Monday, June 19, 2023

Blythe Plaid Parade by Takara TOMY

I can't believe it's been more than a year since my imitation Blythe doll review.  Do you remember that whole saga?  I reviewed a cute but overpriced doll that I purchased from the This is Blythe online shop, and the owner of the shop (who has no association with Gina Garan) harassed me relentlessly for months, threatening all kinds of nonsense.  I got fed up and trashed that review and that doll.  I started over again with a new doll of the exact same brand that I got for less than half the price on AliExpress.  I'd rather not talk any more about the whole debacle now, but you can get the detailed scoop on that shady store hereherehere, and of course in my earlier review.

When I wrote the imitation Blythe post, I had the intention of following it up with reviews of authentic Blythe dolls--something I've never done on this site.  But after all of the nastiness, I had to take a break from that whole world and re-gain my sanity.  Now, a year later, I'm ready to proceed with the original plan.  The reason I was so excited to dive into the Blythe-o-sphere in the first place was that back in July of 2021, Hasbro (who owns the Blythe license) severed its long-term connection with Takara and switched the manufacturing of their dolls over to Good Smile Company.  This made me curious to compare an older Takara doll to a newer Good Smile Company release.

To kick off that comparison, today I'm going to talk about my Takara Blythe doll, Plaid Parade.  This redheaded cutie has been sitting in her box at my house for well over a year, patiently waiting for her turn in the spotlight:

Plaid Parade Blythe doll by Takara TOMY, ¥23,650 (~$166).

I believe that Plaid Parade was released in 2021, and unlike a lot of authentic Blythe dolls, she didn't sell out immediately.  In fact, she's still available on the Junie Moon website where I bought her last year for around $160 (not including shipping).

As I mentioned in my earlier review, there are a ton of imitation and fake Blythe dolls on the market these days.  Putting the legal complexities of those dolls aside, these mimics are great for customization and play, mostly because the base dolls are much less expensive than authentic Blythes--around $20-40 if you shop carefully.  These dolls also have poseable bodies and a fun variety of expressions.

Here's an example of a DBS imitation Blythe doll who cost me $31 on AliExpress:

Authentic Blythe dolls can also be customized and played with, certainly, but because they're released in limited editions and tend to cost between $150 and $300, I would be reluctant to modify one.

If you're shopping for an authentic Blythe doll and want to avoid imitations, I recommend visiting either Junie Moon or C.C. Toys.  Both are reputable, authorized dealers who will ship internationally.  Incidentally, Junie Moon is owned by Junko Wong, who is the creative director for Blythe.  You can also find a lot of Blythe offerings on eBay, but if you go that route be wary of malicious fakes--or dolls masquerading as authentic.

Authentic Blythe dolls come in beautiful decorated window boxes, and each doll has her own unique box design.  Plaid Parade's box is light blue with a vintage-looking cloud and musical instrument pattern:

The sides of the box have a simple, elegant stripe pattern:

And the back has some text at the bottom:

In the lower right hand corner, you can see the Takara/Tomy and Hasbro marks:

There's also a CWC logo in that corner.  Hasbro gave CWC (Cross World Connections) license to produce Blythe dolls starting in 2001.

I feel like I should mention that the presence of a beautiful window box does not necessarily guarantee an authentic Blythe doll.  I've read that some vendors will put a knockoff doll inside an original box, which is very sneaky.

Plaid Parade comes in a dark plaid dress, with the rest of her elaborate costume arranged neatly around her on a cardboard backdrop:

The backdrop is a sickly yellow color and is decorated with music staffs and notes.  Plaid Parade appears to have a musical theme, at least in her packaging, which makes me wish that one of her accessories had been a bagpipe!

Bagpipe or no, I have a hard time bringing myself to de-box dolls like Blythe and Pullip.  They look so beautiful and enticing in their packaging, it feels like a shame to disrupt anything!

Fortunately, the de-boxing process itself was quite easy.  All of the accessories were enclosed within plastic bags that were taped to the back of the cardboard:

There wasn't a single plastic tie in sight!

Here's everything that was in the box:

I bought Plaid Parade basically because she was the only Takara doll on the Junie Moon site when I was shopping.  But I felt extremely lucky about getting her since she's both a redhead and Scottish!  Having lived in Scotland for a few years as a child, I have a lot of affection for the country and the culture.

As much as I love plaid, I don't want to type out "Plaid Parade" a hundred times in this review, so I decided to name this girl Isla.  The name means "island," and of course Scotland is on an island.  Also, my son's girlfriend was just talking to me about a little girl she knows named Isla, so the name has been on my mind a lot lately.

Isla's extra outfit pieces include this impressive hat:

The design of the hat is reminiscent of a Scots Guard dress hat, but it has lots of gold embellishments, including looped lace trim around the top, and two twisted ropes with tassels at the ends:

The hat's large crown came reinforced with a ring of cardboard:

Tucked underneath the cardboard, there was a black chin strap:

The hat is really great.  The only little detail I don't like is that the plaid pattern (which is the Royal Stewart tartan) does not meet up evenly along the back seam: half of the pattern runs horizontal to the brim, and the other half is at an angle:

Isla also has a matching plaid hussar-style jacket, complete with six decorative buttons, gold braid accents, and fringed epaulettes:

The epaulettes are beautifully detailed!

Here's the back of the jacket:

Since the gold buttons on the front of the jacket are only decorative, there's also a velcro seam:

The construction is fine, but the jacket is unlined, so it looks a little messy on the inside.

Isla also has a pair of red, grey, and blue argyle tights:

And some black vinyl shoes with painted buckle detail and brown soles:

Coincidentally, I think these shoes are exactly the same as Phoebe Maybe's shoes.  Phoebe is the only other Blythe doll that I've ever owned (but I sold her before the move).

Isla herself comes in a gorgeous wool dress.  And she's swathed in plastic to prevent her body from getting stained by the dark fabric!

She also comes with a bright red stand, which is a good thing because she absolutely cannot balance on her own.

Isla's hair was secured with a big plastic hoop around the bangs, and two plastic wrappings that made ponytails out of the rest of her hair:

She also had an elaborate plastic covering that extended from her ears all of the way down to her chest:

And all of her limbs were wrapped in plastic, too!  There was definitely a lot of care taken to ensure that the dress would not stain her vinyl body.

Here's Isla with all of the plastic removed:

Her hair is long and straight, in a beautiful shade of natural red:

Unfortunately, there was a weird kink in my doll's hair, and the texture of all the hair was extremely greasy--almost sticky.  I wanted to wash my hands every time I touched it.

Her bangs came heavily coated with styling product, too, and lay flat against her forehead even after the plastic band was removed:

I was able to disrupt the wall of bangs with my fingers, to give Isla a more natural look:

The bangs are a little uneven, with some longer chunks of hair at the sides, but overall they look fine.

I clipped the bangs back temporarily so that we could get a good look at Isla's face:

She has very pale skin with a high-gloss shine.  Her face mold is called Radiance Renewal.

Blythe face molds can be confusing, in part because they're almost always referred to by acronym.  Here's a little list of the acronyms:
KB = Kenner Blythe (the originals)
BL =  The first Blythes designed by CWC and made by Takara
EBL = Excellence Blythes, or Blythe dolls using the "Excellence" mold
SBL = Superior Blythe, or Blythe dolls using the "Superior" mold
FBL = Fairest Blythe, or Blythe dolls using the "Fairest" mold
TBL = A joke term meaning Taobao Blythe, or a fake Blythe
RBL = Radiance Blythe, or Blythe dolls using the original "Radiance" mold
RBL+ = Radiance+ Blythe: the Radiance+ mold replaced a damaged Radiance mold
RBL Renew = a newer variation of the Radiance mold, and the last Radiance mold that Takara used
RBL Evolution = Good Smile Company's Radiance mold

The only comparison I can show you is between the RBL face (Phoebe Maybe) and the RBL Renew face (Plaid Parade):

Phoebe Maybe, RBL (left) and Plaid Parade, RBL Renew (right).

To me, it seems that the RBL face has smaller eyes and a grouchier expression than RBL Renew (and I love that grouchiness!).

Several of the imitation Blythe dolls that I looked earlier have faces that strongly resemble the Radiance Renewal mold.  Selene (a DBS Blythe) in particular, looks a lot like Isla:

DBS imitation Blythe.
You can visit Blythe Life for more photos and some comprehensive descriptions of the different face molds.  The Blythe Life article is out-of-date and missing the RBL Renew and Evolution variants, but the rest of the history is great.

In profile you can see how enormous Isla's eye sockets are in proportion to the rest of her face!  You can also appreciate her realistic ears (with no earring holes):

I put Isla's head under the lights for a clearer look, although her glossy finish is distracting!  You can even see a reflection of my photography umbrella on her forehead:

Isla has olive green eye shadow that matches her olive green eyes.  This is a special eye color that is not standard.  She also lacks eyebrows (which is typical for authentic Blythe dolls), and has bright pink lips and blushing.  Her eyelids and eyelashes are standard.

On the back of her head, Isla has a pull string with a ring at the bottom:

Pulling on this string changes the color and position of her eyes.

The first eye variation is a right-glancing bright green:

The second is a front-glancing orange:

The orange eyes are fun because they match Isla's hair really well.

The last option is a left-glancing blue:

I like the olive green color the best because it goes with Isla's coloring really well and is different from what I've seen on other Blythe dolls:

I took the hair clips out and smoothed Isla's bangs back down.  I'll often avoid dolls with bangs, but I think Isla is really cute:

I especially love her gorgeous wool dress, with it's dark green plaid print and red plaid accent on the bodice:

I'm no expert, but I believe that the body of the dress has the Black Watch or Campbell tartan, and the bodice is Royal Stewart--to match the hat and jacket.

All of the embroidered gold trim looks striking against the dark dress:

Here's a closer look:

The dress is nicely constructed, but unlined:

Rather than wrapping Isla from head to toe in plastic to prevent staining, I wish they'd just lined the clothing!

There's a velcro seam on the back of the bodice that makes dressing and undressing a breeze:

Underneath the dress, Isla is wearing a black tulle petticoat that adds volume to the skirt:

The petticoat has an extra tier of fine tulle along the bottom, and an elastic waistband to keep it in place:

Isla is also wearing a flimsy little pair of white underpants with unfinished edges:

Isla's body looks very different from the Azone-style bodies that we were seeing on the imitation Blythe dolls.  She has a rigid plastic torso with shiny, flexible vinyl arms and legs:

The color match between her torso and limbs is good, but not perfect.  Her legs, especially, look like a different color in some lighting situations.

She has eight points of articulation (neck, shoulders, torso, hips, and knees).

The back of her torso is marked with the Blythe name, and also a Hasbro and Tomy 2016 copyright:

She was made in China.

Articulation is not a really a focal point of the Blythe brand.  Because the heads are so stylized and complex, I tend to think of the bodies as secondary--just something that is necessary in order to support the head.

But let's see what kind of movement Isla is capable of.

First, she can spin her head around, but she cannot look up or down:

Her arms can rotate, but do not have any hinge action.  So she can lift her arms up in the air...but only until they bump into her massive head!

Like an orange on a toothpick.
And she can swing her arms back and forth:

In this position it's easy to see that, despite some truly heroic efforts to prevent it, Isla's dark dress has left some staining on the vinyl of her upper arms:

It was inevitable, I suppose.
Isla has a rotating torso joint that allows her upper body to spin around:

And she has simple rotation at the hips that allows her to sit on the ground with her legs together:

Thinking deep thoughts.
She can also do front-to-back splits:

But she can't move her legs from side to side at all.

Isla has internal click knee joints that can move through three different bent positions:

These joints hold their positions much better than other click-kneed dolls that I've seen (like Disney's Classic Princesses).  However, that stability came at the cost of the joints being so stiff that I almost convinced myself there was no knee articulation whatsoever.  

When I first tried to bend Isla's knees, nothing happened.  And I put a lot of pressure on them, too!  But I knew that Blythe knees were supposed to bend, so I pushed past a comfortable level of force and finally got them to yield.  It was stressful.

With her knee joints in play, Isla can sit nicely in a chair:

Even though authentic Blythe articulation is not as good as some of the imitation dolls, Isla's joints are decent.  She can strike some fun action poses...with the help of her stand, of course: 

For anyone who is unhappy with the articulation, it's possible to unscrew Isla's head and replace her body-- the exact same way that I demonstrated during my imitation Blythe review:

I took out these screws, but it was hard to pry the two sides of the head apart, so I put the screws back in and left everything alone.  I didn't want to cause any damage to the head, because again, these dolls are expensive and I didn't want to risk blemishing Isla with my novice customization skills.

In theory, all of the same customization techniques that I showed you with the imitation Blythe dolls (body swaps, eye chip swaps, wig swaps, ear covers, etc.) would be possible with Isla.  Some artists even sculpt the mouths into different expressions!

Blythe dolls are just a smidge over 11 inches tall, so a bit shorter than a Barbie like Lena.  I dug around and tried to find a doll with similar body proportions to Isla, and the closest I could find was a FailFix girl--although her body is quite different:

From left: FailFix, Blythe, and Barbie.
And I thought the FailFix girls had large heads!  Isla's head truly is enormous.  Like a planet.

As you might expect, imitation Blythe dolls have similar body proportions to the real thing.  Here's Isla alongside my DBS Blythe, Fiona:

DBS imitation Blythe (left) and Takara Blythe (right).
Fiona's head looks even bigger than Isla's, if you can believe it, but the bodies are roughly the same size.

This means Fiona can wear Isla's dress:

And Isla can try out all of the clothing that I've purchased for Fiona over the past year!

This adorable orange dress from Dolli Things on Etsy is perfect for Isla's plaid theme:

There's also this delightful Frieda Kahlo-inspired ensemble from Doll Traveller:

And this incredible matryoshka doll dress from Blythe's Big Closet:

Of course what I really wanted to see at this point was Isla in her full plaid outfit!  But before I handled the clothes any more, I decided it was time to wash Isla's greasy hair.

I rinsed her hair under hot tap water several times, but that didn't diminish the greasiness much at all.  So then I tried boil-washing the hair, and that was slightly more productive.  However, this hair still has a strange feel to it.  It tends to clump together and won't run freely through may fingers.

Some of the kinks and bends in the hair straightened out a little, but the hair fiber is pretty stubborn:

At last, it was time to get Isla fully dressed!  I started by adding her tights and shoes to the dress:

The tights are really fun, and the shoes go well with the ensemble.  They don't help with Isla's balance, though:

Those are tip-forward toes!
I like how the orange-ish tan color of the shoe soles coordinates with Isla's red hair and orange eyes:

My cats stare at me like that.
And of course the dress is wonderful with its full circle skirt and tulle petticoat:

Next I added the jacket:

The jacket felt very tight at first--as though it might not fit on over Isla's shoulders, but once in place, it's tailored to perfection:

The long sleeves and formal buttons and epaulettes are such a contrast to how the dress looked on its own:

Last of all, I tried on the impressive hat:

Sergeant Isla, Plaid Parade, reporting for duty!
It creates such a powerful, dramatic look:

However, if the hat isn't placed just right, it can fall down over Isla's ears and look very silly:

Wop, wop.
Not so powerful:

Straighten-up that hat, sergeant!
In fact, the more I played with this hat, the more went wrong.  The heavy hat can easily shift around and mess up Isla's bangs, and that chin strap doesn't want to stay in place!

That's a royal mess.
I had the best luck with the hat when I tucked the chin strap back up into the crown and perched it gently on top of Isla's carefully-arranged bangs:

Now she looks awesome again:

Go ahead.  Try to storm the castle.
She's like a feisty Scottish solider, ready for whatever comes next:

I also found that the hat made a nice prop for Isla, when she wanted to be more relaxed:

Or even take a quick nap:

Hat nap.
It's been really beautiful outside here in New Jersey over the last few weeks, so I wanted to snap a few candid shots of Isla in my backyard.

I didn't think her plaid ensemble was the right look for a hot day in the garden, though, so I let her wear some of her more casual outfits.

Isla enjoyed seeking out the largest flowers that she could find, which still weren't as big as the bright orange barrette that accompanies her Frieda Kahlo dress:

It's fun to see how all of her different eye colors work with the outfits and the scenery:

I think blue eyes are the best choice for this particular dress:

Next, Isla donned her matryoshka dress and wandered into the roses:

This part of the yard was too sunny, though, so she was forced to seek shade in a nearby tree:

Watch out for squirrels, Isla!

The orange plaid dress is Isla's favorite, obviously, but I don't think it represents an actual Scottish tartan:

The haggis-n-hay tartan?
Nevertheless, with her orange hair, orange, eyes, and orange dress, Isla is very coordinated:

And it's so fun to see her in this more casual setting.  She looks like a completely different doll from the powerful Scots Guard that we saw before.

She looks especially nice under the relaxing glow of the orange sun:

Bottom line?  It's embarrassing that I've been blogging for over a decade now and haven't featured a full-sized, authentic Blythe doll before.  These big-eyed beauties are icons of the doll world, and have been a conspicuous omission in my lineup.  Certainly if imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Blythe, with their myriad copies and counterfeits, must rank among the best of the best.

It's not that I've never owned a Blythe doll before.  I had Phoebe Maybe in my collection for several years, and really loved her.  I never had to look at her very critically, though; she was just part of my collection and I enjoyed her presence.  With Isla, I'll try to be more objective in my analysis.

After spending so much time with imitation Blythe dolls recently, a few things about Isla stood out to me right away.  First of all, her presentation is great.  The decorative window box is lovely to look at, especially with all of the accessories so carefully arranged inside.  It felt like a shame to disrupt the beauty of the display, but it would have been an even greater shame to never get my hands on the contents.  Isla's intricate plaid outfit looks and feels amazing.  The care that went into the design is obvious, with the hints of royal Scots Guard gear, the inclusion of authentic tartans, and the impeccable, feminine tailoring.  I love the outfit, and the only bad thing I can say is that it caused some minor staining on Isla's upper arms.  Isla's presentation and clothing alone set her head and shoulder above the mimics.

One negative difference that I noticed between Isla and her copycats is that Isla's articulation is inferior.  She has eight joints, but all of them have simple motion.  She also can't balance on her own, and because of her large head, she even topples over in her stand every now and then.  Still, eight joints is better than five, and the body feels high-quality in my hands, with smooth surfaces and sturdy joints.  The minimal lower body articulation might have been deliberate, since hip, knee, and ankle joints can collapse under the weight of a large head.  However, articulated arms might have been nice.  Overall, I didn't find myself missing the poseability too much.  Maybe it's because Isla's movable eyes do so much of the work with her expressiveness?  Anyway, when I look at Isla, most of my attention is drawn to her outfit and especially her head, with those ever-changing eyes and fiery hair.

As much as I love Isla's head, especially her olive green eyes and matching eyeshadow, there are a few things that I might change.  For one, her beautiful red hair came absolutely saturated with some kind of greasy-feeling styling product.  This might be great for curing flyaways and preventing frizz, but it does not make the hair feel good in my hands.  Furthermore, the goo was difficult to wash away, and even after several rinses and a few boiling dunks, the hair still feels clumpy and has some kinks.  Another thing that I'm not wild about is the glossy finish on Isla's face.  Having seen a few matte-faced imitation Blythes, I think I prefer that style--especially for photography.  But shiny-faced Blythes are classic, and I value Isla's appearance for that reason.  Last of all, Isla's face mold feels less grouchy than Phoebe's.  I like happy dolls a lot, but in this case I miss the attitude.

One last little thing I want to reiterate is that even though I'm personally unwilling to customize Isla the way I did with my imitation Blythes, it doesn't mean that all of the same kinds of hair-swapping, eye-changing, and body replacement fun aren't possible; they most definitely are.

If I wasn't a doll reviewer, it probably wouldn't occur to me to think or write anything negative about Isla. She's so well-suited to me, with her red hair and Scottish theme, and I have loved spending time with her this week.  I told myself that of the two authentic Blythes I purchased for this series (Isla and the Good Smile Company doll I'll review next) I would only allow myself to keep one.  Right now, it's hard to see how I'll ever let this redheaded lass out of my sight. 


  1. She's cute. I'm not a Blythe fan, but she's definitely a keeper amongst these dolls. I could almost feel the stickiness left by her hair on my own fingers, tho, LOL. I've had some dolls like that. The worst was probably a 2009 Bratz.

    Anyway, I do recall the drama over the 'factory' Blythes. Actually just thought of it yesterday, because someone was explaining to me what Temu is, as I had never heard of it, and then I associated it with AliExpress, and then thought of my delightful Blythe Middie Knockoff I bought from a good seller there, and then I recalled the craziness that one person unleashed on you before you turned to AliExpress, too.

    The fake ones I just find more appealing because they do have better bodies, and you can choose the matte skin which I think makes a world of difference.

    I agree about the charm of the grumpier faces.

    Excited to see what Good Smiles has to offer.

    1. Oh, I bought a knockoff Middie from AliExpress, too, and it's one of the cutest dolls I've seen in a while! I love her so much. I have a plan to compare the knockoff to a real Blythe Middie, which I also own, but you know how my plans tend to go, lol! It could be another year before I get to it! Let's hope not cause I'm excited to play with that little cutie. ;D

  2. I tend to find some of the imitation Blythe faces cuter than the authentic Blythes. But there is something special about them, and the solemnness of their features, or even grouchiness as you described one doll. Their absurd proportions combined with their oddly somber expressions sometimes strike me as endearing, sometimes as rather weird and creepy! I suppose I'm describing what makes them such a favorite of many collectors, however. Their contemplative faces can be very funny.

    1. The variety that imitations add to the face mold repertoire is really fun, I agree! And the skin tone variety, too. In the past, you could only get a smiling or toothy Blythe-ish face if an artist customized a doll for you. I don't want to take away value from what the extremely talented customization artists do (I covet those dolls!), but the prices on a custom Blythe can be too high for many to contemplate--and the imitations are affordable.

  3. Blythes are not my cup of tea - I prefer Pullip in every regard - but I totally get the appeal, especially when I see one like your Isla. Her outfit is so exquisite and put together, it's just the kind of thing imitations can never aspire to, not in terms of concept, originality, cohesiveness or execution. The range of options among fakes is impressive, but by catering to every taste it definitely feels like they lost track of what makes up Blythe's charm.

    1. That's exactly it. You said it well. The cohesiveness and uniqueness of the whole design (the box, the outfit, the doll's features) are what make authentic Blythes special. Everything is so deliberately and thoughtfully done. There are a lot of Blythe characters who don't tempt me, but Isla really hits the nail on the head! Pullip does an even better job of box presentation and outfit detail, I think. I got nostalgic recently and bought an older Pullip named Katrina, and she takes my breath away!

  4. And now I've just bought FOUR faux Blythes!

    1. Oh, Barb. I'm there with you! ;D Sorry if I'm a bad influence. I hope you got some good deals. Those sprites can be addictive!

  5. I like the Takara body! It has such a classic shape, and like you said, the giant heads are so charismatic that you don’t necessary need the more articulated Azone-style body to take a great photo! Thanks for the great review!

    1. You are very welcome! I agree about the Takara body: it might not be the best articulation, but it feels nice and it really suits the doll. :)

  6. I don't know why but this just made me burst out loud laughing - "I tend to think of the bodies as secondary--just something that is necessary in order to support the head"

    Also I went to pull up your old Pullip review to compare the dolls since I constantly mix them up; I can't believe that was more than ten years ago! Where has all the time gone?

    1. Lol, I mean, maybe existentially all bodies are just "something that is necessary to support the head??"

  7. Blythe is such an interesting line, they really do stand out, with their massive heads, often judgemental gaze and fabulous outfits. And this one just seems tailor made to you, honestly!

    That outfit is so detailed and thought out, I'm honestly a bit shocked they didn't line it. So much effort was already put in.

    I'm very glad you finally got to do a review of these dolls, drama free, no harrassment! Just good ol' fun and taking her out for some carefree, sunny photos.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Bitty! It was definitely a fun and relaxing review. A year makes a lot of difference! :)

      The outfit puts me in a tough spot. I'd love to display Isla in that gorgeous outfit, but her body will become stained all over. I guess that's something I have to accept...which is fine, since I really love her in plaid! I'll use my DBS Blythe, Fiona, for play and dress-up.

  8. What a great review, and an adorable dollie! I love my imitation Blythe from AliExpress, but I am currently in the midst of an obsession with the Penny's Box and other dolls of their ilk...3 of the Bonnie rabbits are here, as well as 6 or 8 of the Penny's Box dolls! Currently waiting on a couple of Meow House cats, too. Emily, you write such thorough reviews that I often have to find out for myself and order the dolls! No such danger with the spendy Plaid Parade gal--although she is beautiful, I prefer dolls that I can play with and/or alter if I prefer. Thanks for the reviews!!

  9. Isla is beautiful! I love her hair colour, but her dark clothing put me off with the possibility of staining. I'll be interested to see which GSC doll you bought; I have two, which I love! I also have some "fakies" from AliExpress, some with the Takara-style body. If it's of any interest, the Takara-style body is very similar to a Licca Chan doll. The articulated dolls from AliExpress tend to have a bigger bust and torso. The genuine dolls also have an easier eye-switching movement than the fakies.

    Thanks for your review, and I'm glad you've moved past your previous horrible experience.