...and not all of the parts and accessories are compatible.  I only scratched the surface of this topic today, but I learned quite a lot in the process.

I looked at four varieties of imitation Blythe doll in this review.  Here's a summary, in order of my preference (from worst to best):

Sunny: Yummon brand (?), $37 on Amazon.  This doll had a terrible smell that dissipated slightly over time.  Her hair is very nice and silky, but the wig can't be used by ICY or DBS Blythes dolls.  Her body is highly-articulated, but it's hollow plastic, feels cheap, and is not compatible with other imitation Blythe heads.  Her face has a shiny finish.  The white part of her eye mechanism is slightly yellow and not perfectly smooth.  She is my least favorite and the least versatile of the bunch.

Violet: Blygirl brand, $40 on Amazon.  This doll has a matte face, but the back of her head is shiny.  Her head seam is messy and uneven.  Her lip paint is poorly done and does not match the underlying mold.  The white part of her eye mechanism is slightly yellow and not perfectly smooth.  Her hair is nice, though, and is interchangeable with ICY and DBS Blythe.  Violet's solid vinyl Azone body is great, although the neck is unarticulated.  The body is compatible with other brands.

Winter: ICY brand, $50 from BeBeBlythe (she came with four free pairs of eye chips).  This doll has a unique face with a lot of personality.  She has an Azone-style body with an articulated neck, but the connection to her head feels wobbly, and the wobbling movement caused the hard plastic edges of the head to scrape the softer vinyl of the neck.  ICY bodies and wigs are compatible with DBS dolls, but the eye chips are smaller (13.5mm).  Ear extensions do not fit over ICY doll ears.  From what I can tell, there's not much variety in the ICY line; all of the faces and skin tones are the same (please correct me if I'm wrong!).

Fiona, Selene, and Bianca: these three are all DBS dolls that cost ~$35 from Blythe Homes.  DBS offers more variety than any of the other brands I found.  There are four different face molds and five different skin tones.  The faces are available in both matte and shiny finish.  These dolls have Azone-style bodies with unarticulated necks and some instances of poor color matching.  All ear extensions and hand sets are compatible.  DBS dolls have eyebrows, which is not a feature of authentic Blythe dolls--nor of the other imitation brands.  This is also the only brand I know that has open-mouthed faces.  I will probably limit any of my future imitation Blythe purchases to this brand.  I found it to be the most varied and the most versatile.  I adore the three DBS dolls I bought.

This is Fiona's review, primarily, so I'll talk in a bit more detail about her.  Her face is charming, and I'm satisfied with her factory makeup, although I wish the lower lip shape wasn't so odd.  Both Fiona's original wig and the red replacement wig are silky, shiny, easy to brush, and appear to be of high-quality.  I was even able to boil-wash the red wig with no damage.  Fiona's original Azone-style body does not match her face very well, and the static neck connection forced her head to look downwards all of the time, which was frustrating.  Bodies like this can either be replaced, or a metal neck joint can be added to the original body to improve neck movement and (optionally) elongate the neck.  The extra hands almost feel like an essential purchase; they add so much expressiveness and fun to the doll.  What I really enjoy about Fiona, though, is how I can change her eye chips and hair so easily.  The eye mechanism is such an iconic feature of this style of doll, being able to upgrade the eyes and swap them to suit different outfits or moods is a game-changer.  I also like being able to try out different wigs without using glue.  The I'm a Girly changeable wig system seemed like a pretty great idea at the time, but this is better.  Once the new hair is screwed into place, it feels permanent and can be brushed and styled with no worries.  While I'd feel reluctant to customize an authentic Blythe doll because of her value as a collectible, I changed Fiona's features several times with no qualms whatsoever.  Overall, I'd say that Fiona is a dream for someone who enjoys customization, but an authentic Hasbro Blythe doll would be a better option if you want a limited, historically-significant collector's piece that requires no modification and will hold its value over time.

I made some mistakes during this foray into Blythe world, and I still feel like there's stuff I don't know.  But I've found a captivating new hobby in customizing some of the affordable imitation dolls that have bombarded the market.  With the experiences and information I've accumulated during this review, though, I should go back and answer the question I posed in my title, "is this Blythe?"  The answer is no, of course.  None of the lovely girls in this review are real Blythe dolls, but the fun I had with all of them is very real, and I will almost certainly be back for more.


  1. FYI- pretty sure they could not have sued you anyway, regardless of if they were happy with what you wrote or not. Your review would have been considered "Editorial" and thus protected by the 1st Amendment. When I did my book of BJD photographs, Resin Life, I was going to feature photos from I think it was nine different companies. AS A COURTESY, I contacted every company, explained what I was doing, and asked for permission to use MY photos of their dolls that I OWNED. I credited every company. Every single one of them was very supportive and positive and glad to have their dolls featured. Except one. If you are in the BJD world, you can probably guess which one it was. They made all kinds of demands (wanted to see every photo in advance, wanted to see what I was writing, wanted to know which other companies would be featured, etc.). It was so many hoops to jump through, and being assured by others in the BJD business that this particular company had deep pockets and didn't mind suing, I decided to simply delete those photos from the book. Again- it would have been considered editorial use, and protected at least in the USA by the First Amendment, but it was just too much bother. I'm glad you've gone on to do this review now and I'm sorry if the first experience left a bad taste.

    1. Thank you, Cirquemom! Yes, I agree that they would have no suit under American law--and I said as much to them. They also threatened to go after me through Patreon. They were just trying to scare me into submission so that I'd turn my post into a free, 200-photo ad for their store. I deleted the review because I felt really horrible featuring their products and linking to their site; I worried that I'd inadvertently encourage other collectors to shop there.

      I'm very sorry to hear about your book experience! It was incredibly considerate of you to reach out to the BJD companies and ask for permission. I never would have done that (it wouldn't have occurred to me!). The only reaction to your book that makes sense to me is for the companies to be thrilled. It's free publicity!! What is your book? I'd love to read it! :)

    2. Oh, goodness! Thank you so much for the generous offer! I copied your email and then deleted the message--just for your privacy. :)

  2. I have 4 original Blythes, and I adore them. I don't like the fake blythes at all, but I can see why people do, especially when they want to customise them. It's nice to have dolls that you can feel free to do what you like with and be creative.
    I think a lot of the fakes have too much gap between the eye mechanism and the face plate, so there ends up being a lot of space around her eyeballs, more than necessary.
    But I agree that there is not much variety in the official blythe line up.

    1. I suspect there's a gap between the eye mechanism and faceplate precisely because these dolls were first launched to appeal to customizers. In order to avoid the mechanism getting rubbed by the faceplate after the lids were painted and decorated customizers used to enlarge the eye socket so much that you could practically see inside the head. I've noticed that customs of recent years- which are often done with fakes- no longer seem to have that issue.

    2. I noticed that gap, too, Ruby! I know what you mean; it looks very awkward from some angles. Maricha's explanation is interesting! I certainly had trouble with the eye mechanisms even with that big gap.

      I'm very excited to get a closer look at the real Blythe dolls! I *love* Plaid Parade (red hair and Scottish?!! Eee!) and can't wait to get her out of her box. ;)

  3. I have had a similar experience to yours with the shop that shall not be named but I thought I was just confused when your review was taken down. Life has been that crazy lately. I am so glad that I wasn't quite as crazy as I thought. I have gotten several dolls from Blythe Homes and a lot of customization supplies from BeBeBlythe. I haven't had much time to play with them yet so it was a lot of fun watching your customizing. Great new review and I am so glad that you did another one.

    1. I'm sorry that you also had a bad experience. But I'm glad you're not crazy, lol! I know the feeling. I'll go looking for photos that I'm *positive* I took, but I won't be able to find them anywhere. I think I must be taking pictures in my dreams. ;D You have some good times ahead of you with your Blythe customization projects! It's so much fun.

  4. Hi Emily, I'm so glad you were able to redo your Blythe review. She's a fascinating doll, isn't she? :-D

    As I commented in your recent Blythe review there have been six neo Blythe molds (BL, EBL, SBL,RBL,FBL,RBL+,and RBL-Renew and I suppose Good Smile Company has one),the problem you have with Sunny is that she is a clone of the most recent and rare mold RBL-Renew while all your other clones are of one of the most common molds RBL. (This is why clones/fakes first became popular, their scalps were interchangeable with Takara's dolls and with a bit of fiddling even Kenners.) That's why Sunny's neck attachment isn't the same. I've also heard that even if you separate the scalp from the hard cap it doesn't fit with the other Blythes but I have no idea if that's accurate.

    Thanks for another awesomely complete review.

    1. Hi Maricha, one of the things that I hated most about having to delete the old review is that I lost your comments. Can I re-post them here with your permission? I know you put a lot of effort into those! I'm so sorry. You know so much about these dolls.

      Indeed, Sunny's wig doesn't fit well onto the other scalps. I was trying to do that for a different project, and it didn't work out very well.

      I think my new girl, Plaid Parade, has the renewal face, right? She looks very different from Phoebe. I was surprised by how easy it was to find her (I think she's still available on Junie Moon). She's basically my dream doll with her red hair and plaid, and yet I paid under $200 for her!! Lucky me. :)

    2. Yes, Plaid Parade is a RBL-Renewal and Phoebe Maybe is a RBL. Looking at them side by side there's a slight difference in the jawline imo but it's mostly when you take them apart that you would see how different they are in their attachment to the body.

      Of course, I would be delighted if you re-post my comment, Emily.

  5. So glad you were able to stand up for yourself against that slimy company! They should seriously be held accountable for everything from the overpricing to the customer harassment.

    The DBS Blythe dolls are very sweet, and their corresponding DBS accessories and clothes are good quality, too! I own some tiny sneakers from them and they're wonderful and easy to use. From personal experience, Barbie earrings (the kinds designed to be removable) will work.

    Another great review and I'm excited to discover the real Blythe with the next comparison reviews 💗

    1. Also, I love the name Winter for your ICY girl! She reminds me of a K-pop idol of the same name :)

    2. Hi Bebe! I agree about the DBS products. They are so nice for the money. I think I've placed five orders with Blythe Homes since I started this review (eep!). Thank you so much for the earring advice! I didn't know where to start with those, and I think they'd look so cute. :) The name Winter just popped into my head with that doll. She named herself! Now I have to go look up the K-pop idol...

  6. Dude, looking at that Trustpilot page (I didn't know about this website! very useful!) they've even replied to negative reviews with long, nasty rants, and if you sort by "excellent", bunches of the reviews are clearly fake (which Trustpilot even says at the top of the page). This one is the funniest though:
    "TIB is a great place to order unique dolls. I am a busy accountant woman who's still in love with these cute dollies. They make me feel cozy and loved. I'll be back soon."
    Thanks, Busy Accountant Woman. ROFL

    I'm so sorry that you ran afoul of these scam artists. Fingers crossed than nothing like this ever happens again!

    1. Haha! Omg. I didn't see that one. There might be some translation issues, but I no longer trust the positive reviews. It's clear that this company is methodically going after every single negative review to try and erase it. Who does that??

  7. My previous comment on the deleted post must have gone unnoticed with all the shop drama. Their behaviour is unbelievable! I read Lady Nicole's linked post and the rude comment the shop left there. It's too bad you gave into the harassment, but I also understand the desire to let it go and start fresh.
    Anyway, DBS stands for Debisheng ltd and they manufacture several lines of dolls. I found this out when I researched Fortune Days dolls five years ago, then new on the doll market. I did a little overview of this company and some of their products on my blog: and later, in the Zodiac post. In fact, I bought three of my FD dolls from Blythe Homes - lovely shop with great prices. Though I checked it out today and saw the categories, but no products. I guess they don't ship to my country any more? Still, I've had only positive experience with them and I'm glad you did too. The dolls are lovely; you should see the DBS outfits! These pseudo-Blythes are great for playing and experimenting with different options. My favourite from today is Winter, probably because her features are more reminiscent of Pullip.

    1. My husband was mad that I backed down. The whole time I was trying to edit the review to make them happy, he was in the background shouting at me to stop! Lol. He's a good egg. But in the end, I really didn't want their products featured here--or their name mentioned. I want nothing to do with them.

      I remember your earlier comment--thank you so much for the intel on DBS! I'll go add that to the review if you don't mind. I can link to your post. The other shop was adamant that I remove *all mention* of DBS, even though the outfit I bought from them has a DBS label in it! Makes no sense to me.

      I thought Fortune Days was an ICY brand? That's what Amazon says in their listings. Now I'm confused. Do you know the relationship between DBS and ICY? I'll have to figure that out because I have a Fortune Days doll in my queue!

      I've been really pleased with Blythe Homes. I've placed five orders with them (all different types of doll) and they are very helpful and nice and have relatively quick shipping. The prices are amazing. I'm happy to hear you've had a similar experience!

    2. Go ahead and include anything you consider necessary for the review, I won't censore you like some people! I don't know about the ICY-FD connection but you can take a gander at the FD website (I'm on mobile and it's impossible to navigate for me): Now I'm curious about the doll you have, which is it? My money's on East Charm. I have two of them, they are exquisite!

    3. Just noticed the edit, thanks for the nice words!

    4. I don't think you backed down at all, Emily! Deleting the review and then rewriting it on your own terms also meant not giving them any positive attention and publicity. You did the right thing, and by letting your followers know what happened instead of silently deleting or making adjustments you're also preventing a lot of people from getting scammed.

  8. A few random thoughts...
    Of course you knew I would love this review!!!
    That said, the interior shots of their heads with the eye mechanism and ALL THOSE PUPILS staring at you just gives me the creeps! And I immediately thought of the Ferengi from Deep Space Nine with some of those ears.
    I have a number of the Icy dolls and a variety of “Blytheish” dolls from various vendors. I’m truly in the take-apart-and-play-with camp, so no one has to worry about me competing for an authentic Blythe doll sale! I also have had absolutely wonderful experiences with BeBeBlythe—I still think she must live next door to a post office, because things get her really fast. [I’ve met some truly wonderful people on Etsy—gives one faith in the world]
    You’ve done an exhaustive review here...well worth the measly Patreon cost I pay...can’t you make one higher up level that super inclusive that offers a tour of your basement or something???😁😁😁

    1. Okay, if I'd told my husband your Ferengi reference, he'd have liked the big ears a lot more, lol! He was making fun of Fiona for her big ears. And I totally agree about BeBeBlythe. Casie has gotten me out of a lot of scrapes because of that fast shipping! Thanks to her, Bianca's new body came just in the nick of time for this review!

      I'm gonna have to relent on that basement thing some day, aren't I? ;D

  9. Hey Emily! Happy Spring! Loved the review and I'm sorry to hear about the shop-that-must-not-be-named. People are mean a lot of times but youcan't let them stop what you're doing, especially when you love it.

    This review was awesome, and I always uses to be a little spooked by Blythe dolls and I thought they were the same as Pullip dolls. Good to know the vast world of Blythe. The fairy doll is very pretty, that wig has so many colors. Thanks for writing this!

  10. Here is Maricha's wonderful and detailed comment from the original review (thank you, Maricha!)

    "As Blythe and colour changing eye dolls are the type, I at least sort of kept up with in recent years I'm quite thrilled by this review. It's another great one as always Emily, thank you.

    Your Sunny is different because she's a clone based on a more recent mold that came out in May 2017 called Radiance Renew (Good Smile Company has a new mold but I've yet to see pictures of the inside so I have no idea if it's all that different from what came before). Your other clones are based on the RBL mold that was available for about 7 years (2010-2017) and existed when really good clones started to be made. Icy dolls share the eye mechanism and hair attachment method of the RBL Blythes. There originally was an ICY-Jecci 5 doll about 10-12 year ago but she wasn't a clone of Blythe although she had a similar big head on a skipper-sized body and face type but made of vinyl.

    I do have one factory Blythe and can actually tell from which dolls her parts came but, I got her in 2012. Realistically, any Blythe you buy now that isn't an official release is simply a clone no matter what the seller says about it. As I've had as many vintage Barbie clones as authentic ones and the nature of Blythe means only an older child or adult would play with her, I don't have a problem with that. Also, until last summer when Takara's final release was a Black doll (20th Anniversary) the only way to have a Black Blythe Doll was to get a spray painted regular Blythe from a customizer or buy one of these clones so my sympathy isn't too great for Takara and CWC who oversaw the styling of over 200 Blythe releases without caring about that.

    The different faces your clones have seem like they were created in response to people who were customizing (or paying customizers) for Blythes with pouty lips, smiles, etc. so they simply made their clone molds with these changes (but only on the lightest skintone). You can also buy dolls with varying degrees of face-ups going from nothing to the works:lipstick, brows and blush. The biggest advantage to the clones from the start though was the incredible variety and availability of hair colours and how good the quality of hair is; it's actually better than that of most Takara releases in several years. It saved a lot of people from rerooting their Blythes with Saran or mohair themselves with clones costing less than buying only that hair would.

    As you pointed out a safe way to buy an authentic doll is through an exclusive rep. The last Takara Blythe I got was Gerda Eternity from CCToyShop in Hong Kong but I imagine GSC will deliver to the US as they already sell vinyl figurines.

    I have at least one of each official Blythe mold Kenner,ADG,BL&EBL,SBL,RBL,RBL+, RBL-renew (except the very latest from GSC which I will get soon)though it's a very small collection compared to many. :-D I'd say the site that presently keeps up best with Blythe news is Blythopedia. There's a forum called Blythe Kingdom but it's not very active at all. Nonetheless, if you register to join you could see discussions about older releases.

    This is Blythe has the same name as the site Gina Garan had though I have no idea how that happened. A while after she suddenly closed her site this one popped up. I've never bought from them (or eBay) as I knew their prices were too close to those of releases for what I could clearly see were the same clones as on were sold by TaoBao and AliExpress for $30-75 including shipping. It never occured to me to wonder who made the clones but you may be on to something. I just know they seem to all come from China (like authentic Blythes) which isn't too concerned with respecting copyrights for anything much less dolls,then again, the original concept of Blythe is 50 years old now so... all I know for sure is that after a thirty year slumber between the last Kenner and the first Takara, if customs, clones, and new manufacturers keep her from falling back into oblivion I'm all for it. Thanks again for this review."

    1. And here's the second part :)

      "One of the best Flickr accounts to see comparisons of molds, hair colours and skintones is Dr.Blythenstein's ( This is, I believe, the person who coined the term TBL to describe TaoBao Blythes. If you're satisfied with the classic serene Blythe face.

      Clones are available in 5 colours which match bodies and heads they're called-white skin (almost chalk white),nature skin (a more natural beige-which translucent also looks like),tan skin (café au lait),dark skin (light brown) and super black skin (dark brown like 20th Anniversary Blythe).

      There are two types of bodies: though it's getting more rare there's the classic click knee body and the far more common Pure Neemo S fully articulated type which you got. For the PN type bodies you can get sets of hands, and ears in all the skin colours. Clones were obviously created in response to what customizers were doing with Takara Blythes.

      If you get a super black clone, you'll find her much easier to photograph if you mattify her face-the easiest way is with Mr.Super Clear Flat spray (doesn't yellow with time) but you can also use a very fine grit sanding sponge. If you use a sponge practice getting a powdery finish on the back plate first, then you can try on the front face plate. If you have a light enough touch you might even still have the face-up when you're done or only need to touch it up a bit with chalk pastels.

      In fairness, there were tanned Takara/CWC Blythes over the years but when a point is made to say they're "tanned" and the lack of a just plain Black doll is explained away as being due to issues with dark plastic which ironically enough the makers of the much less expensive clones didn't let hold them back,it makes you think. Since it's the same team (CWC) overseeing the styling of Blythes just a new manufacturer of them with GSC, I'm not expecting much to change with official releases, it is what it is.

      One precaution to take with Blythes both official and clones is to never leave their heads or bodies in contact for weeks on end with plastic such as sunglasses or doll furniture - including the eye changing ring. The faceplates in particular are very prone to "melting" at the contact point when that happens. Another tip, if you think the floppiness of the articulated body will get on your nerves someday, it might be a good idea to also get matching versions of the stiffer Takara type bodies while they're still available on AliExpress. Licca bodies will also do but they're seldom in tanned colours and not available in super black."

  11. Hey Emily 😍
    Hehe, the holding back a fart dolly is back, I really missed her ;)

    And whatcan awesome review! While I‘m not a fan of these dollies, it‘s so interesting to read about all those different ones, and the copies, and the eye mechanism and so on.
    I‘m glad I don‘t collect them, or I would be completely lost, haha.

    About that evil company: I hope they step on Lego bricks. Every day.

    1. Heh, heh, heh, and surely SOMEONE from that company is keeping an eye on this blog!😂

  12. Good on you for not backing down and for rewriting the review on your own terms, Emily. This review was just as entertaining and informative as the previous one (if not more!). The Blythe(-esque) world seems very confusing to an outsider like me, but your reviews always do a great job at unraveling some of the more convoluted corners of the doll world :) Blythe dolls are not my style in terms of collecting, but I'm actually blown away by Selene. I think she's my favorite Blythe-esque doll that you ever reviewed, especially with that matte face and side-glancing eyes. I also love what you did with Bianca. Such a magical-looking dollie! I'm looking forward to the bigger series of articles you're planning and hope you'll never have to deal with shops like the one that shall not be named ever again.

  13. I'd love to see your repainted Violet!

  14. Oh, I wondered what had happened to the original review. Some people/companies have no shame. Glad you were able to turn the experience into a positive and connect with new dolls.

  15. The ICY face is probably my favorite of the lot (she's so pretty!) but those DBS girls turned out great. When Seline was all shiny, she looked... well, kinda horrifying. But once you matte-finished her face, 180-degree change. It's amazing what a different something so simple makes. Also, thank you for rewriting (and improving!) the original review; I think I'd be so mad and disgusted after that fiasco I'd never be able to look at another Blythe knockoff ever again. Fingers crossed nothing that terrible ever happens to TBP again.

  16. oh my god I'm so sorry about the stuff with the first company! people really think they can do whatever they want on the internet. I think it shows that you enjoyed this version of the review more, though- all the combinations were so fun! Seline and Winter (post-MSC) were my personal favorites. the open-mouthed dolls are cute, but they remind me a little bit of something from one of the Five Nights at Freddy's games... eek. anyway, I'm really glad you were able to rewrite this review and have a better time doing so. I hope you don't run into anything else like that in the future! yikes D:

    1. okay it was bugging me that I couldn't remember exactly what they brought to mind so after consulting google I was thinking of the Bidybabs (and to a lesser extent Circus Baby herself) from the fifth FNaF game. I'm not much into FNaF anymore, but I bet someone could do a pretty cool custom with this idea...

  17. Wow! This was such a fun read! I'm so glad your altercation in connection with the first version of this review didn't ruin the experience for you, because it's clear how much you enjoyed yourself with this one!! All of these characters you've characters you've created are delightful! I never thought I would warm up to the Blythe-style look so much, since the originals don't really appeal to me, but you made these imitations look so lovely that I can now definitely see the appeal! :D

    My favourites are Winter, Selene, and Bianca; Bianca in particular has such an eye-catching design now! Spraying Selene and Winter's faces also improved them both SO much, in my opinion. And all the dresses you bought for these girls are so pretty!

    Do you think you'll continue to customize the others, like Winter and Violet? :0

  18. I usually am not a fan of Blythe, I find her to be a little..... Starey.... (Is that a word? Haha) but something about Winter is really charming. I think it's because she has less white around the front facing eyes? She's very cute.

    I understand why people don't like fakes, but I think as long as people know they're buying fakes (and want them, for say, customizing a less expensive doll!) Then they should be allowed to. Though selling them under the original Blythe name is kind of shady for obvious reasons.

  19. Great article!! However, I would NEVER buy those $40 dolls from Amazon, when you can get them for $19 - 22 on Aliexpress---the EXACT same dolls! It takes a little longer to get them, depending on the time of year, but it's totally worth it, if you want to save money. Especially now that some of the prices are starting to rise...some of the shoes and boots I was getting for 2-5 dollars a pair, before the Pandemic, are now up to 4-7 dollars. Also look for the SALES on Aliexpress--around Chinese New Year and the Famous 11-11 sale in November every year! These dolls are on sale off and on throughout the year though, and it's worth checking every week. I now have 90 dolls and most of them were $19 to $30 dollars each, with a few special ones in the $35 to $45 range. I only have one I paid $60 for, but had I waited, I could have gotten it for $40! You can get 5 different skin tones--that you CANNOT get with the authentic Blythe--- and I have all of them. Getting Black Blythes is the main selling point for me--and they come in 3 different shades with all the multi-colored hair and textures available now. Also, without the 19-joint body I would never have starting buying them at all, since the "authentic normal" body is very basic and cheap to me--even with the 3-click knees..

  20. As for how the bad company stole Gina Garan's site, she did a q&a at Blythecon UK in 2021, and she told us that when she owned the site, she was a bit too slow to renew it, and like seconds after it expired, the bad site bought the name. They've also been sent nearly endless cease and desist letters for stolen photos, claims they own Blythe, etc. But nothing ever happens.

  21. I spotted that this review was cited as a source in a Polygon dot com article about Blythe customizing! Did they reach out to you?